- Pakatan to hold convention on national unity
- Racism won’t stop the will of Malaysians, says Anwar
- RACIAL SLURS: The people are watching you, Umno
- Race relations and the moral imperative
- Wake-up call in Malaysia
- Rallies replace riots in Malaysia
Posted: 14 May 2013 04:24 AM PDT
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is planning to hold a "national unity" convention to address the escalating racial tension sparked by Umno's constant attempt to blame the non-Malay voters for Barisan Nasional's (BN) dismal showing at in the May 5 general election.
PR secretariat member Datuk Saifuddin Nasution said his three-party coalition saw the need to organise the convention so it can work on a formula for "genuine unity" in light of Umno's intensified race baiting that began instantly after the election results were announced.
"The convention will be held in the near future so we can discuss on a recipe, a formula for genuine unity.
"This is because we are looking at a dangerous pattern where Umno seem to be unable to move away from the sentiments of race politics," he told a press conference after chairing PR's secretariat meeting at PKR's headquarters here.
The PKR secretary-general said PR is also considering suggestions that it invites its political rivals to participate in the convention, an idea that will be deliberated at tomorrow's presidential council meeting.
"We will leave it to the leadership to decide if the invitation will be opened to all. The details will be discussed by the presidential council and an announcement will be made," he said.
BN's lynchpin Umno have continued to blame the coalition's poor polls results on a "Chinese tsunami" it claimed was triggered by the DAP, a term that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had coined after the results showed BN winning with a smaller majority of 133 federal seats and ceded an additional seven seats to PR.
Since then, Umno-owned Malay paper Utusan Malaysia ran daily reports with incendiary headlines like "Apa lagi Cina mahu? (What more do the Chinese want?) And "Golongan muda Cina monopoli perhimpunan haram" (Young Chinese monopolise illegal rallies) and "DAP terus cetus provokasi" (DAP continues to incite provocation) in a continued attempt to shape the Election 2013 result as a Malay versus Chinese vote.
Other pro-Umno leaders have also joined in the growing chorus of attacks on the Chinese community with one accusing DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang of being the main protagonist to the bloody May 13 race riots in 1969 while another had blamed racial disparity on vernacular schools and demanded that it be shut down.
Leaders from both sides of the political divide have called on Najib to rein in Umno's right wing elements and put an end to the racial politicking, of which failing to do so would cast doubt over the prime minister's "national reconciliation" programme.
Some PR leaders claimed the race politics played by Umno was also an attempt to divert attention from the mass fraud that purportedly took place at the May 5 ballot.
Saifuddin said the pact has agreed to continue holding rallies nationwide to protest the results following the overwhelming turn-outs it had at rallies held in Penang and Kelana Jaya last week.
"Despite the numbers, some reached 100,000, the rallies took place peacefully and without any untoward incidents.
"The rallies is good for the people to voice their dissatisfaction through the principles of the Federal Constitution," he said.
Saifuddin also chided the police and critics of the rallies for calling the peaceful demonstrations seditious, arguing that the authorities should instead reprimand those behind the race baiting like Umno and Utusan Malaysia.
"Calling for the closure of vernacular schools is more seditious than we are doing," he said.
Meanwhile Saifuddin said he welcomes Umno information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan's dare that PR invites the Elections Commission (EC) for a meeting to raise its complaints of polls fraud.
Ahmad claimed yesterday that PR's refusal to engage the EC on the matter proved that the opposition had no evidence to back its allegations.
"I agree with Ahmad Maslan to invite EC chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof for a meeting so we can raise our complaints one by one. In case he rejects our invitation I am sure that Ahmad Maslan could assist us in arranging the meeting. I now throw the ball back to him and ask that he be ready to make this happen," he said.
Posted: 14 May 2013 04:23 AM PDT
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim warned his political foes today that using racism to frighten Malaysians away from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would never work, claiming nothing short of "divine intervention" would stop the groundswell of support for the federal opposition pact.
