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A new exodus of emigration of Malaysian professionals, both Malay and non-Malay, may be triggered by the rise of racial extremism and religious intolerance as exemplified by the “fire and brimstone” Umno assemblies with keris-wielding and May 13 threats of bloodshed, amok and riots


Speech at the DAP Ipoh forum on “Post-Umno General Assembly and Pak Lah’s 3-Year Report Card”  
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Ipoh, Friday) : This is the period in the nation’s history when Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or territory, whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazandusunmurut, Iban, Orang Asli, whether Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah or Sarawak, should never feel so good as  Malaysians, never more united, motivated and confident about the future to transform Malaysia into a  highly competitive, modern information society  and knowledge-based economy to join the ranks of the first-world developed nations.


This is because in nine months’ time, we  will be commemorating our half-century of independent  nationhood, which is the golden opportunity for all Malaysians to celebrate and reaffirm their unity, solidarity, diversity, common nationality and single-minded sense of purpose to stamp Malaysia on the world map as a nation of quality, excellence, distinction and tolerance.


Are Malaysians now in such a position, looking excitedly to the 50th Merdeka celebrations in nine months’ time – with celebrations probably beginning when the new year of 2007 is ushered in  five weeks’ time?


It is no exaggeration to say that to the majority of Malaysians, especially all those who are below 50 years old, they have never felt so bad as Malaysians because of  the recent spate of negative, retrogressive and divisive developments, which raised the serious question whether the country has made concrete and irreversible progress in the past half-a-century to become a united, progressive and modern nation which could take its place among the first-world nations.


The recent spate of negative, retrogressive  and divisive developments include:


  • The murder of a Mongolian beauty queen and the blowing up of her body into bits with C4 explosives with the involvement of people with links to the highest political levels, including personnel from an elite Malaysian police unit specifically charged with the protection of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister;


  • The unchecked rise in the crime index, with Malaysians losing their fundamental right to be free from crime and the fear of crime in the streets, public places and even in  the privacy of their homes - compounded by more and more cases of “world-class” crimes like the recent Great RM50 million Microchip Robbery in Penang.


  • Malaysia losing out to her neighbours and competitors in global competitiveness, whether in world-class university rankings (even losing to Chulalongkorn University of Thailand); to attract FDIs (losing out to Indonesia for the first time); in Transparency International Corruption Perception Index rankings (falling seven places from 37th to 44th position in the past  three years  and being overtaken by South Korea for the first time in 12 years) or being ranked at the bottom of a list of “flawed democracies” in the new Democracy Index because of its poor ratings in political participation and civil liberties just released by the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU).


  • The failure of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi to “walk the talk” in the past three years to deliver his reform pledge and agenda, whether in upholding the doctrine of separation of powers on Parliamentary autonomy and Judicial independence,  the campaign against corruption, respect for human rights and press freedom, or an open government.  The refusal of the government to date to make public the Economic Planning Unit methodology and data on bumiputera corporate equity to resolve the controversy  about the credibility and legitimacy of official statistics is latest proof of a  lip-service commitment without any serious political will to deliver on accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance as promised by the Abdullah premiership


  • The  “fire and brimstone” Umno assemblies with keris-wielding and May 13 threats of bloodshed, amok and riots undermining not only half-a-century of nation-building and national unity efforts, but scaring away foreign investors.


The Prime Minister, Cabinet and government must be forewarned that a new exodus of emigration of Malaysian professionals, both Malay and non-Malay, may be triggered by the rise of racial extremism and religious intolerance  as exemplified  by  these negative, retrogressive and divisive developments, in particular  the “fire and brimstone” Umno assemblies with keris-wielding and May 13 threats of bloodshed, amok and riots, causing  irreparable damage to  Malaysia’s global  competitiveness.


The first exodus of Malaysian professionals overseas occurred in the seventies, and there is an estimate that  Malaysia lost close to a million talented Malaysians to foreign countries in the past three decades.


Although Barisan Nasional leaders at that time dismissed the exodus of Malaysian professional overseas as “Good riddance to bad rubbish”, Malaysia paid a very heavy price  –  as undoubtedly, it was a major cause why Malaysia failed to reach the potential of our national economic and social development, allowing other countries like Taiwan and South Korea to overtake  us although Malaysia was ahead of them economically in the first decade of our independence.


The question now is whether with the dire possibility of a new exodus of Malaysian professionals overseas because of the recent spate of negative, retrogressive  and divisive developments, with Malaysians  agonizing over  whether they and their children have a future in the country, the Malaysian government is going to adopt the ostrich-like attitude in the seventies and eighties of “Good riddance to bad rubbish” or it will take pro-active steps to forestall a new brain-drain in the 21st  century.


I had spoken loud and clear in Parliament in the seventies  and eighties about the frustration among non-Malay professionals who had chosen the option of emigration for the sake of their children primarily because they were worried about the educational future of their children – although I had always made it clear that I never agreed with such emigration as it is not an option which is open to the overwhelming majority of the people, who must remain  in the country and stand up for their rights.


This time, however, any emigration exodus will not be confined to non-Malays but will also include Malay professionals, who are also very disturbed by the rise of racial extremism and  religious intolerance in the country, with the arbitrary and unconstitutional re-writing of the Federal Constitution  by turning Malaysia into an Islamic State, which violates the 1957 Merdeka “social contract” that Malaya and Malaysia is a multi-religious secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state – a position publicly and proudly proclaimed by the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia.


This time, an exodus of Malaysian professionals migrating overseas will be even more  damaging to the country’s future, as in this era of information and communications technology, globalization and liberalisation, human capital and brain power hold the key to a nation’s progress and prosperity or regression and decline.


With nine months  left to the nation-wide celebrations of half-a-century of Merdeka, Malaysians should be finding a new unity, resolve and inspiration to catapult the country to a higher stage of national development, whether economic and social – but instead, we are being mired by very negative, divisive and destructive forces which do not bode well for a future of “excellence, glory and distinction” for the country.


Will the Prime Minister, Cabinet and Parliament rise up to the grim challenges facing the country and to address this new national crisis of confidence in-the-making to ensure that the 50th Merdeda celebrations next year will be meaningful and forward-looking rather than an  empty but exorbitant extravaganza, imposing another astronomical bill on the national coffers to be paid eventually by the taxpayers?



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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