with thanks to FMT a bit long winded but nevertheless a good read!
Redundant race based politics
July 16, 2012
FMT LETTER: From Hema Krishnan, via e-mail
Tun Dr Mahathir opined that the imminent 13th General Election would be all about race rather than issues that matter. I beg to differ. This time around, the spawn of youngsters, urbanites, intellectuals and sentient voters would determine the polls result. And, their votes would not be based on ethnic factors, but by sound, cogent judgement on the respective track records and the performance as well as the professional ethics and maturity the of contending political parties and politicians.
To date, Malaysians are generally multi-lingual, some, able to speak more than four languages. We are indeed a multi-cultural and multi-religous society and lead varying norms of life. I believe that the divide line is not marked by the disparity of languages, cultures, norms and religions.
The divide is only created by the ruling coalition, with Mahathir taking ethnocentrism to a whole new level when Malaysia was under his tyrannical, vile, racist thumb spanning more than two decades, threatening to die in his boots. Now, as an octogenerian, not only he is sticking his nose around, he makes a cretin look like a savant and vice versa through unwarranted public proclamations.
This divide and rule concept was expediently applied by the British to lord over Malaya and Mahathir perfected it for very selfish reasons so that he can stay in power and plunder while the people are one dimensionally preoccupied with racial prejudice.
It’s been nothing but race aspect as trumpcards for the present day ruling regime, pun, intended, incumbents, mainly divided into Umno, MCA and MIC to stay in power via the brainwashing of the rakyat that without a minister belonging to a particular race based political party championing his or her race, all would be lost.
In that case, it wouldn’t be erronous to say that the rolling up together, the merging of the three major political parties under the coalition of BN has miserably failed to capture the Malaysian spirit.
Things are changing, slowly but surely and all the right reasons to renounce racial and misogyny nuances which are being portrayed by BN via it’s offshoots by the selective and relentless harassments and wild allegations towards Ambiga, Lim Guan Eng and Maria Chin which are, collectively, having the Malays, Chinese, Indians and others riled up as Malaysians.
Right minded Malaysians are furious for the mistreatment of Ambiga because like her, Bersih is colour blind; it’s a shared aspiration and vision and Malaysians from all walks of life can relate to it. The testimony is the massive turnout of Malaysians in all 3 of Bersih rallies.
While MIC have stepped up in criticising the Seri Gading MP’s statement devolved into question on it would be politically correct to have Ambiga sentenced to the gallows for treason at our King when her only and noble intention is to put a full stop to rigged elections reeking of shenanigans, it rings hollow amongst politically knowledgable Malaysian Indians who are taking Vell Paari and Palanivel’s voice out with a pinch of salt, so to speak.
Many Indians have bones to pick with MIC’s bigwigs and the same is true with Umno and MCA’s honchos, with the respective races they claim to represent, protect and champion, creating an internal dissension of sorts which would be the monkey wrench for unity within the coalition. This is the case scenario that is having Malaysians highly dissatisfied and outraged.
Whilst Pak Samad got glaringly left out from brickbats for being Bersih’s co chairperson, Maria Chin and Ambiga got slapped by lawsuits, with the latter further being subject to reprehensible, relentless, incessant hostility both in public and private life.
One can argue that Pak Samad is being left off the hook because of his age and his reputation as a National Laureate, abreast with Usman Awang is a sanctity in its own right, one that must be preserved at all cost, his race, not being a matter of consideration . At the same time though, Ambiga is not a nobody, again, race not taken into consideration; she is an international icon, abreast with Aung San Su Kyi.
In March 2009, Ambiga became one of the eight recipients of the 2009 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. In the ceremony, the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented: “Ambiga Sreenevasan, has a remarkable record of accomplishment in Malaysia.
“She has pursued judicial reform and good governance, she has stood up for religious tolerance, and she has been a resolute advocate of women’s equality and their full political participation. She is someone who is not only working in her own country, but whose influence is felt beyond the borders of Malaysia. And it is a great honour to recognise her and invite her to the podium.”
This honourary event received next to nothing in terms of coverage and attention from the mainstream media. The event was figuratively swallowed whole and when questioned, the downright lame and ludicruous excuse was that Ambiga was dressed inappropriately, that she was clad in a saree and didn’t cover her head with a ‘tudung’ (hijab) Pray tell, are we living under Taliban rule?
Now, we have three races in question and the discrimination is held out for all and sundry to see and judge. Racism gnaws peace and prosterity from within; it wouldn’t foster balance, maturity and development. Instead, it breeds ill-will and prejudice and herd mentality, impeding human, economy, society and the physical augmentation of a country.
