Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah made an impassioned plea today for ordinary Malaysians to defend the supremacy of the country’s secular Constitution.
He also urged the public to demand from political parties the adherence to such constitutional principles like equality of rights, separation of powers and the prevention of discrimination.
Tengku Razaleigh said ordinary Malaysians should demand that all political parties should not be allowed to propagate economic and political policies which discriminate against any citizen.
Political parties should also refrain from involvement in business, he said.
“The question of whether the Federation should be an Islamic state, for example, was considered and rejected by the Rulers and by the representatives of the people. Had we wanted to be ruled by syariah, the option was on the shelf, so to speak, and could easily have been taken, because prior to this the states were ruled by the Sultans according to syariah law.
“The fact that we have a Constitution governed by common law is not an accident nor an external imposition. We chose to found our nation on a secular constitution after consultation and deliberation.”
Ordinary Malaysians, said Tengku Razaleigh, needed to demand from their political parties reforms that would embrace the spirit of the Constitution.
He said the entire political system needed reform to be in line not just with the Constitution but also the principles of the Rukun Negara.
“We should not expect our political parties to reform of their own accord. Leaders who owe their position to undemocratic rules and practices are the last people to accept reform."
Ku Li is calling for a new and permanent political awakening of all Malaysians. The outcome of the Bagan Pisang by-election is a good example which shows that Malaysians have yet to fully understand the need of a clean and credible leadership.
At the recent UMNO General Assembly, its leadership has spoken on the need for a true reform. A number of UMNO leaders especially its deputy president Muhyiddin is now confident that UMNO has changed just because the party has made some changes to its party constitution to allow for a wider participation from its members to choose their leaders.
UMNO wants MCA to emulate its change initiative.
I agree with Ku Li that UMNO's change initiative is not wide enough. The party must demonstrate that it is willing to respect the rule of law, separation of power, the dichotomy between party and government and the federal constitution.
UMNO's interpretation of respecting and protecting the interest of all Malaysians must not exist within the context of race discrimination, supremacy and a false sense of fairness. An UMNO which cannot accept that it needs to respect the equal rights of all Malaysians is not going to be able to reform successfully.
Politicians such as Ku Li will not be with us forever. It is best for Malaysians to heed his call. I had criticized him for not walking his talk by continue to stick to his party, UMNO. In this regard, I would like to apologize for my unnecessary outburst.
Regardless of his political affiliation, Ku Li has proven to us that he can still become a good leader who is sensitive to the needs and aspirations of a multiracial and secular Malaysia.
Supporters from both the political divide should learn to appreciate and respect good leaders. Political participation based solely on blind loyalty is not going to help this country to improve and progress.
Malaysia is at a cross roads.
I have said this many times and Ku Li has reaffirmed my statement - we cannot depend on the politicians to make the necessary change. We must demand for it.
Register to vote. Make an effort to come back to vote. Vote out racism. Vote out arrogance and abuse of power. Vote out corruption. Vote to ensure that Malaysia can continue to provide a viable and suitable environment for our next generations.