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Happy 70th Birthday, Taib – Change lifestyle and get a “first-class mentality”
Taib had asked as his 70th birthday present today a “clean sweep” of the ninth Sarawak general election yesterday to have a one-party Sarawak State Assembly for the next five years.
I salute the voters of Sarawak particularly in the nine seats who had elected Opposition candidates as State Assembly representatives for giving Taib the most appropriate birthday present – firmly rejecting his “third-world” demand for a Soviet-style one-party legislature and taking the first step for Sarawak and Malaysia to become a normal democracy where, in the words of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, “opposition is the essence of democracy”!
The message the voters of Sarawak want to convey to Taib on his 70th birthday is that he should “change lifestyle” and get a “first-class mentality”.
The standard response of Barisan Nasional leaders to public complaints about unreasonable and unconscionable price hikes especially the fuel price increases is that the people should “change lifestyle”. Taib should be the first to “change lifestyle” as the role model in Sarawak – and such “lifestyle change” must be immediately visible and tangible to all Sarawakians. Then all State Ministers should follow suit.
Acquiring “first-class mentality” is the key thrust of the Ninth Malaysia Plan to pave the way for Sarawak and Malaysia to become a “first-world developed nation”.
But before we can acquire “first-class mentality”, we must become a normal democracy and a normal country. It is an adverse reflection of how far we are from a normal democracy that the underlying theme of the Barisan Nasional campaign in the Sarawak state general election was whether an opposition is needed, whether the opposition should be totally wiped out in the Sarawak state assembly and whether Taib should be rewarded for his 25-year tenure as Sarawak Chief Minister with a special 70th birthday present with a ‘clean sweep’ and one-party legislature for the next five years.
In first-world developed countries like the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, France, Switzerland, Canada, Australia – which we aspire to join in 14 years time under Vision 2020 – if the leader of the ruling party seeking re-election of his government asks the electorate in the general election to give him a special birthday present of a one-party legislature with a total “knock-out” of all opposition candidates, he would be regarded as a pseudo democrat, a threat to democracy, a joker if not a “crazy”! Such request for a special birthday present with the total wiping out of the opposition would have certified his unfitness for democratic office and ensured his rejection and defeat in the polls!
With the Sarawak general election result yesterday, democracy in Malaysia has started the painful process of growing up where such undemocratic calls to wipe out the Opposition are no more regarded as legitimate, acceptable and normal.
Malaysia cannot be treated like some African countries where the Opposition is regarded as inherently disloyal, anti-national and destructive and deserves to be discriminated and persecuted as distinct from “first-world developed” countries where the Opposition are given full respect by the government-of-the-day.
Taib should demonstrate his acquisition of “first-class mentality” by fully co-operating with the newly-elected Sarawak Opposition Assembly representatives to work for the welfare of all Sarawakians, respecting their fundamental right to development, regardless of race, religion, gender, political beliefs or vote.
Barisan Nasional elected representatives have become “mindless robots” under the “third world” BN Party Whip barring them from supporting Opposition motions whether right or wrong and from voting according to conscience. Yesterday, the voters of Sarawak have shown that they are superior to BN elected representatives as they can differentiate between right from wrong and could vote according to conscience when they supported DAP and Opposition candidates.
The second “first world mentality” initiative is for Taib to restore to the other 61 Barisan Nasional Assembly representatives the right to differentiate between right and wrong by removing the Whip to forbid support for Opposition motions in the State Assembly and to vote according to conscience, unless they concern specific and declared Barisan Nasional party policy stand and programme.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, had asked from Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt during the teleconferencing last night why Barisan Nasional lost the urban areas and directed a “thorough analysis” to be done.
One reason why Barisan Nasional lost the urban voters is because they are disappointed by the failure to deliver the Prime Minister’s reform pledge and programme in the past 31 months and their support of the DAP call to turn a vote for the DAP into a vote of support for Abdullah’s anti-corruption campaign.
Is Taib prepared to work with the six DAP Assemblymen and women to give solid and meaningful support to Abdullah’s reform pledge and programme to uphold integrity and combat corruption by introducing an anti-corruption agenda and an anti-corruption action plan in the Sarawak State Assembly?
Will the Prime Minister take heart from the election of six DAP Sarawak Assembly members as endorsement for his anti-corruption campaign, whether in Sarawak State Assembly or Parliament, to ignite a new momentum for the national integrity drive - instead of being bogged down by the comparatively minor question of the Barisan Nasional loss of nine seats which represents only 12.7% in the 71-member Sarawak State Assembly?
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission