Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Debat Perdana organised by Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar USM (MPPUSM) at the Dewan Tuanku Syed Putra, USM on ‘Malaysia Di-Persimpangan Jalan: Ke Arah Mana? on Wednesday, 22nd Jan.86 at 8.30 p.m.
Dividing Malaysians into bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras is the greatest cause of national disunity in Malaysia
The topic ,Malaysia di Persimpangan Jalan: Ke Arah Mana, is very pertinent as never before since Merdeka 30 years ago, have Malaysians been confronted with such a multiple of complex, fundamental and far-reaching problems and issues over a whole range of our national life, in political, economic, educational, cultural, social, religious and every nation-building aspect.
Malaysians increasingly feel that they have lost control not only of the nation-ls destiny, but even control over their lives and that of their children. There is growing sense of disillusionment and despair, resulting in unrest and ferment stalking the land.
There are five major areas causing such a crisis of national identity in Malaysia.
Firstly, the objective of building a united, multi-racial Malaysian nation is now as distant as ever, with racial polarisation at its worst since Merdeka.
The division of Malaysians into bumiputeras nad non-bumiputeras, which has become institutionalised, is the greatest cause of national disunity in the country. It has made the majority of Malaysians feel that they are not allowed to belong to the country.
In August last year, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir Mohamed, speaking at a Barisan Nasional Youth Workcamp at Lubuk Antu, Sarawak, referred to non-Malays as ‘immigrant races’, when they are as indigenous as anyone else, being born, work and will die here. There seem to be a policy refusal at the highest level of the political leadership in the country to give recognition to the multi-racial character in of Malaysia, and that our country is the product of the blood, sweat and tears of all Malaysians who have made Malaysia their home, and not just of anyone single community.
This attitude could best be illustrated by the STPM General Paper last November, where the formerly banned book of Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir, ‘The Malay Dilemma’, was used for a General Paper question, which aimed at disseminating the ‘assimilation’ ideas that non-Malays are ‘immigrant races’ who could not be fully accepted as Malaysians until they have abandoned their original language, culture and religion.
Such a policy of ‘bumiputraism’ pervades every aspect of government policy and national life. It formed the core of the New Economic Policy, to restructure Malaysian society by elliminating the identification of race with the economic function. But it is also the basis of the political power philosophy to perpetuate and intensify the identification of races with the political function, as there is no attempt to restructure the fairer distribution of political power in the country.
Even the new MCA leadership seemed to have come to support such double-standards of ‘bumiputraism’. This could be seen from the fact that before the 1982 general elections, the MCA Youth demanded that a Chinese should on appointed one of the two Deputy Prime Minister. Now, in the run-up to the next general elections, the MCA Youth is again making its demands-this time, that a Chinese should be appointed the Datuk Bandar of Kuala Lumpur!
In fact, the non-Malay Malaysians are beginning to feel that their position as Malaysian citizens is even worse off then the illegal Indonesian immigrants!
In Parliament, UMNO MPs openly speak with contempt about the lagitimate rights of the other communities, as in calling on those who wish to protect Chinese culture to go back to China, and those who wish to protect Indian culture to go back to India.
These events could only aggravate racial polarisation and gravely undermine national unity.
Religious Polarisation-a new threat to nation
Religious polarisation has emerged as a new threat to the multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious Malaysian nation.Malaysia has been blessed so far in that although we are a multi-religious society, we have been spared the religious strifs that had turn other societies.
However, religious polarisation is now becoming more and more serious. After the 1982 general elections, the government proclaimed and implemented ‘Islamisation’ policy in all areas of national life, disregarding the rights and sensitivities of other religious faiths.
In universities, for instance, the government is requiring all non-Muslim students to take ‘Islamisation Civilisation’ as a compulsory subject. I have no objection to non-Muslim students studying Islamic Civilisation, but if it is to be made a compulsory subject with the rationale that the exposure of Malaysian students to the culture and civilisations of other races in the country would promote inter-racial and inter-religious understanding, then all students should be required to study each other’s civilisations.
Recently, there have been a spate of under-aged non-Muslims being forced to convert to Islam, and taken forcely taken away from their homes and parents. I do not believe that there is any religious in the world advocates the break-up of the family ties and family unit, for in Eastern society, to family unit is the integral unit of society. Of family unit is destroyed, society is also destroyed.
I now that the mention of this subject would cause unhappiness to certain sections, but they should bear in mind the unhappiness of the parents who have lost theor 16-years-old or 17-years-old children.
Concentration of Political Power
The trand towards concentration of political power in the hands of the ruling party, is if unchecked, could undermine Malaysian society.
Parliament has become a rubber stamp of the Executive, deprived of a will, mind and voice of its own. This could be seen by the 1983 Constitutional Crisis where Barisan Nasional MPs are required to blindly vote for the constitutional amendments when they did nit understand its full implications, and were not even allowed to speak on the crucial amendments in the Parliamentary debates.
In fact, concentration of political power in Malaysia has reached a stage where even the Cabinet has become a rubber stamp of the Prime Ministers.
With its fourth-fifth parliamentary majority, Malaysians are now faced with the problem of the tyranny of the majority which rides roughshod over the legitimate rights of the people, whatever inside Parliament or outside.
For instance, in tyranny of the majority is used in Parliament to expel or suspend Opposition MPs, like Sdr.Karpal Singh and Sdr.Fung Ket Wing, even without cause or justification, while it is used to provide protection and immunity to Barisan Ministers and MPs who had committed grave breach of parliamentary privilege. A good example is the Information Ministerm Datuk Rais Yatim, who had openly lied to the House in the Sudirman-Noor Kumalasari episode on RTV’s ‘Setangkai Irama’ where a Chinese operatic item was on ‘Toi Loi Hua’ was censored. Although I moved a motion to refer Datuk Rais Yatim to the Committee of Privileges, the motion was killed because parliamentary time was denied!
Outside Parliament, politics of money prevail, with the government abusing its power, as in the holding of illegal public rallies which are denied to the Opposition. The Prime Minister is launching his pre-electino campaign starting with Negri Sembilan tomorrow, and will be holding a series of public rallies. The DAP will apply for public rallies to be held at the very venue by Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir to test the government’s commitment to democracy, fair play and justice.
Widening Gap between the rich and Poor
The intractable problem of poverty of farmers, fishermen and workers, in particular the massive retrenchment of workers, with the gap between the rich and poor sver-widening, poses a great danger to the stability of the nation.
The government spends hundreds and thousands of millions of dollars on prestigious projects while ignoring the basic needs of the poor for food, housing, clothing and a decent life.
The New Economic Policy was formulated and proclaimed as a recipe to eliminate proverty abd give te ‘bumiputeras’ economic upliftment, but ut has only resulted in the enrichment of a small group of the Maly elite-the ‘UMNO-putras’.
Corruption, breach of trust and public immorality
Finally, rampant and unchecked corruption, breach of public trust, abuse of power and public immorality has also brought Malaysia to the crossreads.
Although the 2M government campaigned in 1982 on the slogan of ‘Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy’ administration, corruption is even more widespread today then before.
The $2.5 billion BMF scandal, the dogged delaying tactics if the government to prevent a public accountability, the battle over the publication of the Ahmad Nordin BMF Inquiry Committee final report, doies not speak well for the government’s commitment to the principle of public accountability as well as determination to eliminate corruption and breach of public trust. The Cabinet’s decision to make public the BMD final report in Parliament on March 10 is the result of public pressure.
Up to now, the government could not convince Malaysians why a government committed to wipe out corruption and all forms of public abuses had not detained or taken action against a single person in Malaysia although the colossal sum of $2.5 billion is involved in the BMD scandal.
Unless the BMF scandal is fully exposed, the culprits brought to book, and corruption in Malaysia checked, the very social fabric of Malaysia could be destroyed.
Malaysia’s future at the present cross-roads will depend on how we handle these five important areas causing a crisis national identity in Malaysia.