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Transforming Malaysia with Malaysian First

Speech during the opening of the DAP Damansara Service Centre

by Lim Guan Eng


(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): Politics is seen as dirty and irrelevant because it is exclusively played by the select few who make decisions for their benefit at the expense of the people. Many, especially the young, have stopped engaging in politics because they feel bereft of hope that there can make any difference in their lives. Making you lose hope serves the ruling party's interest of maintaining the status quo and permitting policies detrimental to the people such as:

  • Highway toll companies can earn huge profits such as Litrak Bhd, that built the Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong Highway for an initial capital cost of RM 1,327 million can earn an after-tax profit of RM 18,865 million by 2029. Why allow a private company to earn 13 times their initial investment when the cheaper and logical economic option is for the government to build the highways themselves?

  • Corruption becoming more rampant until the ACA Director-General is himself investigated for corruption and sexual crimes. Or the Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Mohamad Johari Baharom is investigated for the RM 5.5 million "freedom for sale" scandal involving the release of 3 kingpins of black society triads, one of the three allegedly the younger brother of a MCA Deputy Minister.

  • The failure to share Petronas' profits of RM 70 billion in 2005 with the people as compared to Singapore government's distributing cash to the people despite not having a single drop of oil. Such injustice is even more severe with the refusal of the government to reduce petrol prices even though the average price of oil this year is less than US61 per barrel, which was the international price of oil when the government increased fuel prices by 30 cents on 28.2.2006.

There are many more examples of such injustices but the greatest injustice of all is the refusal to treat every Malaysian equally. Instead we continue to be discriminated by the colour of our skin or the gods we pray even though our blood is of the same colour. Why should we continue to be defined by our ethnic background when we are all part of the human race?

At a time when we are celebrating our 50 th Merdeka celebrations, we should be looking forward to a one national ideal grounded on democratic principles of justice, respect for human rights, freedom, integrity and human dignity. Instead of looking forward to the next 50 years with modern 21 st century ideas, we are reaching back 60 years to 1946 to rely on UMNO's ketuanan Melayu or Malay dominance as the basis of nation-building. Clearly UMNO rejects political equality and equal opportunity for all Malaysians, seeking to divide by race and religion rather than unite Malaysians as one people.

Let us transform Malaysia through Malaysian First, based on democracy, political equality, equal opportunity and social justice that ensures economic prosperity for all. Political equality means Bangsa Malaysia who former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said "are people being able to identify themselves with the country, speak Bahasa Malaysia and accept the Constitution". Even this is now rejected by UMNO and BN.

Equal opportunity is not just giving everyone the right to work, right to spend what is earned, right to own property and have the state as a servant and not as a master but also about our obligation to help the needy. No one is fated to be poor just as no one is entitled to weatlh. Social justice gives everyone the opportunity to improve their standard of living.

Just as we believe in the power of the market to ensure efficient allocation of resources that improves productivity and effective delivery, we also believe in the important role of the political process in ensuring equity that can guarantee access for all. We must free up the potential of our greatest resource - our human resources- to do the best from our abilities.

This is the economic essence of Malaysian First- empowering Malaysians by giving economic freedom and equal opportunity to all so that every individual has an equal chance to achieve our great Malaysian Dream of success by the dint of our personal effort. From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs.

My words are not mere rhetoric. We are a group of idealistic, passionate, compassionate and courageous individuals committed to a cause of a better Malaysia. Tony Pua is the latest to join our family who embodies much of what I have said about Malaysian First. Intelligent with outstanding academic credentials ranging from being an Asean scholar to an Oxford graduate, he has also succeeded on his own in the business world as a CEO of a listed company not in Malaysia but in Singapore.

But most admirable of all he is a loving husband and father who cares about the society and community his child growing up in. There are very few who will sell off his company so that he can dedicate himself to public service to improve Malaysian society. He is participating in the DAP because he believes in high standards and that mediocrity sucks.

Like Tony let us stop the politics of exclusion based on race or religion. For the people to be the real rulers, they have to actively participate in choosing their leaders. As Plato said, " One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors"

People like Tony do not want to be governed by our inferiors or by the corrupt seeking self-interest. T he time has come for all Malaysian to awaken and revive their hopes to transform Malaysia.

We should not fall into UMNO's trap to make us all give up and lose hope. If we want to be truly Malaysian, we have to engage with decision-makers who impact on our lives. Let us participate in the political process by first choosing honest and competent leaders who can make a positive difference and give us hope to a more unified Bangsa Malaysia.



* Lim Guan Eng,  Secretary-General of DAP

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