I am sure you receive a lot of messages today. I choose to send a public message like this because we have a responsibility to be open and transparent on issues that matter most to the public.
While the news (of groups of UMNO MPs leaving the party) has been around for a while, it still came as a shock. I understand how demoralising it would have been to you and your colleagues in UMNO because we went through a similar ordeal when it happened to KEADILAN in 2010.
I will be accused of being a sell-out, just because I sound empathetic.
The truth is: no one who loves his party (and what the party stands for) can stomach MPs (who were elected on the party’s ticket) leaving the party in such a manner. The reason for leaving was not policy differences or anything to do with principles; they went for convenience. Life as opposition MPs feels so hard, having been government MPs for so long.
I pen this letter (with all its flamboyance that comes with it) because I feel the need to express some sort of solidarity, that it is in the best interest of the nation for good and honest people to remain in UMNO.
Since 1998, I did not fight for a mere change of government. I wanted to see a robust 2-party system:
A government that is fair to a competent opposition, and an opposition that is competent to act as a check-and-balance that it deserves to be in government.
Malaysia needs a competent opposition bench that can articulate issues (on behalf of the rakyat), an opposition that is made up of honest, wise and sincere people.
A government that is too strong because the opposition is too weak will eventually become corrupt. We have gone through the experience for 61 years.
UMNO’s defeat (no matter how painful it was to its leaders and supporters) gives it a second chance to embrace reforms. I pray that UMNO accepts the defeat with humility and understands why people rejected it so that UMNO can go back to the drawing board to rebuild a party that will truly serve the rakyat.
I disagree with any action, decision or attempts to annihilate the opposition (whichever party it may be). I may disagree with the opposition’s opinion, action or positions in many issues, but I appreciate the value of an effective opposition in a democratic society.
The next few days, weeks and months may appear to be bleak for you and your colleagues who are pushing for genuine reforms in UMNO.
But, if you work steadfastly to serve the public with integrity, the so-called exodus of the (former) UMNO MPs will only strengthen UMNO.
Provided: those who remain must be God-fearing leaders who reject corruption totally and work towards an inclusive Malaysia that builds (not that divides). UMNO will thrive if those who stay become progressive advocates who speak the truth on behalf of the public.
You are one of the leading lights of the progressive voice in the country. Many young people remain hopeful you will play a pivotal role to promote a new political culture that can unite us in spite of all our differences.
For that reason, I hope you will remain in UMNO and helps UMNO to become an effective opposition.
I will be cursed with profanities by friends and enemies alike, for saying this. But that is why we are who we are because we cherish the freedom to call a spade a spade.
I pray that all will eventually be well for you.