Need for National Liberation


Today we take one decisive, deliberate and historic step to free our country from the consequences of BN misrule. This step is our joint agreement to a Common Policy Framework. This is our compass. This is our guiding light. This is what distinguishes us from our opponents. We must steer by this compass to arrive at our destination – which is no less and no more than the liberation of Malaysia.     

(Speech by Zaid Ibrahim at Pakatan Rakyat’s inaugural convention)  

Ladies and Gentleman,

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Before today, our three parties took several steps — some steady, some faltering – towards the goal of our collective journey.  

Skeptics could never believe that we could attempt the journey at all. They felt we could never be fellow travelers because of our different compasses and differing destinations.  

This journey is our long march towards the liberation of our country from the consequences of 52 years of Barisan Nasional’s deviations. Their impact has caused our country to spiral downward in every sector of national life. Everywhere one looks you see the foundational structure and content of our country eaten away by the termites of the BN. Their rule has become a pestilence. 

There’s no telling the depths to which this spiral will take us. But there is every reason today to believe that the people are no longer content to be spectators at this chronicle of national decline and ruin. Enough of them have rallied to support our three parties in the effort of national liberation. And today we give them cause to hope that salvation is on hand. 

Today we take one decisive, deliberate and historic step to free our country from the consequences of BN misrule. This step is our joint agreement to a Common Policy Framework. This is our compass. This is our guiding light. This is what distinguishes us from our opponents. We must steer by this compass to arrive at our destination – which is no less and no more than the liberation of Malaysia.     

We can already hear what our critics say about us. They say we are a one-election wonder, that we are a sand castle that will topple when the next wave of public opinion hits the beach.

The Common Policy Framework is our first response to our critics. Our second response would be when this Common Policy Framework is matched by the deeds of PR governments in states we control. This should see the Pakatan better prepared for not only the 13th general election, but also the one after that and all elections hereinafter.

The Common Policy Framework is our path to the hearts and minds of Malaysians. We want them to back us so that we can check the downward spiral of this nation. We have not only to check, we have to reverse the slide and restore this nation to the fullness of its promises at its founding in 1957 and at its enlargement in 1963. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

There is of course another version of the narrative of the decline of our nation. This other narrative is the narrative of the BN. This is that they are the only people who can govern this nation. They are the chosen ones. All the rest are pretenders who think they can govern and soon discover that they can’t. Only the BN has the right formula for effective governance. In recent years, perhaps, they have been a little groggy about this formula. That was why they fared badly in the last general election. Now all BN has to do is to clean up their act, change the captain, rebrand their efforts, like trumpeting their 1Malaysia concept, and the coalition will be back to its strength of old.   

They think the success of Pakatan Rakyat is temporary. They think this opposition coalition is the handiwork of a single leader, whose devious charm and charisma can hoodwink the Malaysian people for perhaps one or two elections. So if they can tie him up in knots with all sorts of legal suits, or better still, send him away to jail for a long time, then everything will go back to the way it was.  

This is the BN narrative. This is their version of reality. It is a classic case of self-delusion. Why so? 

This is simply because the BN cannot change. True, it has changed its captain. He is like a magician come to do conjuring tricks at a children’s party. But the biggest trick that he must do is that of his own disappearance. That he has to do but he cannot do. And that is the reason why the BN cannot change. 

It has a skipper that must bring about his own disappearance for change to have any meaning. There’s one thing the BN has deeply entrenched in its culture: the art of self-preservation. That culture reigns supreme in the BN. Once a BN leader gains the seat of paramount authority, it will take a political tsunami to dislodge him which was what occurred to Abdullah Badawi.    

Therefore, I say, there’s no way BN can change because the person who must initiate change exempts himself from the logic of this change. Hence whatever change he brings will be cosmetic, not substantive. But aided and abetted by a servile mainstream media, a compliant judiciary, and subservient law enforcement agencies, the headman can continue to rule. He can continue to beguile the people that he brings change, that he can cause change to happen.  

The whole exercise mistakes the activity for change for the essence of change. They are two different things. If they were the same, the blogger Raja Petra and the private investigator P. Balasubramaniam would not have to seek refuge abroad. If they were the same, Teoh Beng Hock would not have died and Nizar Jamaluddin would still be Menteri Besar of Perak. If they were the same, Kelantan would not have to consider suing the federal government for payment of oil royalties legitimately due to them.   

The BN cannot change because change would bring about its destruction. But we must not depend on the expected failure to change of the BN to convince the people that they must put us in power in Putrajaya.  

