Let us rise from our disappointments after our high hopes in the 14th General Election to continue the mission to unite Malaysia into a world-class great nation to prove Bapa Malaysia right that Malaysia can be “beacon of light to a difficult and distracted world”

I am overawed and overwhelmed by this Impian Theatre project which is the product of a two-year labour of love, solidarity and idealism of Datuk K.Y. Chan, Tony Pua, the curators, Kenny Teng and Wendy Chang, and the 80 artists from all races and religions in Malaysia for their 100 artworks, and in particular the commemorative publication by Tony Pua, “A Malaysian Artists’ Visual Biography of Lim Kit Siang” with a most creative “Pied Piper” artwork by Jeganathan Ramachandran.

The 55 years in Malaysian politics since the end of 1965 had been quite a journey in pursuit of the Malaysian Dream.

But I am concerned more about the future than the past. For the past six decades, we have both successes and failures, achievements and upsets in this journey, and undoubtedly one highlight was the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018 when Malaysians stood up and showed the world that that we are capable of peaceful and democratic transition of power and an united national stand against kleptocracy.

We have continued to show our excellence, as when Lee Zii Jia of Alor Star won the All-England Badminton Singles title.

I fully agree with Yusuf Hashim, photographer and gypsetter, who recently ruminated whether “those that preach supremacy of one race” will also be as proud of Zii Jia’s achievement, and wrote in his Facebook about the challenges of a plural Malaysia:

“All every Malaysian wants, is simply to take their rightful places in this country of their birth.

“They don’t really want or need extra special treatment. Just an equal chance to compete for whatever should rightly be available to ALL Malaysians, by virtue of being a true blue Malaysian because this is the country of their birth, including the country of birth of their parents and probably their Grandparents as well.

“I believe, almost all Malaysians today, are actually 4th , 5th or even 6th or more generation Malaysians.

“So ALL of us, irrespective of race or religion, deserve equal treatment, and equal access, to all opportunities. Those that need assistance, no matter their race or religion, MUST be accorded assistance.

“The moment we forsake meritocracy over a long period, a nation will be doomed.

“For a short temporary period, in order to address a specific imbalance, setting meritocracy aside is probably tolerable and manageable.

“If it is practiced over an extended period, it could mutate into a dangerous norm, with terrible, and irreparable long term consequences, for the nation.

“I fear we may already have passed that milestone, with politicians, little Napoleons, civil servants in authority, and even inconsequent clerks, routinely dispensing racism and discrimination, as the norm.”

Yusuf Hashim wants racial fear mongering and race baiting to be made illegal because the long-term consequences for harmony in Malaysia as a nation could be irreparably harmed and even destroyed.

Yusuf Hashim made an appeal to all Malaysians to shout down and silence the race mongers, and to look at all other Malaysians as Malaysians, as equally deserving of all that this bountiful land had to offer.

He wrote: “There is enough here for everybody. We could achieve so much more working closely together as one people and one nation. We will get very far ahead, if we allow the best among us, to rise to the top, and work to pull the rest who are not so gifted, up with them as well.”

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.

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.

For this Malaysian Dream to come true, it must not remain the preserve of the politicians and must be the dream of all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.

It is not to ask Malaysians to cease to be a Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban or a Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sikh or Taoist, but to ask Malayians to agree that they are first and foremost a Malaysian.

The Malaysian Dream can only be realised if not we do not allow dangerous and desperate politicians to exploit the toxic politics of lies, hate and fake new to make sections of Malaysians to believe that their race or religion is at stake, as no race or religion wants to wipe out other races and religions.

The high hopes of the 14th General Election have descended into disappointment, despondency and even despair as the five-year Pakatan Harapan electoral mandate to reset nation-building policies for Malaysia to return to the founding principles of the Malaysian Constitution and Rukunegara had been derailed after 22 months by the Sheraton Move conspiracy – which has ushered in not only the second wave and the longest third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the world but placed the country on the trajectory of a kakistocracy.

We must reset nation-building policies for a New Malaysia where there is unity, justice, freedom, excellence, meritocracy, separation of powers, the rule of law, public integrity and respect for human rights and return to the five pillar-promises of Pakatan Harapan to:

  • Reduce the people’s burden;
  • Institutional and political reforms;
  • Spur sustainable and equitable economic growth;
  • Return Sabah and Sarawak to the status accorded in Malaysia Agreement 1963; and
  • Create a Malaysia that is inclusive, moderate and respected globally.

We must combat the many negativities in Malaysia, especially fake news and hate speech to incite inter-racial and inter-religious suspicion, fear and hatred and prove to the world that Malaysia can 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 which meet in confluence in Malaysia – Malay/Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western to be “a beacon of light to a difficult and distracted world”.

Can Malaysia fulfil Tunku Abdul Rahman’s aspiration for Malaysia to be a “beacon of light in a difficult and distracted world”?

The world is becoming very “difficult and distracted” from the Boulder, Colorado mass slaying of 10 people in the United States last week, the seventh mass shooting in the United States in the seven days, to the killing of more than 100 peaceful demonstrators by the Myanmese army yesterday.

But we have lost the moral high ground in the international arena, unlike the early days of our nationhood when we were in the forefront condemning “apartheid” policies.

This is why the Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin’s call on the Myanmar military to release Myanmese elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi and to change course from violence to peace was ignored as Muhyiddin himself had ignored national and international calls for the convening on Parliament and the lifting of the emergency and the end of the abuse of the Covid-19 pandemic to cover a multitude of sins!

Malaysia’s diminished status on the world stage has been further highlighted yesterday by Malaysia’s omission in the invitation by President Biden of the United States to 40 world leaders to a virtual Leaders Summit on the Climate crisis on April 22 and 23, although the leaders of Singapore , Indonesia and Vietnam were invited.

Yesterday, PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang supported the delay in lowering the voting age to 18, on the ground that voters who were not mature will pick an immature government.

The PAS President is clearly unaware that some 90 per cent of the 57 countries in the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) have voting age at 18 years old – including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Algeria, Libya and Palestine.

We have the largest Cabinet in Malaysian history. I call on all the Ministers to take a clear-cut stand at the Cabinet next Wednesday to resign collectively if they cannot fulfil Parliament’s mandate that Malaysians over the age of 18 should be able to vote in the next general election.

At least, the Communications and Multimedia Minister, Saifuddin Abdullah is speaking up, saying that the implementation of 18-year-old voting age should be expedited and that “definitions of youth, maturity and the like are subjective”.

But he has still to speak up and admit that the 2018 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) fiasco was solely his own making when he was Foreign Minister in Pakatan Harapan Government and that DAP had nothing to do with the proposed ICERD ratification although DAP was the target of demonization for being anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-Royalty!

The ICERD fiasco, although 55 of the 57 Muslim countries in the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and 99% of the Muslims in the world who live in the 179 countries had ratified ICERD, marked the beginning of the end of the duly-elected and legitimate Pakatan Harapan Government and its toppling by the Sheraton Move with the use of the toxic politics of lies, fear, hatred, race and religion to incite inter-racial and inter-religious polarisation, hatred and fear.

Recently, a PAS leader expressed PAS hopes to win a two-thirds majority in the next general election with the help of it’s allies in order to get a two-thirds majority in Parliament to redraw electoral boundaries to benefit Malays and Muslims.

After six decades of Malaysian nationhood, there are still political forces which want to divide Malaysians along ethnic, religious, cultural or other ties which are antithetical to the Malaysian Dream.

I hope this Impian Theatre of a Malaysian Dream can make a small contribution to the awakening from a new generation of Malaysians to rise from our disappointments after our high hopes in the 14th General Election to continue the mission to unite Malaysia into a world-class great nation to prove Bapa Malaysia right that Malaysia can be “beacon of light to a difficult and distracted world”.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri