Weekly Highlights

Kit Siang’s consistency a sight to behold

As Malaysians grapple with another broken promise by the PN government, this time over Undi18, it’s easy to see why many are disenchanted by the world of politics.

It seems that everywhere we turn we are confronted with opportunistic politicians who say one thing and do another, making fools out of their voters time and time again.

Essentially Undi18 started out as a Malaysian youth movement that successfully advocated for the amendment of Article 119(1) of the Federal Constitution to reduce the minimum voting age in Malaysia from 21 to 18 years old. In 2019 the Undi18 bill was passed with full bipartisan support.

It was the first time in history where a Constitutional Amendment received 100% of votes in the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament.

Kit Siang had observed that many countries around the world had already lowered the voting age and wanted to bring the idea to Malaysia.

But the call to lower the voting age wasn’t something that happened in the last decade. In fact, the first time the issue was raised in parliament was in 1971 by Lim Kit Siang. This was 50 years ago and coincidentally fell on World Human Rights day.

Lowering the voting age is a sure sign of progress for any country that values democracy. After all, 18 year-olds have the same responsibilities as adults ; they are able to work, get married and are expected to pay taxes, so why shouldn’t they get the same voting rights? A better question might be, why hasn’t the government before 2019 made the move to allow younger people to vote?

Simple. Lowering the voting age to 18 is worrying to the government of the day, because they believe it to be beneficial to the opposition. Why is this?

Youths in general are perceived to be anti-establishment and anti-government. Youths may also want fast change and may not be satisfied by the slow progress made by those in power. In a nutshell, empowering the youth is not in the government’s best interests if they want to remain in power.

Lowering of voting age to 18 years a historic occasion for Malaysia and a wish come true for me 48 years after my first raising the issue in Parliament in 1971” – Lim Kit Siang

The fact that the Pakatan Harapan government has demonstrated the willingness to introduce and pass the bill regardless of the fact that it might be detrimental to them speaks volumes about the type of government they were. Acting in the best interest of the country that you are governing should be a no-brainer, yet it is exceedingly rare in this day and age.

But what made Pakatan Harapan so different from other governments?

Perhaps it can be boiled down to veterans like Lim Kit Siang who refuse to bend the knee and give up the fight for democracy even if it means committing political suicide.

In fact, DAP and Kit Siang as a whole have been surprisingly consistent in fighting for democracy and upholding the constitution of Malaysia.

In almost all aspects, Kit Siang has held the same stance for decades. Corruption? Many may note Kit Siang’s outspokenness on the 1MDB scandal. But how many remember his expose of the RM2.5 billion BMF scandal to the SPICA-M purchase of naval crafts, the financial scandals relating to the North-South Highway, the MCA Deposit Taking Cooperatives, the secret over-production of oil involving oil contracts off in the East Coast, and the Bank Negara forex scandals?

Lim Kit Siang paid the price for always doing the right thing. From being detained twice under the ISA on frivolous and baseless charges to being charged for breaching the Official Secrets Act over the Spica-M naval crafts scandal, sued for defamation and arrested countless times by the police, he sacrificed his personal liberty and comforts.

A Malaysia free from race politics? Yes, that too. Perhaps one of the most glaringly obvious signs of Kit Siang’s consistency is his fight for a peaceful and united Malaysia, where we all categorize ourselves as ‘Malaysian First’.

Take his poem entitled “My Dream” written by a young, hopeful student of 16 which speaks of a nation where we all stand up for on and another.

Compare this with the writings today of a seasoned veteran, who’s seen the inside of a jail cell as well as winning a historical election:

“Let us renew our dream that while Malaysians will have multiple identities – ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural – they have one common overriding identity as Malaysians” – Lim Kit Siang, 2021

In times of political turbulence, we are grateful for consistent fighters like Lim Kit Siang who will always do what’s in the best interest of Malaysians regardless of what side of the aisle he may find himself on.

The Rocket

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