By Regina Lee
Zaid Ibrahim’s Parti Kita was launched in a razzle-dazzle ceremony this morning at the Sime Darby Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
It was also an all-star event with many politicians from both sides in attendance.
Padang Serai MP N Gobalakrishnan, PPP president M Kayveas and representatives from Snap were at the event, as were former PKR leaders like Salehuddin Hashim and P Jenapala.
The launch appeared to have been organised by a professional event manager, and featured chic banners and an orange colour theme.
Radio DJ Shazmin Shamsuddin was the emcee, while bouncers in suits, ties and earpieces ensured “security”.
Before Zaid delivered his keynote address, a countdown appeared on a huge screen, accompanied by the Rolling Stones’ classic ‘I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction)’.
“We are no longer alone,” said Zaid when he started addressing the crowd.
He also unveiled the new party song as well as logo, which showed two hands in the shape of the Malaysian map, caressing the word “KITA”.
He had left PKR last year, citing dissatisfaction with the party polls process.
ROS change still unapproved
Zaid assumed leadership in Akim, a small Kelantan-based party, before renaming it Parti Kesejahteraan Insan Tanah Air (Kita) at an extraordinary general meeting last December.
However, he revealed that the changes submitted to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) have yet to be approved.
“But it doesn’t mean that we cannot use the name,” he said, adding that he will definitely field candidates in the next general election, provided that the amendments are approved.
Without ROS approval, Parti Kita is still technically Akim, a PAS splinter party with 280 members.
It intends to become a national party that champions issues on a bipartisan level – it will not be drawn to either BN or Pakatan Rakyat.
Central secretary Abdul Latif A Tambi said the party may take a stab in the upcoming Sarawak elections by backing Independent candidates.
Met later, Gobalakrishnan (left) insisted that he is still a PKR member.
He said that he believes he will not be sacked from the party, “because (de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim) has said it is a democratic party”.
Gobalakrishnan has been a vocal critic of Anwar since last December, having described him as “anti-Hindu” and uncaring about the welfare of Indians.
Meanwhile, Kayveas said that he was merely an old friend of Zaid’s and was at the event in his personal capacity and out of courtesy.
“This has nothing to do with BN. PPP will remain with BN,” he said, adding that he will not be unfazed by eventual criticism. – Mkini
Cheers—and a few jeers—for Kita
PETALING JAYA: Several civil society leaders and politicians have welcomed the emergence of Kita, the political party launched this morning by former PKR leader Zaid Ibrahim.
They are pleased to note that it has a secular character, is concerned with good governance and is apparently committed to fighting for the rights of those sections of Malaysian society perceived to be marginalised.
“I agree with the thesis that Malaysian politics is too focused on government instead of governance,” said KJ John, chairman of the Oriental Hearts & Minds Society Initiative.
“There is also a need for a new perception of a secular world view.”
John was also enthusiastic about the party’s logo, which shows two joined hands morphed into the map of Malaysia. He said it was a “smart move” to show inclusivity between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak.
Francis Paul Siah, who heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS), also acknowledged the inclusiveness factor.
“It is the first political party that places importance on Sabah and Sarawak,” he said. “Any party that wishes to rule Malaysia must never leave out Sabah and Sarawak.”
He said Kita would receive support from East Malaysians and pledged that MoCS would support the party’s agenda for change and reform as it was similar to what the movement was espousing.
The Indian Justice Party, which is yet to be registered, also welcomed Malaysia’s newest political party.
Its protem president, P Jenapala, said his party, along with other small parties, “would join hands with Kita to create an impact soon”.
Rebel PKR leader N Gobalakrishnan also had kind words for Kita. “The party can make inroads; the people will receive it,” he said, adding that he was “worried, as a Pakatan Rakyat man”.
He expressed confidence that Malaysian Indians would welcome Zaid’s plans to create land development programmes similar to Felda and Felcra for the community.
People’s Progressive Party president M Kayveas, however, expressed doubts about Kita’s future, saying Zaid had shown a lack of commitment to principles by jumping from Umno to PKR and then leaving the opposition party to form another.
Kayveas, a former deputy minister, said he attended the launch in his capacity as a political analyst.
“He is still muddled up,” he said of Zaid.
“I think he is still stuck. He is not coming out of it. I expect Kita to come out of the present political cage that we currently are in but I see he is still stuck. He started off well, but you can see he is caught in the same net of ‘back to my race and my religion, your race your religion’.”
He said he doubted that the Election Commission would approve Kita’s logo. – FMT
We, Kita, truly appreciate your presence. For it is a sad indictment of our politics when our citizens have to summon up all of their courage, just to attend an event such as this.
The last several years has seen a marked shift, not just in the way we conduct our politics but in the way we react to it. It has shown that when pushed against the wall, when devoid of hope, when angry and frustrated, Malaysians have stood up and stood tall.
Kita is a product of that shift. Of our constantly evolving body politic in an expanding and developing democracy.
Because if we’ve learned anything in these years following 2008′s watershed general election, it is that having just a strong opposition is insufficient. We require a good and constructive opposition; an opposition that tackles the hard issues and engages the public so that meaningful reforms can take place. One that goes beyond just winning elections.
Because to be in opposition is about more than just opposing. It is about providing the kind of government we need, the kind of government we deserve. It is about a politics that is grounded on fair and just policies and clear ideology, both easily understood and acceptable to the people of this country. So who do you vote for? What kind of government do you want? What kind of opposition do you want?
Alas, our choices are limited. We are torn between the devil we know and the deep blue sea. Do you stay with a government that just wants to “defend Putrajaya at all costs”. Or do you succumb to the charms of an opposition that says and does whatever it takes for the sake of winning elections.
In a relatively short period of time, we have witnessed both coalitions slowly come apart. Barisan, for being unable to shed the shackles of their past. For being too afraid and too arrogant for change. Pakatan, for being too much of a marriage of convenience and not enough of a genuine movement. For being so caught up with reformasi that they’ve forgotten all about reform.
It is true that Kita has been treated with some suspicion. Even contempt. There are those who question the need for another political party. They express dismay at the notion of it serving as nothing more than a spoiler in the next general election, that it would ruin the chances of the opposition.
These very same people that espouse the virtues of democracy now disregard its very fundamental tenet. That every voice has a right to be heard. No matter how small. And this voice may well be accepted by the people of this country. Only time will tell.
Maybe you have different reasons for being here, but there is one thing that we share in common. Our dream for a better Malaysia. Because I, like all of you, like the millions of our countrymen outside this hall, just want a safer and happier country. For our children. And for our children’s children. It is the only thing that drives us.
Caught in a political wild west
Today, we find ourselves in a political wild west. Because all we ever hear and see are the polemics, the rhetorical and verbal crossfire between our politicians; at public functions, at the unending political rallies, in parliament, on television, in cyberspace. Where politicians from both sides of the spectrum hire parasites to write blogs and create websites to defame, slander, and abuse those who are not in tandem with their thoughts.
Today’s politics are all about the ruling party and the opposition in active combat; the fight for power the be all and end all of their existence. In the process, they have forgotten the most important thing that they were sworn to do – to look out for the interests of the people.
Ordinary people have to toil with wages that are too little to live with. Prices of most goods and services are beyond the reach of many. Our wives and children and parents, are accosted in the streets, in broad daylight by the disenfranchised and the unemployed. Our police, who are meant to protect us, instead shoot unarmed kids and beat up ordinary citizens.
Our courts, expedite accident cases and jail the poor for stealing from supermarkets but remain fearful of making tough decisions where they might cause displeasure to the powerful. We hear of heart wrenching stories where one parent loses his or her rights to custody because the other spouse has converted.
The rich get richer. The aristocrats, the well-connected, the elite, continue to rule. From father to son. From father to daughter. From friend to crony. They have little or no regard for the rights of the poor, the marginalised, and the less fortunate who remain on the far fringes of development. They make new rules and discard established principles of fairness and justice to enrich themselves.
They reconstruct and redefine constitutional principles; they rewrite the history books to create a new world; they censure books and films to deny whatever creativity that’s left among us; all these to ensure this crude mixture of lies, spin and control will keep their stranglehold on power.
In their Malaysia, legitimacy to rule accrues to the strong and the dominant. And they even deny our children in schools the chance to learn more English, the international language of knowledge; although their children go to international schools, or to America and elsewhere. It is not what we want for our Malaysia.
We are all concerned about the state of our country. We are today no longer as united as we were before; our economy is no longer as strong; our children are no longer educated in the true sense of the word. Our politics has become combative to the point where reason and measured arguments have been left on the wayside.
The truth of the matter is that our needs, our wants, our desires and expectations are incredibly modest. We want to be treated fairly and with dignity. We want our beliefs and religious faith to be respected. We want just a little respect for our basic rights and for our customs. We don’t want to feel they were second or third class, but among a class of equals.
We don’t want to be inundated by platitudes, by meaningless phrases and slogans. We don’t want to be accused of being unpatriotic because our children do not join the armed services. We do not want to languish in poverty and deprivation.
We want to believe that if our child gets 10As, he or she will have the same opportunity to get a scholarship as the next child. We expect that every child with a degree should be employable. Because if the government grant our children loans to further their studies, they should be able to get jobs to repay the loans. We expect that if they earn the same as our colleagues, that we too can get a seven percent discount on an affordable house.
We want what we are entitled to: equal opportunities for all, regardless of caste, colour, or creed. We want equitability in the sharing and distribution of the nation’s wealth. We want good schools and good universities. We want a government that is transparent and accountable; a police force that is adequate in numbers, well trained and which can provide the security and stability we require. We want the courts and the other public institutions to protect the interests and welfare of the public and not serve those in power.
People want to feel they belong because Malaysia is their country and their home. Malaysia is where they were born. Malaysia is the only country they know. They want to feel that their contribution matters. They want to feel a sense of ownership over this land, regardless of whether their forefathers landed on these shores in the 15th century, or whether they came in as indentured labourers, or whether they just became citizens following our independence from the British.
These are modest hopes. They are neither lofty nor unrealistic; they are real, they are universal, they are what every citizen in any part of the world expects and is entitled to. These hopes characterise the relationship between those governed and the government of every free country.
The Barisan Nasional government has failed to implement the basic tenets of governance to realise our basic hopes. They have reneged and discarded the promises of our founding fathers. Long gone are the days of leadership based on integrity, accountability, trustworthiness, goodwill, fairness and impartiality. Our leaders have discarded these values; they have forgotten, ladies and gentlemen, all of those principles that we Malaysians, founded and built this nation upon.
The greatest hero that Malaysia has
Tunku Abdul Rahman was, is, and always shall be the greatest hero that Malaysia has. On the day we received our Independence, on that great day in our history, Tunku said:
“At this solemn moment therefore I call upon you to dedicate yourselves to the service of the new Malaya; to work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty — a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world.”
Two years later he said in Penang:
“The only good thing about the people of Malaya was that they bear no ill will towards one another. Each one goes his own way without interfering with the customs or trade of the other, at the same time they join one another in most of the common activities to their own particular race or creed. Happily with this characteristic forming the background, we can easily pursue the policy that ‘in diversity we find unity’ and it is in this understanding that Malaya entered the threshold of independence”.
The Tunku was, above all else, a dreamer. He was an idealist. He built this country upon the wonderful notion that unity and diversity aren’t mutually exclusive. That they can coexist.
He built this country upon utopian ideals. And though far from immaculate, there is, nonetheless, an elegance in his conception. The idea that people of different sorts could endure and care for one another for now and forever. For themselves and by themselves. That their common humanity would displace their differences. That there would be poetry in their idiosyncrasy. And that harmony would come naturally and their compassion the final arbiter of their disputes.
My friends, today, we are here to re-launch a political party we call Kita. Today, as but a minnow in the shadow of the great Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, I implore you, and I plead with you to join hands with us to bring back real unity of the people of Malaysia.
Without true unity we can never prosper; if we continue to be divided as we are today; we can never be a great nation that all of us want. Let us together resurrect the spirit of Merdeka; and honour and uphold the true intent of the 1957 Federal Constitution and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement – to once again bring unity and happiness to the people of this country.
Because there needs to be a resurgence of that kind of idealism in our politics. The politics of sacrifice for the well-being of all; the politics that transcend race and narrow religious consideration. The politics of not trying to kill your opponent but to bring consensus and polite engagement to the discussion table.
The hope and the promise set out by Tunku and our founding fathers: Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Tun Ismail Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Tun HS Lee, Tun VT Sambanthan, Tun Fuad Stephens, Tun Datu Mustapha Harun, Datuk Penghulu Tawie Sli, Tun Temenggong Jugah, Tan Sri Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan and other pioneering spirits must be realised.
Malaysians have goodwill; they have good sense; they have a sense of community and commonality and it is this spirit, which will bring us together again, to honour and to respect one another.
The people of this country now have choices they can make. They can continue living in the world of divide and rule – that BN way where hegemony and control are necessary features. They can opt for the nice sounding reformist government of the opposition and hope they are what they say they are. Or the people can be with us.
History and experience have taught us some hard lessons. That BN will always be autocratic and authoritarian. They cannot change. The present prime minister, by training, by education, by upbringing, is most suited amongst Umno leaders to implement progressive and modern changes to the country. But even he will not get the support from the many layers of extremists within his party.
It has taught us that the opposition, with Anwar Ibrahim as its leader, will continue to play to your emotions, will continue to lead you on that bridal path, saying anything it takes in order to take over Putrajaya, in order to cast aside his own personal problems. PAS will not abandon its Islamic state agenda. And the DAP is gravely mistaken if they think they are in an alliance that will allow Malaysia to remain free, secular, and democratic.
Kita’s main thrust is to bring back unity of the people of Malaysia; to bring back the politics of goodwill and compromise that started this nation 54 years ago. We wish to lay solid foundation for the rebuilding of this young nation; so that politics and public service can be made honourable once again. Kita is not just a political party; it’s a movement; it’s an ethos to be handed down to the future generation.
End discrimination in every form
My friends we are gathered here today because we believe in these things. In these honourable goals. In these lofty ideals. And it is towards these ends that we pledge the following. And without reservation:
To end discrimination in every form, faithfully upholding the tenets of our Federal Constitution. We will defend the rights of all citizens as equals. We want legislation to be passed to manage healthy race relations and promote non-discriminatory practices in the country.
Kita will work tirelessly towards the unity of the Malaysian people by rejecting notions of superiority and hegemony of any kind. Instead, we will strive to build a new political engagement as equals; based on honest, sincere, healthy and progressive principles and a new idealism that suit the demand of a modern and all-inclusive Malaysia,
The protection of Article 153 of the Constitution will be honoured and implemented. Parliament will be presented with the measures undertaken to ensure the ultimate objectives are achieved. That being said, we will not allow the provisions pertaining to special privileges for the bumiputeras to be abused.
Nor will the special privileges to be an instrument for discrimination. No country in the modern world can survive where its citizens are differentiated and classified in the way we are doing. The poor and the neglected wherever they are will continue to be given special care and attention as well as the necessary privileges to uplift their economic positions.
To the Malays; we will not lull you into a false sense of security by leading you to believe that you have more rights than others; We will tell you that you have enough rights and privileges to succeed; only that you need to be skilled and competitive for this 21st century.
