Lim Keng Yaik: Non-UMNO parties are “beggars” in Barisan NasionalPosted: May 12, 2008
This is an update from an earlier post here.
This is what I’ve translated from the newspaper article in Sin Chew Daily. The Mandarin article can be found here.
I took the liberty of cutting down on some parts, as the interview was getting a little too much for me to handle. And I reiterate that this is my own translation, and because I’m no professional translator, I do not claim that my post is going to be 100% accurate.
My own opinions of what he said in the interview will be in brackets, bold and italics.
But for non-Mandarin reading folk, this is the best I can give you:
SELANGOR, Petaling Jaya: Gerakan advisor Dato’ Seri Lim Keng Yaik said that because Barisan Nasional did not give the other component parties equal standing, in the end MCA, MIC and Gerakan members have been equated as “beggars”.
He criticised BN for not treating all its component parties equally. He stressed that although Malay special rights are protected under the Constitution, the non-Malays also clearly enjoy their own rights.
He said that the rakyat have expressed to the BN during GE2008 their desire to have a multi-racial governence, and they hope that BN would one day be a multi-racial party, treating all races equally.
In accepting Sin Chew’s exclusive interview, Lim Keng Yaik expressed not only his views of the political reform in Malaysia, but he also provided an analysis of what the future might hold in Malaysian politics.
He foreseees that an UMNO-led BN will one day be rejected by the rakyat. He believes that after another 2 general elections, the rakyat will be able to see the change in BN. (Only after 2 general elections? So what are they going to do for the next 10 years? Sleep?)
He believes that under these circumstances, if BN is to become a multi-racial political alliance, UMNO, MCA and Gerakan will have to be dissolved.
he says that a political alliance that over-emphasised one race will only make the rakyat feel uneasy (for want of better word..). The rakyat not only hope that BN becomes a multi-racial alliance, the BN must also play a role in implementing the multi-racial agenda.
He pointed out that since May 13 1969, after 39 years, the rakyat have finally seen through the wider picture of leadership by one race-based party. After GE2008 when the opposition won, the bloodshed of May 13 did not repeat itself, proving that the rakyat have indeed matured.
“Why are the non-Malays angry with BN? It is because they can see that UMNO as the leading party in BN is arrogant, and many people have been made to feel uneasy (again for want of better word..) with the racial stand made by UMNO leaders. This is the main reason why all of the BN component parties suffered losses in GE2008.”
Although he proposed changes to BN, he also questions BN’s determination to change. (This is quite true. So far, it doesn’t look like they’re prepared for a major revamp any time soon)
He asked: “Although the rakyat want to see change in BN, but race-based parties such as UMNO ultimately aim to protect the Malay rights, Islam as the official religion and the Malay Rulers’ status. Do you think BN will be willing to change its role?”
He said that if BN is unwilling to reform and become a multi-racial alliance, there are still 3 ways to rectify the situation.
1) First, MCA, Gerakan and the other component parties join and form a multi-racial alliance and change its status in BN. This is similar to a previous proposal by Dato’ SEri Chua Soi Lek of having two parties under one same alliance.
MCA has always claimed to be the second largest party in BN. It should now change its attitude and lead the other 13 component parties in BN to contend with UMNO’s extremism. (Extremism is right in certain ways. But I can’t say that this is a bad idea. At the very least, they might all become relevant again.)
He stressed that he is only suggesting that MCA leads the alliance, and not that MCA absorbs the other component parties, as merging takes time. After some time when the spirit of multi-racialism has fully been accepted by BN, and the cooperation of the component parties is strong, then a discussion of merging would not be a big problem.
2) He suggests that the BN component parties completely dissolve and form a new multi-racial party. But because UMNO is unwilling to change, this multi-racial alliance might become a third political contender (besides UMNO and Pakatan Rakyat).
He believes that as long as UMNO doesn’t want to change, and the Pakatan Rakyat alliance is unable to cooperate, this third political party will inevitably gain ground.
3) Third is to have a multi-racial government cooperate and share power with the opposition. This multi-racial political cooperation can be achieved, and it is also one of the political directions that this country is heading towards.
Lim Keng Yaik stressed that he has never changed his stand for a multi-racial party, and it was because he tried to reform MCA in the early 70s that brought about his dismissal from MCA.
In the political tsunami of GE2008, Gerakan had almost all of its candidates wiped out, with only 2 MPs and 6 state assemblymen. Gerakan’s future is now under close scrutiny, but Keng Yaik, Gerakan’s leader of 26 years does not feel that Gerakan’s future is necesarily dim.
He stressed in the interview that although they lost in seats, they have won in political ideology.
Reporters asked: “What is Gerakan’s plan for the future after its disastrous defeat in GE2008?” He refuted “Gerakan did not have a ‘disastrous defeat’. That is your point of view, and a lot of people out there share the same view, but in actual fact, we only lost on seats.” (This feels like he’s still in denial. Being completely wiped out of Penang NOT a disastrous defeat? Then what the hell was that? An itch?)
He said Gerakan’s place in BN had always been small except for in Penang where it was always seen as Gerakan’s strong hold. (I rest my case.) Even cabinet posts held by Gerakan reps have always paled in comparison with other component parties.
“Although we are small, but Gerakan has always hoped to contribute and influence BN more strongly, becayse we are rich in experience and minds. We hope to be able to influence the BN policy to enhance transparency and trust as an administrative government.” (After so many years, and you’re still hoping?)
He admitted that after Gerakan joined BN for 35 years, its only failure was in being unable to change and reform UMNO.
“There is no denying that some UMNO leaders are arrogant, and most other leaders abuse the power given to them. (So he knows about it too! Why didn’t he say anything before this? Or was it okay to abuse power when they had so much of it?)
He said although Gerakan lost its political hold in Penang, the blame does not lie in the grassroots or the people. BN lost, not Gerakan. (WHAT???) Gerakan’s ideology is similar to what the people have expressed in GE2008, that is that they want a government that is not based on race and champions people power, not a government that is controlled by one race-based party. (Read: UMNO)
He said: “Although we do not demand that we share equal rights with the Malays and indigenous people, we still hope to be treated fairly.”
He believes that it is because the non-UMNO component parties in BN have been treated unequally for so long, that this anger was taken out through the ballot, and rejected BN.
No matter what, Lim Keng Yaik reminds Pakatan Rakyat and the other non-UMNO component parties not to demand too much from the Malays.
He believes that the opposition should not assume that the results of GE2008 is a calling for political reform. If the Malays are pushed too hard, the eventual loss will be more that what they have gained.
“On this side, non-UMNO component parties are pushing UMNO, on the other side DAP is touching on the Islamic state ideology and pushing PAS to make changes. This is very dangerous.”
He stressed that although PR’s ideology of a multi-racial alliance is good, the people’s requests and demands will increase. Once the demands are too much or too extreme, what was initially good may turn bad. (Is he implying that the rakyat will make stupid demands? Give us some credit, man.)
He agrees with MCA vice-president Datuk Ong Tee Keat’s recent statement that the Malay Supremacy, or “Ketuanan Melayu” creates a scenario of presumed “master and slave”, or “tuan dan hamba”
“If you are the master (tuan), then I am the slave. Although the Malays form the majority, “Ketuanan Melayu” cannot be used as a slogan as it will create hate amongst the non-Malays towards the Malays. I hope UMNO stops using the slogan, the faster the better.”
However, he believes that at present, only the urban Malays, especially those in Penang, have this mentality. The rural and conservative Malays do not share the same sentiment.
There are other parts to the interview where Keng Yaik talks about Lee Kah Choon, and about blogging, about Gerakan’s organisation.. But I left them out of this post.
I have to admit that he’s got a few points. But all talk and no action isn’t going to amount to anything. So let’s see some action going on.