Introduction of new book: “Malaysia – Crisis of Identity” which signifies Malaysia being at the crossroads in search of her national identity

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya DAP Hqrs on Saturday, June 28, 1986 at 12 noon

Introduction of new book: “Malaysia – Crisis of Identity” which signifies Malaysia being at the crossroads in search of her national identity

This press conference is to introduce my new book ‘Malaysia – Crisis of Identity’, which is the third collection of parliamentary speeches following ‘Time Bombs in Malaysia’ published in 1978 and ‘Malaysia in the Dangerous Eighties’ published in 1982.

This 536-page book, which contains my major parliamentary speeches except for my last two speeches, on the $2.5 billion BMF scandal which has appeared separately in the book entitled ‘BMF – The Scandal of Scandals’, is entitled ‘Malaysia-Crisis of Identity’ because this captures in essence the national agony of the past four years.

Although Malaysia will be entering into her 30th year of nationhood in two months time after the 29th National Day celebrations on August 31, 1986, we are still struggling to establish our national identity.

This struggle has assumed crisis proportion in the past four years and has contributed to the most serious in Malaysian history crisis of confidence .

The book covers the issues and challenges which have cumulatively created this crisis of identity and crisis of confidence in Malaysia in the past four years.

The first official opening of Parliament in October 1982 after the general elections declaring the Barisan Nasional’s Government’s ‘One Language, One Culture’ Policy’ plunged the country into a crisis of identity.

The crux of the crisis of identity could be summed up in the question as to whether Malaysia is committed to the evolvement of ‘one citizenry, many languages, many cultures’ or ‘one citizenry, one language, one culture’.

The Islamisation policy and process, first promulgated after the 1982 general elections, coupled with the increasingly strident call for an Islamic state, has added a new intensity to the crisis of identity in Malaysia.

Widespread parental anxiety at the recent spate of forced conversions of non-Muslim minors to Islam, without parental knowledge or consent, and the forcible abduction of these minors from their families and homes, have highlighted how religion could become highly divisive factor in Malaysia. If the rights and sensitivities of all groups and religions, and in particular of the parents, are not fully respected, it could be the single most aggravating cause of racial polarisation in our plural society.

The long shadow of BMF over the Sixth Parliament

The $2.5 billion BMF scandal – the Scandal of Scandals – cast its long and dark shadow over the entire Sixth Parliament, from its first meeting in October 1582 (when the mighty Carrian empire made up of BMF funds first began to crumble) to its very end, whether Parliament is dissolved in the next few days or next year.

This was in a way symbolic, for it serves as a reminder to all Malaysians as to how the Government had deviated from the Barisan Nasional general elections pledge of a ‘Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy’ Government.

The BMF’ scandal was not the only scandal to rock the Malaysian society it was only the biggest of them all!

Democracy on Trial

Another element of the crisis of identity was the type of political system we are building – whether we genuinely are committed to a democratic government. Democracy was under great test and trial these past four years especially the past 16 months over the Sabah political and constitutional crisis.

Malaysian democracy will face an even greater test in the coming general elections. It is ironic but true that under the present political conditions, the greatest threat to functioning parliamentary democracy comes from the Barisan Nasional Government, with its entrenched and overwhelming parliamentary majority.

This was why in the past four years, authoritarian laws were further tightened up, with the enactment of the new Printing Presses and Publications Act, the amendment to the official Secrets Act, and numerous amendments to the Malaysian Constitution to arm the government of the day with an arsenal of highly repressive powers.

Parliament was not unaffected by such an authoritarian trend, as seen by the manner in which DAP MPs were suspended either for one parliamentary meeting, as in the case of the MP for Sandakan, Sdr. Fung Ket Wing, or indefinitely till the end of Parliament, as in the case of the MP for Jelutong, Sdr. Karpal Singh.

Economic Crisis

The crisis of identity, the crisis of confidence, have further deepened the economic crisis in Malaysia. The low commodity prices, the nation’s deficits and the burgeoning foreign debt of $40 billion have been compounded by a capital flight by Malaysians who have no confidence in Malaysia’s future, fairness or justice.

The Government leaders want to pretend that there is nothing amiss in our country, and for this purpose, it is using the propaganda machinery at its command to create a false atmosphere of confidence in the country.

The publication of ‘Malaysia-Crisis of Identity’ is to enable Malaysians to understand why in the past four years, the crisis of confidence in Malaysia have reached such an intractable and serious stage to the extent that we may soon face a crisis of legitimacy – where the people will question the legitimacy of the government leaders to rule.

Malaysians must understand the issues and challenges which had emerged in the past four years before they could take a grip of the situation to restore confidence in the country, and resolve the crisis of identity in Malaysia.

If this book makes more Malaysians think deeply what is wrong with Malaysia, and imbued with a determination to right these wrongs, it would have served its purpose.

The book is priced at $15.