Wednesday, January 15, 2014


“These are very difficult and challenging times for Malaysia. Moderates in Malaysia, regardless of their political hue or religious creed, whether in Cabinet or outside, must unite as patriots to save the country from the conspiracy of reactionaries and anti-democratic forces out to turn the clock back to the discredited policies of the past.”
That was the last paragraph of Lim Kit Siang’s lengthy press statement today, the full text of which you can read below. Basically, what Lim Kit Siang is saying is that Malaysia is going to the dogs and instead of moving forward the country is moving backward.
Actually, ten years ago back in 2004, we already saw this coming. And a handful of us of all races and religious persuasions (atheists amongst us as well), led by Zaid Ibrahim (and with Marina Mahathir included), mooted the idea of the Malaysian Civil Liberties Society (MCLS).
We knew, ten years ago, that if something was not done about the situation in the country (in particular regarding civil liberties, race, religion, etc.) then the future was going to be very bleak indeed.
Unfortunately, after that very promising launch at the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, nothing more happened mainly because the Registrar of Societies (RoS) never approved MCLS’s application for registration. So it sort of died a natural death or mati tak berkubur, as the Malays would say.
And our de facto leader, Zaid Ibrahim, went on to become a Cabinet Minister so that sort of ended our experiment in trying to propagate more civil liberties in Malaysia, in particular those concerning religion (which was the whole reason for the idea of the MCLS in the first place).
In 2007, we tried, again, to push our agenda and some of us involved in the earlier idea of the MCLS sat down to draw up what we called The Peoples’ Declaration or Deklarasi Rakyat(
Just before the March 2008 general election, we sent letters to all the two dozen or so political parties in Malaysia to invite them to an event in The Blog House (our then headquarters) to endorse this Declaration as the ‘Manifesto’ for the election about to be called.
Six parties responded, three of them from Pakatan Rakyat.
We were extremely excited when Pakatan Rakyat won 82 parliament seats and five state governments. This appeared to be the beginning of great days ahead of us. With 82 parliament seats and five states surely our agenda could be promoted, at least by Pakatan Rakyat?
But we were disappointed. The Declaration that had been so eagerly and excitedly accepted in the couple of weeks before the March 2008 general election was soon forgotten. It was no longer important to those who had endorsed it.
We felt that the fight for civil liberties cannot be entrusted to politicians. They only want to win elections and get into power. Hence, if we wanted our agenda to succeed, we would have to do it ourselves.
And that was when we decided to reactivate the idea of the MCLS but this time in the form of MCLM (the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement). And since the RoS in Malaysia would not approve it, we would set it up in the UK instead.
And that was what we did in 2010.
But the political parties, in particular those in Pakatan Rakyat, viewed us with suspicion and contempt. They even vilified us and said we were merely serving the agenda of the ruling party. And we were told direct to our faces that Pakatan Rakyat would support and endorse the MCLM.
That was more than three years ago and about ten years since we first tried with the MCLS. And our reason for doing this ten years ago, and again in 2010, plus the reason for the 2008 Declaration, was to avoid what we are seeing today from happening.
Now Lim Kit Siang wants us ‘moderates’ to ‘unite as patriots to save the country’. Was that not what we tried in 2004, and again in 2008, and yet again in 2010? Why did Lim Kit Siang or DAP not ‘unite’ with us then ‘to save the country’? Why isolate us and treat us as the enemy? We were all moderates then and still are.
I am, of course, monitoring the events unfolding in Malaysia. And I have to admit that I am secretly watching this with glee. That is probably very cruel of me to be gleeful about a calamity about to befall Malaysia.
But I suppose after pushing this agenda for ten years, and after failing to convince Malaysians that this is a very important agenda, and after being mocked and vilified because I was pushing an agenda that no one supported, one cannot help but feel some satisfaction for finally being proven right.
So, you now have a major problem in Malaysia. Well, let’s not say that this is not what we had been trying to avoid for ten years and which Malaysians did not have the foresight to recognise. And now you want the moderates to unite as patriots to save the country. Let’s see how you do that. I, for one, would be most interested to see how you do it.
Moderates in Malaysia, Unite as patriots to save the country from the conspiracy of reactionaries and anti-democratic forces out to turn the clock back to the discredited policies of the past
Lim Kit Siang
I call on moderates in Malaysia to unite as patriots to save the country from the conspiracy of reactionaries and anti-democratic forces out to turn the clock back to the discredited policies of the past.
The axis of reactionary and anti-democratic forces in government, politics and media (printed and social) have been flexing their muscles in the past eight months for the restoration of Mahathirish policies and hankering for the return of Mahathir to the helm of Putrajaya, whether as Prime Minister or de facto Prime Minister.
It has reached the stage where one of Mahathir’s top propaganda minions, Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin, has surfaced publicly to test the waters with the outrageous suggestion on Sunday for the return of Mahathir to Putrajaya to help the Barisan Nasional federal government “tackle raging racial, religious and economic issues”.
Zainuddin went public two days after Mahathir floated the idea of the restoration of the Internal Security Act, which immediately received a troika of support from the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar; UMNO (not necessarily Najib’s) mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia and the Umno “savior”, Perkasa – which represented a triple slap-on-the-face for the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
For the past eight months, the country has been plunged into the worst racial, religious and national polarization to create the conditions and perceptions of unrest and instability to justify a putsch by the reactionary and anti-democratic conspirators.
Such recent destabilising events include the “fairy tale” by IGP of a plot to “topple the government” at Dataran Merdeka on New Year’s Eve; the illegal and unconstitutional Jais raid on the Bible of Malaysia Society and seizure of Malay and Iban Bibles; the banning of Comano – a coalition of 52 civil society groups for the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process and the police double standards in the discriminatory and selective investigation of Father Lawrence Andrews, editor of the Herald proposing that he be charged with sedition but no similar action taken against the Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria although the latter had  clearly committed  sedition in his remark that it is permissible to spill the blood of those who protested in the New Year Eve’s anti-price hike.
But it is not all bleak, dark and hopeless despair in this gathering storm as evident from the following developments:
Flower-bearing progressive Muslims who took a stand outside the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Klang two Sundays ago as mass was in session to send a clear message that Islam is a religion of peace and to show solidarity and defend fellow Christian Malaysians  from a conservative Muslim group threatening protest;
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Tun Musa Hitam’s rejection of Mahathir’s call for the revival of the infamous ISA, warning that the revival of ISA would have “negative implications” on the present government such as the government not having the confidence to defend its decision made previously.
Support by former UMNO Deputy Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah for the removal of the Election Commission members, especially its chief, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof to restore public confidence in the Election Commission’s independence, impartiality and professionalism.
The refusal by Comango and the 52 participating civil society groups  to be bowed and intimidated by the Home Ministry’s decision to outlaw it, with Comango representatives, like Chew Swee Yoke, a founding member ofr the Women’s Lawyers Association, daring the authorities to arrest her for participating in Comango activities;
The revelation by Council of Churches secretary-general Herman Shastri yesterday that the Church had, over the years, engaged with several prime ministers over the fears that the use of the word ‘Allah’ by Christians in the Malay language Bible could confuse Muslims, but the three Prime Ministers, Tun Mahathir, Tun Abdullah and Najib had all failed to uphold the formula  worked out with them – the latest being the 10-Point Solution to resolve the Bible controversy endorsed by the Federal Cabinet in April 2011;
Shastri’s reaffirmation that the Christian community is committed to peaceful negotiations and solution because of the sensitivity of the matter; and
The statement by Tan Sri Razali Ismail, the Chairman of Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF) that Malaysians should reject the “extreme position” taken by the “minority factions” in the country opposing Christians’ use of the word ‘Allah’.

The Cabinet, as its first meeting of the year last Wednesday, was expected to resolve the ‘Allah’ controversy and the Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam said after the Cabinet meeting that the Prime Minister will announce the Cabinet decision on the issue of non-Muslims using the word of ‘Allah”.
But it has turned out to be the Cabinet farce of the decade, as the Cabinet apparently decided not to have a decision, and this is the reason why after a week, the Prime Minister has not said anything on the subject to bring the controversial and divisive issue to a close.
All eyes are turned on Najib and the Cabinet on its second meeting of the year tomorrow, and it should not continue to act in an irresponsible, cowardly and craven manner and avoiding the issue.
Instead, it should have the responsibility and courage of leadership in a plural society by fully endorsing and implementing the 10-Point Solution endorsed by the Cabinet in 2011.
Are there no moderates and patriots left in the Cabinet?
As for Mahathir, he should explain why he had failed uphold the formula he reached with the Christian Churches to resolve the ‘Allah’ issue, and instead, is aiding and abetting the “minority factions” mentioned by Razali to agitate public disaffection and stoke religious tensions in the country over the issue.
These are very difficult and challenging times for Malaysia.
Moderates in Malaysia, regardless of their political hue or religious creed, whether in Cabinet or outside, must unite as patriots to save the country from the conspiracy of reactionaries and anti-democratic forces out to turn the clock back to the discredited policies of the past.

No comments: