Recently, I had a conversation about politics with an acquaintance who I don’t really know very well personally.
Yeah, politics has been on the lips of so many Malaysians lately, looking at the number of scandals breaking out on the local political scene.
“Hey Zan. What do you think of the money controversies surrounding our Prime Minister?” she asked.
“It sucks. To think about how the people are struggling and then listening to how our leaders are presumably swimming in cash makes me feel lousy,” I replied.
“Do you think we need to change our Prime Minister?”
“I don’t know. It depends on the people,”
“The main thing is that the Prime Minister needs to be a Malay.”
“I don’t agree. I think he or she just needs to be a Malaysian.”
“Oh no! Then we Malays will be sidelined!”
“What are you talking about? A Prime Minister has a responsibility to all Malaysians.”
“Well, then the Prime Minister has to be a Muslim.” she persisted.
“I don’t agree either. He or she just needs to be honest, responsible and capable,” I concluded.
I find it very difficult to believe that in this day and age, people in Malaysia are still so racially inclined. Yet, it is also not very difficult to believe.
It seems everything in the country has been designed to be racially segregated and everyone has had racism ingrained into their minds from the get go.
Look at the recent Bersih 4 rally that took place in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend. It was reported that more than 100,000 people attended the rally.
The message they were trying to get across is clear. The people wanted clean elections, a clean government, the right to protest, to uphold parliamentary democracy and to save the economy.
But so many people, were too focused on the racial make up of the crowd on those two days. The main contention was that there were too little Malays who were there.
And this is even when everybody knew that the ultimate Malay, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, was there (many people believe that he alone counts for at least 100 Malays)!
What I think is that all this is due to the racist mentality inherent in all Malaysians, because of the way our country is built.
Racism is the reason why the percentage of Malay participants of Bersih 4 was so glaringly small, and racism is the reason why we also immediately picked up on that issue.
Firstly, we have a political system that consists of race-based parties. Our former colonial masters had succeeded in pitting us against each other then, and it has carried on till today.
We have become so insecure and scared that our race will be oppressed that we feel the constant need to make sure that we as separate groups needs to be protected in the government.
Like I said previously, an elected leader has the responsibility for all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, gender and whatever else.
Well, actually that is the root of the problem – a political system that is so inherently racist that it bleeds into other policies and institutions that we have in the country.
Now if you think I’m saying that the component parties in the ruling coalition (Barisan Nasional) are racist and we need to get rid of them, then you are dead wrong.
The Opposition is not any better when it comes to this issue either. No one can deny that DAP is perceived to be a Chinese party, Pas is a Malay one, and PKR is a well… a problematic one!
We urgently need to take drastic steps to overcome this problem. We need to eliminate race-based politics. How do we do this? I don’t know. And that makes me a little bit worried.