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Happy 15th Anniversary KEADILAN

15 years ago today, KEADILAN was founded as the Parti Keadilan Nasional. 15 years ago, Malaysians disgusted by the sacking and imprisonment of Anwar Ibrahim stood up to be counted. 15 years ago, Malaysians said enough was enough to the corruption, abuse of power and racialism that was destroying our country.

KEADILAN has come a long way since then and Malaysia is undoubtedly a different place. From a party which has been variously dismissed as a personality cult or a mere fad, KEADILAN has proven its staying power. Through the 2003 merger with Parti Rakyat Malaysia, the party’s struggle has been cemented with the history of the progressive movement in our country.

With multiracial elected representatives in every state of the Federation—it has emerged as a truly national force.The party, through its elected representatives and countless volunteers continue to be the voice of moderate Malaysia through our work in Parliament, State Governments, the State Assemblies and the party machinery.

We continue to stand up for the dispossessed in Malaysian society. We continue to seek to meet the aspirations of young Malaysians for a better future for all citizens of this country. Our alliance with our partners in Pakatan Rakyat—with the DAP and PAS—continue to strengthen despite repeated, hysterical predictions of its imminent demise.

Nevertheless, many challenges still remain for us and we would be foolish to assume we can rest on our laurels.

For one thing, the recent conviction of Anwar Ibrahim has demonstrated that our so-called “transformative” government is still not above abusing the legal system for its political ends especially against its most feared political opponent.

Moreover, the misuse of race and religion to denigrate the legitimate political opposition of this country has not ceased but in fact grown.

KEADILAN has revolutionised Malaysia’s political landscape by holding direct party elections. These are always lively affairs and 2014 will be no different.

I am sure that every candidate who has presented him or herself for April’s polls loves both their country and party. And I am sure they will do their best for both regardless of the election’s outcome.

But Malaysian voters are right to want to hold KEADILAN and the other political parties to higher standards. Like it or not, the people are the boss and all politicians must bow to this or risk being voted out.

Malaysians have the right to expect more from its leaders.

KEADILAN—which prides itself on being a big tent, one in which all Malaysians who want reform can rally under—must take heed of this. We must improve our efforts to serve all Malaysians. This is especially important given the continued failings of the Najib Razak government to control the cost of living, combat the slide in the education system and fight crime as well as corruption.

At the same time, KEADILAN must do more to expand Pakatan’s voter base, by reaching out to the rural areas—including those in Sabah and Sarawak. The two states remain marginalised but BN continues to maintain a stranglehold on the two states.

Moreover, we must do more to champion the rakyat who are being cowered and bullied by right-wing forces bent on damaging Malaysia’s hard-won harmony.

But most importantly of all, KEADILAN must be united. KEADILAN must come together.

It is natural for there to be disagreements in any party or organisation.

At the end of the day, we must not lose sight of our ultimate goal, which is to change Malaysia for the better and ensure justice for all. Party members must prove to Malaysians that it can be trusted to govern, that its ultimate agenda is nothing more and nothing less than to safeguard the public good.

The leaders we choose signal to the wider public the sort of leadership we are offering to the country as a whole.

We need team players rather than prima donnas. You cannot claim to be working for the people if you cannot work with your own party.

April’s elections are our chance to show our fellow citizens that we can be a cohesive, disciplined and inclusive force. Nothing short of this will do.

The first 15 years of KEADILAN’s history has been marked by struggle and triumph.

There is no reason to assume that the next 15 will be any different.

However, with wisdom, patience and courage—KEADILAN can and will move Malaysia forward.