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Date: 23 Nov 1999
BN’S SHAMELESS CLAIMS OF “FREE, UNITED & SUCCESSFUL” NATION
Mahathir has launched BN’s manifesto of a “free, united and successful” nation, adding that he kept the manifesto “simple and short” so that the people could understand its “full meaning”.
Yes, the people do understand the “full meaning” after going through the most agonising period of our national life in the past 2 years. First, the Country was brought to the brink of bankruptcy through gross BN mismanagement, then the people were subject to the most ruthless oppression in violation of their constitutional rights following the sacking and torture of Anwar Ibrahim.
After humiliating this Country in the eyes of the entire World with his uncouth and cruel persecution of Anwar and his foreign-bashing to cover his failure in economic management, Mahathir now has the shameless audacity to ask the Nation to understand his “full meaning” of a “free, united and successful” nation.
Mahathir should have realized that through his bungling in the past 2 years, he has become an outcast among leaders of the democratic world, and has also been ostracised in his own home ground of the original Asean 5 (Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore). He should also realise that Malaysia is jutting out like a thorn in a region rejuvenating with economic reforms and democratisation in the aftermath of the Asian Crisis. Thiswas painfully evident in the recent visit by Indonesia’s newly installed President Abdurrahman Wahid. Wahid’s icy contact with Mahathir was in contrast with his instant and warm rapport with Singapore leaders. It was obvious that the new Indonesian President was aligning his country with the Singapore model of nation building – uncompromising crusade against corruption and cronyism, against racial and religious discrimination; and strongly for the adherence to rational economic policy. The meeting between Mahathir and Wahid was understandably uncomfortable, as it symbolised a confrontation of some sort between a struggling survivor of the faded system of autocratic cronyism and the new star of the emerging political order born out of the Asian crisis, committed to democratisation and economic reforms. It should be plain to all that, as long as Mahathir stays at the helm of Government, Malaysia will be further isolated and left behind by the stream of progress carrying our neighbours to greater economic heights aided by foreign investment within the greater context of globalisation.
Returning to Mahathir’s “simple and short” manifesto, it does not take a political genius to see that Malaysia under Mahathir is the anti-thesis of a “free, united and successful” nation.
A FREE NATION ?
Decent minded Malaysians must have felt the sense of suffocation and frustration for not being able to hear or read any fair reporting of vital news concerning us; and for not being allowed to express their earnest views through the press or through peaceful gathering. Under a string of draconian legislation, mass media are muzzled and controlled and peaceful gatherings are brutally suppressed. Innocent persons are tortured and persecuted without redress. Through the Executive’s unconstitutional manipulation of our democratic institutions such as the Judiciary, Attorney General’s Chambers, police, Anti-Corruption Agency, Election Commission etc., laws are arbitrarily interpreted and selectively enforced to favour friends and victimise foes.
Under current conditions, law enforcing agencies openly condone massive corruption at the highest levels of political leadership and also the extensive transgression of election laws to the grave disadvantage of political opponents. Malaysia has entered the darkest hours of its democratic history, and election has become a farce.
A UNITED NATION?
Barisan Nasional is a coalition of many racial parties, whose respective communal leaders are bonded to the alliance with heavily vested personal self- interests. The power structure of the individual racial parties is maintained mainly through a system of patronage. Economic largess is trickled down the ranks to keep the rank and file happy and loyal to the leadership.
Political struggles of the individual parties are distinct and separate and generally confined to issues related to the individual racial groups. Since there is no common political objective among component parties other than the common goal of defeating the opposition parties in an election once every five years, there has been no genuine racial integration among the grass roots. Racial integration can only come about through political struggles across racial lines over common political objectives over a long period of time. The BN hegemony of racial divide and rule in the past has ensured that there has never been any genuine multi-racial political party with mass support from various races in this country. Without genuine racial integration, the façade of racial harmony put on show by BN component party leaders joining hands is only skin deep, and Mahathir’s boast of a a united nation is a fallacy and a lie.
There are of course good reasons why UMNO leaders prefer to maintain the system of racial divide and rule. Firstly, it enables them to perpetuate their monopoly of political power in this Country. Secondly, it let them camouflage corruption and cronyism under the protective umbrella of the New Economic Policy.
The emergence of Keadilan in the heat of Anwar’s Reformasi movement is a major breakthrough in Malaysian politics. For the first time in our history, a political party with multi-racial platform was born with the backing of the Malay masses. Its superior ideology outclasses the outdated feudal system of UMNO, sending a chill down the spine of many an UMNO leader.
The formation of the Alternative Front marked another heartwarming milestone in our history, with its common objective to wipe out corruption and cronyism and to restore democracy, justice and good governance to this Country. Given convincing multi-racial support in the coming election, AF’s multi-racial political struggles will mark the beginning of the building of a truly united nation.
A SUCCESSFUL NATION?
What success is Mahathir talking about?
A nation brought to financial and economic ruin by his political and economic mismanagement?
A nation perpetually divided by race, institutionalised by BN’s hegemony of racial politics?
A nation whose democratic way of life has been destroyed by Mahathir almost single-handedly?
Or is it possible that he is confusing his personal obsession for grandeur projects (Twin Towers, KLIA, Putrajaya) and personal physical endeavours (circumnavigation, Mount Everest, North Pole) as progress and greatness for the nation?
All Malaysians who love this Country have the duty to pause and reflect seriously in the election eve at this crucial moment of our history.
Do we want to move decidedly forward, together with the rest of the region and the global community at large, or do we prefer to cuddle in the imagined comfort of Mahathir’s world of self-deception?
Kim Quek 23/11/99