Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Opting for multiracial politics

Race based politics obselete

At the 62nd Anniversary of Umno,its president,Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, called on its members to counter the notion that they are arrogant and corrupt.Instead of heeding his call that is apt and timely and trying to win back their hearts with proactive reforms, Umno is trying to use all forms of tactics, including racial, to break-up the Opposition that is promoting a multiracialism. Its attempts to resurrect senstive issues of the past are very disturbing and go against the aspirations of the rakyat themselves.

Some of the issues that resurfaced recently are the special rights of Malays and loyalty the Rulers. Due to some losses in the recent polls,Umno claims that the special rights of the Malays are being threatened by the non-Malays. This is absurd as we all know there is no way anyone can pose such threats as these rights and special privileges are enshrined in the Federal Constitution and accepted by all races. It would be unfair for Umno to harp on these imaginary external threats to just garner the support of the Malays.

The call for action against DAP Chairman Karpal Singh for his comments on the rights of the Perak Sultan,is an attempt to imply that the non-Malays are disrespectful and not loyal to the Malay Rulers. This is not only utter nonsense but unfair and malicious. The Institution of the Monarchy has become part of the Malaysian culture, for Malays and non-Malays alike. Loyalty to the Rulers is a provision in the Rukun Negara and accepted by all. History has shown that the non-Malays have also turned to the Rulers for help, pardon and protection of their fundamental rights from time to time.

It is wrong for Umno to question the loyalty of non-Malay Malaysians after fifty years of working together in building the nation. We did that, not as Malays, Chinese or Indians, but as Malaysians and the people have demonstrated this unprecedented unity by rising above their racial divide to vote for multiracial system of governance. It is the duty of the political parties to ensure that these aspirations of the people are achieved. Politicians must not destroy what the people have achieved all these years together.

It is ironical that when we are outside the country we are identified as Malaysians but within our own country we are constantly being reminded of our ethnic origins. It is time for us to change the mindset to accept each other as Malaysians and work to create leaders who can represent the interests of all the races.

The only way to eradicate this race-based politics is to open up ethnic-based parties to all races to become truly multiracial where everyone’s rights are guaranteed as provided for by the constitution. There should not be a need for any particular community to ‘fight’ for its basic rights as they should be granted automatically without any impediment.

Umno should not regard fellow non-Malay Malaysians as a threat to their well being. It should not succumb to some imaginary external threat that is non-existent. It should instead get its acts together, regain its power and influence to get back the support of the people of all races.Umno may have its duty towards the Malays but being the dominant party in the ruling coalition, it also has the responsibility to ensure the minorities are treated fairly as rightful citizens.

Umno might have been formed by a strong spirit of Malay nationalism that prevailed at the time of independence but the time has come for it to adopt and radiate a true Malaysian nationalism that incorporates all the races of peninsula and east Malaysia. It should lead BN to embrace a multiracial approach to champion the rights of all regardless of race or creed.

The world is moving away racial politics which is becoming obsolete and it is time for us to do the same. In this respect it may be timely for Umno to revisit the era of its founder, Onn Jaafar and look for ways and means to fulfill his aspirations by opening its doors to all Malaysians regardless of their ethnicity. A multiracial BN is what the people want and that is what is going to relevant in the future.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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