The struggle for a New and Better Malaysia is unfinished business and Malaysians must reaffirm their commitment to continue the struggle or cede the future of Malaysia to racialists, religious bigot and kleptocrats

An elected representative who is doing a Masters programme in a local university asked me yesterday what I thought of the New Economic Policy.

I spoke about the New Economic Policy in my first speech in Parliament 51 years ago in February 1971 where I declared that the DAP supported affirmative policies to help the poor and the backward but it must be based on need but not on race.

I said that the DAP is “dedicated to the abolition of poverty and economic backwardness regardless of race” and that we want to create a “classless community of Malaysians based on fellowship, co-operation and service, where there is no exploitation of man by man, class by class or race by race”.

I said DAP supported any measure which will help better the lot of the Malay poor but we were strongly opposed to the use of NEP to enrich the new Malay rich and powerful to make them richer while the mass of peasantry and poor were exploited as ever.

I coined the word “UMNO-putra” in the eighties to describe the abuse of the NEP to benefit the Malay rich and powerful at the expense of the Malay poor, while the non-Malay poor were ignored and disregarded.

We can now judge the fruits of the NEP after half a century. Although originally given a 20-year time frame, it proved to be impossible for the UMNO-putras to end their passport to wealth and power and its has continued for half-a-century.

Let us leave it to future historians and sociologists to investigate whether there is any link between NEP and firstly, Malaysia’s degeneration into excessive racial and religious polarisation in the 21st century and secondly, the deterioration of Malaysia into a kleptocracy, but the fact of Malaysia’s decline is the past half-a-century is indisputable, losing out to one nation after another – Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.

At the rate of present decline, we may even be overtaken by Indonesia and Philippines in the coming decades in international competitiveness, the rule of law, the separation of powers, good governance and an effective and efficient government if we do not buck up.

Our poor performance in the last two years in the Covid-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call.

For the past four months, we have been losing out to Indonesia in daily Covid-19 cases and daily fatalities, although Indonesia has eight times the population of Malaysia.

For four months Indonesia has been having three-digit daily new Covid-19 cases and since 22nd December having 10 or single-digit Covid-19 fatalities while we have been struggling for the past month between 2,500 to 4,500 daily Covid-19 cases and had never registered a single-day of single digit fatality numbers

I thank Syed Saddique Syed Abdul Rahman for being a guest speaker and attendance of many Malaysians, including former Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Musa Hitam and DAP and :Pakatan Harapan MPs to this programme.

Syed Saddique and Musa reminded me of my youthful days in the sixties when I started my political work. I became an MP when I was 28 years, but Syed Saddique was more fortunate – he became a Minister when he was 26 years old.

Syed Saddique was present when together with Liew Chin Tong, who is with us today, I met the then Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in mid-2019 to express to him my concern about the implementation of the election manifesto by the Pakatan Harapan government, and where Mahathir agreed to the establishment of election manifesto implementation review committee.

I know there is a lot of disappointment with the performance of the 22-month Pakatan Harapan government because I myself am disappointed with its performance as I believe the Pakatan Harapan government could have done better.

However, it is unfair to judge the Pakatan Harapan government on its 22-month performance before it was toppled by an undemocratic and unconstitutional conspiracy, the Sheraton Move conspiracy, in February 2020 for the Pakatan Harapan government was given a mandate of five years to implement its general election pledges.

The Pakatan Harapan should be judged whether it has failed to implement its election pledges in five years, and not in 22 months when it was trying to find its footing after more than half-a-century of UMNO hegemonic government.

It is even more unfair to accuse the 22-month Pakatan Harapan Government and the DAP of having betrayed our principles and objectives because such allegations are sheer political demonisations and totally untrue.

As the Pakatan Harapan government had 60 months to implement the election manifesto, I was planning to meet the Prime Minister on the issue in the mid-term of the government, but the Pakatan Harapan could not even last half-way to 30 months, as it was toppled undemocratically, unconstitutionally and illegitimately in 22 months in the Sheraton Move conspiracy.

If in the first half-term of the Pakatan Harapan government, it had been slow in implementing election pledges because a lot of preparatory work had to be done, as there were a lot of resistance and opposition, even sabotage, the implementation of the election pledges could be accelerated in the second half of the five-year government. But this was not possible because of the Sheraton Move conspiracy which toppled the PH government in 22 months.

The struggle for a New and Better Malaysia is unfinished business and Malaysians must reaffirm their commitment to continue the struggle or cede the future of Malaysia to racialists, religious bigot and kleptocrats.

Recently a politician said that as the Malays are divided into three Malay parties – UMNO, PAS and Bersatu – this is the time for the Chinese in Malaysia to be the “kingmakers”.

I do not subscribe to such racialist thinking, for what we want is to reignite hope and vision for a new and better Malaysia by opening minds and thinking of Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, to be “Malaysians first” and not to think of racial political games as Malays, Chinese Indians, Kadazans or Ibans.

We want more Malaysians, particularly the youths, to step forward as “Malaysians First” to strive for the ideal and vision of a new and better Malaysia for all Malaysians and not to continue to play any political racial games.

We must not surrender to despondency, despair or hopelessness because of the toppling of the Pakatan Harapan government after 22 months but must recommit ourselves to the unfinished task of achieving a better and new Malaysia for our children and children’s children – to see before our Centennial in 2063 Malaysia becoming a world-class great nation.

Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the launching of the book “Lim Kit Siang – Malaysian First” at Sogo Convention Hall , Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 11th January 2022 at 11 am