By Ti Lian Ker
The narratives that many policies unfavourable to Muslims and Malays were introduced since the Pakatan Harapan government took power is flawed. Indeed, there are policy changes and proposals, but these are mainly from the critical and liberal Malays who wanted a progressive view on Islam and Malays.
In the past, these thinking Malays have been intimidated or cowed into silence because the political eco-system was then not favourable for them to speak out. The recent statements and rants by ISMA and PERKASA laced with racial and religious inflammatory rhetorics are examples from the past.
With the recent free flow of information and intellectual discourse in the new media, these Malays and Muslims have found their voices are no longer in isolation and have come together to speak out against the more orthodox views.
An example is the G25, Sisters in Islam (SIS) etc.
Thus, even UMNO and PAS leaders are changing their political rhetorics to be more inclusive to win over the middle ground, the cosmopolitans and the so-called “Bangsar crowds” whose voices and opinions are gaining support because they speak sense, are factual and do not put down others.
It is not true that PH has been introducing policies which are detrimental to the Malays and Muslims. It is also not true that certain policies changed due to the presence of the DAP. On the contrary, DAP has been silent on a lot of issues relating to race and religion due to the sensitivity of the matter.
DAP have decided not to touch on the local government election issues; the increase in matriculation intake, depriving Non-Bumiputras of their rightful places; the Tabung Haji/Felda bailout of RM24 billion from Non-Bumiputras and non-halal taxes, etc. They are now in power and do not wish to “rock the boat”.
This is the political reality that DAP have to accept to remain in power. Even Lim Kit Siang has decided to take a back seat and keep his silence on his “pet issues” of race and religion, knowing it will provoke, cross and irk the Non-Muslims and middle-class voters.
Now that they are all in DAP’s pocket, they have chosen to be silent and facilitate or allow their components in Bersatu and Amanah to bend over to win over Malay and Muslim votes. This is the political reality of today and more Malay and Islam centric decisions will be made by the PH government to win over their votes to remain in power.
Therefore, there is now a pressing need for a Third Force to retain, maintain and continue the momentum of CHANGE that the rakyat craved for when they voted BN out of power, especially so if Bersatu and Amanah decide to play against Umno or PAS by increasing the tempo of race and religion tones to win over the Malay and Muslim voters still not with PH.
This will be of grave concern where we will see a repeat of Bersatu/Amanah taking over the role of Umno and PAS/Umno playing to the gallery of the extreme right with DAP caught in between and remaining “nonchalant” like MCA before. At least I have chosen to speak against Umno and PAS in the past and chosen not to stand in the past three GEs knowing that by speaking out, we will not be able to garner the Malay votes.
It is unfortunate that DAP who had near absolute support of the Chinese community and Malaysian moderates have chosen to be SILENT in fear and cowardice of being branded as anti-Malay or anti-Muslim. DAP have resigned to the fact that they cannot initiate change and are more interested to just cling onto power
The time is right for the emergence of a Third Force consisting dedicated, committed professionals who have the brains and courage to bring forth the change voters want and to drive the nation’s economy forward. At the end of the day, what matters most to the rakyat is to put food on the table and to ensure a sound future for their children.
There is no longer room for race-based politics and political parties who will “sell their souls” just to stay in power. What the nation needs right now is a force which has nothing but the nation’s interest at heart and will stop at nothing towards ensuring a better future for the Malaysian rakyat.
Senator Ti Lian Ker is MCA Vice President
The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.