Let a new wave of the Malaysian Dream campaign begin from Sekinchan to re-inspire and rekindle the hope and vision of the present generations of Malaysians to restore the country to the status of a world-class great nation
Five years ago, on June 18, 2016, Pakatan Harapan lost badly in two parliamentary by-elections - one in Sungai Besar and the other in Kuala Kangsar.
The Pakatan Harapan candidate in Sungai Besar by-election, Azhar Abdul Shukor of Amanah lost by a majority of 9,191 votes while in Kuala Kangsar, Ahmad Termizi Ramli of Amanah lost by a majority of 6,969 votes.
There was gloom and doom about prospects of political change for the 14th General Election which must be held by May 2018.
In fact, the ruling administration was so emboldened by the great victories in the two parliamentary by-elections that several new measures were taken in the following two weeks after the by-elections to strengthen itself, including:
- The sacking of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir from UMNO and the suspension of Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal as UMNO member;
- Series of actions against former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahahtir, including the withdrawal of government funding for the Perdana Leadership Foundation;
- Major purge in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) involving the two top men in the MACC;
- Intensification of the UMNO campaign of lies, falsehoods and disinformation against the DAP to falsely paint it as anti-Malay and anti-Islam;
- Cabinet reshuffle to bring in more mediocrity and “yes men” whose loyalty were to the Prime Minister’s survival and not to the nation or people; and
- The arrest on two trumped-up charges of corruption against the DAP Secretary-General and then Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
In the Sungai Besar parliamentary by-election, DAP even lost in the Sekinchan state assembly seat which the present Selangor Speaker, Ng Suee Lin, had won for three terms – first time with a wafer-thin majority of 344 votes in the 2004 General Election, the second time with an even smaller majority of 190 votes in the 2008 General Election, the third time with a comfortable majority of 2,239 votes in the 2013 General Election.
Was the DAP heading for defeat in the Sekinchan state assembly seat in the 2017/2018 General Election after Ng Suee Lin had won it for three terms?
A political analyst pointed to a “Chinese swing” to the Barisan Nasional and predicted that the Opposition may lose over 13 Parliamentary seats in the 14th General Election if the “Chinese swing” and the “flow-back” of support of Chinese voters for UMNO/Barisan Nasional in the twin polls in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar continued in the next General Election.
These seats were Alor Setar, Bukit Gantang, Sungai Siput, Kampar, Raub, Temerloh, Sepang, Lembah Pantai, Teluk Kemang, Bukit Katil, Bakri, and Batu Pahat in the peninsula, Sandakan in Sabah and Sarikei, Sibu and Miri in Sarawak.
In the event, when the 14th General Election was held on May 9, 2018, Malaysians shocked not only themselves but the world with the first peaceful and democratic transition of power, with the Pakatan Harapan winning most of the “dubious” parliamentary seats – including Sungai Besar with a majority of 714 votes.
Ng Suee Lin also won Sekinchan for the fourth term with his biggest majority of 2,844 votes.
Sekinchan and the twin by-elections in 2016 hold lessons for all Malaysians, that in the depths of despair and hopelessness, one should not give up the Malaysian Dream for Malaysia to be a world-class great nation.
Suee Lin has not only brought about a tourism boom in Sekinchan and turned Sekinchan into a model rural town in Malaysia, he has demonstrated that Sekinchan could launch a new wave of the Malaysian Dream campaign at a time of political apathy, despair and hopelessness about the political situation to re-inspire and rekindle the hope and vision of the present generations of Malaysians to restore the country to the status of a world-class great nation
We are now in the political position akin to the post-twin by-elections in June 2016, where there is black despair about the political future for Malaysia.
Many were then asking about the future of Malaysia after the two big BN wins in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections, with the backdrop of the BN landslide victory in the Sarawak state election and the earlier Teluk Intan by-election.
Was it still possible for Malaysians in June 2016 to hope for political change in Putrajaya in the 14th general election or even in the near future?
Should we give up in a sense of despair and hopelessness and surrender the Malaysian Dream?
Sekinchan is the best answer that we should not.
The 14th General Election was a high-water mark in the pursuit of the Malaysian Dream, for it represented a superhuman effort by Malaysians who believe in the Malaysian Dream to roll back decades of regression and imprudent policies and to try to fulfil Bapa Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman’s hope that Malaysia can be “a beacon of light in a difficult and distracted world”.
But the hopes and dream of Malaysians for a New Malaysia spelt out in Buku Harapan – the 2018 general election manifesto of Pakatan Harapan coalition – suffered a grievous blow when the Pakatan Harapan Government was toppled by the Sheraton Move conspiracy after 22 months, ushering in a backdoor illegitimate government which suspended Parliament as it was unsure that it could continue to command the support of the majority of MPs in Parliament.
Instead of five years of institutional reforms and political, economic, social and educational changes to strongly anchor Malaysia as a world-class great nation, we were suddenly plunged into a post-PH scenario with the country teetering on the verge of a kakistocracy, while facing the worst racial and religious polarisation after many years of unhampered dissemination of a deluge of fake news, lies, falsehoods and disinformation to drum up fear, distrust and hatred among the diverse races, languages, religions and cultures in the country.
The challenge now is how to rekindle, re-inspire, re-energize and re-motivate hope and inspiration in the Malaysian Dream for the country to be a world-class great nation by ensuring that the 15th General Election can fulfil the high but dashed hopes of the 14th General Election for reform and salvation?
Actually, we have travelled quite a political distance in Malaysia. Only 13 years ago, before the 12th general election in 2008 (GE12), if any Malaysian was asked if it was possible to foresee a change of federal government, the answer would be a unanimous and unambiguous “No”.
But the “political tsunami” of GE12 had completely changed the political landscape, and what had been “unthinkable” and “impossible” had been transformed into “thinkable”, “possible” and “achievable”, and the question of a change of federal government has taken the quantum leap from “whether” to “when” and “how” to a political miracle in Malaysia on May 9, 2018, leading to a peaceful and democratic transition of power in six decades of Malaysian nationhood.
Malaysia’s greatest challenge is to become a normal democratic country, where voters can change the party or political coalition in government peacefully and democratically through the ballot box, like other mature democracies, without inviting national catastrophes.
Even the Philippines and Indonesia have more democratic traditions and practices than Malaysia, as Filipinos and Indonesians can use the ballot box to change the party or political coalition in power without any national disaster or calamities.
If Malaysia is to become a normal democratic nation, we must debunk the various political myths that have allowed the politics of race and religion to dominate the politics in the land since Merdeka, especially the myths that the Malays will lose political power and become strangers in their own land if Umno is exposed and debunked and that Islam is facing an existential threat.
Leading Malay personalities had been trotting out the canard that if Umno is defeated, Malays will lose political power which they cannot recover in the future.
This is a double lie, for the Malays will not lose political power, even if Umno is evicted from Putrajaya, as the events of post-14th General Election have illustrated.
Nor is Islam facing an existential threat in Malaysia.
National Laureate Pak Samad had several years ago posed two questions to expose the lie of such political myths, viz:
“How are Malays under threat? How can religion (Islam) and Malays be threatened when those in power have been Malay for over five decades?”; and
“What have they (Malay leaders) been doing for five decades (if Malays can be under threat)?”
The demographic reality is the surest guarantee that the Malays will not lose political power, since the Malays in Malaysia will continue to exercise political power in Malaysia as there is no way they will lose political power.
In 1970, Malaysia’s population comprised 44.32 percent Malays, 34.34 percent Chinese, 8.99 percent Indians, 11.89 percent non-Malay bumiputera, 0.67 percent others.
In 2020, the percentage of Malays and indigenous people have increased to 62%, Chinese reduced to 20.6%, Indians dropped to 6.2%, other 0.9% and non-citizens 10.3%.
I am probably the most demonized politician in Malaysia. I had been falsely accused of being anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-Royalty. Now there is campaign to paint me and the DAP leadership of having sold out the rights and interests of the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia.
I never knew that I am a “superman” – threatening the rights and position of both the Malays and the non-Malays in Malaysia in my pursuit of the Malaysian Dream.
We must be aware of the pitfalls of the Internet era, where fake news and hate speech can combine to create a “new reality” which is completely opposite to the truth and facts.
This is why after the controversy over the revised curriculum in 2019 over Jawi in Chinese and (Tamil) Primary schools, 95% of Chinese and Indian Malaysians are still not aware that for years, there was Jawi in Std. V Bahasa Malaysia textbook and that the revised curriculum to introduce Jawi in Std. IV was decided by MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP and UMNO Ministers in Sept. 2015.
MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP leaders were the loudest in 2019 in condemning the introduction of Jawi in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, although this decision was taken by their Ministers four years ago in 2015, to be implemented yearly in the revised textbooks from 2017 – 2022.
The Pakatan Harapan government made one change – making the study of Jawi in Chinese and Tamil primary schools an optional instead of a compulsory subject, but this important change had been lost on DAP demonisers and character-assassins.
DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng has been accused of stating that he was not a Chinese when he became Finance Minister in 2018. He never said he was not a Malaysian Chinese but he said he wanted to be a Finance Minister for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion.
As Malaysians, we are all going to have multiple identities – ethnic, religious, cultural - and in the early years of Malaysian nationhood, it may be understandable for Malaysians to regard themselves as Malays, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban or Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sikhist, Taoist first and Malaysian second, but if after six decades of nationhood we still regard our ethnic, religious or cultural identity first and common Malaysian identity second, then it is a failure of Malaysian nation-building and nationhood.
The Malaysian Dream is based on the principle that power must be used to unite Malaysians to ensure that their common interest of having a better life in terms of economy and jobs, education, housing, health, environment and transportation, can be met, and that we must reject the thesis of “Power for Power’s sake”.
Let us learn from the darkest days in June 2016 and learn from Sekinchan in launching a new wave of the Malaysian Dream movement!