Who is really divided – Malays or Malay political parties?
By Zan Azlee
I thought that one of the major reasons for the declaration of emergency by the government is so that everyone will stop politicking and focus on the Covid-19 pandemic. But I guess it hasn’t worked because we can see so many politicians and political parties politicking left, right and centre.
Umno leaders have been questioning Bersatu leaders and have even threatened to leave the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition. Bersatu is accusing Umno of not putting the interest of the Malays at the forefront of its fight. PAS… well, PAS is just there for the ride. The party will go with whoever invited it to form the government.
The most recent politicking that I have observed is the age-old one where all the politicians are calling for the Malays to unite and come together. Ironically, the political parties that are doing this all come from the ruling coalition – Bersatu, Umno and PAS. Weren’t they the ones who said that the emergency is to curb politicking?
Why are the Malay political parties always trying to unite the Malays? They keep saying that the Malays must come together to protect their interests and blah blah blah, or else their position in the country will be threatened by the non-Malays and blah blah blah. Aren’t we all sick of the same old politicking?
Currently, we have three major Malay political parties that, unfortunately, all make up the ruling coalition in the government. We have Umno, the party which was formed pre-independence. Yes, Umno was banned and came back as Umno Baru, but essentially, it is the same Umno.
As we all know, many of the senior leaders in Umno are facing corruption charges in court. When the backdoor government took over via the Sheraton Move, Umno, which was ousted in the previous general election, joined forces with those who engineered the move. Given the corruption charges, its senior leaders couldn’t be appointed to the cabinet.
Then there is Bersatu. For the most part, Malaysians see Bersatu as the ‘pengkhianat’ party because they saw the party as stabbing the back of Pakatan Harapan and forming a new coalition, throwing its Harapan allies under the bus. In fact, several members of the other Harapan component parties left and joined Bersatu as well.
And then there is PAS. How did PAS get into the fray? Well, without PAS, Bersatu and Umno won’t have enough seats to form the government. So, maybe, it was just all out of convenience to have the Islamic party join PN? Who knows! What we do know is that the PAS members who have been appointed to the cabinet are a disruptive bunch.
We have one or two who consistently try to justify how they can break movement control order (MCO) rules without being charged or summoned, and we have a couple who are trying to Islamicise the government by making outrageous statements that infringe on and offend non-Muslim Malaysians.
So, there you go – a coalition that is made up of mostly Malay political parties. Sure, we have a few small component parties here and there that are not Malay such as Star, SAPP and recently, Gerakan. But they are a very small minority in the coalition. The big boys are still the three Malay ones.
Now, the interesting thing that is happening is that the coalition seems to be imploding (or exploding). Bersatu, Umno and PAS are consistently squabbling and attacking each other. Each one is accusing the other of not protecting the rakyat. Each one is implying that the other is not protecting the Malays.
Hence, we are now back to that same old narrative of “the Malays must unite and come together”. The call is coming from all these Malay political parties. Why are they calling for the Malays to unite? What is their basis to assume that the Malays in the country are divided?
And here is where the problem lies. Are the Malays really divided or are the Malay political parties that are divided? So, should they really be calling for all the Malays to unite or should they just be calling for the parties to unite? Or are they cynically trying to garner support to show that they are the true Malay representatives?
As far as I can observe, put race aside for now, the Malays will support whichever party they see fit to represent them. If they choose PKR, then they believe that PKR can best represent them. The same goes to Bersatu, Umno or PAS. The Malays would choose the most appropriate party for them.
If all the Malay political parties were to unite, then the Malays would have to re-evaluate their choice and see if this one big Malay party would represent them appropriately. And if it isn’t, then they would likely go off and find a different party to support, be it a Malay party or not.
So, really, it isn’t the Malays that aren’t united. It is the existing parties that are not united and are against one another. Maybe, the politicians should stop trying to portray and infer that Malays are divided.
What if there were no Malay political parties? What if the only political parties out there are parties that are based on ideologies, policies and social issues? How would the Malays make their choices then? Now they wouldn’t be basing it on who would protect Malay rights anymore, would they?
The Malays would then be looking at which ideology, policies and issues that are in line with their interest. I believe that most Malays are just like any other Malaysians. They want to make sure they are free to lead the lives they want to lead, that they have the opportunity to build careers, to raise families and be happy in the best country they can create.
So, who or which is the problem? Is it the Malays or is it the Malay political parties?
[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]
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