From a swimming pool to “kleptocracy at its worst” – Malaysia needs reset to become a world-class great nation as we have lost our way in the last half-a-century to become an increasingly mediocre country

I recommend that all MPs and Malaysians should read four books which were published recently:

  1. What’s In A Name - Nazir Razak
  2. Capturing Hope – Mahathir Mohamad
  3. Final Reckoning = Romen Bose
  4. Paradise Lost – Dennis Ignatius

The former Attorney-General, whose book “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness” should also be read, yesterday wrote a book review of what he described as “Bombshell revelations by Najib apologist” said the book by Romen Bose, whom he described as Najib’s “spin-doctor”, should not be dismissed out of hand, “principally because the author, unwittingly or otherwise, discloses many national and political secrets and the possible commission of crimes”, some which had made the local rumour-mills contemporaneously.

I will like to begin with a quote from Dennis Ignatius’ book “Paradise Lost” (although I do not agree that Malaya in 1957 and Malaysia in 1963 was a paradise):

“Given the way things have unfolded in the last few years, there is understandably a great deal of gloom about the future. Many are so disgusted and disillusioned that they want nothing more to do with our politics because they have concluded that the system is hopelessly beyond repair, that nothing will change no matter who they vote for. Not a few have suggested to me that our nation is now in a downward spiral that cannot be reversed; other talk about leaving. Time and time again, as I took straw polls at social gatherings and meetings, the majority shook their heads in despair when asked about the future. It is not hard to understand their despair.

“But our past doesn’t have to define our future. The future is what we make of it, it is not written in stone. It will be determined by the choices we make and the decisions we take going forward. Anything is possible; GE14 proved that. Looking ahead, I see both harbingers of hope and auguries of despair. How these eventually play out and to what degree will, I think, determine what our future will look like.” (p.298)

Let me quote another extract, this time from Nazir Razak’s book:

“When we were all still young my brothers and I once trooped into my father’s office with a request to make: we asked him to build a swimming pool in the ground s of Seri Taman. My eldest brother Najib was the ringleader, corralling the rest of us to make the case, standing in front of my father’s desk in his study. My father listened to our proposal carefully and then calmly dismissed it. ‘How would it look,’ he asked, eyebrows raised, ‘if the Prime Minister spent public money on building a swimming pool for his family?” (p.51)

From a swimming pool to the 1MDB “kleptocracy at its worst”, Malaysia has lost its way to become a world-class great nation, or to use Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman’s words, “a haven of peace, harmony and happiness” and “a beacon of light in a difficult and distracted world”.

Malaysia needs a reset to become a world-class great nation and there is no reason why we cannot achieve this vision as Malaysia is at the confluence of four great civilisations – Malay/Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western – and we can achieve this goal by leveraging on the best values and virtues of these four great civilisations.

Nothing can better illustrate that Malaysia has lost its way when descendants from a great civilisation which goes back for 6,000 years could hail a convicted criminal of corruption as “the national pride” of Malaysia!

If Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, cannot distinguish between what is right and what is wrong, it is not only a failure of the national education system and nation building for the past half-a-century, there could be no future for Malaysia.

I do not think so. The three recent great tests for Malaysia – the two-year Covid-19 pandemic, the “once-in-a-century” floods disaster and the worst crisis of confidence of the country’s anti-corruption agency, the MACC – shows that Malaysians can differentiate right from wrong and that Malaysia’s future is not a lost cause.

The DAP for the past half-a-century has been in the forefront to demand reforms to bring about an united and inclusive citizenry, regardless of race, religion or region; a free press, an independent judiciary, a vibrant Parliament, a competent civil service and an accountable police force.

We must again be in forefront to mobilise Malaysians to spearhead the reset of national policies in the next half-a-century to bring about such institutional reforms so that Malaysia can be a world-class great nation.

I was basically a non-person in the mainstream printed media until 2018, when suddenly I became a person, and I have again become a non-person after the Sheraton Move in February 2020.

We must not give in to hopelessness, dejection or despair. We have suffered great setbacks but we have achieved great strides.

The country is in a deep crisis and as a result the DAP is facing an unprecedented crisis.

To overcome this crisis, the party must do five things.

Firstly, we must return to the forefront to continue our national mission and to be in the vanguard for institutional change in Malaysia.

Malaysia has only a future as a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation and not as a Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Dayak land or as a Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sikhist or Taoist country.

This is the Merdeka and Malaysia compact.

That is why there is the provision in the Malaysian Constitution that any Malaysian can be a Prime Minster of Malaysia, and the post is not exclusively only for a Malay or a Muslim.

There is of course the political reality, and even in the United States, it has taken more than 200 years for a black man to become the President of the United States and an ethnic Indian to become the Vice President of the United States.

I do not know whether it will take 200 or more years for a non-Malay to become the Prime Minister of Malaysia, but the Merdeka and Malaysia compact is that any Malaysian can aspire to the highest political office in the land, whatever the political realitities of the country.

We must return to the forefront for Malaysians to be Malaysian first, and not Malay first, Chinese first, Indian first, Kadazan first or Dayak first.

For half-a-century, we have been in decline, overtaken by countries like Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.

We must be in the forefront that Malaysia buck up and cease to be a mediocre country, or countries like Indonesia and Philippines will overtake us in the coming decades.

Secondly, we must make Malaysians realise the historic significance of the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018 when we ended the political hegemony of UMNO.

Now most people are wiser after the event and claimed they had expected the 14th general election result

If you had asked me on the morning of May 9, 2018, I would say I never expected UMNO to be toppled that day.

According to Roman Bose’ insider account in his book, Najib Razak was expecting a restoration of UMNO’s two-thirds parliamentary majority until the end of polling on May 9, 2018.

The 14th General Election results produced a new political scenario seeking a new political equilibrium where the voices of the people matter in shaping the destiny of the nation resulting in the turmoil which saw four Prime Ministers in five years.

The lesson for Malaysians is to realise that a political struggle to make Malaysia a world-class great nation is a long and arduous one and require perseverance and stamina for the long haul.

It has taken half-a-century to break UMNO political hegemony.

Will we need another half-a-century before Malaysia’s Centennial in 2063 to become a world- class great nation?

Thirdly, we must make Malaysians understand the significance of the confidence-supply-reform (CSR) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and the four Pakatan Harapan leaders on Sept. 13, 2021.

Critics have accused Pakatan Harapan leaders for ceasing to be Opposition leaders, that they have been co-opted by the government, saying that there was no CSR MoU for the past half-a-century.

They failed to realise that it is the historic decision of the 14th General Election which ended the UMNO political hegemony which produced conditions for the CSR MoU, as in the past half-a-century.

It was because Ismail Sabri was the weakest Prime Minister in the nation’s history that produced the conditions that made the CSR MoU possible.

Six conditions were among the factors which made the CSR MoU possible and necessary:

  1. The end of UMNO political hegemony on May 9, 2018 where no single political party enjoys a simple majority of Parliament and which created a situation where CSR MOU was feasible. The MOU was unheard-of in the past six decades because UMNO exercised political hegemony.
  2. The MoU does not provide for the political advancement of any PH political leader and the CSR MoU is an open document without any secret clauses. Any claim that the CSR MoU has secret clauses is completely baseless.
  3. We stopped the PH’s numbers of parliamentarians being used in the “Game of Thrones” of Government parties in the conspiracy to be Prime Minister, as whatever the combination and permutation, Anwar Ibrahim would not be named Prime Minister whether by PN or BN.
  4. The CSR MOU was to unite the efforts of all Malaysians to end the exponential increase of Covid-19 cases and deaths. There were 24,599 Covid-19 cases and 393 fatalities on August 26, 2021, five days after Ismail Sabri was sworn in as the ninth Prime Minister of Malaysia, If this exponential daily increase of Covid-19 cases and deaths had not been stopped, we might have cumulative totals of five to 10 million Covid-19 cases and 100,000 – 200,000 Covid-19 deaths at the end of 2021, instead of 2.75 million Covid-19 cases and 31,500 Covid-19 deaths.
  5. Pakatan Harapan insisted that the PN government allocate RM45 billion to help Malaysians affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  6. A minimal political consensus for the start of institutional reforms in the country.

But we must not be the slaves of CSR MoU. If Ismail Sabri crossed “red lines” violating what is most decent and honest, then PR leaders must review the CSR MoU.

Fourthly, to make Malaysians understand that the 22-month Pakatan Harapan government was not an unmitigated failure or disaster.

There is legitimate reasons to be unhappy with the pace of institutional reform or the rate of implementation of the election pledges, for I myself am not happy with the 22-month Pakatan Harapan government for I believe it could have done better.

But it is impossible for any government to fulfil an election manifesto meant for five years or 60 months in 22 months as the PH government was toppled by undemocratic, unconstitutional and illegitimate means by the Sheraton Move conspiracy in 22 months.

I met Mahathir in mid-2019 and expressed my concern about the rate of fulfilling the PH election manifesto. I had intended to meet the Prime Minister after the mid-term of the PH government but the PH government was toppled after 22 months.

The PH mandate to fulfil the election manifesto was for five years. If in the first half of the term, the implementation of the election manifesto was slow because of resistance, opposition or even sabotage, this could be remedied in the second half of the five-year term by an acceleration to implement the election pledges. But this was rendered impossible when the PH government was toppled in 22 months.

Fifthly, we must take more effective measures to counter the lies and falsehoods, the misinformation and disinformation that the DAP is anti-Malay and anti-Muslim which is now accompanied by the falsehoods that DAP had betrayed Chinese rights and interests.

We must at all times be “Malaysian First” in mindset, mentality and action for we do not believe in Malays first, Chinese first, Indians first, Kadazans first or Dayaks first but in Malaysia First to make Malaysia a world-class great nation – even if we have to take another half-a-century for Malaysia to cease to be a mediocre country.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri