COMMENT | The narrative that many policies unfavourable to Muslims and Malays were introduced since the Pakatan Harapan government took power is flawed. Indeed, there are policy changes and proposals, but these are mainly from the critical and liberal Malays who wanted a progressive view on Islam and Malays.
In the past, these thinking Malays have been intimidated or cowed into silence because the political eco-system was then not favourable for them to speak out. The recent statements and rants by Isma and Perkasa, laced with racial and religious inflammatory rhetoric, are examples from the past.
With the recent free flow of information and intellectual discourse in the new media, these Malays and Muslims have found that their voices are no longer in isolation and have come together to speak out against the more orthodox views.
Thus, even Umno and PAS leaders are changing their political rhetoric to be more inclusive to win over the middle ground, the cosmopolitans and the so-called “Bangsar crowds” whose voices and opinions are gaining support because they speak sense, are factual and do not put down others.
It is not true that Harapan has been introducing policies that are detrimental to the Malays and Muslims. It is also not true that certain policies changed due to the presence of the DAP. On the contrary, DAP has been silent on a lot of issues relating to race and religion due to the sensitivity of the matter.
DAP has decided not to touch on the local government election issues; the increase in matriculation intake; depriving non-bumiputera of their rightful places; the Tabung Haji/Felda bailout of RM24 billion from non-bumiputera and non-halal taxes, etc. The party is now in power and does not wish to 'rock the boat'.
This is the political reality that DAP has to accept to remain in power. Even Lim Kit Siang has decided to take a back seat and keep his silence on his “pet issues” of race and religion, knowing it will provoke, cross and irk the non-Muslims and middle-class voters.
Now, the DAP has chosen to facilitate or allow its allies in Bersatu and Amanah to bend over to win over Malay-Muslim votes. This is the political reality of today and more Malay and Islam-centric decisions will be made by the Harapan government to win over their votes to remain in power.
Therefore, there is now a pressing need for a Third Force to retain, maintain and continue the momentum of change that the rakyat craved for when they voted BN out of power, especially so if Bersatu and Amanah decide to play against Umno or PAS by increasing the tempo of racial and religious tones to win over the Malay-Muslim voters still not with Harapan.
This will be of grave concern where we will see a repeat of Bersatu-Amanah taking over the role of Umno and PAS-Umno playing to the gallery of the extreme right, with the DAP caught in between and remaining nonchalant, like MCA before.
At least, I have chosen to speak against Umno and PAS in the past and chosen not to stand in the past three general elections, knowing that by speaking out, we will not be able to garner the Malay votes.
It is unfortunate that DAP, which had near absolute support of the Chinese community and Malaysian moderates, has chosen to be silent in fear of being branded as anti-Malay or anti-Muslim. DAP has resigned to the fact that it cannot initiate change and is more interested to just cling on to power
The time is right for the emergence of a Third Force consisting of dedicated, and committed professionals who have the brains and courage to bring forth the change voters want and to drive the nation's economy forward.
At the end of the day, what matters most to the rakyat is to put food on the table and to ensure a sound future for their children.
There is no longer room for race-based politics and political parties that will "sell their souls" just to stay in power. What the nation needs right now is a force which has nothing but the nation's interest at heart and will stop at nothing towards ensuring a better future for the Malaysian rakyat.
TI LIAN KER is a vice-president of the MCA and a member of the Dewan Negara (Senator).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.