Support DAP for a better Malaysia

DAP Perak 11th Ordinary Convention
by Ngeh Koo Ham

(Ipoh, Sunday): This Ordinary State Convention will be the last convention before we face the next General Election.  I am very glad that the Perak DAP team is a very united one.  I would like to thank all my committee members and members for their support in making my term of office a memorable one. 

1.  The Need for the People to Support DAP

The life of a DAP member is one of sacrifice and duty.  We are willing to sacrifice and respond to the call of duty because we have a dream of making Malaysia a better nation.  We are always there to defend the rights and interests of the people.  I hope the sacrifices of DAP members will not go unappreciated and the best way for the people to appreciate the sacrifice of DAP members is to overwhelmingly support the DAP in the next General Election.  The set back suffered by DAP in the last two General Elections has drained DAP of her man-power and financial resources. Unless, the people once again overwhelmingly support the DAP, the Party will not be so effective in defending their rights and interests.  The consequence can be  disastrous  if DAP is weak.



2.  Threat of an Islamic state


The DAP is the only political party in Malaysia that has openly declared her opposition to an Islamic state in Malaysia. 


The case of the Nigerian woman, Amina Lawal aged 32, and reported in the press two days ago illustrates what can happen in an Islamic state.  Although the Appellate Court reversed her conviction on procedural grounds, the fact remains that a woman who commits sex out of wedlock can be sentenced to death with her buried up to her neck in the ground and stoned to death while her male sex partner go scot-free.  The press report also mentioned that three others have their hands amputated for stealing a goat, a cow and three bicycles respectively.


In my speech at our last year’s Annual Convention, I quoted the former High Court Judge of  Sindh, Pakistan who was in Kuala Lumpur last October to attend the Advocates Asia Conference. He warned us how ridiculous  things can befall the non-muslims in the implementation of Islamic Laws in an Islamic state.  A muslim man can rape and kill in a non-muslim community and be free because none of the witnesses are competent to testify.  The Blesphemy law which carries the mandatory death sentence is often abused by muslims against their adversaries.  A report of any purported blesphemy will caused a person to be detained without trial.  Islam may not advocate such a position but humans will abuse their religion to claim protection and supremacy .  They will even use religion to justify suppression and oppression of others.


Will Malaysia become such an Islamic State?  Yes, if the DAP the only Party that opposes Islamic State is not given a strong voice in the Parliament or the State Assemblies.


PAS is for Islamic State.  Party Keadilan Nasional is not opposing PAS’ plans but indicated that she will advised PAS on the views of non-muslims.  Barisan Nasional (BN) inclusive of MCA and Gerakan under the leadership of UMNO has also indicated that it will not oppose an Islamic State but in fact is advocating to make Malaysia an Islamic State though one different from PAS.  MCA and Gerakan leaders have failed to object to our Prime Minister, Dato’Seri Dr Mahathir Mohammad’s declaration that Malaysia is an Islamic state on 29 September 2001 at the Gerakan National Convention.


On 1 July 2002, the religious advisor to the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Othman said “The Government is not against hudud but feels it can only be implemented if the environment is right and the people ready for it.  There should be no feeling of anxiety among the people including non-muslims when such laws become reality!”


There have been many moves taken by the Government to make Malaysia more Islamic and it is beginning to affect the rights of non-muslims.  In Johore Bahru, a non-muslim has to get permission from his muslim neighbour, written permission to rear a dog.  Alchoholic drinks advertisements are no longer allowed in shops in Selangor.


Civil Courst which have all along presumed the rights of muslims to renounce their religion (in most cases muslim converts wanting to revert back to their original faiths) no longer entertain such applications on the ground that the Shariah Courts are the proper forum.


The people must not allow the very character of our nation i.e. a democratic secular state as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution to be changed.  In a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi–religious society like Malaysia, a democratic secular state is the most suitable one. The people of Perak where non-muslims form more than half of the electorates and especially those in the city of Ipoh where non-muslims form the overwhelming majority, the message to reject an Islamic State must be sent out loud and clear in this coming General Election. They are not only voting for themselves but also those non-muslims in constituencies where they are minorities and their voice cannot be heard. The blood of our future generations will be on us if we fail to speak at this critical point of time.



3.  Threat to Malaysia’s  Free Society


The acquisition of Nanyang Siang Pau and China press by MCA in May 2001 signifies the complete control of the BN Government or its component parties over the main mass media.   The radio, television, the main English, Malay and Chinese presses are directly or indirectly  controlled by BN or its component parties.  The consequence is obvious.  Malaysia is placed 110th out of 139 countries in Reporters Without Borders worldwide press freedom index or among the 20% of the nations in the world with the worst press freedom record.  Our journalist friends are also fighting hard for press  freedom but their  calls had fallen on deaf ears.  Press freedom is one of the most effective tool to check the abuses of the Government.  Without press freedom a nation dies without the people realizing.  The mass media becomes the Government’s agent of propaganda rather than objective reporting of facts and events for the people to analyse the true state of the country.  The impoverished North Koreans are taught to revere Kim Jong II as a demigod and to call him their “Dear Leader”.  Everything he does including the development of nuclear war-heads is “good for the starving North Koreans.” Will Malaysia become another closed country where there is no freedom of information and no dissent is tolerated?  More than 80% of Malaysians rely on the main mass media only for their information.  The BN Government is trying to ensure that Malaysians shear only what the BN Government wants  them to hear.


The intolerance of the opposition is also increasing.  The BN Government uses the Official Secrets Act (OSA) against Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor, Keadilan Youth Chief for exposing the cover up of corruption charges against a Minister and a former Chief Minister.  The whistle blower is found guilty while those suspected of wrong doings are free. A reminiscence of Sdr Lim Guan Eng’s case.  There is now lesser and lesser transparency.  Government departments e.g. the income tax department now use the OSA as an excuse not to supply information required by the public. There will be no accountability to the public who should be the boss in a democratic system as they are the tax payers.


The Government has continued to detain opposition leaders under the Internal Security Act (ISA).


The BN Government classifies those who disagree with the usage of English in Mathematics and Science in vernacular schools as extremists and threaten to arrest them under the ISA.


A closed country and a nation living in fear of her  Government is an outcast internationally.  No foreign investor will be attracted to such a country.  The people will suffer economically and have their freedom curtailed just like the North Koreans.  The BN Government is now a threat to our nation’s democracy.


The people must speak out and not be so gullible to accept the Government excuse that it needs authoritarian powers to maintain peace and order of our society.  The people must support a more civil and free society.  Only in such a society will people live with dignity.  We cannot accept the rule of fear because it is an affront to our human dignity.



4.  The People Must Arise From Their Slumber


Our nation was able to progress well in the past decades largely due to an open and liberal democratic system that we inherited.  An independent civil and judicial system coupled with the check and balances from the opposition, media and the NGOs help to reduce corruption, abuse of power and tyranny and increase transparency in the administration.  These institutions are now under attack.


Corruptions and abuses of our nation’s wealth are too many to number.  The  latest is the announcement in the media that the Johor State Government and Johor Corp Bhd will use RM540 millions to buy back trust fund units from Amanah Saham Johor and Dana Johor holders at more than triple the market prices. Their prices were currently 24sen and 19sen per unit and it will be purchased back at RM1.00 and 50sen respectively. State funds belong to the public. It cannot be used to help those who have lost in their investments !


The State Government of Perak is no different. How have the State Corporations like State Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), State Agriculture Development Corporation (SADC), Maju Perak Sdn Bhd, Harta Perak Corporation Sdn Bhd and others which have been given thousands of acres of agricultural and prime development lands at nominal prices benefited the people of Perak ? It is an open secret that they benefited only those who are managing the said corporations and those related to the ruling BN Government. Recently when the Auditor General stated that the Perak State Government would be able to receive an extra of RM52 million if open tender had been called for the logging concessions, our (Perak) Menteri Besar has the cheek to say that it was to help the smaller operators as against big corporations. We all know who all these smaller operators are. Why none from DAP is given any of these concessions ? Our MB knows that most DAP members are rather poor and need economic help from the State.


Our nation is now indebted in the sum of RM185 billion or about RM8,000.00 per Malaysian. This is about 45.6% or 5.46 months of our Gross National Products (GNP). Our debt repayment is about RM18 billion per year. The Government’s income for the year 2002 was RM83.5 billion. Therefore, our debt repayment is 21.55% of our Government’s income. This must be a cause for concern. Our Prime Minister has just presented a budget for 2004 where there will be a deficit of RM16.9 billion. This means that our nation’s debt will continue to increase. The people must wake up before it is too late when the whole economic system collapses as has happened in Argentina two years ago. If the BN Government has managed the nation well, we should have huge surplus due to our rich natural resources.


The BN Government is now pushing away its social responsibilities to the people.  It is planning to privatize the health services and the people will be required to take up mandatory insurance coverage.  Even before the full privatization of the health services, people are required to purchase more expensive medication on their own and it now costs  RM1,000.00 to purchase a post mortem report (it used to cost only RM 40) !


Apart from quit rents people have now to pay assessment rates for vacant lands and even agricultural lands!


In addition to assessment rates, people will have to pay for Indah Waters’ sewerage charges though no services were provided.


People do not dare to have too many children because of high costs of living especially the costs for tertiary education after the Government reduced its commitment to provide subsidized tertiary education.


Don’t wait until it is too late.  Support the DAP, the defender of your rights and interests.


* Ngeh Koo Ham, DAP Perak Chairman