I wish to echo the honest sentiment of Azmin Hassan, director of the National Unity and Integritation Department, in urging a cessation of racist statements by the media and politicians of ethnic-based parties and NGOs. As an academic, a father of five children and as a member of the rakyat in this beloved country of ours we must seek a surer solution that such racial riots in 1969 shall not repeat in our future.
We, the rakyat, and I, the civil servant, as well as Azmin must intervene amidst such irresponsible statements by our so-called national leaders as well as a once-respected national daily.
My call is slightly different than others in resolving this racial stalemate. I am now a grandfather at the age of 51 and may still harbour a chance of my witnessing my grandson voting in a fair election hopefully by a more professional and multi-racial based Election Commission without leaders that seem to favour one group above another.
What I would like him to do is to choose a party, any party that no longer carries any race-based ideology or for that matter any ‘religious’ ideology, whether Islam, Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. That is our Malaysian Dream. No more race-based or religious-based political parties.
NGOs who wish to cater to Malays, Chinese, Indians, Dayaks, Islam, Christianity and other religions are welcome to participate in the democratic process within the rules of ‘adab’ or courteous discourse, far from the venom of those spouted by one Zulkifli Noordin.
Now how shall we do this? My solution? I urge the decent, honest and hardworking leaders of MCA and Gerakan to join together and form a single multi-ethnic party. Which leaders do I call on? I call on Ong Tee Keat and Dr Koh Tsu Koon, two Chinese parliamentarians whom I respect and have not gone overboard in silly, selfish and racist statements uttered by one such as Chua Soi Lek.
Why do I ask these two leaders to sit down and think about the Chinese people? Because in the 505 election, the Chinese showed that they can do two things clearly. First they can vote for a multi-racial party called the Democratic Action Party as well as Parti Islam Se-Malaysia and Parti Keadilan Rakyat.
They did not vote a party that has the word ‘Malay’ or ‘Chinese’ in it. The Chinese people of Malaysia are more matured than our leaders as they have outgrown racial politics and racial polarisation.
Secondly, the overwhelming support to a Chinese-majority party such as DAP showed that the Chinese still want to cling on some sort of identifiable cultural platform of their own ethnic upbringing, which is a human and natural reaction. So, my message to Ong Tee Keat and Koh Tsu Koon is, why not form a new multi-ethnic party that just happens to have a majority membership who are Chinese?
Any student of politics will tell us that there should never be one dominant super party that commands the majority of a race. DAP is a good, hardworking political party that believe in racial harmony... now. But who is to say, like Umno, once a highly respected Malay party that looked after the poor Malays and the fate of Islam, has fallen far because of poor leadership seeking personal pleasures and gratification at the cost of a party’s unrest.
Now PAS is looking very nice to not only Malays but other races as well, but PAS, too, one day will be tainted by greed and power-mongering of leaders with limited vision. The fall of Husam Musa seems to be the shift in the pebbles that might bring the whole boulder down in future elections.
Thus, if MCA can take the high road and eliminate its party and join with Gerakan or form a new party than I can salute both leaders, Ong and Koh, as they who have heralded a new politics of non-race based parties. Next we can speak nicely to young visionary leaders of the MIC and convince them to join this new multi-ethnic party and become an alternative force to the non-Malay citizens to stand against the DAP in the next election.
Once this multi-ethnic Chinese majority party is set up, then we can ask Umno to revisit the idea of its own founding father Onn Jaafar to set up a Parti Negara-like entity which would probably have a more Malay majority membership.
Finally, we will politely ask Parti Islam Se-Malaysia to refrain from using the word ‘Islam’ but continue to develop the ideology into a more multi-ethnic and multi-religious force so that we would be able to see a few Christians and Hindus sitting in its supreme council. I have enough knowledge of Islam to know that it is a most versatile ideology and idea that can conform to various demands to society.
The different approach of such a spiritual-based party is that it is bent on drawing lessons of morality from spiritual awareness rather than a simple mechanism of say, ‘democracy’. Thus, there would be two or three Malay majority parties that have multi-ethnic membership for the Malays to depend on.
We should have gone through this transition stage a long time ago. The BN was in that position four elections ago to transform racial politics and merge the whole disparate parties into a single entity, but the rise of leaders that saw their survival on creating popularity through racial strife won the day.
Finally, I wish to call again on the honest and visionary leadership of Dr Koh and Ong to lead the way. They are at the position of history where this idea can take root. One day, we will all wake up and not really care which political party wins because none of them will hype on racial or religious issues but rather the humdrum issues of economy, education, work and environment.
Personally, as a father, a civil servant and an academic, I care not whether an Anwar Ibrahim, a Lim Kit Siang or a Najib Abdul Razak becomes the prime minister from whichever political party they come from. Ultimately, the most important ‘political party’ that we are all concerned with is simply... us the rakyat.
May all our children and grandchildren live in a new Malaysia with equal opportunity to better themselves while taking care of others and leading a truly peaceful and spiritual existence.
MOHAMAD TAJUDDIN MOHAMAD RASDI is a professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia's School of Architecture. An eloquent writer, he has authored over 30 books, including his latest, ‘Why Listen to the Vice-Chancellor?'