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Dec 14, 2007

Playing the racial card

via hiroblog2007.

Watching video clips from Malaysiakini recently, one cannot help but wonder if Malaysia is the same police state that it was under Mahathir Administration.

It seems that UMNO cannot extricate itself from playing the racial card to stay in power. One is tempted to think that it may not be the fault of the leadership, but they have to do what they have to do in order to stay accepted, least they are pushed out by extremist elements within the party. Perhaps they have found out all too well when Mahathir took over from Tun Hussein Onn. At the end of the day, it is all Malay politics.

We should be realistic and appreciate that the Malay Muslim electorate tend to think as follows:

1) Lina Joy conversion case: 2-1 decision in the Federal Court shows balance, and therefore the right decision. I'm not going to let someone in my family convert out of Islam, it's a question of family honour (that supersedes that family members' personal convictions and Constitutional right)

2) Hindu/Muslim conversion cases: Too bad, shit happens sometimes, but convert to Islam good mar...

3) NEP injustices: we may sympathise, but are we really going to lose sleep if the policy is not implemented fairly? We (or someone related to us) are at the positive receiving end, no system is perfect, so sure got leakages one, but tak apa lar (even though billions could have been used to make us a first class nation if not otherwise lining someone elses' pockets)

4) Hindraf "demands": by asking for more Indian rights, the implication is some rights have to be taken away from Malays - that's a big no no (even though those affected Indians are in a far more sorry state than the Malays - face it, they don't have NEP to help them)

5) Unfair elections: the press says some foreign polling result shows most of us think that elections are free and fair wat, so what's this Bersih talking about?

6) Official corruption: AAB promised anti-corruption, nailed many fishes wat, so what's the problem (even though all the big ones got away)

7) Official incompetence: well, the mass media is inundated with government officials planning/investigating this and that (but not showing any results) so they are probably working their best (we have short memory), and we should give them a chance

8) Rising crime: I'm at kampung, not sure what's the big hoo hah in the cities - anyway, blame it foreign labourers, not the government

We (those of us who could read online and are inclined towards indepedent viewpoints anyway) are probably inclined to think that the government should lead by the highest standards, and with inspired wisdom. Unfortunately, the reality is this government is good at sensing the pulse of the Malay nation (that much credit we have to give them) to the extent that they are likely able to persuade the rural folks that:

1) a racial plea for fairness (as in the case of Hindraf*) is equivalent to a racial provocation (which is when what Najib, Hishammuddin and most recently Rustam said about bathing blood to protect Malay supremacy did not even earn them a slap on the wrist)

* I don't know about the truth behind the allegation of ethnic cleansing - that's really up to the Court to decide if it is seditious - but come on, to put them behind ISA detention for 2 years do not just look desperate, but downright vindictive

2) political security of UMNO (i.e. fear of losing a Parliamentary seat) is equivalent to national security for Malaysia (national security means, for instance, some enemy state knows exactly which houses to bomb to kill off all cabinet Ministers/Parliamentarians because someone in Malaysia leaked all the addresses to them - now THAT's a threat to national security)

3) criticism against the government is an attack on Malay Muslims (which implies the government only acts for Malay Muslims, and you wonder how AAB could claim to be PM for all Malaysians)

4) all rallies (no matter how peaceful like the Bersih, Hindraf and Malaysian Bar) are violent (even though the violence and road blocks are caused by the police)

(1) -(4) of which are basis for the ISA arrests.

It is actually strange that UMNO should want to encourage extremism (and lack of critical thinking) in its electorate when it has every resources to take the middle ground and be progressive. Perhaps the simplest answer is also the correct one, that by keeping to the extreme, they are in a better position to win support. If that's the case, then all hopes are lost as far as Malaysia is concerned, because the question now is not replacement of leaders, but replacement of mindset of the people.

Even assuming the opposition comes to power, what's preventing them from adopting the same realistic strategy? I just hope I am wrong, that all electorates are born with an ingrained sense of what's right and wrong, so that with proper persuasion, they will vote for someone who will manage this country better.

The fight taken up by the opposition and like minded NGOs should primarily focus winning over the minds of the rural folks, by all creative means available. That's the only way we can stop this unbelievably tortuous state of regression.


multidimid said...

It was an easy way out for the Government & especially the AG who was running around chasing for evidence. No Charges, Prosecution, Trial, Bail or Arguments just sign the order and brand them as “traitors” and off they go to Kamunting, Taiping ISA Detention Camp. A SB was quoted as saying “as a preventive move to halt the group's plans to hold another massive rally soon” Another unnamed Police officer said Hindraf “stunned the government by bringing more than 10,000 ethnic Indians on to the streets to complain of racial discrimination”
More details & pics at:
Go H E R E
and P. Uthayakumar came to the court grounds with 31 coconuts, 31 caged birds and camphor to perform a special pooja (prayers) for the safe release of the accused on Monday

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