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Respondents to an online opinion poll have voted overwhelmingly for the abolition of race-based political parties in the country. Some 90% of about 500 respondents believe that the abolition would result in greater social harmony and understanding among the various communities.

I feel vindicated after much slack from naysayers who opined that race-based politics were still relevant. I am convinced that the cause of our political impasse is in a large part due to race-based political parties.

I call for more polls to be taken by independent pollsters that are larger than the above sample size of 500 ,as pro race-based political party proponents are likely to argue with regards to the small sample size.

There is much talk about racial unity coming from the so called liberal factions within the ranks of race- based political parties. I doubt there can be any sincere introspection by these race-based political parties as their very survival depends on racial polarisation.

It is akin to inviting drug dealers to participate in an anti drug campaign. Simply put - if you are part of the problem you cannot be part of the solution. That is why since the political tsunami on March 8, 2008, we often hear catchphrases like unity, soul-searching, reform and what not but race relations in

Malaysia seems to be on a downward spiral.

What we can achieve with the current model is not racial unity but mere racial tolerance. Tolerance has boundaries and when they are breached, can turn ugly. Why should we merely tolerate when we can revel in our diversity ?

Without doubt Umno survived by playing up to the hilt the fear of the Malays being marginalised, and this fear is very real. In casual talks I have gathered from many Malay friends from diverse backgrounds that they feel that as if they do not hold portions of the economic pie in proportion to their demographics.

What more if their political power is usurped, they will have nothing. The challenge is, however, debunking this lie perpetrated by Umno.

Every general election, they would campaign with strong hints either vote for BN or we will have another May 13 even if they lose their two-thirds majority. When everything was calm in the aftermath of March 8, 2008 they knew their bluff was called so they then went on to say the Pakatan Rakyat alliance would not last two months.

When that too was debunked, they did the only thing they are good at - stir up racist and religious sentiments - road signs, scholarship quotas, pig farms, university admission quotas, anything - clearly showing desperation. Protests were more prevalent in states taken over by Pakatan, by wolfish Umno warlords donning the sheepskin of NGOs.

Then, there is the fence-sittesr group between ages 45-55 who voted the BN on March 8 despite being unhappy because they were afraid of trouble if BN lost its two-thirds majority.

As the new state governments expose more wrongdoings of the previous BN government especially in Penang and Selangor, and the much feared repeat of May 13 is not happening despite BN's loss of its two-thirds majority, this group has become more brave, more bold and likely to vote against BN in the next round.

The racist politics of fear that Umno played up in the recent past was likely done to intimidate this group who have living memory of May 13 race riots.

This will go on indefinitely as long as race-based parties exist. BN component parties have failed miserably to be a check and balance against abuse of power by Umno. They share the blame as Umno alone with 79 seats cannot form the federal government. The best BN can do is follow Ku Li's suggestion of a unity government by merging BN components into a single entity.

Then only can we see a viable two-party system emerge. Only then will racial politicking be curtailed, as the Pakatan and BN unity governments will have to woo voters based on issues. Then we can see more parties that champion environmental issues, healthcare etc being formed. I

f you want to keep culture and traditions alive, form associations or clubs. Racial politicking in the long run is just plain stupid and retrogressive and besides, you cannot do anything about your ethnicity nor is it any achievement to be born into a certain ethnic line - none of us chose our parents.

Before this can happen however, we must examine our own bigoted tendencies that unscrupulous politicians are willing to exploit. The Malays must lose their irrational fear and stop declaring non-Malay citizens subordinate. The non-Malays/Muslims should stop labeling all Malays as this and just because of the actions of a few Umnoputras.

They should also get a grip on their Islamophobia and stop labeling all Muslims as ‘Taliban’ and such because of a few fatwa issued by those who are on BN payroll. This is deeply hurting to and alienating Malay /Muslims who threw their support behind Pakatan. Its easy to point fingers but it takes two to tango. Malaysia does not need more bigots, we need peacemakers and lots of them.

What can we do in the meantime before the next elections? Political partyies love to brag as to membership numbers. For example, MIC to this day brags about having 600,000 members yet in the last general elections could not even garner 200,000 of the popular vote.

The ruling coalition themselves (BN) claims to have five million members but just garnered a tad over four million votes in the same election.

This shows there are many members who are registered with BN component parties but voted the opposition any way. If you are one of them or have changed your affiliation, please send in your resignation letter so they no longer have bragging rights citing redundant memberships.

To the 90% of respondents in above poll and other like-minded citizens, I say that there is no need to abolish race-based political parties by constitutional means - just refrain from giving them your vote and they will die a natural death.

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