A lot of people must have been amused when they read a Sinar Harian article last week in which former PM Mahathir Mohamad was quoted as saying that his new party would fight money politics. Many would say that money politics was never an issue in Malaysia before he became prime minister.
In the interview, he urged Malaysians to support the new party so that they could contribute to the fight against corruption.
Corruption has indeed brought this nation to its knees, but how helpful is Mahathir’s way of fighting it? He proposes to overthrow an allegedly corrupt leadership through the formation of another political party representing only bumiputeras.
Remember the NEP, which was supposed to benefit bumiputeras? It had an expiration date, but Mahathir allowed it to continue beyond that date.
When he resigned in 2003, he wept, saying he had failed to change the Malay mindset. He complained that they continued to be dependent on their crutches.
Mahathir failed to accept that he took away Malay pride when they were handed just about everything on a silver platter. Nearly unlimited job opportunities led to a bloated civil service. Job openings in the civil service and the accompanying financial perks, like access to bank loans, meant that few Malays were attracted to the private sector, where they could have shone if they worked hard.
When you are bereft of pride, what do you do? You are not used to working hard, but you still want the good things in life. So you join a political party which rewards failure by taking from the taxpayer to fund your lifestyle.
Now that Mahathir is in the midst of forming a bumi-only party, will those who see him as their saviour think hard about why they want reform and how they think they can achieve it?
To reform, we must reject race-based politics and race-based parties. We must dare to go to ceramahs and demand answers from the politicians who claim to act in our best interests. We must speak up for ourselves, our families and our community.
If we do not learn from our past, we are condemned to repeat our mistakes.
Malaysia needs another race-based political party like we need a hole-in-the-head.
Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.
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