By Lim Kit Siang, MP for Gelang Patah
Ironically, it is the Prime Minister Najib Razak himself who, within 48 hours, rendered the greatest disservice to Malaysia’s “first-class honours” of 187-vote election as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) when he addressed the 43rd Gerakan National Delegates Conference in Shah Alam this morning.
After Malaysia’s election as non-permanent member of the UNSC for the third time on Friday, Najib had outlined five areas of priority for Malaysia to push in the UNSC, viz, advance moderation globally; advocate mediation as an approach to conflict resolution; promote UN peacekeeping operations; facilitate the peace-building process in strife-torn countries and pursue deliberations on the UNSC’s comprehensive reformation.
It is a clear that there is a major lacuna in Najib’s list of five priorities for Malaysia’s role as a non-permanent member of UNSC, for Malaysia cannot effectively or credibly advance moderation globally when moderation is in retreat domestically at home, or even worse, having to hide in nooks and corners as when his brainchild, the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) had to ask the media not to report on its forum proceedings because of the “white terror” sedition blitzkrieg in the country.
In other words, freedom of speech, expression of opinion have degenerated to a stage where “moderation” – as understood by Najib through GMM – can be persecuted and prosecuted as “sedition” by Najib’s Attorney-General!
If Malaysia is to be an effective and credible member of UNSC to advance moderation globally, then it should add a sixth priority and elevate it as the second most important priority item for Malaysia – to advance moderation domestically in Malaysia, as otherwise, its campaign to advance moderation globally is dead even before it could get off the launching pad.
This is one reason for the air of expectancy over Najib’s speech at the Gerakan National Conference this morning.
The other reason, related to the same issue, is whether he would end the two-week national firestorm of outrage over the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy Shukri’s parliamentary answer that Perkasa President Datuk Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible because he was defending the sanctity of Islam and was protected by Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution.
The national outrage did not abate but intensified in the past fortnight following Nancy’s clarification that although she did not agree, she had no option as she was tasked with reading out the parliamentary answer given to her by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
What further aggravated the situation was neither the Attorney-General nor any government leader was able to rebut the nationwide perception of gross miscarriage of justice and abuse of the prosecutorial discretion by the Attorney-General in allowing Ibrahim Ali to go scot-free despite his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible when since the beginning of this year, some 40 Pakatan Rakyat leaders, social activists, academicians and members of the press had been prosecuted or investigated under the Sedition Act and other laws for the most inoffensive expression of views.
This is why Najib’s speech this morning that Umno and BN reject extremism has no traction and incapable of making any impact because of the glaring contradiction and contrast in Najib’s declaration with the immunity from prosecution enjoyed by Ibrahim Ali despite his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible.
What is worse, no Minister from either the MCA or Gerakan had dared to speak up to demand that Ibrahim Ali should be prosecuted for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible at the last two Cabinet meetings held since Nancy’s outrageous answer, although MCA held its national conference last weekend and Gerakan this weekend.
It is shocking that the Prime Minister could believe and repeat the canard that Chinese voters fell dramatically during the 13th general elections because they believe the “lies” about the 40,000 Bangladeshi phantom voters.
It is to the credit of the Gerakan delegates that they laughed at Najib’s tall tale as it is not only unbelievable, but reflects a “shallowness” which does not befit a Prime Minister.
Can MCA and Gerakan Ministers convince Najib to be consistent and committed to the cause of moderation in national policies, and not just in international speeches and rhetoric, starting with the prosecution of Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible?
Can MCA and Gerakan Ministers disabuse Najib of the canard that Chinese voters – or for that matter Malaysian voters – fell in the 13GE for UMNO/BN because of the 40,000 Bangladeshi phantom voter story, and admit it was because of disillusionment of the Malaysian voters over a whole spectrum of UMNO/BN government policies which cause Najib to be the Prime Minister of a minority government as 52% of the electorate voted for Pakatan Rakyat?