There are several political myths in Malaysia that must be debunked if Malaysia is to move forward to fulfill our destiny to be a world model of an united, harmonious, moderate and successful plural society instead of becoming basket-case of a failed, or even worse, rogue state.
Some of these political myths are:
1. Umno is Malay and Malay is UMNO.
Nothing can be further from the truth as right from the first general election in 1959, UMNO was not the only political party representing the Malays in the country.
Arising from this myth, other myths have been born – the myth that Malay rights and interests are under threat because UMNO is fighting a battle of political survival and that Malay rights and interests will be the first casualty if UMNO is ousted from Putrajaya in the next general election.
Whether Najib is ousted as Prime Minister or UMNO replaced as the leading political party in the government coalition, Malay political power is not threatened as a new Prime Minister will be a Malay and new coalition will be Malay-dominated reflecting Malaysia’s demography.
As UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said last month, he did not know where the perceived threats to Malays were coming from when the government is headed by a Malay, state governments headed by Malays with the exception of Penang, the civil service is mostly made up of Malays, the army are mostly Malays and there are also the Malay rulers.
Malaysia’s foremost civil rights activist, Zainah Anwar, had also questioned where does the “threat to the Malays” come from after 58 years of UMNO rule, and why, after more than four decades of the New Economic Policy, are (i) 75.5 per cent of those at the bottom Malays; (ii) some 90 per cent of the unemployable university graduates Malays; and (iii) of the RM54 billion worth of shares pumped to Malay individuals and institutions between 1984 and 2005, only RM2 billion remain in Malay hands today.
2. PAS is Islam and Islam is PAS.
UMNO, which has been the backbone of ruling Federal government for the past six decades, does not accept this. Furthermore, nothing can be more divisive and detrimental to the objective of fostering a progressive and inclusive Malaysian mindset and consciousness than to doubt anyone’s religious or nationalistic credentials just because he or she is not a card-carrying member of any particular political party.
3. DAP is Chines and Chinese is DAP
Right from the very beginning of the DAP nearly 50 years ago, DAP had rejected this political equation as DAP had never aspired to be a Chinese or non-Malay party as have always been a Malaysian party for all Malaysians.
DAP is in fact the first political party in the country to be Pan-Malaysian, establishing branches in Sarawak and Sabah before any other political party in the country, open to all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region.
No political party seeking support from all Malaysians can be anti-Malay or anti-Islam, or for that matter, anti-Chinese, anti-Indian, anti-Dayak, anti-Kadazandusun or anti-Buddhism, anti-Christianity, anti-Hindiuism or anti-Sikkhism.
This is why from the first general election in 1969 contested by the DAP, the party had always put up a multi-racial and multi-religious slate of candidates.
In fact, in the 1969 general elections, two Malay State Assemblymen were elected, one in Perak and the other in Negri Sembilan. In the past 11 general elections, DAP had elected Malay Members of Parliament and State Assembly representatives in Peninsular Malaysia.
As in the 1969 general election, DAP has now more Indian MPs than MIC. It is because of the DAP that there is an Indian Deputy Chief Minister in Penang and the first Indian Speaker in the Perak State Assembly after the 2008 General Election.
In the 2013 General Election, a Kadazan State Assemblyman was elected in Sabah and we look forward to the election of the first DAP Dayak elected representative in Sarawak in the forthcoming Sarawak state general electios.
All these precedents and breakthroughs are testimony that DAP had never aspired to be a Chinese or non-Malay party, as we have always regard ourselves as a Malaysian party.
Although UMNO/BN propagandists want to perpetuate the myth of “DAP is Chinese and Chinese is DAP”, it is most mischievous and completely baseless.
Earlier, there had been attempt to foist the myth that “MCA is Chinese and Chinese is MCA”, but this has been decisively rejected not only by the Malaysian electorate, but also by the Malaysian Chinese voters, which is why MCA had been reduced to being a 7/11 party, winning only seven parliamentary and eleven state assembly seats in the 13th General Election in 2013.
The pre-condition for any DAP leader or member is for him or her to be a Malaysian first and his or her ethnicity and religion second.
I believe that in the sixth decade of our nationhood, there are more and more Malaysians with such an outlook and commitment – who are Malaysians first, and Chinese, Malays, Indians, Kadazandusun and Ibans , or Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists or Sikhs second.
This is the stuff that Impian Malaysia, whether Impian Sabah, Impian Sarawak, Impian Kelantan, Impian Kedah/Perlis or Impian Johor, are made of!
We must grasp three political realities in Malaysia:
Firstly, that no single race or one political party can rule Malaysia, as it is through inter-racial, inter-religious and inter-party co-operation – as equals and not between superior and subordinates – that Malaysia can become a successful model of plural society which is progressive, prosperous and inclusive not only to the world but also to the Middle East.
Secondly, that although Pakatan Rakyat is no more, the hopes and aspirations of Malaysians as encapsulated in the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework principle and policies of national unity, justice, progress and prosperity remain valid and relevant and this torch of hope for Malaysia’s tomorrow is now carried by Pakatan Harapan comprising DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah Negara.
Thirdly, what the country needs today is for Malaysians, whether political parties, organizations or individuals – and most important of all, the Federal and State Governments – to have a more inclusive outlook and commitment which tolerate and accept the role and contribution of all races, religions, regions and groups with one common objective to Save Malaysia from the rampant corruption and misuses of power, breakdown of the rule fo law and collapse of good governance which if not stopped, would hurtle Malaysia towards a rogue and failed state.
(Talk to Malaysian students in Istanbul on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 at 9 pm)