Pakatan Rakyat governments must never commit undemocratic vengeance or vindictiveness

The Jonker Walk outrage in Malacca, where the Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Idris Haron is seeking to close down the Jonker Walk night market by some 300 traders on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, by opening up the area to traffic, is among the worst examples of political vindictiveness and retaliation by the Barisan Nasional after the 13th general election.

The claim that the Jonker Walk market is among the causes of a four-hour traffic snarl that stretches up to the Ayer Kerol toll plaza is utterly baseless.

It can probably serve three petty objectives – to take vengeance against the people of Malacca for not supporting the Barisan Nasional in the 13th general election, continuation of the Chinese-bashing indulged by chauvinist UMNO elements like the irresponsible Utusan Malaysia’s “Apa Lagi Cina Mahu” rhetoric, and to make Idris Harun an instant hero and top vote-getter in the UMNO party elections at the end of the year.

Idris is probably trying to pick a leaf from the former Malacca Chief Minister, Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik, who some 30 years became an instant hero by getting the highest votes in the ensuing UMNO party elections for the UMNO Supreme Council because of his proposal to demolish the ancient Bukit China cemetery grounds.

Like the “Save Bukit China” campaign three decades ago, the “Save Jonker Walk tourist attraction” is not a local Malacca issue, but a national and even international issue, affecting not just the Chinese, but all Malaysians regardless of race or region.

This is because Jonker Walk is undoubtedly an international tourist attraction and what Idris is trying to do is nothing less than “cutting the nose to spite the face”!

In fact, it is clear that the Barisan Nasional’s national retaliation plan, starting with the Jonker Walk outrage, is also targeted at Malays as well, as is evident from the action to close down the Cempaka Ramadhan market in Malacca affecting Malay stallholders because of the defeat of former Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam in the Batu Katil parliamentary seat.

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak wants Malaysia to become the world’s best democracy. We cannot even take-off on this objective when Umno/BN leaders are not prepared to accept the most fundamental perequisite of a democratic mindset and culture – to accept the democratic right of voters to choose the representative and political party they want.

How can Malaysia ever become the world’s “best democracy” when Malaysians have only the democratic right to vote for Umno/Barisan Nasional candidates, or they would be subject to punitive and retaliatory actions like the Jonker Walk outrage?

Or is a Barisan Nasional government going to declare that it would openly penalise and discriminate against voters who did not support the Barisan Nasional in the general elections, and would not even accept their taxes and rates?

How can any Barisan Nasional government continue to collect taxes and rates from the people and yet discriminate against them for exercising their constitutional and democratic right to vote the candidates and political parties of their choice?

Najib promised me in Parliament on Wednesday that he will discuss the Jonker Walk issue with the Malacca state government following my complaint that the Barisan Nasional was punishing voters for not voting for the Barisan Nasional in the recent general elections, which was openly against his own talk of a “national reconciliation” as it was nothing but “national retaliation”.

It cannot be that a dynamic and effective Prime Minister would need a long time to resolve the Jonker Walk issue.

Is the Prime Minister completely helpless as far as the Jonker Walk issue is concerned?

Pakatan Rakat governments must show a different democratic culture and mindset from Barisan Nasional.

Pakatan Rakyat governments whether in Selangor, Penang or Kelantan, must never commit undemocratic vindictiveness like the Jonker Walk outrage in Malacca which is nothing but national retaliation.

Pakatan Rakyat must show that it is completely different from Barisan Nasional in terms of our democratic commitments and impulses.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah