Najib’s One Malaysia

Media Statement by DAP MP for Klang Charles Santiago in Bukit Gantang on Sunday, 5th April 2009:

“In the coming weeks, I will be consulting with people around the country… We must reach out to all parts of Malaysia…to all our diverse communities. In our national discourse and in the pursuit of our national agenda, we must never leave anyone behind. We must reach out to the many who may have been disaffected and left confused by political games, deceit and showmanship. ”

Such was the high rhetoric employed by the newly appointed Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, during his maiden speech as PM yesterday. His call to ‘renew Malaysia’ suggests a more inclusive model of nation-building, under the slogan of One Malaysia; People First; Performance Now.

However, there are serious questions as to whether One Malaysia, instead of being a celebration and appreciation of Malaysia’s unique form of multiculturalism and diversity, is actually a political charade, a classic Orwellian ‘newspeak’ and propaganda that preserves the 51 year old UMNO hegemonic formula of ‘power-sharing’.

In seeking to reach out to all parts of Malaysia, is the PM willing to engage more constructively, in a spirit of bipartisanship, with the Pakatan Rakyat to face many challenges highlighted in his speech:

· Tackling the present economic crisis

· Re-energise a passion for public service that transcends political partisanship

· The nurturing and expansion of civil and democratic spaces, with a firm and absolute commitment to fundamental human rights

If the PM refuses to put substance to his words by engaging, in a spirit of mutual respect and open dialogue, with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s loyal Parliamentary Opposition, for the good of the nation, is the PM himself not implicated in the ‘political games, deceit and showmanship’ he levels on others? Najib has to spell out concretely what are the guidelines and policy details he intends to back up these broad slogans with. Further, in his apparent call for inclusion and consultation of all groups in Malaysian society, what are the transparent and accountable mechanisms for consultation that the PM proposes to ensure all stakeholders would receive a fair and open hearing of their aspirations and needs? So far, these details or a clear timeline for their delivery are disappointingly non-existent.

The DAP calls on the PM to dispel all such suspicions and doubts as to his sincerity in proposing his ‘renewal’ project by putting the ‘People First’ and release all ISA detainees, particularly the ailing P Uthayakumar, who had been excluded from the list of 13 to be released. Also, Najib’s timid suggestion to merely review the ISA seems incongruent with his promise of ‘Performance Now’, where only its full abolishment would guarantee a new culture of respect for human rights and freedoms. Anything less would render the PM’s speech as another chapter in the long history of the BN’s political sophistry and gimmickry.

Charles Santiago

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