Why I declined to be in the Pakatan Harapan Cabinet

There is at present an aggressive demonization campaign to make Malaysians believe that the 22-month Pakatan Harapan Government was responsible for all the woes and crisis of the country.

But is this so.

Malaya achieved Merdeka in 1957 and Malaysia was formed on Sept. 16, 1963.

I still remember in my schooldays in the fifties, Taiwan was very poor and Malaya was more developed than South Korea.

Today, after 65 years of nation-building, we have lost out to Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Vietnam, and likely to lose out at the end of this decade to China and Indonesia in the Transparency International (TI)’s annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

It was during the 22-month Pakatan Harapan government that Malaysia achieved the best TI CPI rank and score in 25 years, and if the Pakatan Harapan government had not been sabotaged and toppled by the Sheraton Move conspiracy in February 2020 and able to serve out its five year mandate, Malaysia might have achieved its ambition to be among the top 30 countries in the world for public integrity and least corruption. Now we are ranked No 62 and will go lower when the TI CPI 2022 is revealed in January next year.

We are not only facing the prospects of being overtaken by Indonesia in economic development, Malaysia is publicly berated by the Indonesian ambassador as a “disgrace” for not adhering to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Indonesian maids signed three months ago.

Are these the result of 22 months of Pakatan Harapan Government?

Of course not, they are the work of an UMNO Prime Minister!

I believe that what Malaysia achieved in the 14th General Election – the end of UMNO political hegemony by toppling the UMNO-led Barisan Nasioanl – was close to a political miracle.

There are of course those who say that the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional was headed for a defeat in the 14th General Election regardless of whether there was Mahathir in the opposition coalition – but I do not belong to this group.

In fact, if you had asked me on the morning of polling day on 9th May 2018 whether UMNO-led Barisan Nasional would be defeated, I would have answered in the negative.

Even the UMNO President and Prime Minister at the time was confident until the early evening of Polling Day not only in winning the election, but with a two-thirds parliamentary majority!

It may be asked why then I declined to be in the Pakatan Harapan cabinet of the Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

There are several reasons, including:

  1. The challenge of the Pakatan Harapan government was to re-set nation-building polices of the country after 61 years of nation-building, where instead of being “a beacon of light for a disturbed and distracted world”, we lost our way and fell into the blackhole of kleptocfacy and kakistocracy. I was the foremost critic of Mahathir in his 22 years as Prime Minister, but the challenge of 2018 was to deal with the “present and the future”, not to deal with the past;
  2. To set an example to all that politics is not for self-gain, whether money or position, but to pursue ideals and values good for the country;
  3. DAP believed in the transfer of power and responsibility to a young generation. We had three Ministers in their fifties, two in their forties and one in the thirties as compared to our allies, two parties with leaders in Cabinet who were in their sixties and another one, with two leaders one in the nineties and one in the seventies;
  4. DAP was in fact a party of youths, who comprised the majority of Malaysians. Wnen I became DAP Secretary-General, I was 28 years old. At that time, we had three members in the Central Executive Committee who were in in the twenties – and even more important, were the driving force in the party. In the sixties, the idea of a youth wing never occurred to us because the DAP national, leadership was spearheaded by youths;
  5. Today, the Prime Minister Ismail Sabri announced that a senator will be appointed among the youths. We do not want a Senator to be appointed among the youths, we want more- a government run by youths or at least a government which is fully-versed with the vision and aspirations of youths in the country;
  6. To be an external check on the Pakatan Harapan government. I saw Mahathir in mid-2019 to impress on him the importance of the government fulfilling the Pakatan Harapan election pledges and to be transparent and truthful with the voters if there were any election pledges which could not be fulfilled. I wanted to meet the Prime Minister, whether Mahathir or Anwar Ibrahim, in the mid-term of the Pakatan Harapan government at the end of 2020, but this became academic as the Pakatan Harpaan government was toppled by the Sheraton Move conspiracy in Feb. 2020.

I reiterate my position that the most important question in Malaysia today is not who will win the next general election, but whether Malaysia will become a failed state before Malaysia’s Centennial in four decades from now, becoming an even greater kleptocracy and kakistocracy.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri