"A gun for hire I am not"
Tunku Abdul Aziz
One of the crucial qualifications required of a politician, even one subsisting on the fringe of the magic circle such as I, is a capacity to develop a thick hide, quickly, to absorb, withstand and endure cheerfully the innuendos, aspersions and imputations of improper motives, that will assuredly come his way whatever he does, says or writes.
Although I am much the same person that I was before I made a conscious personal decision to throw in my lot with the DAP, I am today viewed with a degree of suspicion.
Some of my readers believe that I write as a party propagandist, yet others are of the view that I should refrain from commenting on the shortcomings of the Pakatan Rakyat, and worse, I should not say anything that might cast a shadow on my own party image.
I write as an independent columnist and comment on issues of the day as I see them, motivated not by sycophancy, as accused by a New Straits Times leader writer and others of his ilk or out of a misguided sense of loyalty to my own party, no matter what.
I despise anything that smacks of the putrid odour of decaying doctrinaire with its cultivated blindness to the importance of critical thinking. I am not a party political spin doctor. For that you must turn to APCO.
Last week when my article on the ban imposed by the Selangor state government on the use of the 1Malaysia logo on advertising material, I was inundated with hostile reactions which led me to conclude that the Age of Reason, at least in political terms, has bypassed Malaysia. “My party right or wrong” must have no place in the larger reckoning of our plan for Malaysia.
As for airing my party sensitive criticisms “through proper channels”, my detractors need to be reminded that I comment as an independent writer, and not as a party hack.
My own stand on 1Malaysia is on record. I have opposed it from day one, not because it had come out of the fertile imagination of Najib, or out of a strong uncontrollable doctrinal madness to oppose it for its own sake, but I did not believe that without his spelling out the social, political and economic policy underpinnings, it could amount to anything at all. He has not succeeded in convincing anyone that at the core of 1Malaysia is equal opportunity for all.
1Malaysia is not altogether without any virtue: racial unity is a perfectly honourable and desirable aspiration, but what we are waiting to hear from Najib is his elucidation in the clearest possible terms how he proposes to shift 1Malaysia from the aspirational to the practical.
For me, on the basis of what Najib has articulated so far, 1Malaysia must perforce remain in the realm of sloganeering.
On the level of the abstract, 1Malaysia is fine, but after more than a half-century of Merdeka, let us get to grips with what we all really want in the long term to ensure the sustainability of our multiracial society.
1Malaysia as 1Malaysian Malaysia offers a greater chance of success and will have the overwhelming support of all true Malaysians who regard Malaysia as their home and the object of their love and loyalty. It is a bold step to take now, and not committing to doing what is just and fair is not an option.
It is a brave new world out there and we must be in the mainstream of the new movement for progress, peace and prosperity grounded in basic principles of fairness, justice and equity for all the people of Malaysia. Without this commitment to social change, Malaysia will never be in a position to realise its full potential.
Let me make a public declaration of my status in view of the continuing debate on whether a person is Chinese, Malay, Indian, or whatever our race, is first or Malaysian first. I am Malay in cultural terms just as a Chinese cannot be anything but Chinese culturally. Malaysian is a political term and has nothing to do with any culture because you cannot by any stretch of the imagination claim that there is a Malaysian cultural tradition. There is none.
That having said, what is important is to do in our daily lives what is in the best interests of our country. Malaysian first is no better than 1Malaysia unless we are willing to make a commitment to subordinate our natural instincts to preserve our Malayness or Chineseness and submit ourselves to the higher and nobler cause and demands for a 1Malaysian Malaysia.
Therein lies the future of this great country. Are we up to the challenge