(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Malaysians celebrate the 43rd Merdeka anniversary with great apprehension and foreboding for the country, as the country has never been plagued with a greater multitude of crises of confidence, whether nation-building, parliamentary democracy, judicial independence, integrity of major organs of government or Vision 2020.
The Al-Maunah arms heists and the inhuman hostage-killings last month and the irresponsible politicisation of the issue, the cruel and unconscionable political persecution of former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim early this month incarcerating him for 15 years and the irresponsible communalisation of politics in a synthetic crisis over alleged challenge to Malay special rights in the past fortnight should be enough warnings that something is very wrong with the system of Malaysian governance.
In fact, it would not be far wrong to describe the current atmosphere as similar to the mood prevailing just before the 1987 Operation Lalang mass arrests, and one Cabinet Minister had hinted publicly on Sunday of the possibility of a second Operation Lalang crackdown against democracy and human rights in the country.
Never before has Malaysia been confronted with a greater myriad of divisive and contentious issues, at a time when Malaysians seem to have lost the art to communicate and to reach out to each other.
This state of affairs has even reduced the 43rd Merdeka Month celebrations with the theme of "togetherness" and unity of the 22 million Malaysians into a farce, with political goons threatening inter-racial harmony while a Mentri Besar could with impunity threaten "bloodshed" in a multi-racial nation.
Malaysians must not allow the rot in the system of governance and nation-building to continue and there can be no greater "patriotism" than to save the country from such a rot.
As an important step to defuse the escalating racial and religious polarisation in the country and for the nation to concentrate on the task of sustained economic recovery and propel the country into the information society and knowledge- economy, I call for a summit meeting of top political leaders of all political parties in a closed session.
Let leaders of all political parties demonstrate to Malaysians that whatever their political differences, they have one overriding common cause: that they all love Malaysia more than anything else, are concerned at the escalating racial and religious polarisation in the country and are prepared to rise above party politics to find a solution.
Let the 43rd anniversary of Merdeka be an occasion for all Malaysians
to take a few steps backwards, join in a common vision of Malaysia in the
next three decades and take the first step in the sacred task of national
reconciliation and national unity and not another lurch towards greater
national division and polarisation.