Citizens’Declaration: Save Malaysia OR Save UMNO?

March 14, 2016

Citizens’Declaration: Save Malaysia OR Save UMNO?

by Boo Su-Lyn

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during an event to announce the 'Citizens’ Declaration' in Kuala Lumpur March 4, 2016. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and other prominent politicians and civil society leaders announced their “Citizens’ Declaration” with much fanfare, but their Save Malaysia movement has created deep divisions as some grassroots activists feel that the former Prime Minister cannot be both Malaysia’s destroyer and saviour.

Bersih 2.0, the organisation that mobilised thousands to the streets last year in one of Malaysia’s biggest rallies, issued a statement yesterday distancing themselves from the Citizens’ Declaration that called for Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s removal, saying that their chairman Maria Chin Abdullah had signed the document in her personal capacity.

According to Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Thomas Fann, a few of the electoral reform movement’s endorsing NGOs said in a meeting with Bersih 2.0 that they did not support the Citizens’ Declaration, although the “vast majority” were “cautiously supportive”.

“One reason is Tun himself. If it’s not him, there’s nothing wrong with the declaration,” Fann told Malay Mail Online.

He said the civil society groups opposed to the Citizens’ Declaration believed that Dr Mahathir — the country’s longest serving Prime Minister behind the infamous Ops Lalang that saw over 100 opposition politicians and activists detained without trial in 1987 — was “responsible for this whole situation”.

“He laid the foundation for Najib to become what he is. So they find it very difficult to accept that he’s now leading this reform; they struggle with that,” Fann said.

Fann added that most in the Bersih 2.0 steering committee supported Chin in various degrees in signing the Citizens’ Declaration, with “some “very supportive, some cautiously supportive, some with a lot of reservation”.

Political writer and former journalist Kee Thuan Chye said he disagreed with Dr Mahathir leading the Save Malaysia movement as he believed that the elder statesman’s agenda was to save UMNO, the country’s long ruling party.

“I don’t believe he is sincere about instituting reform when he was the architect of the system in the first place and had allowed his party to thrive on it,” Kee told Malay Mail Online.

“What happens after Najib is toppled? Will the person who takes over continue to take advantage of the rotten system?” he questioned.

Even before the controversial announcement of the Citizens’ Declaration on March 4, Dr Mahathir was seen earlier in anti-establishment company at the Cooler Lumpur Festival last June, where he denied his role in the 1988 judicial crisis and defended his decision to award citizenship to immigrants in Sabah. “Projek IC” was an initiative that allegedly granted citizenship to illegal immigrants in Sabah in exchange for their votes in elections.

Best Picture of the Year

An activist told Malay Mail Online on condition of anonymity that the Save Malaysia movement, which comprises big names such as former MCA President Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik, former Malaysian Bar President Dato’Ambiga Sreenevasan, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang and PKR Deputy President Dato’Seri Azmin Ali among others, was a “consolidation of egos, not people’s power”.

“It is a systemic change we want [that] requires us to be honest about power structures and how we relate to them. Most of those clamouring for it perpetuate it in their own little kingdoms,” said the activist.

Big Influence on Maria Chin and Dato’Ambiga

Aside from the dissent in civil society circles against the Save Malaysia movement, a few opposition politicians have also come out and reportedly accused federal opposition pact Pakatan Harapan of betrayal.

Despite all the star power in the Save Malaysia movement, it remains to be seen if the movement will be able to convince the grassroots to go along with a man who had shaped the country in his two decades of authoritarian rule, for better or for worse.

8 thoughts on “Citizens’Declaration: Save Malaysia OR Save UMNO?

  1. I love all Al Stewart’s songs. His songs are so refreshing! It’s not just “The Year of the Cat” Just read this lyrics

    According to the myths and legends
    At the fringes of our memory
    Paris stole the queen of Sparta
    And carried her across the sea
    As they fled, he never dreamt
    That he held the world in his grip
    Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships
    Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships

    From Mycenae comes Agamemnon
    And the Greeks of the city-states
    Laden with their bronzen weapons
    They’re waiting at the Trojan Gates
    As the arrow flies and Achilles falls
    Does she raise the wind to her lips?
    Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships
    Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships

    It’s funny how the story lingers
    It’s probably a myth of course
    A whisper in the ear of Homer
    Perhaps there never was a horse
    She could have turned the head of Paris
    With the gentle sway of her hips
    Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships

    Oh Cassandra, what did you know
    You who bring bad news wherever you go
    You had the gift to see the future
    From Apollo so it’s said
    And he made no one believe you
    When you would not share his bed
    Oh Cassandra, what did you see
    As you walked the lonely road of your certainty
    Gazing at the ruined city
    That your warnings could not save

    Oh Cassandra, so still and so graveCassandra
    The Bronze Age kingdoms tumble
    The cities fade one by one
    The walls of Mycenae crumble
    The Dark Age has begun
    And the truth is lost in the ancient dust
    Yet the memory forever persists
    Of Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships
    Helen, the face that launched a thousand ships

    So who is Cassandra in this case? Ask Lupus………

  2. Same ol’, same ol’

    Again, an abundance of fluff:

    “It is a systemic change we want [that] requires us to be honest about power structures and how we relate to them. Most of those clamouring for it perpetuate it in their own little kingdoms.”

    Oh, my dear, all politics is about “little kingdoms”. Anwar wants his, Azmin wants his, Wan Azizah is keeper of Anwar’s ego dream, etc. But do you have a solution? Nope. “Honest”, you say? Anwar tried to jam Wan Azizah down the throat of the Selangor palace – not because she is the person best equipped to lead the objectives of Selangor Darul Ehsan, but only because she’s the most likely to meekly step aside upon command. So much for honest.

    Solutions, eh. Always harder than fluff.

    Choose your slimeball – Najib? Anwar? Mahathir? or nominate your own.

  3. 1. “The Malaysian Insider” being shut down for “commercial reasons”.
    Curiouser and curiouser.

    2. The 1Malaysia state machinery is being twisted and turned and warped to keep a shrinking group of increasingly unpopular & incompetent people in power. Meanwhile, the Malaysian ship of state is drifting and without any direction.

    3. I think that Dr M is doing the necessary thing, even if his ultimate motives are

  4. “Citizens’ Declaration: Save Malaysia OR Save UMNO?”
    Cannot do both at the same time, meh ?

    In politics, anything is possible.
    Taiwan’s Guomindang morphed from a semi-fascist personalized
    dictatorship under the Generalissimo to a conservative political party under
    his son and then Lee Teng-Hui.

    Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF morphed from a popular Marxist liberation struggle guerilla-based party in 1980 to a gang of thieves led by a ruthless dictator.

    The Republican Party (the party of ABRAHAM LINCOLN in the 1860s) to a conservative pro-business party and then into the present day party of
    Ted Cruz-type Christian fundamentalist extremists and Donald Trump-type

    Is UMNO incapable of change if the ordinary grassroots members mobilise and throw out their present crop of Ketua Cawangan (fawning recipients of generous “donations”?).

  5. “Is UMNO incapable of change if the ordinary grassroots members mobilise and throw out their present crop of Ketua Cawangan (fawning recipients of generous “donations”?)”

    That is actually one way forward.

    The mutiny is at “ahli biasa” level. Umno’s greatest fear is always that their hoi polloi eventually figure out that they are getting the short end of the stick. Many are waking to that fact. This just needs to be galvanised further.

  6. Ferdi, stop kidding yourself. There will be no change until the Ringgit morphs to Zimbabwean notes and Malaysians start starving or when you clone a million Tunku Rahmans with arms, or bring back Ong Boon Hua and his patriots who wrote I love Malaya. Your artistry and eloquence is reason enough for us to read this blog. Syabas to the effort!!! The converted are cowards – Mat Sabu just figured that out. Ong Boon Hua saw that coming a long time ago before the Sg Siput incident.

  7. Politics is very cruel. One strike and you are out irrespective of the good you may have done. Just look at what is happening in Germany. One wrong step on the refugee issue may cost her political career.

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