We will make you worthy of the proud race you belong to; ensuring that get the best education the country can offer, that you be trained and retrained by the best teachers. That you are skilled to the highest level so you can be productive and competitive.
We will assist the poor and less fortunate among you to succeed in business without having to rent or sell your name; or be a member of the ruling party. With the right work ethic and cultural transformation, you will read the right kind of books, you will speak with confidence, and you will be equipped to compete in this changing world.
You will be achievers in the real sense. You will not have to unleash the keris to be feared, or assert your origins to be special. You will not just be a definition in the Federal Constitution. You will be truly Malay in the larger Malaysian community.
We will ensure that the Muslims achieve the spiritual heights that Islam promises. No one can take Islam away from you. Islam must be led and nurtured by scholars and intellectuals with the heart; with compassion as Islam is a compassionate religion; as we have seen in the great Islamic traditions of the past.
But intellectuals and scholars can only flourish in a free environment. Bureaucrats, wage earners, and politicians can soil the good name of Islam by introducing restrictive and confusing rules and regulations that are inimical to harmony and religious tolerance in the country. We were founded as a secular constitutional democracy where Islam is the official religion and we must remain so.
To maintain religious harmony and peace in a multi-religious country, religious beliefs must not and cannot dictate public policy beyond accepted common values of humanity. If we chose to ignore this, it will be at our peril.
If we accept secular principles as the basis of public policy, if we truly accept the supremacy of the Federal Constitution as our guiding principle, it will be a lot easier to find solutions to our issues; like those pertaining to places of worship, conflicts of personal laws; conflicts of jurisdictions between civil and syariah courts and a myriad of other problems that have remain unresolved to this day. Islam the official religion will continue to be respected and its purity and sanctity restored when it no longer becomes the instrument of control and the object of political posturing.
For the young, we promise you a liberal education policy of a standard befitting the new world. The kind that rewards creativity. The kind that develops first world minds. We will not be hypocrites who send their children to the colleges in the West but devise a different curriculum for the ordinary rakyat.
Instead we will allow the world of academia to be managed by academics; and politicians will not be allowed to dictate how universities and schools should be run. Excellence and scholarship will be the barometer of success; not the number of graduates we churn out. We will protect you from your parents and the religious authorities who will marry you when you are still unable to drive a car or sign a contract.
Our economic policy will be one that will manage the wealth of the country with prudence and care. No projects of grandeur, but those that truly benefit the people. We support the effort of the prime minister to take Malaysia out of the middle income malaise by emphasising market friendly reforms; but to do this he must have the courage to dismantle the so called pro-bumiputera policies that inhibit true reforms.
We will work with the government to explain to the bumiputeras that long-term prosperity – the kind that comes through a high income economy – is the only guarantee for their own well being. And this long-term prosperity can only happen with the contribution of all Malaysians; who will do so when there are major structural and policy reforms in education and economic policies.
Sabah, Sarawak: Lynchpin of change
We will let the people of Sabah and Sarawak be in charge once again. You will have a chance to fill up the administration of the state with your people. The plunder by the rich and powerful must stop. We must have leaders who will prioritise the interest of the people rather than spreading out a map of Borneo and pin-point the forest reserve they want to carve out for themselves, for their families, and for their cronies.
The people in both Sabah and Sarawak should throw away the insulting notion that they are a fixed deposit, which essentially is means that no matter what, they will unthinkingly vote in a regime that has denied them for the best part of our independent years. They must not be afraid to make changes. In the coming years, Sabah and Sarawak will be the lynchpin of change for the larger Malaysia.
Sabahans and Sarawakians must have the courage to determine their own future. They must realise that they can determine the kind of country Malaysia will become. They can determine if Malaysia is to remain a cosmopolitan multi-ethnic democracy or being ruled by the politics of hegemony.
They can determine if Malaysia is to remain a free secular democracy or a tyranny of the majority. They can decide if Kota Kinabalu and Kuching are to be the centre of power or they can continue to be subservient to those in Putrajaya.
To this end, Kita will engage with the people of both states to find common ground so that the intent and spirit of the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 will be achieved. The wealth of the two states which in the 1970s made them amongst the most prosperous must be given back to them. The people of Sabah and Sarawak deserved their change of fortune. Kita will fight for them.
We recognise the contributions of the Chinese community to the development of this country. Although Yap Ah Loy is only a one-liner in our history books, the contributions are significant. However, we expect you to open up your businesses and your supply chain to others.
We know of your entrepreneurial spirit but expect you to support and collaborate with other Malaysians who are less gifted. The future of this country is inextricably linked to your success and your contributions. We will not bring you down so others can move up. You will be partners in the rebuilding of this country.
As for the Indian community, to the poor and the displaced among you, whether in the cities or from the estates, we will give lands for you to develop, like your Malay counterparts who got Felda to take care of them. Your descendants built the railways and the roads in our old Malaya. Your descendants were responsible for the successes of the rubber industry well before Independence.
Their efforts and their toils will not be forgotten. Unlike the MIC, we do not promise to make you millionaires; nor are we like the Pakatan government that give handouts in competition with BN. Instead, we will provide real and meaningful support.
Kita will alleviate corruption, regardless of where it emanates. The top brass of the police force and the Anti-Corruption Commission will once again be filled by men of integrity and honour. To complement this we will make sure the Attorney-General’s office will be accountable for their actions. It will no longer suffice for the attorney-general to say the case is closed without him explaining in Parliament why this is so.
Laws will be instituted to regulate political funding as this is the primary source of corruption. The civil service will be helmed by men and women who are prepared to be professionals in the exercise of their duties; those who understand their role as protector of public interest and who abhor playing surrogates to the politicians.
Moderate, democratic, liberal
This is the journey that we are embarking upon. This is the real change what we, that Kita, want to effect. And there are no doubt pressing questions on your mind. How will we do this? Can Kita deliver? What makes us any different from all those other political parties and their promises?
What separates us from the rest? We are straightforward, sincere and we are not afraid. We are certain and consistent in our political ideals and do not need to fudge. We do not say one thing in London but disclaim it later in Kuala Lumpur. We do not tell the Malays one thing and the other ethnic groups something else.
What makes us different are the three words: Moderate. Democratic. Liberal. Because we are a party of ideology. Rooted in a liberal philosophy, guided by democratic principles, and governed by moderation. We are not here to monopolise or control any group; we are here not to change the course of history that we don’t approve of.
We are here to make Malaysians live together and be at peace with one another. We do not believe in extreme positions. We reject the notion of opposing something for the sake of it, for the sake of political convenience, or even expedience.
We believe that there is room in Malaysia for the politics of idealism. What separates us from the rest is that we are in this for a long haul. Because this isn’t about garnering the most number of seats in the next election. Because this isn’t about trying to take over Putrajaya. This is about real change in the way we do business. Because what we have now is broken. Because what we have now just isn’t working.
And we realise that such a shift will take time. Political tsunamis do no last. They are a flash. They are a sudden and overwhelming convulsion. But the real test is what happens once the water has receded. Because real change does not come from a rash and reckless knee-jerk. Real change, lasting change, is evolutionary not revolutionary.
And that is why we are here today. To lay the foundation for a new hope for the future generation of Malaysians. To lay the foundation for the young that politics and public service can be made honourable once again. This is what Kita is.
I am certainly not a young man; and this is a journey that will transcend my lifetime. This is an undertaking not for me, but for you and your children and your children’s children. Because Kita is not just a political party, it is a movement, it is an ethos to be handed down. It is a beginning.
And so I hope you will join us. All of you prodigal daughters. All of you wayward sons. You custodians of our future. I hope you will come together to fulfil this dream, to live up to this ideal, to see through this glorious vision that is Malaysia.