(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Recent events in the past fortnight have disturbed many thinking Malaysians at the ease with which there could be a throwback to the old politics of race, fear and bigotry.
This was illustrated by two incidents: the attack of the Information Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Rahmat casting aspersions on the racial origin of President of Parti KeADILan Nasional, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the attempted revival of the worst politics of race and fear in the orchestrated attack and distortion of the DAPís Malaysian Malaysia concept as "seditious", anti-Malay, anti-Islam and that it could cause "racial tensionsí.
It is a credit to the Opposition parties that despite the political turbulence of the past year, starting from the gross injustice suffered by DAP leader and former Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng April last year followed by the outrageous injustice suffered by former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim last September, public disenchantment with the systems of governance and justice resulting in the groundswell for political change had transcended ethnic or religious lines and had been kept strictly within the bounds of the aspirations for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
In the past fortnight, however, the two attempts to revive the old politics of race, fear and bigotry should be a warning to all Malaysians that it is very easy for unscrupulous politicians to pander to communal emotions for short-term political popularity and vote-catching and the need to demand a higher standard of political responsibility in the run-up to the next general election from all political parties and political leaders that they should eschew the old politics of race, fear and bigotry.
It is very sad that while Opposition parties had conducted themselves as true Malaysians, transcending the old politics of race, fear and bigotry, some leaders of the Barisan Nasional component parties are trying to rake up communal fears and tensions, with certain UMNO leaders warning others not to "play with fire" when they are doing precisely that.
For this reason, I call on all political parties in government and opposition to agree to an electoral code of conduct to forswear or renounce the old politics of race, fear and bigotry in the run-up to the 10th national general election to mark Malaysiaís greater nation-building maturity on the eve of the new century and to make a public commitment not to resort to unprincipled and dirty electoral tricks like the infamous Tengku Razaleigh election scam in the 1990 general election.
The infamous Tengku Razaleigh election scam in the 1990 general elections,
where on the eve of polling, the print and electronic media were
fully mobilised to drown the country with the false allegation that the
former UMNO Vice President had sold out the Malay race and
betrayed Islam for wearing a Kadazan headgear purportedly with a Christian
cross will remain a permanent blot on Malaysiaís claim of "clean, fair
and honest elections".
Just as in the 1990 general elections, the Malay mass media and television were used to incite communal feelings, in the past week, the same media were used for the same purpose in the seditious and defamatory attack on the DAP.
Last Saturday, I had warned that under the 1971 Constitution Amendment Act, it is an offence of sedition, criminal defamation and libel/slander for any Malaysian, political party or society to advocate the abolition of Malay special rights as it is an entrenched sensitive issue in the Constitution which cannot be questioned - like the position of the Malay Rulers.
Furthermore, the Societies Amendment Act 1983 empowers the the Minister for Home Affairs to declare a political party or society unlawful where it acts "in any manner violative of, or derogatory to, or militates against, or shows disregard for" any one of the sensitive issues entrenched in the Constitution.
This was why I had warned last Saturday that it is also an offence of sedition, criminal defamation and libel/slander to falsely accuse any Malaysian or political party of wanting to abolish Malay special rights and that the DAP would be forced to lodge police reports if such baseless attacks do not stop immediately.
Unfortunately, similar seditious attacks on the DAP continued the next day in the Sunday press.
This is giving the DAP no choice but to lodge police reports against all those who in the past week had made such wild and baseless allegations against the DAP.