KUALA LUMPUR: An academic has criticised political rhetoric that pits the Malays against the Chinese, saying this is feeding the Malay fear of having to relive the experience of being colonised.
The Malays don’t want a repetition of the past, said Maszlee Malik, a lecturer at the International Islamic University Malaysia.
“They worry the Chinese will colonise them and they will lose everything,” he said in an address to an audience of about 200 at a DAP Hari Raya open house on Saturday.
He said the different races in the country must engage one another to fight this fear among the Malays.
“We should talk to each other and understand one another,” he said. “We don’t want to see a more polarised society.”
DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang also spoke on the subject, accusing Umno of heightening the fear with its rhetoric.
“There’s an attempt to polarise the country,” he said. “The powers that be think the only way to save themselves in the next general election is to make the election a contest between Malays and Chinese.”
He complained that he and his party had been the main targets of the racial rhetoric, but he said there was hope that the attacks would be blunted, “with former Umno president and former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad now on our side”.
“After Mahathir said we are prepared to work together for the future of the country although we were once enemies, I sense that there is even greater friendliness towards me from the Malay people I meet.”
Tony Pua, DAP’s publicity chief, spoke of the possibility of a “Malay tsunami” in the coming general election.
He said the introduction of the GST and the resultant rise in the cost of living were among the reasons for the Malay shift towards the opposition.
He added that the presence of Mahathir and PPBM in the opposition was also contributing to the shift.
A recent nationwide survey conducted by PKR-linked Invoke found that Malay support for the opposition bloc and BN were almost neck and neck.