2008 New Year Message By DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng

Making 2008 The Year Of Good Governance – Free Malaysia From Fear Of Democracy, Justice And Truth To Be Replaced With The Politics Of Hope That Allows Us To Share Equally In The Burdens Of Our Duties As In The Fruits Of Our Labours.

DAP urges every Malaysian to commit themselves to make 2008 the year of good governance. To achieve good governance we must free Malaysia from fear of democracy, fear of justice and fear of truth to be replaced with the politics of hope that trusts in the wisdom of the people, keeps faith with our common moral values and uplifts human dignity by allowing us to share equally in the burdens of our duties as in the fruits of our labours.

2007 has been the year where Malaysians were let down by the promises made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Despite promises of greater openness and freedoms, we live in a police state filled with fear. Malaysians exercising their fundamental right of freedom of assembly, speech and even religious beliefs have been arrested and detained without trial or placed under “supervised custody for rehabilitation”.

Despite wanting to hear the truth, those who speak the truth are being punished whilst the corrupt are being promoted. One MIC Deputy Minister, one MCA Deputy Minister and a Gerakan Youth Vice-President was punished for speaking the truth against UMNO but when UMNO threatened non-Malays by waving the kris or asking the non-Malays to go back to India or China, they escaped punishment.

Despite promises of respect for rule of law and justice, the government refused to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) recommended by a Royal Commission of Inquiry to reduce rampant crime and check abuses of power, misconduct and corruption in the police force. Instead of punishing policemen who shot and injured peaceful, law abiding people, those shot by police were charged for attempted murder.

Despite promises of combating corruption, Malaysia’s ranking under the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index has deteriorated from No. 37 when Abdullah took over as Prime Minster in 2003 to No.44 this year.  No action has been taken against Port Klang assemblyman Datuk Zakaria Md Deros for his extraordinary wealth and luxury mansion. There are double standards when charges instituted by the Companies Commission (CC) against Zakaria have been withdrawn whilst the CC pursues similar charges against CTOS Sdn Bhd who embarrassed the government by disclosing the truth about BN leaders’ poor financial standing and record.

The Elections Commission fails to ensure clean, free and fair election by operating under the directive of BN. The EC has refused independent foreign poll monitors, manipulated electoral rolls as well as ignored abuses of money politics, complete control of mass media by BN and permitting the violation of one-man one vote where the government,  controls 91% of the parliamentary seats despite winning 60% of the popular vote.

Clearly the government fears justice, truth and democracy because it will ignite hopes for good governance and better future for all. The refusal to rely on the politics of hope that trusts in the people’s wisdom by permitting them to participate in the decision-making process or refusal to keep faith in common moral values by continuing to support UMNO candidates that humiliate, insult and denigrate women, disabled and minorities or refusal to uplift human dignity by treating all Malaysians as equal citizens and not first, second, third or even fourth class citizens.

A core element of politics of hope is sharing equally in the burdens of our duties as in the fruits of our labours. Malaysia has the worst income inequality between the rich and poor in South East Asia. The Ninth Malaysian Plan admits that the income disparity has worsened with the richest 20% controlling 51.2% of the nation’s wealth whereas the poorest 40% controlling only 13.5% in 2004 from 50% and 14.5% respectively in 1990.

The government has chosen to ignore the economic hardships faced by the people caused by rising inflation with lies that inflation rate is only 2% this year when it is running at more than 20% or that the country will go bankrupt by using the RM 70 billion annual profits from Petronas. Fuel subsidies cost the country around RM 32 billion in 2006 and as much as RM 40 billion annually this year or next year if the international price of oil reaches US$100 per barrel.

Savings from fuel subsidies should be transferred to low and middle-income earners in the form of cash grants. DAP had suggested that those earning less than RM 3,000 per month be given an annual grant of RM 3,000 and families with a combined income of RM 6,000 per month be given RM6,000 annually. Such a scheme would cost between RM 30-40 billion, the same amount of fuel subsidies spent.

Only by reducing the financial burdens of rising inflation faced by working families, can the government be responsible in economic management and good governance that increases the welfare and benefit of the poor, not just the rich. When the poor and the middle class comprising 80% of the population has a stake in our country’s future that shares in the benefits equally with the costs of economic development, then only is there hope that 2008 will be a better year for all.