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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mahathir and his racist party

The earlier announcement by former PM Tun Mahathir to form a new party has not met with much objection. As a matter of fact, in a democratic society anyone can set up a new political party so long as this does not go against the country's law.

However, when the outline of the new party becomes clearer and that it will only recruit Malay or bumiputra members, some begin to express their disapproval.

What's so wrong with a racist party?

The country's politics was largely dominated by racist parties before the independence. Umno, MCA, MIC etc were all born this way, and have been dominating the country's politics for more than half a century.

There was little mutual understanding but skepticism among different ethnic groups in the country prior to the independence, making racist parties a natural option for many. Nevertheless, the presence of such race-based parties has not done our multicultural society any good, but has instead become a formidable barrier for further interracial mingling.

Because these parties thrive mainly on struggling for the interests of one specific ethnic community, distinction between "we" and "others" has become unavoidable. When a particular racist party or its leader comes under threat, it will tend to lean further towards racism in a bid to build up and consolidate its support base, painting other ethnic communities as imaginary rivals. Oftentimes the Chinese community becomes a convenient scapegoat in their witch-hunting exercise.

For so many decades such political manipulations have done irreparable damages to national unity and harmonious integration. Despite having been independent for almost 60 years, our country remains haunted by old racist issues.

To wean ourselves from the scourge of racist politics, it is imperative that we reject racist parties. Fortunately racist politics has seen diminished market in the country in recent years, thanks to progressive democratic thinking that has given rise to multiracial political parties. The emergence of PKR is a landmark political event that proves the relevance of a Malay-dominated multiracial party.

Racist parties took shape out of the country's unique historical needs, and it is now time we deliver ourselves from the quagmire of racism towards a more accommodating and harmonious society.

Unfortunately Mahathir has opted to tread the old path by setting up a political party for the Malays and embracing the antiquated racism.
To him, perhaps this is an option that fits his aspiration best. His motive of establishing a new party is not to steer the nation towards greater development or any lofty vision, but to drive out Umno president cum prime minister Najib Razak.

Where political reality is concerned, there isn't much space for Mahathir's new party to thrive, to be honest. Given the fact that Mahathir desires to wrest some of Umno's supporters, it is therefore logical that his new party is a Malays-only entity with Umno the specific hit target.

Sadly Mahathir's most logical option is never a good thing for a multicultural society that struggles to free itself from the shackles of racism. His new party will only push the Malays deeper into the racist mudpool.

Mahathir has made his choice between reality and idealism. He is never an idealist but very much a pragmatist himself, a label which under certain context, I would say, is more derogatory than complimentary.

Translated by Dominic Loh

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