Do we need more Malay representation in Parliament?


Do we need more Malay representation in Parliament?

By Zan Azlee

Let’s look at the government of the day. It is currently the Perikatan Nasional (PN) and in this coalition, the major parties are Bersatu and PAS. Sure, there are a few other parties like Gerakan. But it’s just a mosquito party with no seats in Parliament. The last I really heard anything significant from Gerakan is its loss of Penang in the 2008 general election.

PN doesn’t really have a majority in Parliament to form the government. So, it is currently relying heavily on Umno and a few other parties in Sabah and Sarawak. But check out the Cabinet. Out of the one prime minister and 35 ministers, only four are non-Malays and out of those four, only two are non-bumiputera.

I would have to say that for a cabinet that consists of 89 percent Malay representation, the Malays need not worry about under-representation. So, it baffles me to read about how PAS vice-president Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah and central committee member Khairuddin Aman Razali would like to delineate the voting lines to enable more Malay representation. Whatever it is now is still not enough?

This is shocking because for so long, we have been trying to push for the redelineation of the lines to make things more equal when it comes to representation. As it is, gerrymandering has been a problem for decades. Malaysia actually needs more equal representation in the constituencies in order to break up racial and religious dominance.

This is also shocking because all these decades, people have been pushing for redelineation of the lines in order to create more equality for all the races and people in Malaysia. The objective is to create equal representation for everyone regardless of race, religious beliefs and, of course, economic and social status.

When PAS brought up the issue of more Malay representation, it felt like the whole country was regressing and moving backwards. It is as plain and obvious as saying that not everyone in Malaysia is equal and that some people are just more equal than others. And this, to me, is the evil and dirty side of racial politics.

We need to rid the country of racially-based political parties because of just this example with PAS. As much as we say that there is nothing wrong for standing up for the rights of a particular racial or religious group, it should be standing up for equal rights and justice. Not standing up for dominance or supremacy.

They can, as much as they want, say that coalitions are formed that consist of parties from various racial and religious groups so that everyone will be represented. But at the end of the day, if we look at the example of Malaysia, it always ends up with infighting and selfishness as each component party is just trying to look out for its own interests instead of the whole country.

What can be done to eliminate race-based politics? Nothing systemic really because these parties should have the right to exist as well in a democracy. However, society and the public as a whole should reject these ideas. Malaysians as a whole need to take a stand and decide if we want to be continuously manipulated by these political parties.

As I have written before in a previous instalment of my column ‘Who is really divided – Malays or Malay political parties?’, I believe that the Malay political parties are constantly shouting that the Malays are divided and need to unite not because it is necessarily true. I do not think that the Malays are undivided.

If you put race aside, I am confident the Malays will choose whoever they see fit and appropriate to represent them. So if all the Malay parties united, I doubt that all the Malays would just vote for that one party. They would definitely choose a party that would do a better job holistically.

The only reason why Malay political parties can keep making these claims of having to protect Malay rights is that these political parties are just too loud. We need to drown out their calls by being even louder when it comes to screaming about equality and justice. The call isn’t about repressing and oppressing Malay rights. It’s a call for the rights of everyone to be equal and for nobody’s rights to be repressed or oppressed.

We need to reject racial politics. Simple as that. Many will think that it is naive that we continue to make this call in Malaysia and in Malaysian politics. But think about it. The racially charged calls by the Malay parties are quite ridiculous too. But they keep doing it no matter how irrational or illogical it is. And they continue to be loud. So let us be loud in countering it too.

[This article was originally for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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