Monday, April 25, 2005

The Politics of Race

Below is the excerpt of (kononnya, more like copy & paste :P) this piece of antogonising writing that I can totally agree with. Let's hope you can relate to what's in my mind through the years. Read it with an open heart.

As a Malaysian, there is nothing more I detest than the politics of race. I am not a member of any political party in Malaysia because each seeks in one way or the other to represent the interests of its communal constituency: for UMNO and PAS, the Malay Muslim community; for the MCA, Gerakan and the DAP the Chinese community; for the MIC, PPP and other smaller parties the Indian community. Over in Sabah and Sarawak, the politics of communal politics is also practiced in full earnest.

Ever since the late 1940s and the 1950s when UMNO, the MCA and the MIC were first formed, they found convincing support from the various races and together they achieved electoral victories that led to independence and government under the Alliance government. It seemed the concept worked, until 1959, when UMNO in rejecting the new leadership of the MCA choose to nominate the old leadership to Parliamentary seats in the general election and began a pattern of dominating the MCA and the MIC. The lie in the A-lie-ance coalition of the 60s was the impression of an equality of partnership in its origins and foundation when in reality, the grouping was completely and totally dominated by UMNO.

This domination of the Alliance by UMNO resulted in the non-Malay communities seeking protection under other parties. Although new non-communal parties were formed, they took up representation of interests of the non-Malay communities who saw the MCA and the MIC as being ineffective. This led to the polarisation of Malaysian politics which resulted in the electoral gains for the non-Malay oriented parties and losses for the UMNO-dominated Alliance in 1969. Malay political supremacy threatened; the racial riots were sparked.

The National Front soon formed thereafter included the victorious opposition parties of the Gerakan, the PPP and the PMIP, now known as PAS. It seemed initially liked an across-the-board type of coalition representing all the races in the country with consensus as its philosophy and approach in response to the racial polarisation of the late 60s. The new component parties soon found out that by joining the National Front they were weakened under the domination of UMNO; PAS was forced to leave in 1977; PPP disappeared overnight as a major political force and the wings of the Gerakan were clipped, domesticating it completely. Each party that joined the National Front saw its constituency eroded as in the 1970s and in the 1980s, the interests of UMNO; the dominant party in the coalition was advanced first by the implementation of the NEP and then the NDP in the 1990s. Any party that tried to challenge it found that its position was untenable and like the PBS, had to leave and remain in the opposition.

The longer the National Front remained in power, the greater UMNO had a hold over its component parties; dispensing its token Ministerial positions, coveted seats on various statutory Boards and other vestiges of its power. In the later part of the 80s and in the 90s, the members and associates of the minor parties in the National Front were accorded preferred treatment in the allocation of contracts and sub-contracts from, projects and partnerships with the members and associates of the dominant party UMNO. ...

In the meantime, picking up the discontented and disaffected in Malaysian politics were the other opposition parties; PAS (and Semangat 46 for a time) for the Malay Muslim; DAP for the non-Malay and PBS for the Kadazan voters. So what we have in our country is the compartmentalisation of race in politics and in political representation. A leader in UMNO earns his stripes by championing Malay dominance; he graduates to national leadership and practices Malay leadership of the political dwarfs within the National Front for UMNO. When the economy is favourable (the cake is growing); he can afford to be a generous Malaysian leader and distributes his favours to all and sundry. The opposition parties loses ground because the component parties representing the non-Malays in the National Front for UMNO are seen to be doing their work.

When the economy is unfavourable (the cake is shrinking) he has to retreat to his position of Malay dominance and take care of the Malays first as is what is happening now. The opposition parties gain ground because the component parties representing the non-Malays are not performing. During this time UMNO uses whatever resources it has to keep its members and keep PAS at bay.

So the pendulum swings back and forth, back and forth within the confines of the zero-sum game of communally compartmentalised politics. More for you means less for me. Less for you means more for me. But always, because of its incumbency, UMNO wins; its gerry- mandered constituencies ensure that it has the most votes in the most (usually rural) constituencies. In borderline cases, it has the advantages of the Election Commission registration process and postal votes of police and military personnel to make the difference. This is usually enough to win a simple majority; by the way, most of the MCA and MIC seats are heavily populated by Malay voters; so it is really UMNO delivering the victories in those seats and not the MCA or the MIC. To deliver a two-thirds majority so that it can freely amend the constitution and do all other things to further its objectives, National Front for UMNO ensures that the economy is booming when it calls an election. ...

The sense of euphoria will be fueled by the national propaganda machine made up of the all-important Ministry of Information, the "independent" local media and an advertising campaign orchestrated by a particular ad man. It is crystal clear that the general elections in Malaysia are stacked heavily in favour of the incumbent National Front for UMNO. With the majority of seats in UMNO hands and in effect in Malay hands, the non-Malays play musical chairs with their representatives in Parliament; alternating between the non-Malay parties in the National Front for UMNO and the opposition parties. ...

As a Malaysian, there is nothing more I detest than the politics of race. As a non-Malay I am forced to vote for the Opposition non-Malay parties which have no chance of coming to power because the arithmetic is not on their side. More important, they are perceived to be communal by the Malays and if I support them, I am considered anti-Malay by the Malays.There is no way I could appeal to the Malays to join my cause.

As a Malay, I am forced to vote for either the incumbent party in power represented by the National Front for UMNO or the Opposition Malay parties which have no chance of coming to power because the arithmetic is also not on their side. More important, PAS and others like it is perceived to be communal by the non-Malays and if I support them, I am considered anti-non-Malay by the non-Malays. There is no way I could appeal to the non-Malays to join my cause.

As a Malaysian, I am concerned about why I am forced into this Hobson's choice of choosing the National Front for UMNO as a Government either way I vote. As a Malaysian, I am concerned about why I am forced to be either a Malay or a non-Malay when I vote; supporting the party of one race, means opposition for the party of the other race. As a Malaysian. I am concerned why our country is still in the tight grip of the racial politics, more than fifty years after it first surfaced.

...fighting for the right of individuals is currently still caught within the contradictory values of Malaysian communally compartmentalised politics which has not yet made the transition into the intellectual phase which is pre-dominated by the values of individual rights and freedoms. This is a tragedy, because the reform movement may die stillborn. Unless Malaysians themselves are ready and begin to discard the politics of race and adopt the politics of ideas.

As a Malaysian, I think that the National Front for UMNO has stayed too long and led by leaders that has become too self-serving, too ready to argue that its "ends" justify its unwholesome and unacceptable means. Yet it stays in power because we are all trapped within its politics of race. ...

Yet as a Malaysian I do not think that UMNO will so readily give up its hold on the Malay constituency and by extension its hold on power on its National Front and on the country. The last time any UMNO leader tried that was Dato Onn Jaafar in 1949, but he was branded as a "traitor to the Malays and the country" for advocating that UMNO admit non-Malays into the party first as associate members and then suggesting in 1950 that UMNO be renamed the United Malayan National Organisation. Given the ignominy that Dato Onn suffered as a consequence in spite of his Ghandian vision, no UMNO President in the forseeable future will dare propose that UMNO be renamed the United Malaysian National Organisation.


Now did u understand that?!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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