The PR de facto leader, who has vowed never to surrender until PR claims its place in Putrajaya, repeated his conviction that it had been through fraud and cheating that saw Barisan Nasional (BN) "rob" its victory.
Anwar (picture) said the recent incessant raising of racial slurs by top BN leaders and BN-controlled media was an attempt by the pact to divert the attention of Malaysians away from the allegedly fraudulent polls.
"Let the Umno corrupters be warned: the suppression of the people's may work temporarily but like a can with a limited shelf life, it will not work forever.
"That's because when the will of the people prevails, nothing short of divine intervention can stop it," he wrote in a blog posting today.
"You cannot put the people to sleep forever. Sooner or later they will awaken. On 5th May, they signalled their awakening with a resounding vote for Pakatan — and no matter what Najib and Umno choose to call it, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that this is a Malaysian tsunami.
"And as Black 505 shows, it will not stop until our ends are reached," he said, using a now often-used term to refer to the May 5 polls as a day that signifies the "death of democracy".
Election 2013 saw BN's over half-a-century rule continue unbroken when the ruling pact returned to power with a narrow-margin with 133 federal seats to PR's 89 seats, just 21 seats more than the 112 needed to form a simple-majority government.
But more significantly was BN's loss of the overall popular vote for the first time since 1969, garnering just under 48 per cent to PR's 51 per cent, a point that the federal opposition blames on gerrymandering and vote-rigging.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in his victory speech in the early hours of May 6, said it had been a "Chinese tsunami" that caused BN to bleed more seats than it did in Election 2008, a move that triggered widespread criticisms against the prime minister for using race to characterise the vote trend.
Analysts suggested otherwise, noting that the popular vote showed that large numbers of Malay voters had opted to boot BN from Putrajaya. The trend, they added, had rather reflected an urban-rural divide and not a Malay-vs-Chinese vote.
Agreeing, Anwar said the polls numbers extrapolated from independent sources had clearly indicated an increase in the number of votes from all races for PR, apart from the consequential increase in the number of PR Malay lawmakers elected to office.
Anwar alleged that BN had ordered its "supremacist minions" to go on the warpath against the Chinese community, the Malays and all others who had not given their vote to BN.
Anwar noted that the Chinese-majority DAP has been labelled a chauvinist party, the Malay-Muslim-dominated PAS branded a traitor to race and religion and his PKR, a multiracial party with a strong Malay-Muslim presence, has been ridiculed as a proxy to the DAP.
"With me taking the grand prize of being Public Enemy No. 1 and traitor to King and country," Anwar said.
But the former deputy prime minister, who has put his retirement plans on hold after the allegedly fraudulent Election 2013 insists his and his team's suspicions are right, and called on Malaysians to reject BN, a party which he claimed would only lead the country to ruin.
"I call on all right-minded Malaysians — be they Malay, Chinese, Indian, Dayak or Kadazan or any other ethnic group — to reject the racist Barisan Nasional because another moment longer with this evil coalition is another moment longer with a party that is doomed to bring this nation to ruin," he said.
In anticipation of the likely outcome of the polls, Anwar had deliberately declared a PR victory just two hours after the count began on May 5, explaining later that the move was to show Malaysians that he knew BN would make itself victors despite losing the popular vote.
Today while Team Najib is finding its footing back in the hallowed halls of Putrajaya, Anwar and his troops have been organising mammoth rallies nationwide to prove their indignation at the polls outcome is shared by a large segment of Malaysia.
They have held three such events so far — in Selangor, Penang and Perak — each one drawing ten of thousands of people, and will be moving on the Kuantan, Pahang, tomorrow and in Johor on Thursday.
Anwar urged Malaysians against being complicit to Umno and BN's "evil" spread of racial discontent and harmony post-Election 2013, claiming it was a moral imperative to stand with PR, which he said was the "right side of history".
"Here's our clarion call to you: stand up and be counted. Stand up for Bangsa Malaysia," he said as he rallied Malaysians of all creed and colours to back what he described as a multiracial PR pact.
"This indeed is a moral imperative. Pakatan leaders are committed to this creed to unify all Malaysians.
"We have come together with the people by dint of our unshakeable sense of conviction not for power or office but for the well-being and future of our beloved nation."
Posted: 13 May 2013 11:44 PM PDT
Looks like the general perception among the rakyat that UMNO and its cohabiting-partners are hell bent in getting the multi-racial population to repeat May 13 of 1969, is not too far-fetched after all.
But thank God, this is 2013 and not 1969. The pervasive use of and access to the internet media probably has played its effective role in not getting the citizens all riled up and blinded by this race madness that seems to preoccupy the people aligned to 'die' for UMNO.
Najib led the racial slurs
The run-up to the elections was spiked with racial slurs. The outcome of the elections results was also pinned on race-divisiveness. And the leader of the pack, the in-coming Prime Minister himself screamed "Chinese tsunami" – giving the infamous main stream media further steam to peddle the damaging and most unbecoming allegation by a PM – who is supposed to be the leader for all citizens in a country.
The drivel has not slowed down neither does it seem to show any signs of stopping. It would be nightmarish to think what would have been the precipitate outcome if we did not have the internet media but only had to rely on fixed line telephones and main stream media (TV, radio and newspapers).
In all likelihood, we would have all witnessed another May 13, as staged groups plundered and fought bitter battles on the streets while getting the population at large to believe that the Chinese and Malays are killing each other.
Thank God for the internet media together with all the smart technologies we enjoy today, none of the outdated mechanisms of the Mahathir era are working. And it will not work. But the die-hards – even supposedly learned ex-judges and founders of seemingly global organizations and even academicians are not getting the drift at all, as they cling to the mantra of 'divide the race to reign in the power'. Poor chaps, these fellows must be far, very far behind on the information revolution.
Living side by side
Fools must come to terms with reality and stop being the fools that they are. Malaysians are a very united multiracial society. They trust and work side by side; they study side by side; they recreate side by side; they celebrate side by side; they live side by side.
So do not try to divide the country's unity along race margins. Yes you can try as you may; you can continue to do that using all the money you have to subscribe and enlist your bloggers and hackers in addition to your self-sponsored main stream media.
But Malaysians will get to the bottom of things even if you try to repeat May 13. This is an empowered society – a time unprecedented in the history of human communication. Every one person who carries a hand phone or has an account on the net is independent yet completely networked.
If the 13th general elections is being branded as fraudulent, it is also because of this empowered new media independence. In the past we only had the TV, radio and newspapers – the controlled mouth pieces of UMNO and BN. We could only swallow what is sold to us.
This is no more the reality today. As in the song by Sting & Police, "Every Breath You take", UMNO needs to know, you are in a new world order where,
Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
We'll be watching you
Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Oh can't you UMNO fellas see
We'll be watching you.
Posted: 13 May 2013 10:33 PM PDT
By Anwar Ibrahim
A week has lapsed since the 13th General Elections where yet another wave of change of Tsunamic proportions was unleashed.
But this change, which should have been a change in government, was forestalled by the systemic fraud perpetrated by Najib’s UMNO-BN which robbed Pakatan Rakyat of its rightful victory.
This is not a question of mere electoral flaws or irregularities but a far and wide-ranging scheme of deception and cheating orchestrated at the highest levels calculated and executed to ensure that UMNO’s hold on power will remain, come hell or high water.
Naturally, this travesty of the people’s right has provoked a reaction so strong — now known as Black 505 — that it has spooked the corrupters and evil plotters to seek all means possible to divert and distract the people’s focus.
Najib called the 13th GE results a ‘Chinese tsunami’ the first of a series of blows nationwide attacking the community, while at the same time endeavouring to use the rhetoric to provoke the Malay community to respond and react.
It didn't matter that he was talking through his hat for the reality showed otherwise — the poll numbers extrapolated from independent sources clearly indicated an increase in the number of votes from the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities in favour of Pakatan Rakyat, apart from the consequential increase in the number of Pakatan Malay law makers elected to office.
Taking the cue from Najib's initial racist rant, his prime media mouthpiece the Utusan Malaysia front paged their lead with a screamer: "What more do the Chinese want?" It didn't matter to Najib that these are acts of cowardice and desperation because after all the cheating and the fraud and the taking of office with no legitimacy, how much lower can one go?
Yet, they cannot be taken lightly because they are aimed at deflecting attention from this new movement of protests by the people. And these racist outbursts and fear mongering circulated widely through the UMNO controlled media are intended to break the momentum of Black 505 and eventually to neutralise it.
Let the UMNO corrupters be warned: the suppression of the people’s will may work temporarily but like a can with a limited shelf life, it will not work forever. That’s because when the will of the people prevails, nothing short of divine intervention can stop it.
You cannot put the people to sleep forever. Sooner or later they will awaken. On 5th May, they signalled their awakening with a resounding vote for Pakatan – and no matter what Najib and UMNO choose to call it, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that this is a Malaysian tsunami. And as Black 505 shows, it will not stop until our ends are reached.
Yes, being in possession of the reins of power has rendered UMNO-BN the de facto government for now even if the popular vote for Pakatan exceeds 51 per cent and UMNO-BN's is less than 47.3 per cent.
However, without the popular vote and having stolen more than 30 parliamentary seats from Pakatan, de jure, they have no legitimacy and are in fact usurpers. Which is why they are attempting to divert the focus away from the fraud by leading the time honoured foray into race baiting and incitement to hatred.
By venting out racist outbursts, Najib effectively gave the order to his supremacist minions to go on the war path against not just the Chinese community but the Malay and other communities who did not vote them. The Chinese majority DAP is labelled a chauvinist party while the Malay-Muslim dominated PAS is branded as traitor to race and religion. KEADILAN – multiracial with a strong Malay-Muslim presence – is ridiculed as a proxy for DAP with me taking the grand prize of being Public Enemy No. 1 and traitor to King and country.
In the run up to 13th GE, the incessant personal attacks against Pakatan leaders were orchestrated by the highest echelons in the media working hand in glove with the powers that be. They spun a web of lies and deceit to poison the minds of the people with the endless playback of fabricated material. But under this torrent of lowly, spurious and immoral acts of subterfuge, they swore on their mothers' wombs that they would not play the race and religion card. Yes, they did so and with great aplomb, paraded their racist Perkasa but 'now born again truly Malaysian' candidates.
They kept their word for a week or two but only to break loose like a Pandora's Box unable to hold back any more all that pent up bile and hatred. Hence, hardly a couple of hours after their self-declared victory they let loose their racist dogs of war to spew their poison on the people.
Sunday's tirade by a former senior judge plus the hysterical declaration of a failed election candidate handpicked by Najib that the DAP is responsible for the May13th riots must surely be considered to be deliberate acts of provoking hatred against a racial group, if nothing more.
In more established democracies, such acts by deed or by word are regarded as hate crimes. In a multicultural and multi-religious nation like ours there should be no doubt that the various communities must be prohibited by law from insulting or provoking one another either through acts or speech. What more if these crimes are perpetrated by their leaders?
The desperate but utterly reckless acts of incitement to racist hatred and religious fear are now revived with a vengeance. There's no doubt that transgressors should be caught under the Sedition Act. Indeed, the time has come for a more specific law to be put into place to punish such hate crimes and prevent them from causing further damage to the fabric of our society.
But over and above crime and punishment through legislation is the moral imperative that the task and duty of societal cohesion and harmony falls on the shoulders of every citizen, what more on community leaders be they elected or self-appointed. When human conduct runs the risk of causing great harm, laws are necessary. But compliance for fear of legal sanctions is not fool proof. Just like fighting corruption, we must be guided by the moral imperative to do what we know is inherently right and to shun what is wrong – whether or not the eyes of the law are watching us.
So I call on all right-minded Malaysians – be they Malay, Chinese, Indian, Dayak or Kadazan or any other ethnic group – to reject the racist Barisan Nasional – because another moment longer with this evil coalition is another moment longer with a party that is doomed to bring this nation to ruin.
Why be an accessory or be complicit to evil in the spreading of racial discontent and causing disharmony when you can be on the right side of history?
This indeed is a moral imperative. The Pakatan leaders are committed to this creed to unify all Malaysians. We have come together with the people by dint of our unshakable sense of conviction not for power or office but for the well-being and future of our beloved nation. Here's our clarion call to you: stand up and be counted. Stand up for Bangsa Malaysia.
Posted: 13 May 2013 08:58 AM PDT
BN under pressure to dismantle race-based policies as opposition draws more support from all sides, lifting popular vote above 50%.
History was supposed to have been made on May 5, the day Malaysians came out in record numbers to vote for a new government.
Some pundits predicted the country's 13th general election — GE13 in the local shorthand — would be a defining moment that ended the grip on power by the Barisan Nasional (BN). Many were preparing for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to be ushered in as prime minister the next day.
The huge interest in the contest for 222 Parliamentary seats and 505 state seats was reflected in the record turnout — 84.84% or 11.25 million of the 13.2 million registered voters. Of the total, 2.3 million were new voters.
Since independence from Britain in 1957, Malaysians have known no other government than BN, a coalition of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), MCA and Gerakan representing the Chinese, and MIC representing Indians.
The opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) comprises the new and predominantly Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP), PAS (Parti Islam Se-Malaysia) and PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) led by Anwar.
Anwar was quick to declare victory via Twitter early on election night, five hours before the official announcement at midnight by the Election Commission. The results showed the BN returning to power, but not without bleeding more seats at both the federal and state levels compared to 2008. As well, its share of the popular vote fell to 48.7% against 51.3% for the PR.
But in Malaysia, where the government for years has been accused of skewing electoral boundaries to favour candidates in its rural heartland, losing the popular vote is no bar to winning the House.
BN won 133 federal seats, just one less than in 2008, and 274 out of the 505 state seats. PR won 89 parliamentary seats, six more than in 2008. The opposition retained control of Malaysia's two wealthiest states — Penang and Selangor. PAS held on in Kelantan but lost Kedah to BN. Anwar's party also caused hairline cracks in BN's once "fixed deposit" states — Johor and Sabah.
The opposition continues to insist that it was robbed of victory, that the polls were rigged and the process marred by fraud. The poll watchdog Bersih has also refused to recognise the BN government until it verifies reports of electoral fraud.
Reports from southern Thailand, to cite just one example, said that BN was paying 400 to 500 ringgit in "travel expenses" to each voter holding Malaysian nationality to travel south to cast ballots. International observers, however, said the polling process on the whole was fair and transparent.
A group of young voters in Sabah participated in a silent walk on Tuesday to express their disappointment over the results, which they felt did not reflect the nation's desire for a change in government.
Addressing some 60,000 supporters at a rally last Wednesday night, Anwar vowed that PR would challenge the results in at least 30 seats.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was sworn in on Monday, conceded that his party had some work to do to regain voters' trust.
The clear winner among the political parties that contested the election was the DAP, which engineered what Najib ruefully called "the Chinese tsunami" of votes that abandoned the BN. That left the BN's Chinese-based parties including MCA and Gerakan as the biggest losers.
Chinese voters increasingly are expressing their disapproval of decades of race-based development policies that favour ethnic Malays. They claim the policies have not promoted equality but have simply entrenched corruption.
However, BN's weaker showing points to a strong wave of rejection from all Malaysians and not just from the minority Chinese. A major swing in the urban and middle-class electorate shows that Malaysia's urban-rural rift is widening.
