Malaysiakini Letter

Cleanse our system of race-based politics

Howard Lee Chuan How  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Just within this last week, there has been two cases of racist Umno ministers showing their true colours through their absurd statements.

We have seen the newly-anointed Umno Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid baselessly and heinously accusing the Christian community of some kind of conspiracy to split the Malays, and in the same breath, linking the Christians with people of the Jewish faith as co-conspirators. This is beyond bigotry; this is outright incitement of religious hatred.

In the same week, we heard Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, announcing plans to create a racially exclusive electronic goods store, even referring to it as ‘Low Yat 2' with 100 percent Malay traders. When critiqued, he shows even more starkly that he is indeed a racist; not only towards other races but towards Malays.

“Because the Malays may not be able to afford to rent in other complexes, or to rent a shop as they don’t have enough capital, that’s why Mara provided Arked Mara, which is very cheap, for Malays to do their business.”

The above was his response as reported by Malaysiakini on the Aug13, 2015.

Firstly, generalising all Malays as not being able to afford rent in other complexes is an unfounded prejudice if, indeed he is sincere; however, I am confident that he is saying it purely to rile up the Umno fabricated ‘victimised Malay’ sentiment. As usual, DAP who speaks for all Malaysians is the minister’s choice as the scapegoat, even when Umno’s fellow race-based party MCA is the one who is attacking him whilst still remaining a coalition partner with them.

Secondly, the mere suggestion of any public space being solely and exclusively for one ethnic group itself is not only segregative, it is un-Malaysian. When such a preposterous suggestion is visualised with Low Yat (regardless of the place or the incident as the wounds are still fresh and seeping), it is certain that the minister’s announcement is nothing more than a cheap play of racially charged word association.

Thirdly, the minister’s talking down of the Malay community simply shows his colonial elite mindset common among Umno/BN leaders. Umno warlords, like the minister, are by and large second or third generation inheritors of political feudal clans, who also inherited the colonial British mindset of divide and rule by race and class.

These Umno political elites are either unable to, or simply refuse to grasp the concept that non-elite Malays, just like other fellow Malaysian ethnic groups from the lower classes, are capable of forging their own social mobility to break down class barriers, not to mention racial barriers.

We must be enlightened that, racism is not limited to discriminatory acts towards ethnic groups other than one’s own; it is also racist when one is prejudicial against his/or her own race. Just because prejudiced views towards a Malay is expressed by a Malay, it doesn’t make it okay.

Ridhuan Tee makes a great example of this but at least he’s a laughing stock who has no power. It would seem that we have a ‘closet  Ridhuan Tee’ holding one the highest political posts in our country.

As we know full well, that a confident and self-assured Malay community that is free from the Umno-conjured threats of ‘non-Malay bogeymen’, would spell the doom of Umno; the same goes for the Orang Asal to anti-Malaya local parties in Sabah and Sarawak, the Chinese to MCA and the Indians to MIC.

Deep-seated prejudicial view

It is becoming more and more apparent that, the struggle of race based parties like Umno, MIC and MCA is based on a deep-seated racially tainted prejudicial view toward the lower classes of the race they claim to represent.

The result of this is the scary reality afore us today. Despite six decades of independence, our former colonisers' class narrative and imposed racially segragated social structures are more dominant than ever before.  This time, we don’t have the British colonial elites to blame; it is today’s Umno and MCA political elites’ betrayal of the nation’s founding struggles we have to blame.

The most scariest of all the above, is that we have such elites as ministers leading our country; not to mention bigotry, racism, religious supremacy, exclusivism and chauvinism as the term of reference for our nation’s policy-making. Or at least until the next general election.

Identity politics, whether through race or religion is not necessarily slowly, but definitely surely rotting our nation from its political core. The first step to mitigate this cancerous rot, is to cleanse our political system of race-based politics; and where better to start  than with electorally annihilating race based parties like Umno, MIC and MCA.

HOWARD LEE CHUAN HOW is the Pasir Pinji assemblyperson and director of policy for Perak DAP.

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