Ismail Sabri should realise how fragile is the “Keluarga Malaysia” edifice of his premiership when two incidents could threaten to demolish it yesterday

The Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri should realise how fragile is the “Keluarga Malaysia” edifice of his premiership when two incidents could threaten to demolish it yesterday: firstly, the racist remark by a Bersatu leader against national women’s singles player S. Kisona, using a racially derogatory “K” term; and secondly, when a preacher Ustaz Syakir Nasoha was seen in a viral video making disparaging racial comments about non-Muslim religions and the Dayak community.

If the Rukun Negara principles of nation-building for a united multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia had been fully promoted among Malaysians in the past half a century, such disparaging remarks would not have occurred.

If Malaysians had been fully imbued in the past half-a-century with the five Rukun Negara principles of nation-building, they would have appreciated the national strength that could be derived from the virtues and best values of the four great civilisations that meet in confluence in Malaysia – Muslim, Chinese, Indian and Western.

But now we have Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Members of Parliament who challenge and dispute the legitimacy and appropriateness of the five Rukun Negara principles in the building of an united, prosperous and successful plural Malaysia.

Ismail Sabri gave a good interview on local television stations yesterday calling on Malaysians to unite as a family, setting aside religious, racial and political differences.

Ismail said: "I want us to live like a family, where we forget all our differences, whether in terms of religion, race, or even political differences should be set aside, so that all the people work together to develop Malaysia.”

He said differences among members of the community should be appreciated and not be an obstacle to unity.

He added that the spirit of cooperation was also highlighted through the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Transformation and Political Stability signed by him as Prime Minister and Pakatan Harapan leaders on Sept 13, in the interest of the people and the country, especially in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

He described it as the new politics of Malaysia, similar to the practice in developed countries, where the government and the opposition work together to develop the country.

He said: “So between the opposition and the government, (we) together build the country. Yes, we fight, but during election time every five years. Once the people have given the mandate to establish a government, we have to build this country together.

"Politicking should be stopped because the opposition can also provide views as check and balance, and at the same time, we will follow what is good, and thus, we can together develop the country."

This was not the Ismail Sabri before he became Prime Minister.l

If this spirit had been followed in the recent past, the Pakatan Harapan Government would not have been toppled after 22 months by the undemocratic, illegitimate and backdoor Sheraton Move conspiracy, and today Anwar Ibrahim would be the eighth Malaysian Prime Minister to implement the various institutional and parliamentary reforms promised in the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto of the 14th General Election to make Malaysia a world-class great nation, far from the coils of a kleptocracy and a kakistocracy.

When the country is faced with an existential threat, as in the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone in the country must put aside their difference ensure that Malaysia win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic and save millions of Malaysians from Covid-19 and tens of thousands from Covid-19 deaths.

Let there be a political moratorium for 10 – 18 months until the next general election – as the immediate task is to ensure the survival of Malaysia - to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic and reset the political landscape with institutional and parliamentary reforms so that Malaysia can embark on economic, social and national recovery.

This was what happened in United Kingdom in the Second World War. When Hitlerite Germany threatened the existence of UK, when at this perilous hour of 1940, Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee forged a partnership that transcended party lines for five years.

Once their victory over Hitler’s Germany was achieved, the two partners were opponents again, fighting an acrimonious campaign in the July 1945 General Election from which Attlee emerged as the overwhelming victor.

Attlee became the Prime Minister in July 1945 and Churchill, who first created the post of Deputy Prime Minister for Attlee during the war coalition, became the Opposition Leader. After the 1951 British General Election, Churchill and Attlee exchanges places with the former became again Prime Minister while the latter was Opposition Leader.

Pakatan Harapan had not gone so far as to become part of Ismail Sabri government in the Covid-19 pandemic and would continue its role as the loyal but constructive opposition.

It is not a foregone conclusion that Ismail Sabri will be the sure winner in the next General Election because he has yet to prove that he has the best vision for the future of Malaysia.

Until he became Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri was dead set against the concept of a “Keluarga Malaysia’. Can he change and prove his commitment to his vision of a “Keluarga Malaysia”?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri