Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Mp for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the launching of the new book, ‘Malaysia – Crisis of Identity’ in Penang on Friday, 4th July 1986 at 4.30pm
DAP’s Political Objective: First-class citizenship for all Malaysians, regardless of race
Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, said yesterday that a government should be strong if its people are to benefit, and this was why the Barisan Nasional wanted a two-third majority in the next general elections, and not because it was power crazy.
Ever since Merdeka 29 Years ago, the ruling parties, the Nasional has failed to resolve the biggest nation-building responsibility of any government, namely to create nasional unity out of the diverse races and cultures in Malaysia.
Objective and impartial Malaysians, including former Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn and Former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam have publicly admitted that racial polarisation in Malaysia have become the most acute in Malaysian history, including among the new generation of Malaysians.
Why has the Barisan Nasional’s two-third, fourth-fifth or even 90 per cent parliamentary majority failed so dismally to create a more united and harmonious Malaysian nation and identity in the three decades of Malaysian nation-hood?
Malaysians today face a serious crisis of identity, as to what type of a Malaysian nation we are building, whether all Malaysians regardless of race, would find an equal place under the Malaysian sun; whether we believe in the constitutional guarantees of fundamental liberties and democratic right for Malaysians, or we are swiftly taking on an authoritarian and repressive visage in our polktical system; whether we believe in a just and egalitarian society where the resources of the state are harnessed to and rather than exacerbate socio-economic injustices and inequalities; whether moral values have a place in our society. These and many other crucial questions determining the type of Malaysians nation and society cry out for answer, they could evoke only distress, frustration and alienation in our country.
This is the real battle being fought in the Malaysians political arena, whether inside Parliament or outside. This is why I have decided to give third collection of my parliamentary speeches from 1982 the title ‘Malaysia: ‘Crisis of Identity’, for this is the underlying and enveloping theme in the great political issues being fought out in the country.
We can only find our Malaysian identity if we can make every Malaysian proud of Malaysia. We cannot make every Malaysian proud of his country if he or she faces discrimination, injustice and inequality at every turn, whether in scholarship-application, university places, job or business opportunities.
This is why the Dap’s political objective is to ensure that every Malaysian enjoys first class citizenship, regardless of race, So long as Malaysians feel that they are divided into different categories, where some are regarded as first class while others are treated as second or third-class citizens, there can be no resolution of Malaysia’s crisis of identity. Today, there are even citizens who feel that they do not enjoy as much rights and status as illegal Indonesian or Filipino immigrants!
Crisis of Confidence
With its overwhelming parliamentary majority, the Barisan Nasional has not only failed to resolve the crisis of identity in Malaysia, it has also brought about the most serious crisis of confidence in Malaysia history.
A few days ago, Ghaffar Baba urged Malaysian businessmen to invest in the country rather than overseas during this period of economic slowdown to help solve unemployment problem, especially among youths.
It shows Ghaffar’s recognition of the crisis of confidence in Malaysia, where not only foreign investors, but Malaysians, are not prepared to put their capital in the country because of uncertainty about the future.
How did the government regain confidence when every other day , new and more injustices are taking place highlighting the division and growing polarisation in the country?
In the 1960s and 1970s, Malaysian leaders have boasted about the country’s high international credit rating. This has brought about Malaysia’s colossal foreign debt of over $40 billion. In recent times, some international quarters are having second thoughts about Malaysia’s international credit rating. According to a recent economic weekly, Malaysia’s international credit rating had slipped, farther than Indonesia’s, because Indonesia was able to have respectable economic performance through the hard times if the past three years while Malaysia had not shown its ability to manage during difficult times.
It is clear that the rootcause of the nation’s fundamental problems comes from the Barisan Nasional government having an all-mighty parliamentary majority for too long, resulting in an arrogance of power and tyranny of majority which has suffocated the free flowering of the talents and capabilities of Malaysia’s greatest potential – its people!
The removal of the traditional two-third parliamentary majority will not reduce the Barisan Nasional to a weak and unstable government to come down to earth, to realise that it must change its way and accommodate the views and aspirations of large of the people whose needs and voice had been disregarded for 30 years.
If the Barisan Nasional is given back its two-third majority, there will be more of the same, and the worse it will be for Malaysians.
This is why the first step to resolve Malaysia’s basic national-building problems is for every Malaysian to make it his political duty to ensure that the Barisan Nasional is not returned to Parliament with a two-third majority, so that it would be made more democratic, responsible and accountable to the people.