Once again, I want to thank the DAP for this invitation to speak about politics today. I am happy to speak on the subject in front of senior leaders such as Lim Kit Siang, Liew Chin Tong and others. Although they probably get a little nervous every time I open my mouth, I feel comfortable with them. I know I am a contrarian—I have differing views on many things—but the DAP is a party of ideas and I know they will not “penalise” me even when they disagree with what I say. They are my friends, so I don’t worry too much about upsetting them
I have made my views known, on many occasions, about the prospect of victory for the Opposition. They have an opportunity, but only if they can offer an agenda that’s markedly different from BN. If they still want to work with PAS to win this election, what’s the difference between them and BN? If PKR and some elements in Bersatu are still having difficulty going alone without PAS, what reformist agenda do they have? At present Pakatan leaders are busy jockeying for the PM’s post. They are busy counting the chicken before they are hatched.
PAS is now with the Barisan Nasional, and the dynamics have changed from that of GE13. BN are stronger now than before. This calls for a totally different approach in dealing with issues at GE14. Unless we are willing to pitch this election as a contest of ideas about the future of the country; as well as a contest between two warring personalities, Najib and Mahathir, there will not be enough excitement to change the status quo. By contest of ideas I simply mean the choice of a better leader to manage the economy, take good care of the people; and a leader who can keep Malaysia Taliban free. On these two counts, only Dr M has the credentials and proven record to take on Najib.
Tun M will bring credibility to the team. If he says abolish GST, or has plans to bring prices of goods down, and manage the economy better , or if he promise to put the thieves behind bars, he will be believed. The important thing is the people believe him. Unfortunately, the opposition leaders do not want him. They want someone else but they can’t tell us his or her name. They said it’s easy to find a leader who is better than Najib. That we know, for at last count, they are 20 million Malaysians who are better than Najib. But what we are looking for is some one who can beat him and BN this coming election. Only Dr M can beat him.
The original members of the Opposition — namely the DAP, PKR and Amanah — have accepted Bersatu into the pact with a clear mandate to deliver the UMNO-Felda seats to clinch victory. These seats are vital to get the magic number of 112 seats to form a simple parliamentary majority.
What’s the reward for Bersatu in getting those difficult seats that the Opposition would otherwise not be able to win? They get to become advisors. If Bersatu can get those seats, then they can do deals with any party to form a Government. They don’t need to work their guts out just to be “advisors” and let PKR nominate the Prime Minister.
Some of the top DAP leaders who are allergic to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad must try to take more “anti-histamines” and tolerate the old man at this juncture. I don’t know what the full outcome of GE14 will be, but I believe Tun M will help DAP win more parliamentary seats this time around.
The greatest threat to Malaysia today, over and above kleptocracy, is Islamic radicalism. Islamic radicalism spells the death of our way of life and our free society. We will have the imposition of an extremist Wahhabi rule that will tell us what clothes we can wear and what things we can say. With Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang working together, and with the importation of people like Dr Zakir Naik and the various “projects” approved by Saudi Arabia, the dice is cast where the BN is concerned.
Today we already have an “Islamic science university” funded by the Saudis and the Muslim League. We will have the King Salman Centre for International Peace in Malaysia, and yet only two weeks ago the deputy heir to Saudi throne, Prince Mohamed, labelled Iran as a “threat to Islam” and agitated for war. We have Dr Zakir Naik who was given a whole island off Terengganu to use as his centre, bringing all of his evangelical operations from India to this country. He is now a hero to UMNO and the BN.
Do you need more evidence of radicalisation? Does Pakatan have a credible leader to counter Islamic radicalism ? What will Pakatan Harapan do to deal with this new phenomena ?,Nothing so far. The Wahhabis and the Salafis—the two most radical groups of Muslim preachers— have all their men in the highest echelons of the Muslim establishment in the country. If you want their names, see me in private. They will dictate the politics of this country in ways you don’t even think is possible. What plans do the opposition have to counter this new threat? Nothing so far.
The opposition must take the lead to bring all right-thinking Muslims., and moderate Malaysians together . They must reach out for moderate Malays, whom I define as those who give the people a choice in how they live their lives. The moderates don’t care if anyone goes to heaven or hell because it’s not their business. On the other hand, a Malay who uses the police and the law to deny you this choice is not a moderate. He is a radical.
The DAP must work only with genuine moderate Malay leaders and not those who just want to be Menteri Besar or Prime Minister. Only moderate Malay-Muslims can overcome the Salafis and the Wahhabis in our political and religious arena today. Only moderate Malays can stem the tide of extremism. Radicalism can only be fought with reason and intellect—nothing else will work. The DAP must align itself with Malay political leaders who will defend our way of life and our free country.
The struggle to keep Malaysia safe as a democracy and to keep our way of life must be our paramount political consideration. Nothing is more important than this.
I know you are tired of hearing me talk about why Dr Mahathir is good for the Opposition. Today, I am saying Dr Mahathir is useful, not just to win election but to stem radicalism in the country. If the DAP and the opposition want to resist Talibanisation and radicalism, Dr Mahathir is a Malay ally that we need now more than any other Malay. If we decide to work with him, this will be the most important strategic decision the DAP will have made in its 50-year history. I too was once critical of Dr Mahathir when he was in power—but that’s the past.
The reason for my admiration for him, other than for transforming the economy of this country, is that he really wanted Malaysia to be a modern and progressive country
For this to be possible, he needed Malays to be free of Taliban influence. He failed in this but really he wanted Malays to be scientific and modern and have good education. He was the only PM who appointed a Vice-Chancellor—a genuine academic who was not a member of UMNO—as Education Minister. He wanted education to change the mindset of Malaysians, particularly Malays. He wanted to increase the use of English in the school curriculum. His Vision 2020 is about the use of science and technology—not public prayer—as the main tools for the betterment of our lives.
He wanted Islam to be a subject that opened the mind through intellectual discourse. He has spoken in public endlessly on this point. He was the one PAS accorded the name “Firaun”— Pharaoh—because he was the only UMNO leader in 1993 who dared to categorically state that there was no place for hudud under our law. None of his UMNO Cabinet Ministers spoke up about this and supported him. Recently, he has been the only senior Malay political leader to say openly that we do not need Act 355.
People who don’t know the full story blamed him for Islamisation in Malaysia. To be sure, he is not completely blameless because he was surrounded by Islamists in his Government and he had to deal with the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution. However, his remarks in the year 2000 that Malaysia was an “Islamic country” was a political statement that was meant to deflect PAS’s claims that we were not following Islam and that we were not Islamic enough.
Tun Dr Mahathir’s statement was meant to suggest that we were already Islamic—our civil laws delivered justice so they were Islamic, and our Constitution was already Islamic, so there was no need to change our legal system or our laws. This is different from what Najib and Hadi Awang are doing today. Now, they are working hand in glove to fundamentally subvert the basic structure of our law, with the help of the Saudis. Their project is to ensure everything is “Shariah-compliant”—which is to say, everything must be done in accordance with their wishes.
There you have it. The next General Election gives the opposition its best chance to present a new and refreshing economic plans that will save the country, and be attractive to the people. But they need a credible messenger to carry that message. The next election is also an opportunity to reshape the direction of the country, and reach out to moderate Malaysians , so we can reverse the present trend. If we can do both ,, we have a chance to win and convert adversity into victory.