Reframing our discourse: Three questions for Malaysians
If we want to see the end of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s kleptocracy, corrupt practices, and abuse of power, merely expressing the feelings of discontentment and dissatisfaction will not be enough.
When Najib divides the people, we must aim to re-frame the discourse to transcend existing cleavages, and to unite Malaysians for a common destiny.
Here are some of the issues that come to mind which I hope will be food for thought for all Malaysians during these Chinese New Year holidays:-
First, is Najib just another corrupt leader?
In the recent decades, Malaysians have seen so much corruption (including some glaring ones during the tenure of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad) that many seem to think that Najib is but another such leader.
It was painful to see DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang being unfairly attacked for suggesting that if PAS President Hadi Awang, MCA President Liow Tiong Lai and Gerakan President Mah Siew Keong were prepared to make the investigation of the global kleptocracy charge the national priority, there will be plenty of room for cooperation. Of course we know that Hadi, Liow and Mah are Najib’s allies now and they will not question him for his wrongdoing.
But it is very important for us Malaysians who clamour for change to realise that Najib’s kleptocracy has done serious harm to the nation’s institutions. Najib and the entire elite network that stays with him are the sources of national decay.
The battle lines for the next election should be drawn between Najib’s kleptocracy and a new Malaysia that promises democracy and institutional reforms to prevent any new despots from coming to power ever again.
Second, are we working with Dr Mahathir and his new party Bersatu for electoral gains, or for real change?
Many have argued for caution when it comes to working with Bersatu because of the past misdeeds of Mahathir’s rule and the fact that many Bersatu leaders and members are previously from UMNO. Hence many suggested that such cooperation ought to be limited in nature and for “utilitarian/electoral” purposes only.
I beg to differ.
I am of the view that we need to align closer to ensure that the supporters of Pakatan Harapan parties and Bersatu vote for each other, not just for utilitarian reasons, but to have them vote enthusiastically and prepare to govern together with a new vision.
We must always remember that we are fighting a global kleptocracy and a one-party state with all the state apparatus at its disposal. Pakatan Harapan component parties and Bersatu not only have to win but we have to win resoundingly, with a very convincing margin to ensure a stable government.
Only with a Malay tsunami and very strong support among non-Malays for change can we see a stable new government with more than 130 seats in the 222-seat parliament.
For greater realignment between Pakatan Harapan and Bersatu, Dr. Mahathir and his party leaders must be more proactive to address the concerns about the excesses of the Mahathir era. Some forms of concessions and reconciliations, even apologies, with the past cannot be avoided for too long.
More importantly, Pakatan Harapan and Bersatu need to articulate a new vision that builds trust among supporters, across ethnic groups, and across the South China Sea with Sabah and Sarawak, so that eventually a Malay tsunami meets with a general Malaysian tsunami.
Third, is the China factor a serious political concern for Malaysia?
In recent days, MCA top guns have repeatedly attacked me for calling them out for serving as China’s agent through the formation of the MCA Belt and Road Initiative Centre and MCA Peoples’ Republic of China Affairs Committee.
MCA leaders are hoping that by using the China card and calling DAP anti-China will help them to gain traction among Chinese Malaysians.
Malaysians should know that Najib will depend on China’s money to rescue 1MDB and other financial woes while MCA would hope that Chinese Malaysians agree with them that “everything China” is good for Chinese Malaysians.
What we need to do is to frame the discourse like Thomas Cup badminton matches between China and Malaysia. When Malaysia battles China in Thomas Cup, who should we root for? Of course every Malaysian will cheer for our Malaysian team.
Pakatan Harapan and Bersatu will have to define what we meant to be Malaysian interests in our relationship with China as well as in all other political debates in the months to come. It is crucial for a Team Malaysia vision to emerge in the ultimate fight of bringing forth a new Malaysia.
May I wish all Malaysians a Happy New Year of the Rooster.