Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM), a coalition of 28 non-governmental organiaations, concluded its 5th Annual General Meeting 2016 on 18 June 2016 at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.
Tan Yew Sing, former president of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, stepped down as the Chair of the coalition after two terms.
The AGM elected a new leadership team for the coalition with Zaid Kamaruddin, who is the deputy president of Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia, being elected as the new chair of GBM.
In the opening speech of the outgoing chair, Tan Yew Sing highlighted that Malaysia is currently suffering from two national crises: first, the deterioration of politicians’ integrity and credibility; second, the escalation of ethno-religious exclusion and disharmony.
He pointed out that the 1MDB scandal has made Malaysia infamous in the eyes of the world, with Malaysia ranked second among the five worst countries plagued by corruption by Time magazine. Despite the attorney general having already cleared the prime minister, the case is still being investigated by relevant authorities in several countries.
He said even the plans of the opposition joining hands with Mahathir and other Umno dissidents to overthrow Najib did not work, as the public took that as being driven by political expediency to grab power without a concrete agenda of institutional reforms.
Tan expressed his concerns that ethno-religious exclusion and disharmony issues have increased since GE13 with election outcome spun as a “Chinese tsunami” while the Bersih 4 peaceful rally was labelled as a challenge of the Chinese to the Malays’ political power.
He further pointed out that religion was also used as a tool to create walls between communities, citing “cross phobia” cases in Petaling Jaya and Langkawi, where a cross was forced to be removed and the roof of a building had to be reconstructed, while the introduction of “halal” trolleys and lifts further entrenched segregation between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Tan also criticised the fast-tracking of Hadi’s bill by a government minister as political opportunism, and it reflected a dangerous shift in the position of the Barisan Nasional government.
He said the bill posed a challenge to the secular nature of the country as enshrined in the Federal Constitution and in the 1963 Malaysia Agreement. He called for the 1963 Malaysia Agreement to be faithfully upheld, and no changes should be made without a comprehensive revisiting of the constitutional arrangement,
Tan urged the citizens of Malaysia to work hard to forge consensus on two major issues, namely Islamisation and affirmative action. He further called on civil society and the business community to provide leadership when and where politicians have failed. He cited examples among GBM members in Negeri Sembilan and Sungai Petani, Kedah, where Chinese schools and schools run by Ikram have come together to hold dialogues and joint cultural activities.
The AGM adopted a resolution calling for the start of a new and more mature politics in Malaysia: ethnic identities should be celebrated and religious beliefs should be fully respected and not exploited for any political mileage to divide the nation.
The list of newly elected executive council members of GBM is as follows:
Chair: Zaid Kamaruddin (Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia)
Deputy chair: Tan Yew Sing (Merdeka University Berhad)
Secretary: Seah Hong Yee (Engage)
Assistant secretary: Stanley Yong Yew Wei (Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall)
Treasurer: Raghavan Annamalai (Tamil Foundation)
Sevan Doraisamy (Suaram)
Leong Yik Loong (Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall)
Wong Piang Yow (Tindak Malaysia)
Prematilaka KD Serisena (Majlis Perundingan Malaysia Agama Buddha, Kritisian, Hindu, Sikh dan Tao (MCCBCHST))
Christopher Chong Eu Choong (Aliran)
Yow Lee Fung (LLG Cultural Development Centre)