(Penang, Friday): In the past three days, Malaysians saw how the political heat generated by the increasing nearness of the general elections could swamp reason by a haze of dangerous emotional outbursts.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad joined in the emotional onslaught when he declared that the DAP's "Malaysian Malaysia" concept was an alien idea, unacceptable by Malaysians at large.
He even warned that any attempt by the DAP to persist in promoting the concept would only result in communal tension among multi-racial Malaysians.
Another Cabinet Minister today joined in the attack. Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said that "Malaysian Malaysia" concept is an outdated issue and need not be brought up as everything aspired through the concept have already been covered by the objectives of the Vision 2020 mooted by the government.
He said the main thrust of Vision 2020 was to create a single Malaysian race capable of competing, moving ahead and having self-confidence.
I would be the first to welcome and support Vision 2020 of a Bangsa Malaysia if Hamid is right in his claim that it has already incorporated the goals and objectives of the Malaysian Malaysia concept.
In any event, how can the DAPís Malaysian Malaysia concept be an "alien idea" and cause communal tension in multi-racial Malaysia if its aspirations have been incorporated into Vision 2020?
In any event, Hamidís views seem to be quite close to that expressed by the Pas president Datuk Fadzil Mohd Noor said the DAPís Malaysian Malaysia concept was was no longer applicable since objectives of the concept had already been fulfilled by the Barisan Nasional Government over the years by providing more opportunities for all races by liberalising education, the economy and education.
I can understand why some UMNO leaders want to distort the DAPís Malaysian Malaysia concept which was not anti-Malay or anti-Islam, but a fully Malaysian idea to lay a firm and solid basis for nation-building by giving full recognition to the fact that Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious society, in their desperate attempt to shore up their political support which has suffered unprecedented erosion, particularly in the Malay electorate.
But what is even more reprehensible is the attempt by some Barisan Nasional component party leaders, like the Gerakan Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon to paint the Malaysian Malaysia concept as Chinese chauvinist and anti-Malay, although they had on occasions in the past during private meetings expressed their appreciation and support for the campaign.
What is most disappointing is that the Barisan Nasional leaders have completely missed the thrust of my speech on Monday during the 30th commemorative dinner on my being MP for 30 years - that on the threshold of the new century and after 42 years of nationhood, the time has come for Malaysians to look to the future to create a New Malaysia where the old politics of race, fear and bigotry begin to give way to the new politics of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
It is in the pursuit of this New Malaysia, where all Malaysians regardless of race or religion can enjoy justice, freedom, democracy and good governance that DAP leader and former MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, was prepared to pay the highest political price of losing his personal liberty and disqualified as MP in standing up for the honour, dignity, womenís rights and human rights of a 15-year-old girl victim of statutory rape.
The DAP through Guan Engís political example is putting into practice our Vision of a New Malaysia, where all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion is entitled to justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
The Opposition parties are trying for the first time to forge co-operation and the basis for the creation of a New Malaysia, to unite all Malaysians regardless of race and religion on the ideals of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance and move away from the politics of race, fear and bigotry.
Although the Opposition parties have not yet reached agreement on the establishment of an united Opposition Front to take on the National Front in the next general elections, the Opposition parties have already achieved something which is unprecedented in Malaysian political history.
This is the ability of all Opposition parties, namely DAP, Parti KeADILAN, PAS and PRM to work together on common objectives of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, whether at public forums and ceramahs or at private meetings where leaders from all the Opposition parties could sit down to discuss the political situation.
PAS and DAP, for instance, had never been able to appear on the same public platform or ceramah or even to hold private meetings to discuss the political situation in the past 32 years. However, it is still too early to say whether the Opposition parties could go one step further in establishing a single Opposition front to present an united challenge to the National Front in the next general elections, as this depends on the ability of the Opposition parties to reach agreement on a number of quite thorny issues, whether it be the issue of Islamic State, the objective in the next general elections whether to deny two-thirds majority or to topple the Barisan Nasional, and the allocation of seats.
However, the unprecedented co-operation of the Opposition parties is already causing great concern to the National Front parties who are doing their utmost to destroy such an Opposition coming together through a two-pronged strategy, firstly to create conflict among the Opposition parties and secondly, by sowing discord and disunity in the individual Opposition parties.
I believe that 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, the restoration of local government elections as elected Mayors and councillors for the Penang Island and Seberang Prai Municipal Councils, 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.
This is why I believe that the biggest political fight for Malaysians is not in the past, but in the future - to create a new Malaysian where all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, can enjoy justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.