By Lim Kit Siang
Firstly, I want to thank Kee Thuan Chye for writing about my past. I did not know what he was writing and I was quite curious when he gave me the first copy of the book when it was published – and I find it most readable and absorbing.
He did not ask me very much of my school days and I found to my surprise that he has learnt quite a bit. The stories were true although some aspects were quite apocryphal, gained from the telling and re-telling of the stories.
Whatever lessons we can learn of the past, it is the future that is my concern – for I think we are in one of the most critical times of the nation.
As this webinar has posed the question: Malaysian first – Boleh Ke?
I do not think anybody has an answer to this question, but one thing is sure, if we cannot be Malaysian first, then the future is a bleak one – there is no way to stop Malaysia from heading towards a kleptocracy, kakistocracy and a failed state.
Yesterday, I came across an article by Murray Hunter on “The Dark Forces Changing Malaysian Society” and I am reading Nazir Razak’s book “What’s In a Name”.
Fortuitously, we are in the midst of the Malacca general elections with Polling eleven days away on Nov. 20.
For the past 50 years, the nation-building policies moved away from “Malaysia First” approach, and as a result, we lost two million of our brightest and the best sons and daughters to the diaspora in the world.
They emigrated to other countries to become supermen and superwomen when they should remain in Malaysia to help build the country into a world-class great nation.
It is not that we have not achieved anything in the past six decades.
We have the Malaysian Constitution, which celebrated Malaysia’s plural society, the separatuion of powrers, the rule of law, good governance and human rights.
We have the Rukun Negara principles of nation-building, although I suspect we now have Ministers who do not subscribe to the Rukun Negara principles.
And then we have the 2018 general election which performed the impossible and toppled Umno the hegemon was an undoubted achievement, more so because UMNO was so invincible.
But the Pakatan Harapan government squandered the opportunity to bring about institutional reforms and changes in the country before it was itself toppled after 22 months, ushering in two backdoor, illegitimate and undemocratic governments by the
Sheraton Move conspiracy in February 2020.
The rejection of the “Malaysian First” nation-building policy is sadly illustrated in the 22-month Covid-19 pandemic, with Malaysia becoming one of the worst performing states in the world, ranked No. 20 among nations with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases, with over 2.5 million Covid-19 cases and nearly 30,000 Covid-19 deaths.
But there are too many negative vibes in Malaysia today. There is a sense of apathy, hopelessness, despair and desolation in the land.
We have a new Prime Minister Ismail Sabri who coined the “Keluarga Malaysia” slogan, but could he live down his past for he was one of the main UMNO leaders who went on a rampage on “race and religion” rhetoric, particularly over the ICERD ratification lies and misinformation.
Then we have the 2022 budget which even the former economic adviser of the Pakatan Harapan government, Mohammad Abdul Khalid, asked where was the fairness over the measly allocation of millions of ringgit for non-bumiputeras but billions of ringgit for the bumiputeras.
I worry the voter turnout in Malacca and the subsequent Sarawak state general election may be as low as less than 30 per cent, as Malacca and Sarawak general elections will be important forerunners of the 15th General Election to decide whether the Malaysian Dream for Malaysia to become a world-class great nation has come to an end and there is no way for Malaysia to become a successful plural society and a world-class great nation.
Do we say No to the question: Malaysian first – Boleh ke?
I still believe that it is still possible.
Man do not live by bread alone. We all have a dream larger than ourselves.
I have not asked Kee Thuan Chye why he named his son Jebat Arjuna Kee. This is his dream for a better and greater Malaysia.
Malaysia is at the confluence of four great civilizations – Malay/Muslim, Chinese, Indian, Western. There is no reason why we cannot leverage on the values and virtues of these four great civilisations to make Malaysia a world-class great nation.
We owe it to our children and children’s children to continue to try until we succeed. Malaysia First – Boleh ke?
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This post first appeared on Lim Kit Siang‘s blog.