PETALING JAYA: An analyst has urged Pakatan Harapan (PH) to up its game in tackling the many thorny issues that have landed on its lap since it came to power six months ago.
Universiti Malaya associate professor Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the way PH was handling issues such as the Sri Maha Mariamman temple fracas in Seafield was still not satisfactory.
He said the disturbances would not have occurred if the consent judgment obtained had been adhered to from the beginning.
“Regardless of who is in government, they must remember that the rule of law trumps everything else. It’s not right to play politics and play to ethnic or religious sentiments.
“The way PH is handling this issue isn’t quite up to mark. For instance, the mastermind of the riots on Nov 26 has yet to be identified. And those responsible for the assault of fireman Muhammad Adib have yet to be arrested,” he told FMT.
He warned that the authorities needed to “come down hard”, otherwise similar incidents would occur and possibly become bigger.
He said the temple fracas and the anti-ICERD rally which will be held on Saturday were classic examples of how ethnic and religious issues remained a sensitive issue.
“It is like a ticking time bomb. The problem is, when it involves a certain ethnic group, they tend to react very quickly.
“In the case of the temple fracas, it started from a consent judgment obtained in court. Meaning to say, it was never a political, ethnic or religious issue to begin with.”
The problem, according to him, lay in the fact that some were not adhering to the rule of law or respecting the court decision.
He said there were also those who acted rashly, without considering the implications of their actions on a multiracial, multi-religious country like Malaysia.
While Malaysians in general were mature enough not to be taken in by such incidents, he said, there were others who could be easily provoked.
He cautioned that if PH did not properly address such issues, racial riots such as those of May 13, 1969 could happen again. This time, he said, they would be compounded by problems of poverty, unemployment and income inequality among the various races.
“At this juncture, PH has still not quite addressed such issues efficiently or to the maximum. PH needs a unity minister with more integrity, to lead the way in strengthening integration and unity among Malaysians.”
He also stressed the need to reduce the income gap among the different ethnic groups.
“The ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ concept we dream of is still a long way off from being achieved. There must be political will to repair race relations before things get worse.”