DAP is first and foremost a party dedicated to national interests and that is why I have proposed a political moratorium thrice in my 57 years of political work

DAP is first and foremost a party dedicated to the national interests and that is why I have proposed a political moratorium thrice in my 57 years of political work - in 1969, 1987 and 2021.

The first time was during my first Internal Security Act detention when on 5th August 1969, I wrote a letter from the Muar Detention Centre to the then Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman and conveyed to him my anxieties for the future of Malaysia.

Referring to the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) threat, I said:

“I have no doubt that given the choice, Malaysians of all races want their political, economic, social and cultural grievances and discontents to be resolved peacefully rather than violently.

“In Malaysia, the democratic process represents change by peaceful means while the MCP represents change by violence.

“It will be tragic if a situation should ever arise where the democratic process is discredited, for in such a popular disillusionment with democracy, the MCP will benefit and its popularity and appeal enhanced.”

I stressed: “This task of racial reconciliation can only succeed if it is a national, all-party, all-races effort. The government alone cannot ensure its success.”

I said that the result of May 10, 1969 General Election was the people’s verdict for democracy, as against the MCP campaign. There was joy and expectancy after the results, not to deprive anyone of his rights but at the new hope to work for a more just, equal and fulfilling society.

I appealed to Tunku at the moment of the nation’s trial to “rise above party politics and think only of the long-term national interests”.

To ensure communal harmony and goodwill, and the development of a Malaysian consciousness and identity, transcending racial ties and affinities, I made three proposals, including the establishment of an all-party, all-races Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe into “the entire gamut of racial problems in Malaysia with the view to seek long-term solutions”.

I ended the letter stressing that I was not writing as a “party politician but as a Malaysian nationalist, who do not want our beloved country slither down the path that Nigeria is now taking.”

The second time was one day before my second Internal Security Act detention and I made the proposal in Parliament during the debate on the 1988 Budget on October 26, 1987 – a day before the Operation Lalang mass arrests were launched.

I proposed a one-year moratorium for all political parties where no racial, language, cultural or religious issues would be created or raised for everyone to concentrate on the national priority of achieving economic recovery and growth.

After a 12-hour panic on Oct. 19, 1987 as a result of the Jalan Chow Kit shooting spree, the then Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayob, warned that Malaysia was teetering on the edge of a racial volcano, and that the government should take a deep look as to why a criminal incident could set off a 12-hour Panic in the Federal capital and country that another May 13 riots had started.

I said that unless sanity could prevail and return to the Malaysian body politic and all political leaders and parties stop stocking the racial flames of hatred and ill-will, then the racial volcano will one day explode, turning Malaysia into another Sri Lanka.

I said: “As elected representatives of the people, MPs have a special responsibility to set the example that we can talk to each other about the country’s complex and myriad problems, to achieving a greater degree of mutual understanding if not agreement, respecting each other’s sensitivities, without resorting to race-baiting or provocations.”

I pledged that DAP will adhere to making Parliament the highest forum where the elected representatives of people from all parties could “sensibly, rationally and coolly, discuss and debate the most burning issues of the day.”

I proposed that all political parties agree to a one-year moratorium, where no racial, language, cultural or religion issues will be created or raised, so that every Malaysian could concentrate on the national priority of achieving economic recovery and growth. The status quo as on January 1, 1987 in all these matters should be maintained.

The third time was during the Covid-19 pandemic when on June 17, 2021, I called for a political moratorium where there is only one national priority – to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic and to ensure that the Covid-19 fatalities did not exceed 5,000 deaths.

From a country which was doing quite well in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysia had suddenly become one of the world’s top worst performing nations in the Covid-19 pandemic.

I called on the country to make a new start in the war against Covid-19 pandemic, which had caused devastating consequences to the life, economy and society of Malaysians, registering a cumulative total of 673,025 Covid-19 cases and 4,142 Covid-19 deaths.

I said: “Let us put aside our differences, whether political or otherwise, and single-mindedly win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I therefore propose a one-year political moratorium which can be extended to two years where there is only one national priority – to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic and to ensure that Covid-19 fatalities do not exceed 5,000 deaths.”

I suggested that the various Parliamentary Select Committees should be able to function effectively.

I said: “In fact, there should be a reform and new vision of the role that can be played by Parliament and the various parliamentary select committees to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Malaysians do not want any constitutional crisis in any form but a single-minded focus by every Malaysian, whether in the Executive or the Legislatures, to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic – and this must remain the nation’s single-minded focus whether it takes one or two years.

“Let Malaysians show the world that we can win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic and that we have the wartime mentality to unite against a common foe in the Covid-19 pandemic which is killing Malaysians every day and threatening to destroy the very fabric of the Malaysian nation.”

A historic confidence-supply-reform (CSR) memorandum of understanding (MOU) had been signed between the Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and the four Pakatan Harapan leaders on Sept. 13, 2021 to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic and carry out institutional and parliamentary reforms for economic, social and national recovery.

At the moment of national peril, we must all be prepared to put all political, racial, religious and personal differences aside to ensure that the national interests of all Malaysians prevail, and for this reason, let every Malaysian play their part to make the CSR MOU succeed to surmount the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is a critical and crucial test for Malaysia and all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or politics, to unite as Malaysians and subordinate their separate interests for the greater national good.

We must recognise that if Malaysia is to survive the challenges of Covid-19 pandemic, all Malaysians must unite as Malaysians and be prepared to put aside their racial, religious, regional and political differences.

For if Malaysia fails, no race, religion, region or political party can benefit from it.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri