Friday, March 14, 2008

Elections 2008 : A victory for racial unity

A victory for racial unity

The 12th General Elections was the defining moment in the history of our nation. It was a day when the opposition parties, by a rare show of unity among them, succeeded in denying the BN a 2/3 majority in parliament. It brought mixed feelings among the people and the various political parties. To the ruling BN it was a bitter victory that could not be celebrated but to the opposition a sweet success that was considered impossible just weeks before. Nevertheless in general it was a victory for democracy and Malaysians as a whole. Most significantly it was a victory for racial unity that is very much needed these days.

In fact Malaysians in general were encouraged by the unprecedented unity among the supporters of the various parties especially in the opposition. Who would have imagined Malays and non-Malays going out in large numbers to vote for the DAP and PAS respectively? Who would have imagined Malays and Chinese shouting “Makkal Sakthi” at the top of their voices as though it was their common battle cry? It was unthinkable before but this election had proved that racial integration is a reality and can be achieved if there is a political will. It was a show of courage and maturity of the people who proved that if the need arises they can unite to achieve even the impossible.

It was with great difficulties the coalition, comprising DAP,PKR and PAS was formed, which brought them the victory which was considered to be an impossible dream. PKR adviser,Anwar Ibrahim must be commended for his role in the establishment of the coalition and the racial unity that prevailed throughout the campaign. In fact during the final days before the election one could feel the air of goodwill and comradeship among the races which was never felt before. The ‘rocket’ and the ‘moon’ symbols that were taboo to the Malays and the Chinese respectively became their household favorites.

The people were willing to put aside their differences, rose above racial division, just to vote for change Unlike before the ethnicity of the candidate did not matter, they voted as long as he was from the opposition. The original aim was just to deny the BN a 2/3 majority in parliament but in the process they were pleasantly rewarded with 5 states to govern as well. The results were unbelievable and there much joy and jubilation. The people were rightly rewarded for their exceptional unity that was unprecedented since merdeka. We are familiar with the slogan ‘Unity is strength’ but it was not until Election Day did the people realize the real meaning of that strength. In fact if unity was strength, then unity in diversity was even greater strength.

However this unexpected reward put to test the goodwill and unity that was established before the elections and unfortunately they seem to be failing in that test so soon after the victory. The squabble for the post of Perak Menteri Besar and the EXCO seats is a disgrace and shame for what the coalition stood for - eradicating race politics. The people were united and ready to rid of race politics but apparently the politicians are not. Instead of capitalizing on the prevalent positive mood of the people to further promote integration, they shamelessly succumbed to selfish racial interests.

The leaders must realize that this time around the people had risen above race and religion to vote for the opposition. The overwhelming victory for the DAP,PKR and PAS is due to the votes from all races,otherwise was no way they could have beaten the mighty BN. In return it is only fair the politicians keep their promise to stay together as one in thick and thin to serve all the people regardless of race and religion and strive to eradicate race politics once and for all. If the need arises, they should put the interest of the people above those of their parties as in a democratic system the people are the ones who matter most. The voters not the voted are the real masters.

The most important prerequisite for the coalition to succeed is mutual trust, which sad to say is badly lacking. Unless they consciously cultivate this trust, the coalition would be heading for doom. The various parties may have serious differences in ideology but that should not be translated into mistrust. How can the coalition develop into future force when PAS and DAP cannot sit down to discuss their commonness and differences?

The Malays,Chinese and Indians,Muslims and non-Muslims are here to stay and as citizens we must adapt ourselves to live together in peace and harmony. This is a must not an option. That may need some compromise on all parties and whether we like it or not that is the only way.

We have lived together for 50 years and during this period we have attained many changes in our lives. Each community had acquired certain rights and characteristics which cannot be questioned anymore. These include the position of the Malay rulers, special rights of Malays, the status of Islam and Bahasa Malaysia. The Malays are the predominant race in the country.

There is no point in going back to the sixties but it would be wiser to move forward from here. The elders must make way for the younger generation to re-negotiate a new charter among the races to craft a new future for them as Malaysians where not race and religion, but national loyalty and merits alone, will be the determining factors in the availability of opportunities to excel.

This election has revealed that the younger generation of Malaysians has attained the maturity, intellect and wisdom to do away with race politics once and for all. Let not the politicians ruin this opportunity that the recent electoral victory has created. We detested the concept of Ketuanan Melayu before,therefore let us not work towards creating Ketuanan Cina or Ketuanan India but Ketuanan Malaysia.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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