Najib should get tough with racists like Mahathir and Utusan Malaysia seeking to destroy the message of peace and moderation

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has urged the government to no longer be soft towards the opposition “who continue to insult the nation’s democratic system”, declaring “We need to be a bit tough, and not give them face”.

If the time has come for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be tough and to stop “giving face”, it is to racists like Mahathir and Utusan Malaysia who have been seeking to destroy the message of peace and moderation with their ceaseless and reckless racist lies and falsehoods.

New Straits Times today carried a page headline: “Najib tells tour bikers to relay moderation message”, where the Prime Minister expressed hope that the “1Malaysia World Endurance Ride 2013” high-powered motor-cycle tour team would spread the message of peace and moderation to the world on behalf of Malaysia.

The question that immediately begs answer is why for the past 40 days since the May 5 general elections results, Najib had allowed racists like Mahathir and Utusan Malaysia both immunity and impunity to escalate their racist campaign of lies and falsehoods to engender racial distrust, hatred and conflict, completely against Najib’s signature policy of 1Malaysia as well as over five decades of Malaysian nation-building?

I am utterly shocked that Mahathir, despite being Prime Minister for 22 years and whose political career was saved by the Chinese voters in the 1999 general elections, could be so reckless and irresponsible during and after the 13th general elections as to openly foment racial distrust, hatred and conflict, based on pure lies and falsehoods.

In the run-up to the 13GE, Mahathir spewed racist lies and falsehoods that I was contesting in Gelang Patah because I want

  • the Chinese in Gelang Patah and Johor to “reject working together and sharing with the Malays”;

  • the Chinese in Johor “to dislike and hate the Malays” to create “conflict and antagonism between the races”;

  • create “an unhealthy racial confrontation” between the Malays and Chinese in Johor, which will be “disruptive and will not be conducive to the development of Malaysia”.

In a rabid and racist rant, the former Prime Minister wrote in his blog on “Gelang Patah”:

“An unhealthy racial confrontation would replace Sino-Malay cooperation which has made Malaysia stable and prosperous. That cooperation will end when Kit Siang wins Gelang Patah. Even if there will not be violent clashes as seen in many countries where people are divided by race or religion, but confrontation between the three major races in Malaysia will be disruptive and will not be conducive to the development of Malaysia.”

Is Mahathir remorseful that he had written such racist garbage in the run-up to the 13GE?

My more than 14,000-vote majority y in Gelang Patah, which would not be possible without the support of Malay voters in my constituency, and the inroads made by Pakatan Rakyat in the 13GE, were not a sign of racial confrontation among the Malays and Chinese but the very opposite – a hopeful sign for the future of Malaysia where all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, had united to reject the politics of race, corruption and abuses of power of UMNO/BN and to support a new politics of a common Malaysian Dream rising above the politics of race to end corrupt and crony rule and the advent of clean, safe, green and good governance.

But not content with the rejection of their message of racist falsehoods, lies and hatred, Mahathir and Utusan Malaysia have returned to the irresponsible and reckless tactics of Chinese-bashing and racist provocations with a vengeance after the 13th General Elections.

In his recent blog on “Racial Polarisation”, Mahathir returned to more racist lies and falsehoods, even creating new ones like accusing DAP and me of “hatred of Malays”.

This must qualify as “the Lie of all Mahathir Lies”, which Mahathir never made even when he was Prime Minister for 22 years from 1981-2003.

Why have Mahathir to concoct “the Lie of all Mahathir Lies” after the 13GE?

Right from the very beginning of the DAP 47 years ago in 1966, DAP was founded as a political party for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region.

In fact, DAP is the first Pan-Malaysian political party, the first political party to operate in all states in Malaysia, whether Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah or Sarawak with membership comprising all Malaysians i.e. Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans.

From the first general election contested by DAP in 1969, DAP had fielded a multi-racial slate of candidates with the election of two Malay DAP State Assemblymen in 1969 itself.

The question of me, DAP or any DAP leader having “hatred for Malays”, or “hatred for Chinese”, “hatred for Indians”, “hatred for Kadazans” or “hatred for Dayaks”, is a most dangerous and contemptible lie, especially coming from one who had been Prime Minister for 22 years.

But this is a reflection of Mahathir’s increasing sense of desperation facing a diminishing market for his racist vituperations and fulminations.

If Mahathir is all the influential, I would not only have been defeated in Gelang Patah, he would have succeeded in tarring me as “No. 1 anti-Malay” in the country.

I was at first apprehensive as to what divisive and destructive effects Mahathir's lies and racist vituperation could have on the Malays in Gelang Patah in particular and in Malaysia in general.

But I am glad and more hopeful about the future of Malaysia because I find that Mahathir's racist lies and falsehoods have little market even among the Malays – and wherever I go after the 13thGeneral Elections, Malays regardless of background and age have come forward to congratulate me for my victory in Gelang Patah.

Clearly, the Malays are not only forsaking UMNO, they are forsaking Mahathir even more – showing that the former Prime Minister is facing the law of diminishing returns in his political influence.

I agree with Mahathir that it is time that Najib and the government should stop give face to irresponsible and reckless racists like Mahathir and Utusan Malaysia who are seeking to destroy the message of peace and moderation with their incessant racist lies and falsehoods.

But is Najib capable of “walking the talk” of 1Malaysia and his preachings about the “Global Movement of Moderates” starting inside Malaysia?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah