Greater unity if race-based parties abolished, says Abdul Aziz
In fact, it is believed to be the answer to a more united Malaysian nation, said Abdul Aziz who stressed that the new era for the country can only be achieved if one accepts social justice and equality for everyone.
He highlighted this subject yesterday and it eventually became one of the issues discussed during a public forum entitled ‘Malaysia: Towards A New Era’ organised by Sabah Democratic Action Party (DAP) at Kian Kok School hall here.
Almost a thousand people thronged the hall to listen to the five-hour forum panelled by DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang, Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Sabah Progressive Party president Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee.
Also in attendance were Assistant Finance Minister and Luyang assemblywoman Melanie Chia, Sepanggar MP Datuk Eric Majimbun, Deputy Speaker Frankie Chong, PKR Sabah chief Ansari Abdullah and his deputy, Christina Liew as well as former Parti Bersatu Sabah supreme council member Dr Chong Eng Leong.
“In fact, Umno could still maintain their acronym but it should be United ‘Malaysian’ National Organisation… it should be open to everyone. The party should struggle and fight for the rights of all communities,” said Abdul Aziz, stressing that there should also be equal distribution of development in the effort to curb issues concerning the hardcore poor in the country.
Abdul Aziz stressed that the New Economic Policy, which he had opposed from day one, had been applied inconsistently, and as a result, there is still high poverty in pockets of Sabah and Sarawak.
“Preparations for a better Malaysia begins now. It will remain a dream if we do not do anything. I joined DAP long ago because it was so much easier to be standing out of the system. “Our country can be the best in the world due to strong national integration. I am not saying that we are a great country, but we can be if all these various practices of injustice and racism can be removed. If we can restore integrity of the Police Force, Judiciary and civil servants, I believe there is a great future,” he said.
Stressing that a foundation has to be built towards fairness, justice and human rights, irrespective of race and religion, Abdul Aziz also pointed out that the time has come for a change.
Yong, who echoed Abdul Aziz’s words, reiterated on the windows of opportunity, stressing that since Sabah and Sarawak formed Malaysia, along with Malaya on Sept 16, 1963, this is the only chance for East Malaysia in general, and Sabah in particular, to snap the political autonomy, the 20 per cent oil royalty, redress imbalanced economic development in both states, relive Borneonisation, get Labuan island back and important posts for Sabahans in government departments and agencies, and address the longstanding issue of illegal immigrants.
“Although we (Sabah) have one of the largest representatives in the parliament, it is sad that we do not have MPs who are willing to use this window of opportunity to bring changes for Sabah. Instead of discussing it today on Malaysia Day, the MPs are holidaying in Taiwan,” said Yong.
He said it was not easy to grab political power from the ruling Barisan Nasional on Sept 16, or famously quoted as 916, but that through patience, it would eventually materialise if everyone remains optimistic.
“So I agree that race-based parties should be abolished gradually in Malaysia. We have to understand and respect one another, fully, deeply and truly, especially as we all come from different races, because if we do not, it will defeat the whole purpose of moving towards change,” he said.
Jeffrey, during his session, shared with the public the history that led to the formation of Malaysia, giving facts on the initial purpose and how equal rights should be shared among the three main components – Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya.
“Sabah had actually gained its independence on August 31, 1963, which marked the end of colonisation in Borneo and also witnessed the nationhood and birth of an independent nation … that means we were already a country then.
“We were approached by Tunku Abdul Rahman one day to form Malaysia, along with Sarawak and Singapore. There should be no doubt that we are equal partners … in fact, we did not join Malaysia; we formed Malaysia as equal partners.
“However, instead of being one of the three components of the country, we are today one of the 13 states in Malaysia. How do you expect us to gain wealth and curb poverty? The former prime minister (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad) once told me that we should not teach people what they do not know … this was a way to ensure that the people can be controlled.
In addition, Jeffrey also questioned the government on the fact that Sabah remains as the second poorest state in the country despite the millions and billions of ringgit of allocations from the federal government.
“We have been played by for the last 45 years, so I believe there is nothing wrong to turn the court. We must all show that we want a change of government, and it is not for personal gain, but to salvage whatever we have left,” he said.
In summarising the contents, Lim who described the forum as a gathering of Pakatan Rakyat ‘Plus’, disclosed that what used to be impossible, unachievable and impossible has today changed to possible, achievable and could happen anytime.
“The Pakatan Rakyat has changed the mindset and mental attitude. Many have come to realise that they yearn for a change. With a large number of MPs from the opposition, the BN government has now in fact needed our support to make any amendments,” he said.
According to him, the biggest blow for BN had to be the resignation of de facto Law Minister (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department), Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.
Unfortunately, Lim said Zaid’s resignation would bring the end of the re-reforming exercise of both the judiciary and police force.
“He (Zaid) was given the task to handle the re-reform of both sectors. His resignation means that it will never happen. Before the general election we asked the people
whether the change of government was possible, and about 95 per cent did not think so.
“But today, if we ask the same question, some 70 to 80 per cent of the people will agree with us,” he said.
Lim also described East Malaysia as the “king-makers” of BN, and urged that the opportunity be used wisely.