Racism is advantageous for few and a great disadvantage for the rest and the rest is simply fed-up. It is high time our politicians play by this veracity which is now being upholded by many Malaysians instead of race based political scare tactics.
Next up, high profile scandals of ministers involving billions of RM swindled and embezzled and the punishment for the daylight robberies being mere slaps on their respective wrists. Why are we having ministers known to everyone as corrupt and nothing but stealing scumbags still being at large?
They should be thrown behind bars for the violations of laws that they have commited. Is the police aid and abet to these atrocities and lawlessness? The son of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nazri, Mohamad Nedim who was charged with assault of a security supervisor at the Mont Kiara condominium earlier this year has gone unpunished, with Najib remaining eerily silent on the controversial issue.
This clearly indicates that the Malaysian judiciary system has gone to the dogs and draconian laws are the order of the day in Malaysian courts where BN ministers and their next of kin can buy their way out from detention sentences. This would be a factor to be mulled over come polling day, not race.
Now, let’s look at Najib’s sloganeering of 1Malaysia. It is nothing but a hyped up facade put up for Malaysians to lap up unquestioningly. If Najib thinks his popularity would increase if he introduces such a sugarcoated policy, he is wrong because the focus and the decisive voting factor would be on the implementation of the policy at all levels, not on empty promulgations and measly handouts under the brand of 1Malaysia.
The poor and needy might see these goodies galore masterminded Najib as boons but there is no reason for them to hail Najib as some sort of a god. It’s his job as a politician, to address the rakyat’s predicaments even if the best comes to a period of respite for the people.
That is why we voted him into power in the first place and a pressing need has come to remind him and his subordinates of the fact all the time; it must be drilled in into them until the democratic pillar seeps into their subconscious mind. That is what sacks of rice, cans of sardines, packs of instant noodles and RM 500 would amount to, a temporary relief, not a permanent solution.
What needs to be realised is Najib is playing the tried and tested “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” formula. The catch is, he expects the rakyat to scratch his back for five years while he scratches the rakyat backs only once in five years, and sadly, dumbed down rural folk are blind to this reality. This would be an issue to consider when voters cast their votes this time around, at least for city slickers and netizens, not race.
The escalating cost of living is also bugging Malaysians especially the low income class. Burdened by ever rising price of goods, some resort to crime for fast cash while others struggle like anything to make ends meet. Malaysia has become an expensive country to live in; we are simply not generating enough money to sustain our livelihoods while banckrupcy rate is going on the rise instead of pay rise.
While the majority of Malaysians put honest effort to make a living, some political quarters amass gross wealth which raises many dubious eyebrows considering the short period of time in the gain of such obscene riches while other Malaysians are swamped by adverse needliness. This is an another issue that would be pondered upon by voters when casting their votes this time around rather than race.
If Najib is really sincere in espousing the essence of 1Malaysia, he must, foremost, abolish the quota system for tertiary education and replace it with meritocracy system, give equal chance for non-Malays in public service employment, harshly castigate those who bring about racial tension, ban Interlok instead of banning Irshad Manji’s book, fund vernacular schools proportionally and expunge the “Keturunan” (race) in governmental documents and supersede it with ‘Warganegara Malaysia/Bukan Warganegara Malaysia (Malaysian Citizen/Not Malaysian Citizen).
What is in total discrepancy with the 1Malaysia slogan is the breaking down of sub races of Malays, Chinese and Indians when applying for seats in public tertiary education. Isn’t this a direct subversion of 1Malaysia that Najib blares wherever he goes to dole out peanuts for the rakyat? Najib not only can’t effectively apply 1Malaysia concept, he won’t because race based politics is the very root that ensures BN’s survival.
1Malaysia is only a namesake, nothing but a rhetoric; it doesn’t have the substance and the ooomph factor that would benefit Malaysians as a whole in the long run. It is merely Najib’s legacy that would be forgotten once he steps down like Vision 2020 was for Mahathir and Islam Hadari for Pak Lah. We can see the flippancy of our preceding prime ministers through these past and present status quo.
Race based politics is like a chewing gum which has lost its flavour. What do you expect? We’ve been chewing the same gum for 55 years! It has not only become tasteless, it has becme substance-less and would be dead as a dodo in upcoming times.
Unless BN comes up with another strategy to win the votes of colour blind, intelligent, educated, critical thinking Malaysians, it is as good as becoming the opposition or banished to political exile considering the skeletons they have stocked up in their closets. It is time to spit the old chewing gum out and chew on a new gum and repeat the process over and over again, democratically. We have nothing to lose but all to gain.