Experts analysing the results say there has been a political awakening in the country, which in the longer term will be beneficial. The evolution will continue, with the restlessness of the younger generation wanting to have a say in their future ensuring that the politics of race will sooner rather than later be put out to pasture.
Rather than blaming the Chinese for voting for the opposition, the BN should admit that it has failed to heed the new political reality. MCA and MIC had failed to serve the community they were created to serve and they no longer appeal to the younger voters.
Though Najib has made a lot of changes since he came to power four years ago, he has to do more. His government must continue to dismantle bumiputera policies and also introduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to make Malaysia more competitive and lift it out of a middle-income trap.
As well, a total review of the education system can no longer be avoided, a social security system needs to be in place, and exorbitant higher education fees addressed. The rising crime rate is also a serious matter.
Now it is time for reconciliation, as unity is the key in diverse Malaysia. However, equality for all, regardless of gender, race or religion is a critical factor. For unity to work, Malaysians should not longer be judged based on their race.
The government has five years to undo past mistakes and bring change or else the next battle — GE14 — will be won by the party that can present a better united front.
Posted: 13 May 2013 08:57 AM PDT
On May 13, 1969, the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur was a living hell with vehicles, houses and the national consciousness set ablaze. Clashes between ethnic Malays and Chinese claimed 196 lives according to official police estimates. Independent foreign observers estimated the death toll as ten times higher.
Triggered by the outcome of the 1969 elections, that riot paved way for two years of emergency rule and a fundamental change in politics and society. The then ruling Alliance Party – a coalition of three communal parties representing Malays, Chinese and Indians and their regional allies in Sabah and Sarawak – found itself
squeezed by Malay and non-Malay opposition from both flanks.
In terms of popular votes in peninsular Malaysia, the opposition Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) rose from 15% in 1964 to 24% at the 1969 polls, threatening the then ruling United Malays National Organization’s (UMNO) claim as ethnic Malays’ sole political representative. In contrast, the popular support for non-Malay opposition parties was constant at 26%.
Thanks to a first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system and strategic avoidance of multi-cornered electoral fights, non-Malay opposition parties saw their parliamentary seats rise from six in 1964 to 22 in 1969, while PAS increased its share only marginally from 9 to 12. The non-Malay opposition’s electoral gains were at the time conveniently interpreted as an ethnic Chinese challenge to ethnic Malays’ political dominance.
When UMNO’s junior partner Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), which suffered a major setback at the 1969 polls, decided to stay out of the cabinet to respect the popular verdict, this was unfortunately viewed as a Chinese decision to abandon communal power sharing with UMNO. The riot resulted in a transfer of power from Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman to his deputy Abdul Razak Hussein, the father of current prime minister Najib Razak.
In the wake of the riot, Abdul Razak implemented a series of pro-Malay policies, most significantly the New Economic Policy (NEP), and co-opted most of the opposition into Barisan Nasional (BN), an expanded version of the previous ruling Alliance. He effectively built an electoral one-party state which remained unassailable until 2008, when opposition parties that later came to form the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition made historic gains at the ballot box.
These historical facts are worth revisiting because history seems to have repeated itself in many ways in the general election held on May 5. Like in 1969, BN lost its majority in popular votes, polling only 47%, despite allegations of widespread irregularities and fraud. Nevertheless, mal-apportionment and gerrymandering of constituencies allowed the ruling coalition to maintain 60% of parliament’s total seats.
Najib’s first response to the poor popular showing was that BN’s electoral setback was due to a “Chinese tsunami”. Altogether, the PR opposition coalition won only 40% of parliament’s seats while notching a bare majority of 51% in popular votes.
Individually, popular support for the PR’s Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) rose from 14% to 16%, while PAS’s vote share also rose from 14% to 15%. The Malay-dominated centrist People’s Justice Party (PKR) won 20% of all votes cast, compared to the 19% it garnered five years ago.
Thanks to the first-past-the-post electoral system, DAP emerged as the largest party with 38 parliamentary seats, while PKR and PAS lost respectively one and two seats at 30 and 21 respectively, despite winning more votes than they did in 2008.
Following Najib’s cue, the UMNO-controlled Malay language daily Utusan Malaysia asked on its front page the next day “What more do the Chinese want?” – painting an unbecoming portrait of a greedy and insatiable minority. The following days saw more provocative headlines on the same theme. Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad joined the attacks, accusing the Chinese of “rejecting the Malays’ hand of friendship”. (Ethnic Chinese account for around 25% of the national population, while ethnic Malays account for around 60%.)
On May 12, a retired senior judge and card-carrying UMNO member upped the ante by warning the Chinese of a Malay backlash against their “betrayal”. “When the Malays are betrayed, they will react and their wrath will be endless,” he said. The judge even called for an expansion of NEP-related privileges for ethnic Malays that “from today on, every business would have a 67% share ready for Malays to be taken up at any time”.
As in post-election 1969, the MCA has decided against joining the new cabinet in response to the popular will. With only seven Chinese members among BN’s 133 parliamentary delegates, the question of a lack of Chinese representation in the new government has already been raised in certain quarters.
Like UMNO’s relentless efforts to co-opt the opposition after the 1969 polls, calls have been made for the DAP to join BN to represent the Chinese, or for a grand coalition government to include both BN and PR. The pro-BN Chinese daily Sin Chew misleadingly reported that DAP was contemplating the proposal of forming a coalition government with BN.
Unfortunately for Najib, the Malaysia he faces is vastly different from the racially-charged one his father took over in 1969. Malaysians’ knee-jerk reaction to speculation of possible race-based riots and political violence has virtually disappeared in the past five years. Post-election riots have not materialized, despite UMNO and BN stalwarts race-baiting public statements.
The 2008 elections saw PR take power in five out of Malaysia’s 13 federal states, including the comparatively prosperous states of Selangor and Penang. Significantly, Malaysians have grown more cohesive in their protest against electoral fraud and corruption under the BN. Even though political violence may break out anywhere anytime, the probability of it spreading along communal lines is almost nil.
Thanks to UMNO’s pro-Malay policies after 1969, the socio-economic status of many Malays has improved over the years, closing once yawning inter-communal gaps in wealth and income. After the Utusan Malaysia’s provocative headlines, warnings have spread through SMS to the Chinese that they should refrain from any protests against election fraud to avoid becoming the target of another May 13, 1969 riot.
Despite those threats, the protest rallies organized by PR in Kuala Lumpur and the states of Penang and Perak have attracted tens of thousands angry citizens clad in black, the symbolic color for mourning, to lament the death of democracy after BN’s questionable victory on May 5. The rally participants have been multi-ethnic and youthful.
In the early 1970s, then prime minister Abdul Razak dismissed democratic participation in the name of communal harmony. “In our Malaysian society of today, where racial manifestations are very much in exercise, any form of politicking is bound to follow along racial lines and will only enhance the divisive tendencies,” Razak said.
Now, in 2013, young adults and even teenagers are marching in high spirits to the opposition rallies, almost as if they are attending dance parties. Ironically, politics now unites Malaysians who yearn for change regardless of their ethnic and cultural backgrounds. In the first black-clad rally held in Kelana Jaya, where some 120,000 reportedly attended, a group of Malays shouted “we are Chinese” in response to Utusan Malaysia’s racial hate-mongering.
Personified by the marching multi-ethnic youth clad in black, Malaysia has finally left behind the threat of ethnic riots after 44 years. Najib may believe that his party and coalition won the 2013 election, but anyone who has seen the recent rally crowds will conclude otherwise: they have lost a generation and the popular mandate to rule.
|You are subscribed to email updates from Anwar Ibrahim |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|