The race is on and the bets are on too! Who will be the winner in these six-state elections?
From news reports, we learn of much dissatisfaction with the “unity government” from many segments of the public.
The unity government is just eight months old, but people have unrealistic goals for it. Perikatan Nasional, comprising mainly Bersatu and Pas, is using this discontent to put a wedge in to drive the voters apart, especially the ethnic Malay voters, ahead of the state elections tomorrow.
The various party manifestos are out and the different ‘algorithms’ imply that there are no limits to what can be said to get voters to vote. It seems that every time an election comes around in Malaysia, racial rhetoric knows few limits.
Rather ominous are those voices that are bent on creating disharmony among the various communities.
We have become a polarised nation, and this is amplified and made worse by some politicians and the media.
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This polarisation was pointed out by the King during his speech at UiTM’s convocation recently and by the Sultan of Perak in his book unveiled recently at the World Trade Center.
Out on the stumps these past days, certain party supporters have told others that if they, the Muslims, support other parties, they become apostates.
Are the leaders and members of these parties so afraid of losing? Do they have to stoop so low to frighten people by using the threat of becoming “infidels” against their own?
Are these the leaders we want governing our country? It is not rocket science that for Malaysia to counter this kind of extremism, we need leaders and politicians to bring the people together and to celebrate this amazing multi-ethnic and multicultural nation.
How will this country be able to move forward, draw more investors and become more than it can be, if we continue to have leaders and politicians who are out there only for their own greed?
We need to practise the art of civic dialogue that brings multiple elements together to create a whole.
The politics we are listening to and reading about now takes the form of a verbal violence where security is found in discrediting others. It allows leaders and politicians to feel righteous and gives them reasons for silencing others.
How can we ever move forward when there is no sincere dialogue? It makes it much harder to have shared ideals and dreams of a better future.
Malaysia could be an amazing example of how a country of different religions, ethnicity and cultures can work together for the betterment of the people. We have the potential to become a county that all of us can be proud of, one that other nations will envy.
But first we need to stop this rhetoric that only irritates and inflames public sentiment. We need the courage and humility to stop what we see and hear as wrong. We must be open enough to see and evaluate points of view other than our own, recognising that they may have some truth in them.
This is difficult. It requires patience and commitment, and it involves mutual listening.
With this in mind, nobody knows how PH and Barisan Nasional will fare tomorrow when voters go to the polls. Has BN really worked hard to get those ‘iffy’ Malay votes for the unity government or did they sit back and ‘watch the show’?
Should the unity government parties lose seats in these elections, it will not affect the government per se, but it will affect the morale of the PH-led government and of the people who voted for PH.
Meanwhile, BN will still sit pretty and remain oblivious without the slightest bit of shame and will go about its business as usual! No surprise there.
So, with that in mind, seeing as we have to live with this unity government until the next general election, we hope it will not implode from the inside because of the short-sightedness of Umno-BN.
We are on the verge of experiencing a new dawn – and what do we have instead? For those of us who voted for PH in last November’s general election, we have a vested interest in the coalition and in Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
For now, our hopes and expectations for a better, cleaner, more honest and fairer Malaysia lie with the unity government.
Jem is the pseudonym of an Aliran reader