Different ideas about controversial issues from the left, the centre and the right can be combined into a solution that is acceptable to all, says Choo Sing Chye.
Lately, it saddened me very much to see Lim Kit Siang being heckled at a dinner. It was utterly unfair to judge him in this form and manner.
As the late P Patto’s political secretary, I was with him during an official function in Parliament in 1990.
A young Umno leader came up to me and asked: “I am very curious to know, your party (DAP) is a party of the left and NEP (New Economic Policy) is a policy of the left, why do you all in the DAP oppose it?”
He pondered a while and, not wanting to be seen as rude, continued in a low voice: “Doesn’t all this opposing make you DAP leaders hypocritical?”
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I looked at him and answered: “It is rare to find a young Umno leader asking a question in this manner, and since you have studied in Britain, I will answer your question in customary British political lingo so that you will get a precise sense of what I am about to clarify.”
“The way you came out with this well-thought-out question, you should not have missed the essence of the speeches that Kit Siang, Patto and Karpal Singh had given. They only criticise the leaders who are involved in the inconsistent implementation and nothing beyond that.
“As you have said, the NEP is crafted by the left, but you have overlooked one crucial fact ie the hard right wingers in BN (Barisan Nasional), especially those in Umno, have hijacked it. They tightly control its implementation and as a result the nation’s wealth is deceptively siphoned away from the people who are supposed to benefit from it. This negated the core intention of the NEP ie to help the have-nots, irrespective of race.
“The planners of the NEP had 20 years in mind when they designed the NEP. But after 20 years, the nation’s wealth remained at the top, in the hard right elitists’ pockets and only a small amount has trickled down to the masses. The vast majority of the masses are still waiting for the piece of cake that was promised to them in the NEP 20 years ago.”
“As has always been the case, the DAP – with its stalwarts Kit Siang, P Patto and Karpal Singh at the helm – is the bedrock of left-of-centre politics in Malaysia. And they didn’t sway away one bit – and to call them hypocrites is utterly unfair.”
Looking surprised, the young Umno leader responded, “The NEP contains a lifetime of arguments, and you have made it so simple and complete without being racial.”
Fast forward to the present: the Pakatan Harapan victory over the BN government has ushered in a new Malaysia. A new invigorating political force has replaced the weary and corrupt BN government.
And for the first time in history, the Malaysian government is represented by a complete spectrum of ideologies – ie the left, the centre and the right – paving the way for better handling of all the controversial issues that had plagued the former government. Different ideas from the left, the centre and the right can be combined into a solution that is acceptable to all.
One enduring fact is that Kit Siang is still around and he is the bedrock of the left-of-centre political belief. He brought back the khat issue from the extreme right to the centre.
PH leaders now should be mindful of what they say or do because the coalition is made up of a vast diversity of ethnic groups, religions and political beliefs.
Hopefully, the PH leaders will grab this rare opportunity to deliberate controversial issues about religion, education and the economy amicably and intelligently.
They should stop the backbiting, which has been the BN trademark.