(Penang, Saturday): I want to thank Penang DAP for organising this 60th birthday party for me. I have devoted the prime of my life, and more than half my life, to the task of Malaysian nation building in pursuit of a Malaysian Malaysia where there is justice, freedom, democracy and good governance for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion.
I want to thank leaders and members of the DAP who have pursued these political and national ideals together with me and Malaysians outside the party whose support and encouragement down the years and decades have made the successes and breakthroughs in the past 35 years most exciting and meaningful and the setbacks, trials and tribulations more bearable.
We are on the threshold of a new Malaysia, with the emergence of a new multi-ethnic national and political consciousness to bring about a political transition in the country where politics would be more issues-centred rather than race-dominated.
The DAP has succeeded in our first phase to break the hardening mould of a nation-building policy based on assimilation to 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.
Our next national challenge is to break the Barisan Nasional mould of political hegemony which is the root cause of the multiple crises of confidence afflicting the country characterised by political repression, corruption and cronyism, economic mismanagement and the erosion of a just rule of law and a truly independent judiciary.
In the 15 months since the last general elections, far from settling down, there has been a further simmering of the political cauldron - raising questions about the legitimacy of the rule of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad although he had just been returned with a two-thirds parliamentary mandate for the fifth time in the national polls.
Mahathir’s denial syndrome and refusal to heed the aspirations of Malaysians for political and economic reforms, and his attempt to win back Malay political support and restore UMNO’s hitherto unchallenged position as the Malay majority party by countenancing the recommunalisation of politics in Malaysia has cast a dark shadow on the future of Malaysia.
There are however several silver linings - the most significant of which
is the emergence of a new multi-ethnic political and national consciousness
as manifested by the following:
Malaysia would be making another major stride in the political transition from the old politics of communal “divide and rule” and ethnic polarisation to the new politics focussed on issues of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance when the UMNO-initiated “Malay Unity” talks with PAS gives way to the “National Unity” talks between the Barisan Nasional and the Barisan Alternative as the real crisis confronting the country is not Malay unity but national unity.
The Barisan Nasional has still to respond to Barisan Alternative’s invitation for “National Unity” talks, which is another testimony that the Barisan Alternative has become the leading advocate for a multi-racial Malaysia eschewing communal politics as compared to the Barisan Nasional.