Friday 29 June 2012

GE13 battle between racialists and patriots, says Kit Siang

KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Voters must choose between a government that promotes racial policies and one that espouses democracy, good governance and equitable economic practices in the coming general election, the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang has said.

The opposition leader said today that Malaysians of all cultural, social and economic backgrounds have the power to determine their country’s future at the ballot box, a day after influential former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad played up old race-based fears ahead of the 13th general election (GE13) due within a year.

“The next general election is not a battle between Malays and non-Malay voters, but between racialists who want to continue to keep Malaysians in their separate communal compartments and Malaysian nationalists and patriots who want good governance, economic justice, democracy, human rights and national unity and not race to become the dominant election issues,” Lim said in a statement.

“Malaysians have the chance to show that they have become more Malaysian-minded and patriotic than the Umno and Barisan Nasional leaders and will respond and rally to Pakatan Rakyat’s call to vote as Malaysians than just as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans,” he added.

The Ipoh-Timor MP was responding to Dr Mahathir’s remarks yesterday, in which the fourth PM said the next election was all about race, adding that Chinese voters would be the “kingmakers” despite being in the minority because the Malay vote would be split three-ways among Umno, the BN’s lynchpin party, and opposition parties PKR and PAS.

The country’s longest-serving PM of 22 years had told a business forum yesterday that the ruling coalition was forced to cater to various racial demands because it had grown weak after he left office and lost its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament.

“In this country, we are very racist, even more than before. The next election is going to be about race. Who gives what, who gets what based on race. When the government is weak, it caters to demands which are not going to be good for the country in the long run,” said the prime minister who resigned in 2003.

Lim called on Malaysian voters to prove Dr Mahathir and Umno strategists wrong.

“This is what (Dr) Mahathir and the Umno leaders and strategists want the next general election to be about so that they could play the race and fear cards to effect,” said the federal lawmaker who had bumped heads numerous times in Parliament against the 86-year-old Umno man.

An Umno lawmaker had suggested this week that Bersih leader Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan be hanged for “treason” against the King for pushing the federal government to clean up the existing voter roll of dubious entries before calling for elections.

His statement in Parliament was greeted with cheers from other BN backbenchers, prompting the DAP to hit out at them for perpetuating racial hatred.

Opposition politicians and several prominent business and human rights personalities have criticised the BN — in which its top three senior parties are split according to race — and, more specifically, Umno of taking a racial approach in resolving the country’s social and economic problems.

They raised as example the strong resistance by right-wing elements within the establishment to the dismantling of a decades-old affirmative action policy giving Malays a handicap over other races in areas covering economy and even education, leading to a massive brain drain out of Malaysia.

Lim said the reality was that the Chinese, who make up some 30 per cent of the population, were not “kingmakers” and did not want to be labelled as such.

“The real kingmakers in the 13th general election are not the Chinese voters but all Malaysian voters, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans to unite and bring about peaceful transition of federal power for the first time in the 54-year history of the nation to end corruption, cronyism and abuses of power,” Lim said.

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