Is the Anwar Ibrahim government the beginning of a new political era or is it a false dawn?

Is the Anwar Ibrahim government the beginning of a new political era or is it a false dawn?

This is the most important question of the 15th General Election on November 19, 2022.

I fully support the DAP Secretary-General Anthony Loke in taking a stand prior to the formation of Anwar Ibrahim’s coalition government, pledging DAP’s unconditional support to the Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister.

But I can understand the frustrations, unhappiness, and disappointments from DAP members, supporters, and voters who felt that there was no fair reflection in the Cabinet composition based on DAP’s voting and parliamentary representation, and this must be noted.

I was not a candidate in the 15th General Election but I have been to eight states and clocked some 15,000 kilometres in the two weeks of the election campaign, and everywhere I went, I did not come across any anti-Malay, anti-Chinese, anti-Indian, anti-Dayak, anti-Kadazan or anti-Muslim, anti-Buddhist, anti-Hindu, anti-Christianity sentiment on the ground, confirming that Malaysians are the most tolerant and sensitive of people.

But during elections, there are political parties and personalities who want Malaysians to believe that the Malays and Islam are under threat and face extinction.

Why is this so? Who want to threaten the Malays or wipe out Islam?

I am optimistic about the future.

If the Anwar government can last five years, and we can explain that the fear that the Malays and Islam are being downgraded is a figment of the propaganda and the toxic politics of lies, fear, hate, race, and religion of irresponsible politicians in the information age, we stand a good chance to succeed in our mission to reset nation-building principles and policies as set out by nation’s founding fathers, which include the first four UMNO Presidents, for Malaysia to be “a beacon of light in a difficult and distracted world”.

I always believe that Malaysia can be a great plural nation because Malaysia stands at the confluence of four great civilisations ⁠— Malay/Islamic, Chinese, Indian, and Western ⁠— and if we can leverage on the values and virtues of these four great civilisations, Malaysia can be a great nation, better than the countries in the Middle East, China, India, and Indonesia.

The most important challenge of the Anwar Ibrahim government is to ensure that it marks a new political era to reset the national agenda to return to the original nation-building principles of the nation’s founders, and that it is not a false dawn.

Now that I have withdrawn from the frontline of the DAP leadership, I will like to read the book “Why Nations Fail” which my friend, Kalimullah Hassan have given me many years back but I have had no time to read it.

I will like more leaders and academicians to discuss why Malaysia had failed in the last six decades to maintain her position as first-rate world-class nation to become a second-class mediocre nation, and how Malaysia can avoid becoming a failed, divided and kleptocratic state on Malaysia’s Centennial in another four decades.

The blurb on the book, “Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty” by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, said:

“Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

“Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

“Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

“Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities.

“The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions–with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.

“Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today.”

The Anwar Ibrahim government should mark the turning point of the country from a failing state to reset nation-building principles to restore our original dream to be one of the first-rate world-class nations in the world.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Veteran