LETTER

Kit Siang - a Malaysian first and last

Steve Oh

Published
Modified 3 Aug 2011, 6:22 am

I refer to the Malaysiakini report ‘Kit Siang: Five days I was in darkness'.

If there is an unsung hero in politics, an under-recognised Malaysian, it is this man Lim Kit Siang, who has lived through it all from the fledgling days of his political party to ISA detention and now facing a physical hurdle, which no doubt he will surmount like all his political obstacles.

Like Malaysiakini - a voice for the voiceless, Lim has been a brawler in the rough streets of politics and a gentleman without the taint of scandal, a consummate politician whose political struggle has always been to uphold the truth and convictions of his political beliefs and restore the country to the original vision of a Merdeka nation where every citizen is equally recognised and has a sense of belonging.

Lim's politics contrasts vastly from his political foes caught in an intriguing web of paradigm paralysis - the inability to see that the ‘old politics' of political patronage and corruption must change.

Lim for a long time has defended the politics of democracy when it was new and relatively difficult in the developing world but that is now intrinsic in the global political paradigm shift to a free world and accountability in governance as we saw in the Arab Spring, Ireland, Greece, and elsewhere.

Even the US politics of brinksmanship that has seen its debt crisis resolved, at least for now, is really about responsible government because the US cannot afford to spend beyond its means and drag the world down with it should its administration default and run out of money.

The Global Financial Crisis in 2007 was an ominous warning.

Lim has proven that if you are committed to the belief that change can happen because you believe in the right things and do the right things, the results will bear you out in time, and you will be vindicated for your beliefs.

The rising political fortunes of the DAP bear testimony to this conviction. I am not a DAP member or related to any political group but we should not be delusional or be unfairly prejudiced and give credit where credit is due. Prejudice is the enemy of truth.

It behooves the nation to not always be narrow-minded and overlook good people because they are not ‘one of us.'

The ability to discern the pure intrinsic capability and value of the individual to nation-building and the community and his or her ability regardless of their beliefs is a gift of the just and wise.

Politics becomes wasteful of talents when ‘dissidents' from retired judges to public servants are ostracised and no longer allowed to contribute to society because they said or did things to offend those in power.

Such is the tragedy of a nation with a dysfunctional democracy and inability to rise above a vengeful spirit and the small-mindedness that impoverishes it.

In mature democracies talents are recognised and used across political affiliations and such is true unity in government without any ulterior political agenda.

We see this when former politicians from different political parties are employed in roles in their country's national interest.

You find many examples in America and Australia and the United Kingdom.

Those of us who believe in good governance but for one reason or another are not in politics may 'envy' Lim because if he achieves nothing else he can be proud that his son Lim Guan Eng has himself been vindicated and is now serving the rakyat as Penang's Chief Minister.

That is no mean feat. It is an admirable legacy notwithstanding the personal ability of his son.

It is only nepotism if we elevate relatives to high public roles when they are not up to scratch and treat the public domain like our private estate.

But when they are capable in their own right, they should not be penalised just because they are their parents' children.

Lim belongs to that small group of highly-regarded opposition politicians like the late Dr Tan Chee Khoon.

They are indeed a rare breed. Lim has earned no title. But in the eyes of those who appreciate his political contributions he is more esteemed than those who have a string of titles longer than Pinocchio's nose.

If DAP is the abbreviation for the Democratic Action Party it is also the acronym for ‘Determination, Accountability and Principles' that characterise Lim's political persona.

I know a friend who once lamented to me about the difficulty of being in opposition politics so he joined the government. Not Lim.

Lim, in contrast, stuck to his political guns, rode through the vicissitudes of precarious opposition politics and kept his focus on to the vision of a ‘Malaysian Malaysia.'

This was an idea shared by political party Gerakan, and also became encapsulated in Dr Mahathir Mohammed's concept of ‘Bangsa Malaysia' and now echoed in Prime Minister Najib Razak's ‘1Malaysia' slogan.

It is a tacit admission that ‘Malaysian Malaysia' is all about declaring you are a Malaysian first and not your race or religion or state or whatever.

It is the primacy of this truth that communal politicians need to understand and subsume their bigotry.

Lim and his party were right and he was right in sticking to the defence of the Malaysian constitution that it is always meant to be a secular state, like all the other democratic and advanced countries in the world which may have an official religion, whether Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism.

He is indeed the ‘People's Politician.'

Temporary blindness is a small inconvenience albeit a nervous and uncomfortable one for Lim. But the same can't be said of the mind blindness that afflicts those who still can't see that there is no future for the politics of race, religion, dishonesty and deception.

Meanwhile we wish Lim Kit Siang good health and may he with the same dogged determination as Cadel Evans', the winner of the 2011 Tour de France bicycle race, win the political yellow jersey in his long political journey.

In the eyes of many Malaysians Lim is already a champion, the true towering Malaysian in politics and life itself.

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