Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Historic mission to end Umno political hegemony and make Malaysia a normal democratic country

Fifty-three years after Merdeka and 47 years after the formation of Malaysia, Malaysians are at last within reach of a historic mission – to end Umno political hegemony and make Malaysia a normal democratic country where change of government through the ballot box is accepted as a healthy democratic process and not one to invite threats of man-made disasters.

Three years ago, before March 8, 2008, Malaysians would not dare to think or dream of this possibility in their lifetime – but now it is not only a realizable dream but one which could be accomplished in the next general elections expected to be held in the first half of next year.

This is the magnitude of the change in the political landscape brought about by the political tsunami of the 2008 general elections less than three years ago.

This is also why the Selangor DAP State Convention today is taking place at a historic moment in the nation’s history and why it is attracting national attraction well beyond its state boundaries.

Recently, after the Galas and Batu Sapi by-elections, former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir said Barisan Nasional is capable of wresting one or two states from Pakatan Rakyat as the opposition is in disarray, although he is of the view that BN would likely fail to regain its two-thirds parliamentary majority despite being returned to power in Putrajaya.

It is no secret that Mahathir meant Selangor when he mentioned “one or two states” which Barisan Nasional could wrest from Pakatan Rakyat in the next general elections.
Can Umno and Barisan Nasional win back Selangor in next general elections? Is Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor impregnable and invincible?

I know there are people who believe that Pakatan Rakyat cannot lose control and power in Selangor in the next general elections.

In the 2008 general elections, Pakatan Rakyat won 17 out of 22 parliamentary seats in Selangor and 36 out of 56 state assembly seats (losing one as a result of defection).

Eight Pakatan Rakyat parliamentary seats in Selangor were won with less than ten per cent majority, namely Hulu Selangor, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat (these won with less than five per cent majorities) and Selayang, Gombak, Ampang and Kelana Jaya. In a recent by-election, PR lost Hulu Selangor, which was won with the slimmest majority of 0.4% in 2008.

For the state assembly seats, ten were won by Pakatan Rakyat with less than ten per cent majority, viz Sekinchan, Bukit Melawati, Cempaka, Damansara and Teluk Datuk (these five won with less than five per cent majorities) and Ulu Kelang, Bkt Antarabangsa, Lebah Jaya, Kota Anggerik and Selat Kelang.

Taking into account that Barisan Nasional had also won three parliamentary seats and 12 state assembly seats in Selangor in 2008 with less than 10 per cent majorities, is Pakatan Rakyat invulnerable, invincible, impregnable and unconquerable in Selangor?

We should not only take heed of the warning “Pride comes before a fall” but also learn from the lessons of history.

In the 1999 general elections, PAS had never expected to win power in Terengganu state but it swept the state with a landslide 28-4 victory in the state assembly seats.
In the 2004 general elections, PAS never expected to lose power in Terengganu but it lost in a reverse 4-28 sweep by Umno and Barisan Nasional.

Can what happened in Terengganu in the 1999 and 2004 general elections happen in Selangor in the 2008 and next general elections – capturing power in Selangor although never expecting to win before the 2008 general elections, and losing the state in the next general election although never expecting to lose?

This is why the Selangor DAP Convention today is important, as it will help determine whether Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor will repeat or avoid the Terengganu example in the next general elections.

I spoke of the “two fatal political assumptions” – one for BN and the other for PR – in Kota Kinabalu last week:

• That it is a great mistake for BN to believe that its hold on Putrajaya is secure and that it could win back the Kedah and Selangor state governments from PR based on its victories in the Galas, Batu Sapi, Hulu Selangor and Bagan Pinang by-elections.

• An equally great mistake for Pakatan Rakyat to believe that it is embarked on an unstoppable movement to capture federal power in Putrajaya with invincible control of its present state governments, particularly Kedah and Selangor.

I know that I have caused upsets with my “two fatal political assumptions” statement, but I prefer to be proven wrong in the next general elections rather than proven right!
The Selangor DAP State Convention today can be a major political milestone for Pakatan Rakyat to ensure that Selangor in the next general elections will not be a repeat of Terengganu in 2004.

But even more important, the Selangor DAP State Convention can help to end the crisis of confidence in the Pakatan Rakyat and restore the political momentum for democratization created by the March 8 political tsunami by giving new hope and inspiration to all Malaysians that the historic mission to end Umno political hegemony to make Malaysia a normal democratic country where change of government through the ballot box is accepted as a healthy democratic process and not one to invite man-made disasters remains on track.

How can the Selangor DAP State Convention today become a major political milestone in the historic mission of Malaysians of all races from all over the country to make Malaysia a normal democratic country, which is a prerequisite to save Malaysia from becoming a bankrupt nation in 2019 as warned by a Cabinet Minister and lay the basis for building a new Malaysia which is democratic, just, inclusive, prosperous, internationally competitive, a magnet for global talents and FDIs where every Malaysian has an equal place under the Malaysian sun.

Firstly, by ensuring that Selangor DA State Convention contribute to the solution and not aggravate the crisis of confidence in Pakatan Rakyat by avoiding any action or statement that could be exploited to undermine public confidence in Pakatan Rakyat.

Secondly, sending out a clear and unmistakable message of a single-minded unity of purpose to ensure that Selangor will not repeat the lessons of Terengganu of 2004 and full endorsement for national political change in Putrajaya. This message will be marred if key DAP leaders in the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor state government do not receive full mandate and support from the Convention.

Thirdly, also clear and unmistakable message that DAP stands constant and consistent for honest, clean and incorruptible politics whether at the national, state or local government level.

There is a place and role in DAP for every leader and member to contribute to the historic political changes awaiting the country. For DAP, just as for Pakatan Rakyat, united we stand, divided we fall.

Let us therefore venture forth to make this Selangor DAP State Convention a historic milestone to ensure that Pakatan Rakyat can retain power in Selangor and the other Pakatan Rakyat states of Penang, Kedah and Kelantan, recapture Perak state government which was “robbed” from Pakatan Rakyat illegally, undemocratically and unconstitutionally, take the offensive to Johore, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak as the front-line states and most important all, to make a successful bid for power in Putrajaya.

(Opening speech at the Selangor DAP State Convention 2010 held at Sunway Convention Centre, Subang Jaya on Sunday, 27th November 2010)