DAP had never been extremist unless the Malaysian Dream where every citizen is Malaysian first before his or her ethnic, religious or other identities is “extremist”

DAP had never been extremist unless the Malaysian Dream where every citizen is Malaysian first before his or her ethnic, religious or other identities is “extremist”.

The Malaysian Constitution and the Rukun Negara are the basis of the Malaysian plural society, based on constitutional monarchy, federalism, parliamentary democracy, the separation of powers, the rule of law, good governance, public integrity, respect for human right, religious freedom and tolerance.

How far we have veered from these moderate and middle-of-the-road practices is illustrated by the sad fact that we have now Cabinet Ministers who do not subscribe to the nation-building principles spelt out in the Constitution and the Rukun Negara.

It is understandable to regard ourselves as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans or Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Taoists first and Malaysian second in the early decades of nationhood, but if we continue to subordinate our Malaysian identity and consciousness to other identities and consciousness, then it is a failure in Malaysian nation-building and nationhood.

This is the substance of the Malaysian Dream, that while Malaysians will continue to have multiple identities – ethnic, religious, cultural – we must all be Malaysians first and foremost.

The Pakatan Harapan 2018 General Election manifesto to rebuild the nation and fulfil the nation’s hopes is the most courageous attempt in the last five decades to return Malaysia to our founding principles.

Are the promises in Pakatan Harapan manifesto in the 14th General Election “extremist” – the promises of institutional and political reforms like term-limit for the Prime Minister and restricting of the Prime Minister’s Office so that Cabinet Ministers cease to “mere yes-men”; to resolve the 1MDB, FELDA, MARA and Tabung Haji mega scandals; reform the MACC and strengthen anti-corruption efforts; restore the dignity of Parliament; ensure transparency and robustness of our electoral system; restore public trust in the judicial and legal institutions; make the governance of our GLCs world class at par with international standards; make our human rights record respected by the world; abolish repressive laws; spur investment; enhance the income of the majority; ensure the long-term prosperity of the rakyat; implement the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and fight crime and social ills “extremist”?

But early in the Pakatan Harapan Government, it was Mahathir who said that the manifesto was not a bible.

Who was being extremist?

Right from the formation of the DAP in 1966, DAP had adhered to its long-term commitment to build an united, harmonious, just and prosperous, multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysian nation, and to realise the Malaysian Dream.

The 32 million Malaysians of diverse races, languages, religions and cultures cannot build a great Malay nation, a great Chinese nation or a great Indian nation for that will be a formula for great divisiveness and discord in Malaysia – but we can together build a great Malaysian nation.

In fact, as the confluence of four great civilisations in the world – Malay/Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western – we are well poised to be a successful example of Alliance of Civilisations and not an example of failure from Clash of Civilisations as Malaysia should leverage on the best values and virtues of the world’s four great civilisations to be “a beacon of light to a difficult and distracted world”.

DAP has been demonised in the past 55 years by extremists on both ends of the political spectrum on the one hand as anti-Malay, anti-Islam anti-Royalty and on the other, having sold out the rights and interests of the Malaysian Chinese and Indians for daring to espouse the Malaysian Dream.

But however uphill and seemingly impossible the espousal of the Malaysian Dream, I am inspired by two events:

  • that DAP has produced a leader who is prepared to pay a heavy personal and political price for the honour and dignity of an underaged girl of another race and religion (when there are no political leaders in Malaysia who have been prepared to pay any price even for someone from their own race and religion);
  • that there are 80 artists from all races and religions who contributed to the Malaysian Dream project in Theatre Impian in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur.

It is my hope that all Malaysians, including past practitioners of the politics of race and religion, will espouse the Malaysian Dream – for it is the only way for Malaysia to return to the path to be a world-class great nation and to fulfil the aspiration of Bapa Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman for Malaysia to be “a beacon of light to a difficult and distracted world”.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri