Thursday, September 27, 2007

A week of happenings

It has been a hectic two weeks for me, which explains why I wasn't able to update my blog as frequent as I would have liked. Just got some breathing space now to write something.

I guess by now most of you would have heard, read, or at least have an inkling of the Shock-a-Lingam tape scandal. For those of you who have not been following the matter, read here for more details. Of course, since then there has been a whole lot more development. For example, after facing pressure to show that the government is serious in tackling the explosive issue (instead of questioning the authenticity of the tape, or that Lingam was play-acting, or that "no criminal offence" has been committed), Najib decided to announce that a 3-man investigative panel would be set up to investigate the authenticity of the tape. No details yet as to what is the proper term of reference of the panel, as well as to what extent the panel would go to dig up the truth. This falls far short of the calls from various quarters, including the Bar Council, for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to not only investigate the veracity of the tape, but also to look into the deep rot that has set into the judiciary ever since the 1988 sacking of Tun Salleh Abas.

For instance, it really boggles the mind of all right-thinking Malaysians as to how the Chief Justice, Ahmad Fairuz, who is in the middle of this scandal, can choose to say in black-and-white "no comment" to queries from Malaysiakini, yet immediately after that calling Nazri (that "bodoh" Minister in the PM's department) to deny his involvement. When pressed why the CJ sees fit to "deny" through him, Nazri answers without batting an eyelid "I am his minister". Wow! Talk about the subservience of the judiciary to the executive in Bolehland!

The Bar Council, in the face of previous failed attempts to push the executive into doing something, decided to organize a "Walk for Justice" yesterday (26 Sep). Some 1,000 lawyers and civil society turned up at the march, despite the heavy presence of FRUs, police (including a PDRM helicopter entertaining the crowd with the flying skills of the pilot), and overcast sky (the rain fell heavily when the crowd reached the PM office complex...the heavens are weeping for the sorry state of Malaysia?). In fact, 7 chartered buses ferrying some 200 lawyers were barred from entering Putrajaya, forcing the passengers led by Edmund Bon to start the walk early by walking 5kms to the "Istana Keadilan" (Palace of Justice). The Bar Council President and 3 of her office bearers managed to meet the PM's secretary Wan Farid and handed over two memoranda - one calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to be set up, and another calling for the formation of an Independent Commission of Judiciary to promote and appoint judges in a transparent and accountable manner.

Meanwhile, the Bar Council has said they will give the 3-man inquiry panel a chance, but would still press for the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry. Already there were reservations with the panel as it will be headed by a former Chief Judge of Malaya who played a key role in colluding with the powers-that-be to sack Tun Salleh Abas. The other 2 members are Lee Lam Thye (the ex-DAP MP who heads the National Service Council) and Mahadev Shankar (former Court of Appeal judge).

You can read more, and view photos, of the walk in various blogs. A whole list can be found in Lulu's blog here, and pictures here. Jeff has a series of excellent photos of the walk.

While we are facing a potential Constitutional crisis here, Burmese society led by thousands of monks have for the first time in 20 years since the brutal crackdown in 1988 showed defiance at the brutal military junta. What has started as pockets of demonstrations against the massive increase overnight of fuel prices (and consequent rise in prices of foodstuff and such) has evolved into a massive people movement led by the country's revered monks.

On Monday and Tuesday (Sep 24, 25), some 100,000 people led by the monks marched a few kilometers across Rangoon, chanting peace and democracy, and urging the military junta to seriously begin reconciliation with the Burmese people through their leader Aung San Suu Kyi (who has been under house arrest since May 2003 when a military-backed mob tried to assasinate her). Suu Kyi is rumoured to have been moved to the notorious Insein prison after she came out of her house on Saturday and greeted monks and supporters at the gates. The military junta has started to crackdown on the people on Wednesday (Sep 26), with reports starting to flow out of the closed-up country stating monks and civilians being injured critically and killed.

Source: Democratic Voice of Burma/Reuters
The world is watching in bated breath, while condemning and urging the military junta to show restraint and not repeat the 1988 bloodbath where some 3,000 people were mowed down by bullets and batons and such. Whereas the world didn't get to see what happened in 1988, now with the limited Internet access into and out of Burma, the world is able to watch the events more closely. China is said to be exerting some influence which explains the military junta's relative restraint up to now. Burma's stability and peace is strategic to China's interest, and encouraging national reconciliation and eventual democracy for Burma is in China's long term interest.

Meanwhile, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Caucus on Myanmar led by Zaid Ibrahim has called for ASEAN leaders to pile the pressure on the military junta, fearing an eventual bloodbath should the world and Burma's closest neighbours choose to keep silent over the recent developments. After all, a democratic, peaceful, united, and prosperous Burma is beneficial to ASEAN. The Burmese refugee issue we are facing in Malaysia is due almost entirely to the persecution of the Burmese people by the military junta.

Keep up to date on the developments in Burma through Google News. I do not foresee a revolution anytime soon, but I pray that this is the beginning of the tipping point for Burma and its people to free themselves from the clutches of a brutal and paranoid military regime which has ruled Burma since 1962. What is significant is that after spending 11 of the last 18 years in house arrest, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi remains the leader and figurehead of the Burmese struggle for freedom. This has been re-affirmed when the monks successfully made contact with her on Saturday, and this moral affirmation by the revered monkhood would hopefully cement a more united front under her legitimate leadership to face the mounting pressure.

Just like how the BN government here tries to convince Malaysians of the irrelevance and non-threat of Anwar Ibrahim by blacking him out from the media, the military junta generals are doing much worse to Suu Kyi while at the same time vilifying her in any way possible, or blacking her out entirely from their monopoly of media in Burma.

"Please use your liberty to promote ours" - Aung San Suu Kyi

Read more!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Phantom Menace

Wah! And you think phantom voters are just daydreams of rabble-rousers who have nothing to do but complain about the Election Commission and the running of general elections in Malaysia? Tell Rocky about that! He just found out that he has been registered as a voter, without his knowledge, at a constituency which he has no idea where it is! But I know lar, since I vote in that same constituency. So, ladies and gentlemen, please check your status at, and see if you're one of those phantom voters.

And that is not all. PKR just exposed an explosive 8 minute video of VK Lingam (that infamous lawyer linked with Tun Eusoff Chin, ex-CJ of Malaysia, and Tan Sri Vincent Tan) chatting with the current CJ Ahmad Fairuz over the phone in 2002 (then Ahmad Fairuz was Chief Judge of Malaya) on strategies to ensure his eventual elevation to his current position. Phantoms performing wayang behind the scenes! Read more about this in Jeff Ooi's blog, as well as here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

We have plenty of phantoms in this nation, doing all sorts of things which really makes them a menace to civil society and the betterment of this nation. What do you intend to do about them?

Read more!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Petition to HRH The Yang DiPertuan Agong

Raja Petra Kamarudin is preparing a petition to be submitted to His Royal Highness the Yang DiPertuan Agong. Essentially, it is to petition His Royal Highness to act in his position as Head of State on the increasingly dire situation our country is in currently, before the damage becomes irreversible. I suggest you sign the petition by sending an email to him at, and please use your real name as a petition should reflect real Malaysians. I see too many people sign with their nicknames in the comments section, which I personally feel will do the petition a disservice. Read here for more information.

As an aside, still think the Budget 2008 is good? Read this and this.

Read more!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More confusion over police brutality in Pantai Batu Buruk

From a single shot, to two shots, now it has become FOUR shots. And the person who opened fire has changed from an FRU officer to just a general duty police constable. What else next? Grenades were launched at the FRUs?

The Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat considered it not urgent enough to be debated, saying "It is just a riot and the police are investigating." Yeah right, four shots of live rounds at a crowd who have gathered for a BERSIH forum (which has been held everywhere in Malaysia for the last few months) is not urgent, nor important, enough for Parliament to care two hoots.

Oh yeah, of course the mainstream media is trying paint it as if it's an opposition organized ceramah, never mind the fact that it's a blatant lie. Also, of course they have to keep on harping on half-truths and untruths about the mess in Pantai Batu Buruk, Kuala can't expect Malaysians to know about the damning Auditor-General's 2006 Report which listed, among others, a payment of RM5000 for a car jack which costs only RM50. Couple that with a "pledge" for the ACA to investigate the contents of the report, and we have a government trying its best to hoodwink the rakyat with more feel-good factors.

What? Budget 2008 was good for the people? Read this from Zewt, and this, and this, and then decide if DAP's Shadow Budget 2008 is a better bet. Of course lar, don't be have to read the entire PDF of the Shadow budget lar!

Confused enough by all that is happening caused by the current administration? Don't be! Read more from around the world wide web and keep your ears, eyes, and heart open. You will get a much clearer and less confused picture of our Malaysia!

Read more!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bullets used in Batu Buruk

BERSIH, a coalition of opposition parties and NGOs dedicated to the reform of the electoral process in Malaysia to one which is fair, transparent, and respectable, has organized a forum in Batu Buruk, Terengganu on Saturday evening as part of their effort to educate Malaysians on the need for reforms. However, what was supposed to be a peaceful forum turned extremely ugly when the police sent in the FRU to disperse the crowd of some 500. The crowd was in no mood for compromises and the end result was 2 persons shot (one in the neck, the other in the chest) by a non-uniformed police personnel (the PDRM claimed he's an FRU officer...but what was the FRU officer doing running about solo?). Water cannon were used, tear gas, and now live bullets. And from the angry crowd, rocks were hurled. The Star claimed that even molotov cocktails and home-made-bombs were used (similar excuses given by some ex-IGP in 2001 to justify the arrests of key leaders of PKR under the ISA), and was less than truthful when it didn't even report that it was a BERSIH forum and not an opposition one. Of course, Najib had to come out quickly and claimed that the personnel used his pistol for self-defence. Of course, no prizes for realizing that if the police has acted as they did early this year in the peaceful anti-toll hike demonstration in Sunway Pyramid, this ugly fracas would never have happened. But increasingly the police seem adamant in hitting hard on anything they perceive as opposition-related. If only they would have been as ruthless against more serious and violent crimes that are threatening to wreak havoc in this country. Read more about this event in Liz Wong's blog here and here, as well as Malaysiakini's report. Lulu's take here and Malik Imtiaz's take here.

In the mean time, the Auditor General's report for 2006 is out. As usual, it contains plenty of damning examples and evidence of wasteful and corrupt practices which inflated prices of government procurement sky high. Yet, year in year out nothing has ever been done to prevent the recurrence of such wasteful practice. In fact, no substantive comments were ever really made by those in power regarding the report. As an example, a set of technical pens which has a market price of RM160 was procured at a price of RM1,147! Multiply that by 90 sets, and you would have an inkling on the scale of such fraudulent act. Read this, this, and this for a better appreciation of this chronic, yearly problem. RM10bil for the folks in Budget 2008 as frontpaged in yesterday's Sunday New Straits Times? Please clean up the nonsense in your own backyard first, Pak Lah! And before we forget, what has happened to the RM14.4bil "savings" from the reduction of fuel subsidy early 2006?

Read more!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Pig spin by The Star

From The Star:

Wednesday September 5, 2007

Breeders to cut number of pigs to reduce pollution

MALACCA: Pig breeders here have agreed to reduce the number of pigs reared in the state to 48,000 by Sept 21 to cut down pollution in rivers near the farms, Masjid Tanah MP Datuk Abu Seman Yusop said.

This was agreed on during a meeting chaired in the Masjid Tanah Umno District Office yesterday which was attended by Kota Melaka MP Wong Nai Chee; State Housing, Local Government, Environment and Transport Committee chairman Koh Nai Kwong; Information, Multimedia, Science and Technology Committee chairman Datuk Seah Kwi Tong, Human Resource Minister and Alor Gajah MP Datuk Seri Fong Chan Onn and Rural and Agriculture Development Committee chairman Datuk Hamdin Abdollah.

The four areas in the state involved in pig rearing are Paya Mengkuang, Manlok, Bukit Beruang and Air Molek. There are an estimated 148,000 pigs in these farms and there have been many complaints about the stench, the unhygienic conditions and the pollution of nearby rivers.

“Only Paya Mengkuang will be allowed to continue its pig farming activities. The other places should no longer be operational after Sept 21,” said Abu Seman.

Yesterday morning, personnel from the Federal Reserve Unit, police, Public Works Department, Malacca City council and Alor Gajah Municipal Council had gone to the four pig-rearing areas to cull the pigs.

Malacca police chief SAC 1 Datuk Mortadza Nazarene said holes were dug in Bukit Beruang and Manlok, but none were shot.
If you just read The Star propaganda, you would think that all is hunky dory, and that the pig farmers had an amicable meeting with the state authorities and have reached an agreement to sell 2,000 pigs daily to reach that magical number of 48,000. Never mind the questions on how that 48,000 figure was arrived at, and more bizarrely, who appointed the MCA fellas as spokespersons for the pig farmers, and given the mandate to negotiate on their behalf. Contrast the spin above with this report from Malaysiakini:
Tense stand-off over pig farms eases
Sep 4, 07 3:27pm

Police personnel pulled out of Paya Mengkuang New Village at 4.05pm, easing the worries of pig farmers who had expected to see all their animals forcibly culled today.

It is learnt that as part of a deal struck at a two-hour meeting between state authorities and MCA top leaders, the farmers will now voluntarily relocate at least 1,000 of their pigs to Johor and Selangor within the next few days. This could not be immediately confirmed.

Since this morning, about 100 villagers had faced off 300 enforcement officers in a tense stand-off over action to close their pig farms. The villagers had kept a vigil in the area since last night.

All major roads leading into Paya Mengkuang - about 30 minutes’ drive north of Malacca city - were cordoned off by the police, isolating the village. Numerous media personnel resorted to seeking local knowledge for off-road entrances to the area.

Fifty of the state enforcement officers stood by in plastic-suits, waiting for the state government’s order to move into the pig farms to kill the animals.

About 100 police personnel were also on stand by, of which about 50 of them were anti-riot personnel armed with batons, canes, revolvers, gas-canister launchers and automatic rifles.

Six excavators had been brought in to dig mass graves to bury the dead pigs while six police trucks including some with water cannon were stationed in the vicinity.

Human barricade

On the other side were the villagers - men, women and children forming a human shield at the main entrance to their farms. The barricade included a number of small trucks.

They were carrying a dozen national flags and two big banners commemorating the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence.

The state government had identified at least 15 farms to be closed to reduce pollution and the number of pigs.

Chief Minister Muhd Ali Rustam was reported to have told the state assembly in July that the pig population would have to be reduced to a maximum of 48,000 to control pollution emanating from the farms.

This will slash the number of pigs by two-thirds - there are currently 140,000 pigs in the state.

In addition to Paya Mengkuang, two other villages are affected by the directive - Ayer Molek and Bukit Beruang new villages. Police are believed to have pulled out of these areas as well.
The whole culling operation (which, at the end, was not carried out) was exercised like they were preparing for war. Which is expected considering how the authorities is handling the entire issue in the first place - from the extremely short notice given, no proper and viable alternatives provided, as well as the unmistakably political nature of this hot potato. The CM of Melaka is more likely than not trying to shore up political support for himself. Perhaps his series of antics in currying favour of the PM is not delivering the much needed effects and benefits.

At the end of the day, the CM is trying to rid Melaka of its entire pig population, but has been thwarted thus far. One wonders how long more efforts to put off this eventuality will succeed. The whole issue is political, not to mention racial and religious in nature. All the stench, pollution, and environmental concerns are but convenient excuses. After all, these are not a problem in large scale modern, clean, and odourless integrated pig farms in Germany, the US, and Taiwan. The "proposed" central pig farming location in Melaka was supposed to address these environmental problems. But does anyone know what has happened to that "proposal"?

As an aside, KTemoc has a series of blog entries on this Melaka pig saga.

All pictures from Malaysiakini

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Anwar's 'New Deal'

Borrowing from the title of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's series of programs initiated between 1933 and 1938, Anwar and his PKR gang unveiled the party's economic agenda called "The Malaysian Economic Agenda: Creating A New Deal". Reproducing it here from Malaysiakini (have been busy and having mental block...heheh!). Meanwhile, if you want to read a copy of the brochure outlining the new economic agenda, download it from here. This brochure may have now been superseded by the announced "New Deal". DAP is also planning to come up with a shadow budget. Their target is to announce it a day or two before the Sep 7 budget speech this Friday.


Anwar's 'New Deal' to unite, liberate all M'sians
Terence Netto
Sep 4, 07 7:17pm

An introduction of meritocracy in education, a dose of aid in housing, and the dispersal of industry from high-density urban centers to low concentration ones, were the highlights of PKR’s economic agenda announced today.

"This is the 'new deal' that we will take to the voters in the coming general elections," said PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim in comments made to malaysiakini following the unveiling of the party's economic agenda called 'The Malaysian Economic Agenda: Creating A New Deal.'

Details of the agenda were announced at a press conference today in Parliament House, jointly addressed by PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and head of the party's economic brain trust, Khalid Ibrahim.

"Overall, the thrust of the agenda would see a more equitable distribution of the wealth of the nation," claimed Anwar.

"Thus far the distribution of the nation's wealth has been lopsided with undue concentration in the hands of the top 20 percent of the people. This is a recipe for economic oligarchies to spawn and for social discontent to spread among the have-nots," he contended.

Anwar explained that the party's programme would see fairer apportionment of wealth with the top 20 percent of the population controlling 35 percent of wealth (as compared to the present 51.3 percent), the middle class of 40 percent holding a 40 percent equity (as compared to the present 35.2 percent), and the bottom 40 percent sharing 25 percent (as compared to the present 13.5 percent).


Clearly, PKR's de facto leader posits education - "the great leveller" - as the catalyst of economic redistribution and upward social mobility.

Under a PKR government, selection to 30 percent of university places will be based on merit regardless of candidates' household income. Also, a similar percentage of jobs in higher education will be awarded on merit.

"Education is the race between civilisation and catastrophe," opined Anwar."We have to plumb for meritocracy at this stage of our national development or risk seeing our country slide in economic competitiveness."

He added: "At least for close to a third of the places in seats and in jobs in higher education we have to go for meritocracy as otherwise we will become mediocre and lose out in the race to build a modern, civil society that is equipped to compete in the global village."

Anwar said the remaining 70 percent of seats in higher education would be awarded with affirmative action considerations in mind, with priority going to the poor provided they meet the minimum qualifications.

He said the education system would be the conduit for the strengthening of the concepts of parliamentary democracy, with the executive, legislature, judiciary and press existing in creative and critical interaction among them.

"Educational opportunity, entrepreneurial ingenuity, wealth distribution and social mobility are all facilitated better under a system of governance that is transparent and accountable with the traditional checks and balances provided by the third and fourth estates (judiciary and press)," he asserted.

Then in tones redolent of his decades' long search for a synthesis of the best that has been said and thought in the world of ideas, Anwar launched into a sonorous peroration:

"Democratic pluralism is not something that we will merely give lip service to but will practise in earnestness because it is the lifeblood of the system of parliamentary democracy. I'm Malay and Muslim but neither a smug ethnocentricism nor a narrow conception of Islamic rectitude will do justice to my human identity as a Malaysian, as an Asian, and as a denizen of the global village.

"The dogmas of our racially stratified past are inadequate to our globalised present. Since our challenges are complex, we must think afresh and act anew. We must first disenthrall ourselves."


Anwar said his party will not spawn neither will it coddle mediocrity.

"We will help people help themselves so that citizens would feel encouraged to give of their best in reasonable expectation of rewards for their labour. We will encourage the talented to flower for civil society needs multifarious talents to fructify to endure."

Clearly, housing for the underprivileged will be a priority because "shelter is a need which if not catered for would spawn a host of social ills from dysfunctional families to substance abuse."

Under a PKR government, a long-term inter-generational funding scheme spanning a 60-year borrowing and payback period will enable low-income earners to own a house that they might not have been able to afford otherwise.

As an alternative, low-income earners will be able to buy back basic housing units that can be sold back once they are ready to move up and acquire a better-quality house.

Complementing the drive for affordable housing, Anwar said a PKR government would cap development in high-density urban centers and provide incentives to entrepreneurs to invest in new townships to halt the rural-urban drift.


He said access to quality healthcare must be assured for the lower income group and viewed the shifting of that burden to the private sector as a measure that would raise costs and limit access only to those who could afford it.

"The provision of quality healthcare must not be allocated to the market only to accomplish. Government has an equitable role to play in its provision and must not shirk it," said Anwar.

Finally, Anwar addressed the question of a 'new deal' for the Malays who he said had benefitted from the New Economic Policy (NEP) but were now in danger of witnessing the opening up of a wide gap between a politically connected elite and the ordinary rakyat.

"We need a new needs-based NEP that will enable ordinary Malays to repossess opportunities and engage their energies and talents to acquire their share of the national wealth.

"We must free ourselves from the fallacious emotional baggage that the NEP, in the way that it has been implemented in recent times, is an avenue for Malay advancement. That is not true. The elites have railroaded the NEP for their own selfish gain while the vast majority is doled out the crumbs.

"This is a bogus NEP. PKR's new deal for the Malays would see the NEP impact on the Malay poor in such a way that it will empower and equip them with the means to use their rights for their genuine and lasting betterment."

Anwar also said the bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak would be given the full panoply of their rights without reservation of religion or ethnicity.

"Too often they have suffered from the tyranny of geography where their distant habitations from urban centers of development meant that they languished in neglect. PKR have heard their cry of neglect and will respond to help them."

In summation Anwar said PKR's new deal for Malaysians would unite the country and liberate its citizens by promoting "equity over privilege, talent over mediocrity, entrepreneurial energy over rent seeking, and genuine care for the needy over empty rhetorical pledges of aid."

Read more!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Transforming Malaysia

Don't have the inspiration to blog, but find this Merdeka message by DAP's Secretary General Lim Guan Eng refreshing. I reproduce it here:-

Transforming Malaysia
Lim Guan Eng
Sep 3, 07 2:54pm

In 1963 together with our brethren from Sabah and Sarawak, we started calling ourselves Malaysians. Our nationhood was based on the 1957 Merdeka social contract that promised us much but delivered little.

Fifty years ago, we were promised democracy. We were promised justice. We were promised equality. We were promised rule of law. We were promised integrity. We were promised to be treated with human dignity and we were promised freedom.

We are still awaiting these promises. Why haven’t these promises been fulfilled?

First, our fundamental human rights, civil and political liberties embodied in the Federal Constitution as the highest law of the land, were slowly but surely diminished, diluted and finally rendered meaningless by repeated amendments. The number of years of independence has been far exceeded by the number of times our constitution has been amended.

Second, those provisions that could not be amended were ignored and summarily shoved aside by a unilateral declaration by the prime minister on Sept 29, 2001 that Malaysia is an Islamic state. No heed was paid to the pronouncements made by our first three premiers prior to the 1980s or to the ruling of the highest court in 1988 that the Federal Constitution clearly defines Malaysia as a secular state.

Third, the promulgation of state interventionist economic policies led by the New Economic Policy (NEP) that promoted racial preferential quotas under the pretext of equitable wealth redistribution and sanctioned political patronage and self-aggrandisement under the guise of wealth creation. While the goal of the NEP was also to eradicate poverty regardless of race, the primary focus was the creation of bumiputera millionaires and an accelerated expansion of a bumiputera business community by all means necessary.

This primary focus gave NEP a bad name as a vehicle for corruption, cronyism and abuse of power especially when it was extended beyond its 20-year shelf life in 1990. US finance house Morgan Stanley has estimated that US$100 billion has been lost to corruption since the 1980s.

The NEP also alienated and angered many non-bumiputeras who could not understand why they had to sacrifice for the wealthy bumiputeras. Non-Malays are not angry with the NEP for helping poor Malays. Neither are Malays incensed with the NEP for helping poor non-Malays. What all Malaysians are furious about is that the NEP is used as a tool of crony capitalism and patronage to enrich the wealthy.

Finally, the insidious erosion of our national psyche by systematically dividing Malaysians by race and religion – bumis and non-bumis, Muslims and non-Muslims. While we can blame the British for introducing this divide-and-rule policy, the insidious fault lines created have sheared our souls and haunt future generations by creating many nations of different races within a nation-state. Ethnicity and religious beliefs, not universal values of justice, will shape outcomes.

Reclaim heritage

Unlike in America where everyone is an American, here in Malaysia we are Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban. This is probably the greatest injustice of all in refusing to treat every Malaysian equally. Bangsa, agama dan negara is only directed at one community.

We continue to be divided by the colour of our skin or the beliefs in our hearts or our political affiliations even though our blood is of the same colour. Instead of one people, one Bangsa Malaysia in a secular state we have racial dominance and an Islamic state. What is so difficult about accepting Bangsa Malaysia which Mahathir described “as people being able to identify themselves with the country, speak Bahasa Malaysia and accept the Federal Constitution”.

Until we revert to Bangsa Malaysia and ketuanan Malaysia, can we reclaim our Merdeka heritage and the promises made? The damage done from such misguided policies is most obvious in the economic sphere. The foreign specialists of Malaysian affairs can not fail to be puzzled at the stubborn refusal of ordinary Malaysians, who are no less educated and intelligent than them, to see through the self-serving economic policies that are detrimental to the common good.

Perhaps such inertia explains why the European Union Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Thierry Rommel was moved to severely criticise the NEP as anti-competitive, a lack of a level playing field and an unacceptable cost of doing business in Malaysia. He added, “Together with an inefficient public service, corruption and the questionable and unchecked practices of Malay preferential treatment, it had also dampened the business environment and economy of the country.”

Even the government has conceded the defects of the NEP when it exempted investors in the Iskandar Development Region in Johor from its requirements. A million Malaysians who voted with their feet by emigrating overseas for the last 35 years provide the strongest indictment of the failure, injustices and discrimination of the NEP. Money lost can be earned back but the loss of human resources and brain power is irreplaceable.

These are among the many challenges we face in realising the promises of Merdeka 50 years ago. What has stopped us from overcoming them is the failure of leadership, the absence of moral courage and outrage as well as yes, the smallness of our politics.

We should look at the big picture. Globalisation is upon us and yet we are so unprepared. Looking at the big picture entails an international global mindset that empowers every Malaysian with equal opportunity and not one that entraps us within mediocrity and mindless slogans like ‘Towering Malaysian’, ‘Life-long Education’ and ‘Islam Hadhari’.

To lead Malaysia into the 21st century, we need intelligent, rational and unprejudiced Malaysians who respect diversity. There is no room for MPs who are foul-mouthed or who disparage minorities and demean women as sex objects. Only decent and competent Malaysians can make Malaysia better.

The new Malaysia

At a time when we are celebrating our 50th Merdeka celebrations, we should be looking forward to one national ideal grounded on democratic principles of justice, respect for human rights, freedom, integrity and human dignity. Let us transform Malaysia through ‘Malaysian First’, based on democracy, political equality, equal opportunity and social justice that ensures economic prosperity for all.

Let us transform Malaysia into crime-free neighbourhoods, especially for women and children. Malaysians should enjoy the four basic rights of security - to live, work, study and play in a safe and secure environment.

Let us transform Malaysia to pursue excellence and value our best and brightest students by rewarding them with university places and scholarships.

Let us transform Malaysia to share national wealth with workers who can live with dignity with a minimum wage.

Let us transform Malaysia into an environmentally-friendly place with sustainable living consonant with being one with nature and all beings created by God where orang utan, hornbills, pygmy elephants, tigers and rhinos roam freely.

Let us transform Malaysian sports and the football team into one that we can take pride in, which is praised rather than pilloried.

Let us transform Malaysia from what it is now to what it should have been as envisaged by our founding fathers by restoring the Merdeka Constitution. The original Malaysian Merdeka Constitution did not allow for preventive laws such as the ISA that sanction detention without trail. Neither were there repressive laws such as the Printing Presses & Publications Act and freedom of the press was sacrosanct.

Not only was there independence of the judiciary, there was independence of the Elections Commission where no gerrymandering was permitted and variances in voters between constituencies were limited to only 15 percent. And there were local government elections then unlike now.

Let us also transform Malaysia into a civil society that is inclusive. We can no longer rely on the traditional government and business sector to fulfill our expectations and needs. To ensure that every Malaysian is allowed to participate in the democratic and political process some of the elements of civil society must be evident: free association and expression; regulated, but open and market-oriented economies; aid to the poor, orphaned, elderly, sick, or disabled; and finally, civic cultures that cherish diversity and individual freedoms but also respect human needs for community and shared visions of the common good.

Our young people should be allowed freedom of expression in the famous words of the French philosopher Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.". We may disapprove of their views but we should not eat our young for their courage in expressing them. Repressing their courage will finally result in a creativity deficit.

Can we discard our diverse ethnic background and different religious beliefs for Bangsa Malaysia? I have faith that fellow citizens have common decency, respect for diversity and proper sense of justice to believe that Bangsa Malaysia Boleh!

Only by transforming Malaysia through unification of all our hearts and souls as one Bangsa Malaysia, can we ensure prosperity and fulfill the promises made 50 years ago during those halcyon days when cries of “Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!” rang throughout the land.

Aspirations without accomplishments mean nothing. We must commit ourselves to do our duty with faith and without fear to accomplish our aspirations of political equality and economic prosperity shared by all in a civil society that cherishes democracy, justice and the rule of law.

LIM GUAN ENG is DAP secretary-general.

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