Earlier this week, a PKR leader told FMT that Malay support for the ruling federal administration and opposition is split down the middle. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source reportedly said that 25% of Malay support is with PH and BN, and another 25% is with Bersatu and PAS. And the remainder 50% are fence sitters.
The PKR worry is that PN will increase their race and religious propaganda leading up to the upcoming state elections, and their fear is that this might swing neutrals to PN.
Why would race and religious propaganda swing neutrals to PN? And why, even in 2023, are we still hung-up about race and religion? Isn’t the economy, harmony, and global competitiveness the real consideration before deciding who to vote for?
Please don’t get me wrong. Your vote is your choice. It is an unalienable right for every Malaysian citizen to choose their elected representative. Just like you must never give up your choice to determine your religion or even your choice not to believe.
But when we choose the people who will lead our states and therefore the nation to economic prosperity, harmony, and safety, shouldn’t our consideration be based on a track record, a manifesto of thoughtful policies, and their ability to bring together a multi-ethnic people?
Isn’t the choice for a decent Malaysia devoid of race and religion? Or are we saying that prosperity, harmony, and safety are the purview of only one race? Going by the rhetoric of some politicians from PAS and other Malay-based parties, they preach that if you select a person of a different race to yourself that person will not fight as hard for you.
This is such an illogical narrative.
I am 52 years old, and from birth, all my prime ministers have been Malay. I expect and believe that although I am a Malaysian whose race on his birth certificate is stated as “Bangsa India,” current prime minister Anwar Ibrahim will work as hard for me, as he would for Malaysians of his race.
It seems that we have a systemic problem in our country. Politicians like to divide and rule. If we keep being fearful of other races, the ultimate winners will be power-greedy politicians. And surely, we all recognise that a divided Malaysia is a weak Malaysia.
Over many decades, the institutional prejudices that successive governments have propagated with quota systems, preferential treatment, and exclusive rights, continue to embolden narrow-minded politicians to stoke the fires of racial intolerance.
How can we trust candidates and their leaders in the upcoming elections who do not focus on strengthening the ties that bind and unite us? Politicians will use our inherent fear to enhance our interracial differences in order to win power. Most of them have a Machiavellian streak in them.
They use this tactic because we keep falling for it. Racism is alive and kicking in Malaysia. We like to console ourselves that in former days, Malaysia was a real melting pot nation.
Today though, we have to admit that we isolate ourselves within our respective races. Why? Because our politicians work hard at keeping us divided, for them to retain power.
Politicians will jump into bed with each other when it suits them. I do not need to list out the number of times they have done this in the past 20 years. Everyone has been in cahoots with everyone else, from PAS and DAP to Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim.
As always, they will simply conjure up very “believable” justifications for their action. All with the belief that their sycophants will influence the public at large to accept whatever their latest “fairy-tale” is.
We know that PAS will go on a campaign to demonise DAP, and will ramp up the rhetoric about non-Malays usurping power in the lead up to the state elections. This time, they will be joined by Bersatu and a “party-less” Mahathir Mohamad. PN will wheel out their best orators to influence the voting public by spreading this fear.
On the other side, PH with their new “bestie” BN, will beat the drums of fighting corruption and say that they’ll bring to justice those who mismanaged the nation in the past 10 to 15 years. They too, will wheel out thumping speakers for this narrative. Albeit having a deputy prime minister with multiple corruption charges himself, might make their drums sound a little hollow.
The mudslinging, and race-baiting will reach a fever pitch. And then we will vote. But to what end?
After the election, voters will be left to pick up the pieces and get on with life. Economic prosperity, harmony, and safety will remain worrisome, but politicians would have done what is expedient to grab power for themselves and their cronies.
So, shouldn’t we be growing out of this “race-politics” mindset?
Malaysians need to realise that race-baiting is a really pathetic piece of propaganda used and recycled by politicians who are bankrupt of workable solutions for our problems. Because only those who have no real desire or plan to uplift us as a nation, will keep falling back on this despicable racial rhetoric.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.