It deserves serious consideration  if by  my not contesting as a candidate, more Malaysians could focus on the importance of the next general election on  the critical issue of preserving or abandoning  the 46-year “social contract”  to decide on whether the nation should  embark on the road of an Islamic State

DAP “International Mother Language Day” Dinner
by Lim Kit Siang

(IpohMonday): With  mounting  expectation of the general  election around the corner, of dissolution of Parliament  by the first week of March and polling between March 20 to 27, this is the season for all sorts of electoral speculation, in particular candidates and constituencies they would contest. 

I have read, for instance, newspaper write-ups speculating that I would be  contesting in Penang, Perak or  Selangor.  However, there is one question that should be addressed first, whether I should be contesting in the next election. 

I do not hide the fact that I have been greatly disappointed and even frustrated by the failure of the DAP effort in the past two-and-a-half years to raise consciousness among Malaysians about the critical importance of the next general election in shaping and determining not only our present rights, but those of future generations in the years and decades to come. 

There are many issues in the coming general election, the clean-up of the long-standing and rampant corruption; accountability, transparency and good governance; a fair, equitable and progressive economic system; modern and quality education; a crime-free society; affordable and quality healthcare; an independent judiciary; democracy and human rights; quality of life and sustained development for all Malaysians; an united Malaysian nation which can compete in the world market place to assure our national prosperity; etc. 

But most important of all, is the protection and preservation of the 46-year “Social Contract” solemnly agreed by the forefathers of the major communities on the attainment of nationhood and  written into the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1970 Rukunegara that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State, whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO. 

I have to admit that the DAP’s “No to 929” Campaign had been quite a failure,  for Malaysians who are strongly opposed to PAS” Islamic State – regarding it as extremist, totally unacceptable and going against the very grain of a plural society like Malaysia, reinforced by insensitive and irresponsible  actions  like Terengganu PAS State Government’s ban of the recent Kongsi Raya in Kuala Terengganu – do not feel threatened or worried by UMNO and Barisan Nasional’s “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State. 

They do not seem to realize that if the Barisan Nasional wins a landslide victory in the next general election – largely because of the political honeymoon and  “feel good” effect of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as the new Prime Minister  and his untested promise of a clean, incorruptible, efficient, people-oriented administration – it would also be regarded as a national mandate for the abandonment of the Merdeka “social contract” and its replacement by the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State. 

There are many who find considerable assurance and comfort with Abdullah as the Prime Minister, but what they do not realize is that the tectonic shift in the whole basis on which the Malaysian nation was conceived and developed in the past 46 years need not and may not take immediate effect after the next general election – but the whole ground rules of nation-building would have undergone a fundamental and even irreversible transformation. 

Whether under Abdullah’s premiership a few years down the road, or under a new Prime Minister, whenever the political necessity arises for the Malay leadership in government to compete with PAS for the support of Malay votes, the stage will be set for Malaysia to embark on the road of an Islamic State in total violation of the Merdeka “social contract” on the ground that a national mandate had already been given by all Malaysians to UMNO and Barisan Nasional for such a fundamental and irreversible change in the 2004 general election. 

The next general election will decide not only who will be the elected representatives and the government for the next five years, but even more important, the far-reaching  and long-term political, economic, educational, legal, social and citizenship rights of ourselves, our children and children’s children in Malaysia in the years and decades to come. 

In the national euphoria created by a new Prime Minister, there is even less consciousness and focus on this important issue in the coming general election. 

It deserves serious consideration  if by my  not contesting as a candidate in the next general election, more Malaysians could focus on the importance of the next general election on  the critical issue of preserving or abandoning  the 46-year “social contract” to  decide on  whether the nation should   embark on the road of an Islamic State – leaving only the question of  “when” to the  UMNO  leadership in future.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman