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Democratic Action Party Is The Correct Political Choice To Improve The Economic Well-being And Democratic Freedoms Of Malaysians

Press Conference Statement
Professor P. Ramasamy

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): I was born on May 10, 1949, in Kampung Baharu, Sitiawan, Perak. My late father Palanisamy and mother Palaniamal migrated to Malaya in the 1920s from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu to work in the plantations. I come from a family of six sisters and one brother. I completed my primary school education in Anglo-Chinese primary school, Kampung Koh, Sitiawan, Perak (in late 1950s), my lower secondary education in St. Anthony’s secondary school, Teluk Intan (early 1960s), my upper secondary education in Sekolah Laksamana, Kota Tinggi and Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar or English College, Johore Baru (late 1960s). After completing my diploma in magazine journalism in Wellington Polytechnic, New Zealand (1972), I served as temporary teacher in Sekolah Laksamana, Kota Tinggi before pursuing my tertiary education overseas. In 1977 I completed my B.A. in political science at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA, M.A. in political science at McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1980) and finally my Ph.D. in political science/public administration at University of Malaya (1991).

In 1981 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia hired me as a lecturer in the department of political science. In  1993 I was promoted to a position of associate professor and in 1998 to the e position of a full professor of political economy in the department. My areas of academic/intellectual interests are labour and globalization, comparative ethnicity, nationalism and conflict resolution in multi-ethnic societies. I have taught undergraduate and graduate courses such as Malaysian politics, political economy, international relations, political theory, industrial relations and globalization and governance. To date I have published four books, numerous articles in local and international journals and presented papers in hundreds of conferences/seminars both locally and overseas. I also have supervised theses/dissertations of hundreds of undergraduate, masters and doctoral students. In recognition of my expertise, I was awarded fellowships at McGill University, Nordic Institute for Asian Studies, University of Tokyo and University of Kyoto, Japan and lately was awarded guest professorship at University of Kassel, Germany.

My academic specialization on labour has enabled me to act as consultant to International Labour Organization (ILO), an affiliate of the United Nations and recently was appointed as one of the coordinators for the global labour university academic programme. Over the years, I have served as an advisor/consultant to trade unions both locally and abroad. In 2003 I was appointed by Shell Malaysia to mediate in a major labour dispute with its employees. To date I have successfully completed a number of research projects on subjects such as child labour (funded by Anti-Slavery Society, UK), estate house ownership programme in Selangor (funded by Selangor state government), socio-economic aspects of Indians in Malaysia (Economic Welfare Research Foundation), the impact of commercialization on former estate workers (Ministry of Rural Development) impact of AFTA on trade unions in Southeast Asia (ILO), study of plantation labour in Riau, Sumatra (Nissan Foundation, Japan) and the impact of globalization on labour in Malaysia (ILO).

Given my in-depth understanding of ethnic/nationalist conflicts, I was appointed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to be one of the members of its Constitutional Affairs Committee in 2003. The Committee was entrusted with the responsibility to draft an interim administration proposal for Tamil areas in the north and east of Sri Lanka to facilitate the peace process. My involvement elicited the support of Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister Ranil Wickermesinghe and his constitutional affairs minister Prof. G.L. Peiris. Lately, I took part in the Acheh-Indonesia Helsinki Talks as one of the advisors of Gerakan Acheh Merdeka (GAM). I had an important role in contributing to the peace process leading to signing of a historic peace agreement between the two contending parties on August 15, 2005.

Even though UKM employed me on a month-to-month contract following my official retirement on May 10, 2005, my contract was abruptly terminated on the 26 August, 2005, without any reasons. As I have stated earlier in my press conference on August 5th, 2005, I can only speculate that my sudden termination was related to my constant criticism of the government on many issues, the nature of ethnic and religious discrimination of minorities in the country, the systematic exclusion of non-Malays in the public sector, the discrimination of non-Malay students in universities and not the least for my participation in peace talks in Sri Lanka and Acheh. While my termination per se might not have been motivated by racial factors, the fact that I was discriminated in UKM for the past 25 years cannot be disputed. Despite the fact of being the only professor in my department, I was never considered for  administrative posts.

Democratic Action Party Is The Correct Political Choice To Improve The Economic Well-being And Democratic Freedoms Of Malaysians

My identification with the principles and objectives of the DAP is related to my own analysis of the nature of politics in the Malaysian society and the   larger question of what should be done. My own writings, speeches and presentations on the nature of Malaysian politics have been primarily focused on the need to go beyond the narrow ethnic and religious practices that are currently practised by the Barisan Nasional government.

In a more particular sense, the ideology of Malay state racism as practiced by UMNO and supported by opportunistic political parties such as the MCA, Gerakan and MIC have contributed to the rise in ethnic and religious polarization. It has led to a situation where Malaysians, both Malay and non-Malays, have been denied the space for democratic participation.

Malay state hegemony perpetrated to satisfy the financial and corporate interests of a tiny group of politicians in both UMNO and other BN component parties like MCA, MIC, Gerakan and SUPP have done irreparable damage to the progress and well-being of Malaysian society. BN leaders have enriched themselves at the expense of poor Malays, poor Chinese, poor Indians, poor Ibans, poor Kadazans and poor Orang Aslis.

How does the unaccountable wealth of former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Osu Sukam who can gamble RM 131 million in the London casino and lose RM 31 million in the short space of 6 months benefit poor bumis? I firmly believe that those in power cannot address rot in the government. For this reason, I identify more with Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang than with MIC President Datuk S. Samy Vellu.

By succumbing to the political dictates of UMNO, the non-Malay political parties have failed to represent the legitimate interests of their respective ethnic communities. The deliberate exclusion of non-Malays from the public sector, the denial of promotions, the discrimination suffered by non-Malay students for places in local universities, the promotion of Malaysia as Islamic State and others have contributed to situation where the legitimate interests of non-Malays as a  Malaysians have been seriously compromised. 

Although I did not join the DAP earlier, I have nonetheless participated in many of their activities-forums, discussions and press conferences over a period. The leadership of the party, presently led by DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng, is in the hands of courageous and principled leaders, men and women who are not afraid of sacrificing their immediate interests to fight for a larger cause of Malaysian Malaysia. DAP leaders have shown courage and fortitude to endure loss of personal liberty and sacrificed their well-being in pursuit of freedom, democracy, justice and accountability.

I seriously believe that the larger and more fundamental changes to the nature of Malaysian politics might not come from the forces within the establishment, but from outside. In this respect, the role and function of the DAP to improve the economic well-being and democratic freedoms of Malaysians are more relevant today than before.

More than four decades of independence and more than three decades of the NEP are more than enough to convince us that there is something wrong with the direction of the Malaysian society. Malaysians irrespective of their ethnic or religious origins must contribute in some meaningful ways to steer the society away from the present retrogressive direction it is taking.

By joining the DAP I hope to work in solidarity with its leaders, members and supporters to provide a futuristic democratic, egalitarian and progressive vision of the Malaysian society that would be free from ethnic, religious and class oppression. The concept of Malaysian Malaysia’s relevance will be articulated and elaborated for all Malaysians.

Only when we see ourselves as Malaysians first and last can we forge a national identity that can unite Malaysians from Peninsular Malaysia to Sabah and Sarawak. Only with rule of law and justice for all can we ensure security for our neighbourhoods and personal safety. Only when we learn to share in our nation’s wealth and give equal opportunities to everyone can our country and people prosper.

Given the growing disenchantment and frustration of many Malaysians towards the government and the nature of the organization of the Malaysian politics, the DAP will provide the much needed hope, zeal and enthusiasm for Malaysians to think about the future of this country.

DAP is the correct political choice to improve the economic well-being and democratic freedoms of Malaysians

I think history is on the side of the DAP! Let us unite as Malaysians by recognizing our different cultures, ethnicity and religions but accepting  our common heritage as Malaysians to treat other equally as citizens of this beloved country. Thank you.

Prof. P. Ramasamy

8th September 2005


* Professor P. Ramasamy

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