Daily the news about the plunder and waste of this country’s resources gets more and more depressing. The latest revelations put losses suffered by the country under the rule of Dr Mahathir Mohamed at a staggering USD100 billion. Those losses relate to the tangibles. What about the intangible losses such as the deformation of the judiciary, and the erosion of professionalism in the police force and civil service. Daily the consequences of these intangible losses become evident for the people to see. These consequences will arrive at a cumulative point that will see the people say, “Enough is enough. Let’s be rid of this plague.” 

Ladies and Gentleman,      

This is a game for us to lose. It is only if we lose our nerve, and drop the ball that we will fail. Nothing that our opponents can do to us can make that happen, unless we let them make it happen. So as long as we close our ranks, work together, find middle ground, and communicate with one another, and stay resolute about breaking the spell cast by a half century of BN’s rule, the prize of leadership at the national and state level will be ours for the taking. We do not have to agree on everything and on every subject, but we must learn the rules by which to disagree. 

There is another thing that the BN has not woken up to either because they are obstinate to the reality on the ground, or they are so full of arrogance and taksub, not to want to understand it. This is that Malaysia has changed. Our founding fathers struggled to conceive the birth of a new nation, whose communities knew little of each other and could not trust each other. There was a fear that the only way to allow this nation a chance at success was to have a joint venture of communities as the basis of leadership. And it was this that made the Alliance and then Barisan Nasional a success in the past.

That reality no longer holds. Society has become much more complex and has matured through the rakyat’s sharing of common experiences over the last half century. Malaysia has changed. And we know it. No longer do race-based politics built on patronage command support from the people. Such politics only helps to foster hate, selfishness, corruption and greed. All of this was perpetuated in the name of protecting the interests of the many, but in reality was manipulated to feather the nests of a few.     

Today, Malaysians continue to respect the fact that we remain a nation of specific communities with a rich diversity of faiths, cultures, languages and traditions. We do not fear this diversity. Indeed we celebrate it. And although we accept that solutions must be found to ensure that disparities between communities must be addressed so that they do not grow to dangerous levels, the constitutional provisions on the special position of Bumiputras, and those relating to language, religion and culture must be protected. 

Malaysians now recognize that the type of politics that is needed to lead our country is one that is built on universal values and ideals, premised on the commitment to our faith and spirituality, and not instead on what our identity papers say is our race. 

Look at us. Look at your fellow delegates from the other parties. And you will see that it is Pakatan Rakyat and its parties that have a common ideology built on universal values and ideals, built on our faith and spirituality, that has a commitment to protect the Constitution, and all Malaysians so as to lead Malaysia the way Malaysians want to be led. 

It is Pas, DAP and PKR who today collectively represent the will and desire of Malaysians. We are different from them. The Malays in Pakatan are not racists, the Chinese in Pakatan are not the taukays of MCA, the Indians in Pakatan are not the gullible Indians of MIC or Makkal Sakkthi. The Dayaks and Kadazans are not the ones that belong to the BN.  

We are differerent. In short, if we in Pakatan Rakyat fail, Malaysia will fail. Because we have what it takes to deliver what a changed Malaysia wants and needs. Today marks another step in our journey to make sure that this will be so. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Do not be overly concerned with our frailties and some inconsistencies among us. For those frailties and inconsistencies reflect the true frailties and inconsistencies of Malaysia and its communities. Our society must find its way to manage them, we must be there, at the head of that journey, pointing out the right way, leading by example and showing how it is to be done.  

To succeed we will need to accommodate. We will need to help each other and ourselves find the middle ground. We must be willing to be open to new ideas, we must be willing to trust one another, we must be pragmatic, and we must be willing to share. No different than what this country needs to do to succeed.  

I am proud to have contributed to the convention and to be standing here today. I want to thank Dato Seri Anwar for giving me the chance to initiate the first draft of the Common Policy Framework. It was the creation of a common policy framework that was the contribution that I had committed to make when I became your colleague. But this success is not mine. It is your success, and those of your leaders and your component parties who worked to make this a reality.

Let’s build on this. Let’s not be distracted. Our journey of many miles begins with this auspicious consensus. Let’s be guided by commonly shared values and ideals premised on the values of the ordinary people of this country so that we can rescue Malaysia from the sorry state it is in today and will continue to be if we do nothing.

We have resolved to do something. The Common Policy Framework is the compass by which we will journey to liberate the country we all love.   

Hidup Rakyat! Hidup Pakatan! Hidup Malaysia!