Being Malaysian first is possible: Kit Siang

The biography of DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang is a celebration of the man who had stood in the forefront of the country’s political scenes, good and bad, for more than 50 years and remains true to his vision of a multiracial society that progresses together. Screen grab from livestreaming of book launch by Malaysiana LCMS YouTube channel.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 – Is it possible to be a Malaysian first, then credit one’s race or religion in the political, social or economic spheres of multiracial, multicultural Malaysia?

DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang says it is possible and getting the order right will be crucial, especially with the country at a critical juncture at this point.

“I do not think anybody has an answer to this question, but one thing is sure, if we cannot be Malaysian first, then the future is a bleak one – there is no way to stop  Malaysia from heading towards a kleptocracy, kakistocracy and a failed state,” Kit Siang said during the online launch of a book on him: “Malaysian First, Volume 1:None But The Bold” today.

“Whatever  lessons we can learn  of the past, it is the future that is my concern – for I think we are in one of the most critical times of the nation,” alluding to the need for the people to put aside their differences and come together as Malaysians first to tackle the challenges the country is facing presently.

The biography of him was authored by playwright and journalist Kee Thuan Chye, who was also present at the launch.

The launch was followed by a webinar “Malaysian First first – Boleh Ke? “, which was facilitated by Jonson Chong and streamed live on YouTube.

Thanking Thuan Chye for writing his biography, Kit Siang said he found it most readable and absorbing.

“He did not ask me very much of my school days and I found to my surprise that he has learnt quite a bit. The stories were true although some aspects were quite  apocryphal, gained from the telling and re-telling of the stories.”

Thuan Chye said he had wanted to write about Kit Siang for a long time, long before even Pakatan won the 2018 election.

“I always felt he deserved a full biography. A biography that tells his life story but at the same time it should not be just about his political career.”

It had to be about him being a human being, about his relations with people close and near to him as well as those not so close to him, as well as his struggles and sacrifices.

Many people have the broad picture but may not know the details, and may not know of the sacrifices he made unselfishly and asked for nothing in return, said Thuan Chye.

The book is about celebrating the man and giving him his due, he said.

“I felt that what he did deserved to be documented.”

The book brings out what he has been fighting for, practically his whole life, — his Malaysian dream for a multiracial Malaysia where all the races can work together, progress and prosper.

Many people do not understand his dreams, and while some people see him as having caused instability, there are also those who see him as a hero. The story of Kit Siang simply had to be told, Thuan Chye said.

At the launch, Kit Siang, who has been a leading voice in the country’s political scene for more than 50 years, mostly from the opposition camp, also spoke of his concerns on the upcoming Melaka state election.

“I worry the voter turnout in Malacca and the subsequent  Sarawak state general election may be as low as less than 30 per cent, as Malacca and Sarawak general elections will be important forerunners of the 15th General Election to decide whether the Malaysian Dream for Malaysia to become a world-class great nation has come to an end and there is no way for Malaysia to become a successful plural society and a world-class great nation.

“For the past 50 years, the nation-building policies moved away from “Malaysia First” approach, and as a result, we lost  two million of our brightest and the best sons and daughters to the diaspora in the world.

“They emigrated to other countries to become supermen and superwomen when they should remain in Malaysia to help build the country into a world-class great nation.”

He admitted that there were good things going for the country such as the Malaysian Constitution, which celebrates Malaysia’s plural society, the separation of powrers, the rule of law, good governance and human rights.

He also commended the Rukun Negara principles of nation-building, although he expressed doubts whether some Ministers subscribed to the principles.

There has been a sense of apathy, hopelessness, despair and desolation in the land, he said.

Among the grievances include the constant rampage by some leaders in the name of race and religion, spreading misinformation, while economic policies continue to favour bumiputeras and sideline the non-bumiputeras.

“Malaysia is at the confluence of four great civilizations – Malay/Muslim, Chinese, Indian, Western.  There is no reason why we cannot leverage on the values and virtues of these four great civilisations to make Malaysia a world-class great nation.

“We owe it to our children and children’s children to continue to try until we succeed,” said Kit Siang.