The results of the recent general election have shown that Malaysian society is deeply divided in its vision for the country.
Some view our society through the exclusionary lens of race and religion while others seek a more inclusive society that recognises the plurality that makes up our country.
This divisiveness was evident in the public sphere during the election campaign period until Anwar Ibrahim finally became Prime Minister.
Racial and religious messages of hatred and falsehood spread like wildfire over social media, particularly TikTok.
What is worrying is that many who viralised such messages were first-time voters who voted in those with exclusionary views. Such messaging is reminiscent of the bad old politics of Umno, which leveraged its control of the media for such ends.
This trend is worrying because while voters may have rejected Umno, its message of exclusion still has a hold on a significant number of people, particularly among the young.
The country is now at a crossroads between choosing to return to the bad old politics of Umno, albeit with new players, or choosing the new politics of inclusivity, justice and democracy.
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It is for this reason that we must amplify this message of new politics in the public sphere (particularly over social media) and urge or indeed demand that Anwar’s multi-coalition government introduces policies that bring about new politics in the country.
We cannot afford a society that is disunited in the face of the many challenges the nation faces. We are all responsible for helping to bring about a nation we can all be proud of rather than returning to the politics of the bad old days. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate.
Aliran wishes all our readers who are celebrating Christmas a happy and meaningful time. Even as we celebrate, let’s remember to reach out to the less fortunate and marginalised and extend whatever help we can to them.
Let’s also use this occasion to build bridges and spread cheer and goodwill among our fellow human beings, regardless of their race, religion or nationality.
Co-editor, Aliran newsletter
22 December 2022