Speech by Lim Kit Siang at a DAP Public Forum “What’s wrong with our government” at Chin Woo Hall, Ipoh on Friday, 8th January 2010:
Call on Malaysians – including religious bodies, political parties, NGOs – not to take part in demonstrations over the “Allah” controversy to avoid the trap of irresponsible political desperadoes out to exploit, manipulate the politicize the issue
Just before I come on stage, I received the following SMS which I believe represents the views of Malaysians inside this Hall and outside in the country:
“UMNO, esp Najib & Hishammuddin must bear full responsibility for d churches burning incidents since they failed to address d Allah issue properly, allowing people to demonstrate, thus causing it to escalate & spin out of proportion”.
Let me ask you by a show of hands whether you agree with this SMS. (Almost unanimous spontaneous show of hands from the close to a thousand-people crowd in support of the SMS).
The year 2009 ended badly for Malaysia despite having a new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak with his new “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” slogan with setbacks on all the major priority KPIs and NKRAs, viz:
Malaysians are entitled to question the Najib government why Malaysia is the only country in the world where the “Allah controversy” has assumed such explosive character when:
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim in the world with 240 million people, 95 per cent of whom are Muslims but Indonesians do not have the “Allah” controversy with its explosive intensity.
Why then is this happening in Malaysia when we have always held ourselves as the exemplar of multi-religious living and inter-religious understanding, goodwill and harmony for the world?
The answer must be found in the failure of leadership by the Prime Minister and Home Minister and the exploitation and manipulation of the issue by extremist and irresponsible elements to serve their political ends.
Unlike UMNO, PAS has taken a very open, progressive and Malaysian approach to the “Allah” controversy with Pakatan Rakyat demonstrating that it is more capable than UMNO/Barisan Nasional to manage and resolve the thorny issues of a plural society.
DAP and Pakatan Rakyat had right from beginning advocated that the “Allah” controversy should be resolved through an inter-religious conference.
Malaysians, both Muslim and non-Muslims, should remain cool, calm and collected, stay steadfast on their fundamental rights, to help resolve differences in our plural society by dialogue and discourse and should not be provoked into any rash or irrational responses.
For this reason, I call on all Malaysians – including religious bodies, political parties, NGOs and individuals – not to take part in demonstrations over the “Allah” controversy to avoid the trap of irresponsible political desperadoes out to exploit, manipulate and politicize the issue.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor