First email to Abdullah after general election: set example of  “walk the talk” by applying  the integrity test in the appointment of new Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers and Mentris Besar

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaWednesday): Immediately after the 1999 general election, I had warned:

“The danger of the  historic electoral setback for UMNO in the 1999 general election and the emergence of PAS as the dominant Opposition in Parliament with 27 seats and a very marginalised DAP with ten seats  is that  Parliament in the next five years will principally become the battleground between UMNO and PAS for the hearts and minds of the Malays in the Malay heartland, resulting in a spiral of Islamisation policies - threatening a democratic secular Malaysia and  sidelining all other great issues of the Malaysian people.

My fears proved be very prescient and prophetic for this was exactly what happened in the last five years, with PAS coming out with its “Islamic State Document” and UMNO and Barisan Nasional its “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State. 

The outcome of the 2004 general election should give a respite, albeit  temporary, to the spirallng of the competition between UMNO and PAS to out-Islamise and out-islamic State each other, as its conveys two messages: 

  • the PAS debacle with the loss of Terengganu state government, near-loss of Kelantan State government and the slaughter of PAS parliamentary representation from 27 to 7 MPs, is a clear and  unequivocal rejection by Malays and non-Malays of PAS Islamic State;
  • DAP’s election result a clear and unmistakable rejection of the UMNO and BN’s “929 Declaration” and eloquent defence of the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” that Malaysia is a democratic, secular, multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO.

In the aftermath of the 2004 general election, my greatest concerns and  fears are that democracy in Malaysia may come under even greater  threat than in the past two decades of  the premiership of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, because of the unprecedented victory of Barisan Nasional as a result of the tsunami effect of the new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, pulverizing the Opposition.

Barisan Nasional has been returned with 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats, winning outright 197 out of 219 or 90 per cent of the  parliamentary seats – a shocking and unheard-of nine-tenth majority!   This is an even better score than Mahathir’s first general election in 1982, when he secured 85% or five-sixth majority of the parliamentary seats. 

But a better score for Barisan Nasional in Parliament is a time-bomb  for democracy in Malaysia, as the unprecedented political and parliamentary hegemony of the Barisan Nasional contains  the seeds for gross abuse of power, arbitrary rule, and high-handed and unaccountable governance unless there is an effective check-and-balance in Parliament and on all the institutions and organs of government. 

Although Abdullah has pledged to bring about a clean, incorruptible, efficient, people-oriented and trustworthy government,  he cannot deliver these promises unless there is a far-reaching and comprehensive reform and overhaul of the system of governance never attempted before  in the 46-year history of the nation. 

In his 2 a.m. press conference immediately after the Barisan Nasional was declared to have two-thirds majority, Abdullah called on the newly-elected Barisan Nasional leaders to now cakap serupa bikin (walk the talk). 

Abdullah should himself set the example of “walk the talk” to demonstrate that the Barisan Nasional’s 2004 general election manifesto slogan of Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang (Excellence, Glory, Distinction) is not Temberang (big talk). 

I have sent an email to Abdullah congratulating him on the Barisan Nasional’s unprecedented election victory in winning 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats and urging him to immediately “walk the talk” in his pledge of a clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented government which wants to hear the truth from the people. 

I suggested that he should set such an example of “walk the talk” by applying the integrity test  in his selection of the new Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers and Mentri-Mentri Besar by ensuring that no one who is tainted by corruption or had not been able to give a satisfactory accounting of serious allegations of  corruptikon, abuse of power, breach of trust and  various malpractices made against them  should be appointed. 

In the previous Cabinet which Abdullah inherited from Mahathir, there are quite a number who would not pass such a test.  This applies to the previous crop of Chief Minsiters/Mentris Besar as well. 

The appointment of his new Cabinet, Chief Ministers and Mentris Besar will be an acid test of his political will to go all out in the crackdown on corruption, especially as the Barisan Nasional had confessed in full-page advertisements in all the Chinese newspapers during the election campaign that the government is “corrupt and rotten to the core…with no aspect of life untainted by corruption” and that only Abdullah could “cleanse the Augean stables”. 

If Abdullah should appoint anyone from the previous holdovers who are perceived by the Malaysian people as tainted by corruption or had not been able  to clear him/herself of serious allegations of corruption, abuses of power, breach of trust and malpractices, it will be Abdullah who will be failing the test of political will to root out corruption in public life. 

In my email to Abdullah, I also urged the Prime Minister to require all Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Chief Ministers, Mentris Besar and State Exco members to publicly declare their assets and those of their next of kin so as to be subject to public scrutiny to usher in a new political culture of integrity in public life with zero tolerance for corruption. 

DAP will extend full support and co-operation to Abdullah in his pledge for a clean, incorruptible, efficient and people-oriented government which is prepared to hear the truth from the people, and will take Abdullah at his words after he was sworn in as Prime Minister on Monday when he welcomed reminders “where I go wrong, when I do something that is not going to be good for Malaysia”. 

In my email to Abdullah, I also urged him to allow former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to go overseas for his medical treatment for his spinal injury as a result of the dastardly and criminal assault by the former Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, when Anwar was defenceless, handcuffed and blindfolded six years ago.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman