Race And Religion: Greatest Taboo Of Malaysian Politics

By Yuktes Vijay

In the context of Malaysian politics, race and religion, without a shadow of doubt, are the double pivot on which the political leanings of most Malaysians are based upon. Of course, this notion would be denied vehemently by the alleged parties as they will continue to insist their political struggle is about democracy, fairness and justice. After all, fighting on the basis of race and religion would have you labelled as an extremist, while politicking in the guise of democracy will make you an activist.

It is crucial to establish the role of race and religion in Malaysian politics. Otherwise, outsiders who have a vested interest in Malaysians politics would be coaxed into believing that the political struggle in Malaysia is akin to the fight against apartheid in South Africa. This is certainly not the case and clearly, a view which is devoid of the truth.

The paradigm of Malaysian politics was perfect until politics intervened and divided us. – Photocredit: Biospace.com

In order to establish the role of race and religion in Malaysian politics, one needs to look no further than the following event to understand the rationale of such an assertion.

Following a thorough investigation into the murky multi-million-dollar scandal that former Prime Minister Najib Razak’s opponents had hoped would bring him down, on 26 January 26, the then attorney-general (AG) of Malaysia, Apandi Ali, had declared that it has been established that the former Prime Minister did not commit any criminal offences or practice corruption as being alleged at that material time.

Our then Opposition party leaders denounced those finding, stating the appointment of the AG by the Prime Minister in the midst of the crisis following the sacking of the previous AG, Gani Patail (for being a co-conspirator in a bid to topple Najib) suggested a conflict of interest and that there were other elements that induced the AG’s finding.

Without even bothering to take a deep breath and analysing the given facts, a lot of people were still skeptical and critical of the then government at that juncture. It is essential to note that this was a result of the doctrine by Pakatan that if you are a Malay and you are appointed to a top post, it is not because of merits, but due to special rights provided in the constitution.

The inability of the non-Malays to think beyond racial lines created a general feeling of discontentment among the rakyat which eventually led to the events on 09 May, 2018. The fall of Najib Razak and Barisan National’s reign had the Pakatan supporters in an ecstatic mood to say the least. Ecstatic to the extent that they claimed a Malaysia Baru (New Malaysia) was born that day.

Unfortunately, the Pakatan Harapan leaders, when they were in power for 22 months decided that we should not be doing this, so decided to remove everything which is 1Malaysia, the battle cry by former PM Najib Razak to get all races together under one happy banner.– Photo created by natanaelginting of freepik.com

So, in Malaysia Baru, Tommy Thomas was appointed by Pakatan as the new AG on 04 June 2018. His appointment was hailed by Herald Malaysia, a Malaysian Catholic Church Newspaper and every other non-Muslim as the best appointment the country has made since Merdeka.

(Point to ponder : Now wait a minute. The best AG since Merdeka? Was Malaysia a lawless state prior to this? In fact, the only AG who has drawn international scorns for his performance is the one AG that Pakatan had hailed as a hero prior to GE 14, Gani Patail for his infamous role in Anwar Ibrahim‘s first sodomy trial (remember the mattress? The crime location not even existing when the sodomy was alleged to have happened.)

Following that, on 03 September 2019, it was reported that the Penang High Court had granted a discharge amounting to an acquittal on Lim Guan Eng and Phang Li Koon over their corruption charges! Lim Guan Eng was the former Penang Chief Minister (CM) and the offence took place during the time he was the CM.

(Trivial fact check: Did you know that Tommy Thomas was the counsel for Lim Guan Eng in that case immediately before his appointment as AG?)

Lim Guan Eng’s acquittal was done by his own lawyer after he was appointed as the AG, but we hardly heard any whispers about this clear misuse of power being in play. Bar Council, hello?

What is the difference here? Nothing. If there’s no difference to them, then why is there a varied response on two same issues here? Race. Religion. It goes back to the previously discussed point where most Malaysians are under the impression the Malays are in top position not due to merit as a result of Pakatan’s doctrination. In essence, what this meant was all former AGs who were Malays, Muslims and from the Judicial and Legal Service, to put it mildly, were less qualified because one, they were Muslims and two, because they were appointed by a Malay government.

Ugly Facet Of Malaysian Politics

Thanks to the ineptness of Tommy Thomas in performing his duties helped fizzle out the unwarranted hype surrounding his appointment. It also brought the ugly facet of Malaysian politics, race and religion to the fore.

The ugly thinking that a person of real calibre can only be a non-Muslim and those who’s appointments were made after the fall of a Malay dominated federal government became apparent.

Yes, race and religion is the heart and soul of Malaysian politics. Thank to Anwar Ibrahim, DAP and Pakatan’s greed for power, they have immersed our political scene into a war zone without a single bullet being fired.

When the Reformasi movement began in 1998, the target audience were primarily the Malays. This could be seen via Anwar Ibrahim’s speeches at that point of time where he constantly attacked Tun Mahathir to be a Mamak Bendahara. By labelling Tun Mahathir as Mamak Bendahara, Anwar Ibrahim was using Tun’s Indian blood to imply to the Malays that Tun Mahathir cannot be trusted and will destroy the Malays. Anyone with the need for further clarification can check on the story of Mamak Bendahara from our Malacca tales and it would become obvious what Anwar was implying. (You can also read Hang Kasturi‘s take on the comparison between Tun Mahathir and Tun Mutakhir of Malacca published in the New Malaysia Herald recently.)

Anwar’s tone changed in 2008 after the first tsunami in Malaysian General Elections happened. After Pakatan managed to deny BN their customary 2/3 majority in Parliament, it became obvious to Anwar that the power base of the Opposition is in the hands of the non-Malay votes. That is why after 2008, Anwar stopped harping about Mamak Bendahara and started with his infamous ‘”Anak Melayu, Anak Cina, Anak India, Anak Kadazan, Anak Iban semua anak saya” in his speeches.

A closer look at the events that unfolded back then would show you that prior to 2008, Pakatan’s campaign always revolved around justice for Anwar, corruption, human rights and civil liberties. Only after the non-Malays, especially the Chinese, propelled them to power in 2008, did Anwar realize how he can also become a Prime Minister without commanding the support of the Malays.

The following thoughts is what induced the next series of protests such as the Bersih’s unfair election screams, Lynas and so on. Despite those protests being marketed as a protest for the betterment of Malaysia and it’s rakyat (the citizens), the harsh truth is that the underlying motive behind them was to plant the seeds of discontent among the Malaysian public who’s diversity has long been their strength.

When the Chinese were told that they created modern Malaysia because they are the number one tax payers in Malaysia (which is a big lie too btw!), the Chinese began to feel discontent as they feel their money is being used by ‘other people’ to enrich themselves. When the Indians are fed with tales that Chola conquered Malaya and Indians were here before the Malays, it began to give birth to the idea that Indians who were already in the economically backward category began to wonder why they can’t exercise Article 153 as they too were Pribumis (natives) of this land (which again is besides the truth!).

The distortion of history has began to take effect as the racial divide in our country is wider than ever before. Heck, we even have Malaysians who refuse to speak or acknowledge the national language, Bahasa Melayu because of the word ‘Melayu’ (Malay) being present. Ridiculous ain’t it, but sadly, that is how far politics has managed to divide us.

It was important for me to establish that race and religion are the prevalent factors that decide politics in our country today. That is what the absolute truth is and no amount of denial can prove it to be otherwise.

In subsequent articles, the muslihat (trickery) behind race and religion rhetorics of Pakatan shall be unravelled further. – New Malaysia Herald

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