Friday, November 14, 2008

The people will reject race politics

Race-based parties will meet their demise

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was absolutely right in saying that it does not matter if the Prime Minister is Malay or non-Malay, as long as he enjoys the trust of all Malaysians. This is exactly what most Malaysians are saying except politicians with certain ideology that they only want members of their own race to be the PM and other top leaders in the various institutions.

It is wrong to accuse the non-Malays as being racist wanting a PM from their race. In fact most of them would agree that the best man for the job, and who has the support of the majority of the people, regardless of his ethnicity, should be given the job. It does not matter who becomes the PM as long as he does so on merits and not based on the color of his skin.

Meanwhile as legitimate citizens who are eager to contribute their services to the country love, they do not want to be denied their rights and opportunities just because of their race. Where can they go to if their own country does not want their services?

There are no qualms about the ethnicity of the person who assumes the post of Prime Minister as long as he can carry out his duties diligently and fairly with the welfare of all the citizens at heart. What they want is not Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban Prime Minister but a Malaysian Prime Minister who will be the PM for all Malaysians and not just his own community.

Of course after years of race-based politics it will not be easy to suddenly discard old ways and adopt a new mindset that does not distinguish the races. The evolution of such a mindset will take a long time but it is important that it must begin now. For a start it is necessary first to see the need for such a change and then make deliberate attempts to do so by getting rid of race-based political parties. It may be met with tremendous resistance from certain quarters but we will finally prevail if we have a determined political will to persevere and combat whatever tussles that come our way. Sadly it is this political will that is lacking.

Dr.M is right in saying that there are no true multiracial parties as even the so called multiracial parties are all dominated by a single race. However, unlike the other communal parties, their constitution does not restrict their membership to a particular race nor stipulate their struggles to uplift that particular race. Moreover, after the last general elections there have been deliberate attempts by these parties, both in the BN and PR, to strive for multiracialism. Thanks to the maturity of the people who had departed from their traditional racial line of voting to opt for something that is of greater national importance instead - good governance.

With the increasing wisdom and maturity of the electorate the future for racial politics looks bleak. The people are definitely beginning to realize the benefits of a stronger opposition, such as the recent drop in fuel prices by the government, and would continue to ensure that we have a strong and credible opposition in the future. We may be following that path of the more developed countries and going for a two-party system that will provide a better check and balance governance that provides a greater accountability and transparency. Our political parties have no option but to change, and if they are adamant not to, they will become irrelevant in the not so distant future.

The real resistance to multiracialism comes from the traditional race-based parties in the BN, particularly Umno, the dominant partner in the coalition. Nevertheless even within Umno, MCA and MIC there are already calls, although not overwhelming, for opening up their membership to all races. There is even suggestion that Umno should open itself to all and rename itself as United Malaysian National Organisation.These are very encouraging signs that indicate that race-based politics would find its demise in the years ahead.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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