Continued disillusionment or evolution?

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Unless race-based politics is substituted with real justice, fairness and equity, the only thing left of the BN would be Umno, says K Haridas

Protest rally at Kelana Jaya on 8 May 2013: The final election results may well have been very different if there had not been any irregularities.
Protest rally at Kelana Jaya on 8 May 2013: The final election results may well have been very different if there had not been any irregularities.

What would the Indians in the Malaysian Indian Congress(MIC) do when they gather? Obviously they would not speak about what they could do to help Malays or even the Bumiputeras out of poverty or help increase their share of the economic cake.

The same would hold true for the Malaysian Chinese Association(MCA). To think of helping the Malays or the Indians would be outside their scope and agenda.

Would the agenda be any different for the United Malay National Organisation (Umno)? Perhaps because they take the lead within the Barisan Nasional(BN), they would be even more sensitive about any approaches for a larger slice of the cake from any of their coalition partners. To them the status quo would always remain the best option because this guarantees stability except when the issue is one of survival. Otherwise, they would be seen as giving in to demands and thus perceived as weak.

While there is nothing right or wrong about such approaches, these highlight the narrow ethnic context where the focus is on the part and not on the whole. Is it a wonder then that BN has continued to stagnate.

There are no regular consultations at different levels within the BN; hence, issues often become divisive and a source of conflict. Let us take the case of the use of the word “Allah”. The other component parties of the BN will shy away and leave this for Umno to handle. Yet, when the crisis worsens, they all pay a heavy price for their silence. The same can be said for issues like ‘body-snatching’, conversions, deaths in police custody, to mention a few.

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The BN has never responded by establishing a modus operandi based on justice and fairness. Every issue is viewed from an ethnic context, and once this becomes the case nothing further can be done. Everyone backs off and the courts become an avenue to deal with unresolved problems. The judges then just repeat the law or the case is postponed numerous times and the status quo remains.

There is no political will to address issues on the basis of justice, fairness and equity. This is the grave limitation of race-based politics.

We have had enough of such injustices. Even corruption when viewed through ethnic lens aims at protecting certain interests as can be seen in the case of Taib Mahmud of Sarawak facing the law. The visions our leaders spew out and the cynicism they create in society is a reality the present generation is not going to accept.

Call it “stability” or “moderation” – the present generation along with those who have been fooled for so long are not going to buy into BN strategies because these lack credibility.

The sad part is there is no upsurge from within the BN. Everybody is looking for someone external to blame. The BN sees this as a so-called “Chinese tsunami”.

It is time that the component parties within the BN coalition speak out. If and when they do, they will begin to regain their credibility. Silence as practised by MIC President Palanivel is never an option if you seek credibility.

These parties must inform Umno that they are equal members of the coalition. Much of their loss has been due to the rhetoric during the Umno general assemblies, the support for Perkasa and the unfair way these parties within the coalition have been treated. Their membership has reacted as has Umno to the chauvinism these parties have also expressed.

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It is time for these parties to obtain honest and candid feedback. Opposition parties have gained because they have had the spine to take a stand.

The BN as it stands today and the formula at work does not have a future except through fraud and gerrymandering. It has lost in the Peninsula and is hanging on because of Sabah and Sarawak.

If the BN continues to look through the lens of race and ethnicity, it is not going to come up with great ideas that would work. We have witnessed how 1Malaysia has fared. Where are the voices of sanity and statesmanship from within the BN?

If the BN has any credibility, it would work to ensure fairness and justice in the electoral system. It is where it is today because it has manipulated the system and secured for tself a hollow victory.

I wonder how the BN MPs really feel about themselves. The alarming gap between their beliefs and their practices discredits them.

On a fair and level playing field we would today have a new government, charting a fresh future that is possible because Pakatan Rakyat parties are used to consultations; have agreed to a modus operandi to manage differences and agree to disagree on certain issues. Yet, they would apply fairness and justice to the cause.

It is an amazing achievement to have Keadilan, the DAP and Pas as a coalition. What a mixture and this is only possible because they are individually and collectively committed to a more transcendent cause than race. For them, justice and fairness are worth fighting for in Malaysia. Strength lies in diversity and not in similarity as highlighted by the saying ‘Unity in diversity’.

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We need to deal with both substance and form, and unless the BN coalition can squarely face this challenge what will be left of the BN is Umno.

The choice is continued disillusionment or evolution. The opposition has provided this challenge.

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Lim Teck Hing
Lim Teck Hing

Well said Mr Haridas. The BN leadership has obviously learnt from an ancient warrior, Lao Tze, to practise ” divide and rule ” in Malaysia by governing the country based on ethnicity. However, this modal does not work anymore in today’s plural society and its good to notice the people now has began to stand up for their beliefs in wanting a clean, fair and just government.
Lim, Kuala Lumpur.