A failure in ethnic relations

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The BN’s reign has seen a deterioration in inter-ethnic relations. Malaysian democracy needs to be upheld by a two-party system with a strong Opposition, says K Haridas.

Democracy for all
Democracy for all

Dr Chandra Muzaffar’s analysis that BN can tackle ethnic issues while Pakatan is a disparate force belittles his intellectual capacity.

If a minimum of communal violence is proof of the degree of inter-ethnic harmony over the last 55 years, then this reveals a startlingly poor standard being used to measure the so-called great achievements of BN in this area. On a rating of A to F, I will rate BN at D or E if Chandra’s analysis is to be the basis.

The fact is that BN does not have the philosophical basis to enhance inter-ethnic relations. Over the last 40 years we have had slogans after slogans ranging from the Rukunegara, Vision 2020, Islam Hadhari and 1Malaysia. How many Malaysians would subscribe to the idea that all these have enhanced inter-ethnic relations? Many will agree that polarisation has deepened and that the wedge in inter-ethnic relations is sharper than before. It has been a startling down-slide.

Race cannot be the basis for transcending race. Issues of identity, be it race, religion, colour or even language can only be managed by a transcending value, be it justice, fairness or equity. To illustrate this let us look at the behaviour of the champions of these slogans. One wielded a ‘keris’, another called fellow Malaysians ‘pendatang’, while another called on people to return to their homelands. We have also rightist groups that are well supported by the BN and Dr Mahathir, which has been a serious disappointment. The man who articulated Vision 2020 has revealed to the world the immense gap between his reading of Vision 2020 and his belief in the same.

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Between their professed beliefs in 1 Malaysia and their rhetoric there is a yawning gap. In the end it is not your beliefs that define you but your conduct and character. In addition, if your convictions and belief are fundamentally to champion an ethnic cause than such incongruence will be evident. You cannot behave other than how you are dictated by your beliefs. The significant difference between Pakatan and BN is that the Opposition is not race based and hence we have the hope that they can make a difference.

They do not go and appeal to their ethnic ghettoes during election times and during their AGM. They have their policies and ideology. You may agree or disagree but these transcend racial affinities. There may be a larger representation of one race when compared to another but they are also a work in progress and in my opinion have gone further than BN has in 40 years.

While there may be a difference in ideology between Pas, DAP and Keadilan, they have shown the capacity to pull together and it is only fair that after 55 years they be given an opportunity. This will also be a blessing for Malaysian Democracy. Chandra’s anti-Pakatan rhetoric is personally biased and thus his lens will always see that which is only positive for BN. He has increasingly lost his sense of balance on issues of the day.

I am not anti-BN but I believe that Malaysian Democracy needs a two-party formulae. Considering much that BN has done to date, this can also be attributed to the strength and challenges that Pakatan has placed before them. Malaysians as a whole have greatly benefited from a strong Opposition. So why not give them a chance so that the likes of Chandra can live and experience a new vision of the future? Alternatively he can always say, “I told you so”.

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K Haridas is an Aliran member based in Petaling Jaya.

Source: themalaysianinsider.com, 16 April 2013

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