Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Curse Of Race-Based Parties

Malaysian politics continue to be contaminated by anachronisms from another age, race-based parties. How could they possibly have survived into this new century?

The answer of course lies with the Barisan Nasional. It is a disturbingly contradictory coalition, composed of various parties with single-race memberships, lying together in uneasy slumber. We grant that a few members of this coalition claim a multi-racial membership. But when examined, their membership reveals an overwhelming majority of members of one race.
Once the BN grabbed hold of power, 50 years ago, it never relinquished it's grip. And those in power, of course, will never see the need to reform themselves. In the begining, it was convenience. Now, it is, at the very least, inertia.Why bother, when they win anyway? They lack a principled leader, with the strength to implement his convictions.
It is galling to have such an unpalatable entity installed as Malaysia's governing party.

Race-based entities lead to vile results. In South Africa, apartheid. In America's deep south, intolerance, sometimes with deadly results.
In Malaysia, institusionalized racism.

We have watched the video on Free Malaysia Today where a teenager was forced to racially insult himself by others, presumably, of his own age. It cannot be brushed off as the work of crass teenagers.
It is the Barisan Nasional which is responsible for it by maintaining their race-based system, repugnant to all thinking persons. It is that craven party, the MIC, which is responsible for it, by aiding and abetting such a system.
It is this despicable system they practise which leads to such acts.
The only way the Barian Nasional can be reformed, it is clear, is for it to lose power.

Equally unfortunate is that new parties are being formed, with race as their criteria.
Prime among these is the HRP. A visit to their shrill website leaves one in a state of surprised puzzlement. Despite our distaste for the BN, we cannot agree with many of their publishings. It reminds us too much of Umno's mouthpiece, Utusan. Clearly, it is targeted at a more credulous audience than us.
The tragedy of the HRP is that they could have been something much more. Upon release from his ISA detention, Mr.Uthayakumar was asked what he would be fighting for. His answer was that he would be fighting for the Indians.
He would not have heard the collective sigh of dissapointment that went up from the many people of all races who had supported his battle with the BN. Nor that from perhaps the entire thinking, liberal community of Malaysia.
HRP appears to aspire to be nothing more than a new MIC, albeit for now, in the opposition. And we have seen the MIC subverted and debased into Umno's nodding creature.
We cannot, on principle, support Mr.Uthayakumar or his party..
His courage is undoubted. But his methods are cynical and his vision, narrow.

Yet, there is hope for Malaysia.
PKR is an avowed multi-racial party and they have started to win elections.
The DAP too professes itself as a multi-racial party. But they have much work to do, for they have few Malay members. They will have to actively correct how they are perceived.
PAS, to its credit, though based on religion, does not discriminate by race.
Pakatan Rakyat, then, remains our only chance to leave race-based politics behind us.

We look forward to a day when race-based parties, as they rightly should be, are ugly artefacts in Malaysia's past.

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