Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s scurrilous allegation about 40,000 Bangladeshis and other foreigners being air-lifted to vote in the election has been exposed as a monstrous lie. Opposition parties such as the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP) have not been able to produce a single foreigner who had voted in the election!
In fact, it is Opposition vigilantes who have harassed and humiliated legitimate Malaysian voters who they claim looked like Bangladeshis. If this isn’t vicious racial profiling, what is?
Opposition leaders and their supporters know that if they have any evidence of electoral fraud, they can always petition the Courts for remedy. A cursory look at the record of our Election Courts will show that they have been fair in their decisions.
It is wrong of leaders like Anwar and Lim Kit Siang to whip up mass passions on the outcome of a general election which both local and ASEAN observers have assessed as free of fraud. There is a lurking danger in this sort of mobilisation. Since the vast majority of attendees at the rallies organised by them come from a certain community, they could easily give rise to ethnic tensions.
These rallies also have implications for our national sovereignty. There is no doubt at all that Anwar has the backing of some powerful interests in the West. The overtly biased reporting in many Western media channels on the election and the post-election scenario testify to this. By keeping alive in the media, challenges to an election result which did not go in their favour, these interests are seeking to undermine the legitimately elected government of the day and install their proxy in power. The larger aim is to pursue the US’s geopolitical agenda in Asia, specifically in relation to China, with the help of this proxy, as has been analysed by various commentators such as Tony Cartalucci. (see Global Research 9 May, 2013). Malaysians should be fully aware of the game that is unfolding before us.
There are other important facets of the 13th General Election which we should reflect upon.
- UMNO remains the most formidable political actor in the country. It increased its parliamentary representation to 88 from 79 in 2008 and its representation in the state assemblies to 242 from 239 five years ago.
- The MCA, Gerakan, PPP, and SUPP continue to decline. Would this lead to their demise? Should the Barisan Nasional itself be re-structured? What sort of role can UMNO play in this?
- Opposition parties command substantial support among the populace. Their growing strength means that a two-third majority in Parliament for the BN is a thing of the past. The emerging situation calls for greater mutual respect between the BN and the Opposition.
- Since Merdeka there has been both Malay and non-Malay opposition to the ruling coalition. There is rural as well as urban opposition. That pattern repeated itself in the 2013 Election.
- Three out of thirteen state governments are in the hands of the opposition parties. Given this scenario which may well continue into the future, it is imperative that the centre and the states cooperate closely for the well-being of the people. The BN and the Pakatan Rakyat should be committed to ensuring the success of federalism as a mode of governance.
- What is unique about the 13th General Election is the almost unanimous rejection of the BN by Chinese Malaysian voters and their complete endorsement of Pakatan, especially the DAP. It is estimated that 90% of the Chinese who voted chose the Opposition. The driving force behind their choice was the desire to “Ubah”( change) --- to get rid of the UMNO led BN.
- What explains this rejection? Is it because many Chinese --- like the non-Chinese voters --- perceived the BN as corrupt and guilty of wrongdoings? Is it because they, like other Malaysians, were yearning for good governance?
- While integrity and governance were important considerations, they do not tell the whole story. If good governance was uppermost in the minds of the Chinese voters, why did they reject Dato Seri Muhammad Ali Rastam in Melaka and Dato Seri Abdul Ghani Othman in Johor? There is a deeper reason for their en masse vote against the BN.
- From the very beginning of the Malaysian journey, a lot of Chinese have felt that they are discriminated against, that they are marginalised, that they are “second-class” citizens. It explains why achieving equality with the Malays has been their overriding political goal --- a goal which they sought in the 13th General Election through “ubah.”
- This goal galvanised into a powerful emotion in 2013 for a number of reasons. 1) The DAP’s stunning victories in Perak and Selangor in 2008 which indicated that they could control power in Malay majority states. 2) The leadership provided by a Malay politician --- Anwar Ibrahim --- who was prepared to criticise “Malay supremacy”, pledge to end the NEP and eliminate “racial discrimination.” 3) The enlargement of democratic space through the abolition of the ISA and other restrictive ordinances and the enactment of new laws such as the Peaceful Assembly Act which has emboldened the Chinese community to act as seen in their participation in Bersih 3 and Perhimpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat. 4) The emergence of a host of new Chinese civil society groups focussed upon democracy and change and 5) The skilful exploitation of the new media by the proponents of Ubah to create a mass emotional wave within the community.
- The critical question is: are the Chinese justified in seeing themselves as a marginalised community? Is it true that the Chinese are the victims of inequality and injustice? If we examined the real situation of the Chinese in almost every sphere of society what is the picture that emerges? Who dominates the upper stratum of the economy? Which community is the most significant component in the middle stratum of the economy? Given the cultural background of the land, isn’t the Chinese language and culture overwhelmingly pervasive in Malaysia --- a situation which has few parallels anywhere else in the world? Even in politics, isn’t Chinese participation remarkable, considering that Malaysia evolved from Malay Sultanates? Is it fair to describe a community with such a powerful role in society as“marginalised” and “unequal”?
- How can we correct this widespread misconception that an entire community labours under? Are Chinese politicians, community leaders, business elites, social activists, academics and others with influence prepared to tell the truth to the community? Are they prepared to explain the background and the context of this nation to them for principles such as equality can only be understood if they are grounded in reality? Are they prepared to make the Chinese aware that in reality the people who were actually unequal in the economic sense at the time of Merdeka were the Malays, 64% of whom lived below the poverty-line? Since their leaders were prepared to confer citizenship on a million Chinese and Indians on incredibly liberal terms, the Special Position of the Malays and later the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak was incorporated into the Constitution in order to safeguard their economic interests.
- Are Chinese and Indian opinion makers willing to admit that all said and done Special position and the New Economic Policy (NEP) that grew out of it have contributed immensely to the nation’s well-being? Without the accelerated development of the Malays which the NEP was largely responsible for, a strong Malay middle-class with significant representation in almost all professions, and in the upper echelons of commerce and industry would not have emerged in less than a generation. It is this Malay middle-class which has stabilised ethnic relations. It is because a once impoverished people enjoys an appreciable degree of equity and justice today that the Malays continue to place their faith in a market economy and parliamentary democracy which in turn have benefitted everyone, including the Chinese.
- By acknowledging the positive aspects of the NEP, one is not denying that in its implementation there have been accesses and abuses. In a number of instances, opportunities for non-Malays in education and the economy have been unjustly restricted. Well-heeled Malays and other Bumiputras have also sometimes taken advantage of what is essentially an affirmative action policy meant for the poor and deprived, to advance their own interests.
- In the last four years Prime Minister Mohd Najib has sought to address some of these issues. Non-Malay recipients of Federal Government scholarships have reached an all-time high. There is a concerted effort to increase the number of non-Malay public servants and non-Malay personnel in the police and the armed forces. All 1Malaysia ventures are blind to ethnicity and religion. Even in strengthening Malay entrepreneurship, new approaches that discourage rent-seeking are being tried out.
These and other worthwhile efforts should continue, the negative Chinese electoral response notwithstanding. They should continue because it is a question of justice and fairness. Who knows they may persuade a small segment of the community to do some soul-searching.
It is this soul-searching within the influential stratum of the Chinese community that is the greatest need of the hour ---- a serious, sincere reflection on prevailing realities and the Chinese position; on its understanding of equality in the context of the larger nation; and on its future in a society whose very survival rests upon multi-ethnic cooperation.