After 40 years, Kit Siang returns to speak at UM

Lim Kit Siang speaks at the ‘New Malaysia, Old Politics’ forum at Universiti Malaya.

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang returned to speak at Universiti Malaya today after 40 years, in a forum titled “New Malaysia, Old Politics”.

“It’s good to be back, to feel the air of academia,” he said in his keynote speech.

“It feels a bit different. I am glad to be back after 40 years.”

The forum was held in conjunction with the launch of the book “509: The People Have Spoken”.

Also present were economist KS Jomo, political economist Terence Gomez and Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs fellow Tricia Yeoh.

Lim, the Iskandar Puteri MP, told the audience that while the New Malaysia had yet to be born, the May 9 general election results had given Malaysia a chance to move away from being a kleptocracy.

“There is no guarantee that the New Malaysia will succeed,” he said. “It cannot be accomplished in 100 days, or an electoral cycle.

“Do we have a vision not to be distracted by events such as the anti-ICERD rally tomorrow?”

Lim urged Malaysians to have a long-term vision and a big picture in mind for what they want the country to be in the New Malaysia.

“To be a united, prosperous and thriving nation… these are what we need to bring to Malaysians.

“We need to convince those at the rally to imagine a different Malaysia.”

Yeoh, meanwhile, spoke of the need to distinguish the different ideas of the “New Malaysia” for which the people had voted.

“Different people voted for different New Malaysias. The new Malaysia you voted for may not be the same new Malaysia that someone in the rural areas in Kedah and Johor voted for.

“Perhaps some of us voted for Pakatan Harapan (PH) because of the (past) corruption, reforms and 1MDB, while some others voted for Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the unifying factor,” she said, adding that support for Mahathir was considered old politics.

Yeoh also cited an analysis by Serina Rahman who spoke to rural Malays before and after the May 9 general election.

Yeoh said Serina’s analysis found that rural Malays had expressed regret, surprise and more insecurities and fear post-GE14.

“What are these based on? These are economic insecurities stemming from years and years of Umno patronage and dependency.

“We need to be sober in our analysis seven months and a year down the line – what is the New Malaysia that others want?

“Therein lies the challenge. How do we essentially live together in a future that is both common and also different? This is an essential universal question of unity in diversity,” she said.

As for Jomo, he said it was too soon to tell if there was a New Malaysia.

“We have a new dispensation. We have been reminded of how much our past haunts us, and we need to exorcise the ghosts of the past.

“It is the complexity of Malaysian politics that needs to be addressed,” he added.