Advice to Hishammuddin to abhor the old politics of bigotry and fear and  set an example of the new politics of reason in Malaysia on the threshold of a new millennium


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): I am very disappointed by the outburst by the Acting UMNO Youth Leader, Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein,  who had been known for his level-headedness and come from an illustrious family in the country.

Breathing fire and brimstone, he responded to my speech at the 30th commemorative anniversary dinner on my being Member of Parliament with the statement:  "DAP sentiasa membawa isu sensasi dan mempolitikkan perkara yang boleh mencetuskan rusuhan kaum".

From this statement, it is Hishammuddin who is guilty of sensationalism, irrational outbursts and even indulging in the politics of fear and hatred.

Is this the price Hishammuddin must pay, to sacrifice his reputation as a level-headed and rational politician from a family of illustrious political leaders, in order to consolidate and confirm his position as UMNO Youth Leader?

Hishamuddin can disagree with the Malaysian Malaysia objective, but there can be no justification for him to go overboard to make the serious and baseless charges against another political party or person for inciting "racial riots".

Hishamuddin should realise that some 30 years ago, an UMNO national leader, the late Tun Dr. Ismail said he agreed with the vision of Malaysian Malaysia, but it was not something to be implemented immediately but many decades later.  Even Gerakan talks about a Malaysian Malaysia.  The concept of "bangsa Malaysia" in Vision 2020 clearly traces its roots to the idea of a Malaysian Malaysia.

When Hishamuddinís father, the late Tun Hussein Onn, stepped down as the third Prime Minister of Malaysia, I was able to maintain a cordial and even candid relationship with him.  He would certainly be shocked by reckless political conduct as  hurling serious and baseless allegations against anyone for "mencetuskan rusuhan kaum".

As Malaysia is alread one decade into the 30-year 2020 vision of a Bangsa Malaysia,  I would advise  Hishammuddin to abhor the old politics of bigotry and fear and  set an example of the new politics of reason in Malaysia on the threshold of a new millennium.

As for the highly inflammatory report in the front-page of Utusan Malaysia today, party lawyers would study it to consider its  legal implications.

Utusan Malaysia quoted me as saying:  "Jika rakyat tidak menumbangkan Barisan Nasional pada pilihanraya umum akan datang, mereka terpaksa menunggu 10 hingga 15 tahun lagi sebelum peluang tersebut muncul semula."

This is wrong. What I said was as follows:

"My 30 years as MP is not important, as it merely  marks the DAPís 30 years of parliamentary struggle.

"In the first 30 years of the DAPís parliamentary struggle, the DAP has succeeded in breaking the  hardening mould of a nation-building  policy based on assimilation rather than integration and many DAP leaders paid a heavy price to assert and establish that Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation which must be fully reflected and represented in the nation-building process.

"The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad publicly admitted a few years ago that the Barisan Nasional government had originally wanted to implement a policy of assimilation to build a Malaysian nation but has now realised that this is unsuitable for a plural society like Malaysia and that it should be by way of integration.

"This is a measure of what the DAP had succeeded in the first 30 years of our parliamentary struggle.

"The biggest fight for Malaysia, however, is in the future and not in the past - the DAPís second battle for a Malaysian Malaysia where all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, can enjoy justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.  This is the Battle of Malaysian Malaysia II.

"Malaysia is at a historic political turning point, with golden political opportunities to bring about far-reaching changes, by breaking the Barisan Nasional mould of political hegemony, caused by its never losing two-thirds parliamentary majority and even commanding five-sixth majority as at present - which is the root cause of the undemocratic rule and repression of fundamental rights of Malaysians.

"If Malaysians cannot smash the Barisan Nasional mould of political hegemony in the next general election, then the  people may have to wait for another 10 to 15 years before such an opportunity re-appears.  This is why all opposition parties should work to create the conditions for the breaking of the Barisan Nasional mould of political hegemony to unleash new energies and forces to create a vibrant democratic polity and civil society.

"When the Barisan Nasional mould of political hegemony is broken, Malaysians can look forward to a more open, accountable and transparent government, a freer press where journalists can be proud to be journalists for they will be able to carry out their role as the Fourth Estate to do investigative reporting, where Parliament will stop being a rubber-stamp of the Executive but a vibrant institution with parliamentary committees to carry out oversight functions over the executive, where draconian laws like the Internal Security Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Sedition Act would be repealed, where there will be an all-out war against corruption and where travesties of justice like the case of Lim Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim would never have taken place."

Hishamuddin should consider whether he was setting a good example of a level-headed and rational leader when he could react so temperamentally to my speech which called for a New Malaysia uniting all Malaysians on the cherished values of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

Today is the 30th anniversary of the unfortunate May 13 Tragedy in 1969.  In the past three decades, irresponsible Barisan Nasional politicians had been using the threat of another May 13 in the intervening general elections as an important weapon in their  politics of fear to stampede voters to support the Barisan Nasional.

Thirty years later, with the country on the threshold of a new millennium, are all political leaders, whether in Barisan Nasional or Opposition, whether old or young like Hishammuddin, prepared to renounce the use of the politics of fear as threatening the people with another "May 13" unless they get public support?

Or does Hishammuddin want to be the first Barisan Nasional leader to use such politics of fear on the 30th anniversary of  May 13?

(13/5/99)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong