Malaysia becoming increasingly polarised? Analysts have differing views

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SHAH ALAM: The political situation in the country is getting increasingly racial and religious as the next general election (GE14) nears, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan warned today.

He said this posed “grave” repercussions for the people after GE14 is over.

“Whoever wins, I’m not optimistic about what will happen after the GE14.

“I’m worried the nation will end up getting hurt,” he said at a forum on Pakatan Harapan (PH) and BN at Kumpulan Media Karangkraf here today.

He claimed the Election Commission’s (EC) latest redelineation proposal would increasingly segment voters based on their race, if passed.

“I regret having to say this but I worry that, without realising it, we are heading towards polarisation, not harmonisation.”

Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) lecturer Professor Azizuddin Mohd Sani
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) lecturer Professor Azizuddin Mohd Sani

However, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) lecturer Professor Azizuddin Mohd Sani, who was present, did not agree with his views.

Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) lecturer Professor Azizuddin Mohd Sani[/caption]

He said while it was the nature of politics to segregate people, he did not think this would lead to an increasingly polarised Malaysia.

“This only needs to become a worry if people become too attached and too emotional about their political standing.”

He said voters needed to be reminded to remain rational.

He said right wing politics was a common occurrence all over the world, although he admitted that Malaysia was one of the few countries that institutionalised racial politics.

He said polarisation was not a big worry in countries which had a large middle-class group like Malaysia.

“In Malaysia, the economy takes precedence and we use the economy to settle people’s problems.

“To completely eradicate racial politics in the country would be very difficult but I’m optimistic that as time progresses, Malaysia will become increasingly harmonised and not polarised.”

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Maszlee Malik
International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Maszlee Malik

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Maszlee Malik said it was a fallacy to think that politicians could fix the issue of racial polarisation.

“I do not put any hope that relations between races will get any better with politicians.

“Generally, all politicians are concerned about is scoring political points.

“We, the people, need to realise that strengthening harmony is our job.

“Polarisation only happens because we do not interact with each other enough. We need engagement, we need to talk to each other.

“We are the ones who need to strengthen harmony.”