This is a Democracy, You Understand?

by Kee Thuan Chye

Prime Minister Najib Razak blamed the Chinese for not voting for his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition at the 13th general election on May 5 and ex-prime minister Mahathir Mohamad slammed the Chinese and the Malays who voted for Pakatan Rakyat.

Others from BN and its main component party, Umno, jumped on the bandwagon and said the same thing, accusing the Chinese of being ungrateful.

They all made it sound as if it was a great sin to vote for the Opposition.

What is so wrong with voting for the Opposition? Why is an Opposition set up in the first place? Isn’t it to provide competition to the ruling party? So if people are more persuaded by the case made by the Opposition, why shouldn’t they vote for it?

Mahathir and the rest of them surely can’t be ignorant of what a democracy is. For their enlightenment, let me point out that in a democracy, any number of parties can take part in a contest to decide which one should become the government. And the people who choose through voting are free to vote for any party.

So, since that is the case, it is neither a crime nor a moral wrong to vote for the Opposition. And that is why in a democracy, the ruling party can be voted out if more people feel it doesn’t deserve to be the government any more.

This, in fact, was what happened at GE13. The popular vote for Pakatan was higher than that for BN. But since our electoral system is based on the first-past-the-post one, and due to gerrymandering the Opposition needs to win more votes to win seats, BN came out the undeserving winner.

Ali Rustam, the former chief minister of Melaka, who lost in the polling and thereafter appeared a sore loser, echoed his master, Najib, and blamed the Chinese too. “The results have shown that the Chinese do not appreciate the Government, they just want to change without considering the consequences and what we have done for them all this while.”

Well, what is there to appreciate of a government that is corrupt and continually plays the race card? Even during the GE13 campaign period, its leaders, especially Mahathir, were saying things to demonise the DAP in order to frighten the Malays and persuade them against supporting the party and its Pakatan partners, PKR and PAS.

Furthermore, contrary to what Ali Rustam says, the Chinese did consider the consequences. They knew why they voted for the Opposition. They wanted Pakatan to form the next government so that a new Malaysia might emerge, purged of the malpractices of BN and its rotten system and culture.

And what is there to be grateful to the Government for? If it provides the things needed for society to thrive in, that is its job. That is what it was elected to do. So no Chinese, Malay, Indian, Kadazan, Iban needs to be grateful to the Government.

One more lesson for the BN leaders who are ignorant of what a democracy is – the Government is not the same thing as the party in government. They are two separate things, and therefore voting against BN is not voting against the Government. It is voting against the party that was in government up till the point Parliament was dissolved to allow for new elections. This is an important point that everyone – not only these ignorant leaders – should appreciate.

And even more important is this – BN is not the country. Anyone voting against BN is therefore not being disloyal to the country.

Anyway, Ali Rustam should learn from his BN colleague, former deputy minister Saifuddin Abdullah, who also lost in the elections.

Saifuddin said he did not blame anyone for his defeat. As for the Chinese vote, he said “it was not against the Malays and certainly not about being ungrateful”. He added: “It was more like they wanted to teach the MCA a lesson. Some of (the voters) told me frankly – we like you, but we want to teach the MCA a lesson.”

The Chinese wanted to teach the Chinese party a lesson – that summed it up correctly. They voted for the DAP, but they also voted for Malay candidates from PKR and PAS. Some Malays also voted for the DAP; otherwise, it wouldn’t have won so many seats in Johor, Selangor, Penang, etc. Which debunks the spin that Najib concocted when he said BN’s poorer performance this time was due to a “Chinese tsunami”. Fortunately, he has since been pointed out to be grossly wrong by many people, including BN politicians, who say instead that it was a “Malaysian tsunami”.

Ali Rustam is quoted in Utusan Malaysia, the Umno-owned newspaper that published the offensive article ‘Apa Lagi Cina Mahu?’ (What Else do the Chinese Want?), as saying the Chinese are racist. He might do better to reserve that tag for Mahathir.

Before polling day, Mahathir irresponsibly said that if the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang were to win the Gelang Patah seat, there would be racial conflict. And after the results came out, he blamed the Chinese and said the Malays who voted for the Opposition were greedy.

Why greedy? Because, he said, they were willing to sell their own race.

Is politics about race? In multi-racial Malaysia, should it be about race? Isn’t it perpetuating racial conflict to drum it into people they should vote for the ruling party because of their race? Why are leaders who should know better telling people to vote according to their race?

Why are leaders like Mahathir taking this racist approach?

Mahathir keeps rubbing it in that Malays who voted for the Opposition should not have done so. He seems to imply that they couldn’t think for themselves. He and his ilk must think that such Malays are stupid. But he’s very wrong. They are among the most intelligent people in Malaysia.

And the more he rubs it in, the more he will distance them from him – and his party.

Malaysians who voted for the Opposition, regardless of race, did so following their conscience. They should not be shaken by bullying talk, even if it comes from a prime minister and a former one. They ought to know what such politicians are capable of saying.

Najib now says he wants to be “a prime minister for all Malaysians” and yet he defended what Utusan Malaysia wrote in that offensive article, obviously aimed at causing racial tension. He talks of national reconciliation and yet he doesn’t walk the talk. As I have written before, in my book No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians, Najib speaks with a forked tongue. I am repeating it here.

If he wants national reconciliation, he should clean up the system, dismantle Mahathirism, end cronyism, free the media, make the EC and Petronas answerable to Parliament, redelineate the electoral constituencies to ensure a fair fight for all parties in GE14 … and do many more things right.

Otherwise, what he says is nothing but bullshit.

* Kee Thuan Chye is the author of the bestselling book No More Bullshit, Please, We’re All Malaysians, and the latest volume, Ask for No Bullshit, Get Some More!

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 2:50 pm

    On the blaming and racist ranting, Mahathir’s comment is of little significance because he is going to do what he is wants to – we should by now forget about him changing his mind about such things.

    What is more significance was Najib commented, right after the result BEFORE Mahathir even opened his mouth, when his fundamental idea of ‘transformation’ and ‘1Malaysia’ is a business-boost-led while no fundamental change policy.

    The fact is Najib believe the Chinese can be bought with trickle-down business while keeping pretty much the corrupt, abusive, discriminating and oppressive, fundamental policies unchanged.

    Najib is a RACIST although outwardly he does not appear so. He may understand that Ibrahim Ali and Zul Nordin is not the future but he tolerates them because he think its OK to tolerate them..Najib is a very very average social thinker and he in fact does not have serious mind of these things. He is a professional political operative with a lot of advantages he is has not wasted.

    But a social leader he is not, a big policy thinker he is not and that is precisely the challenge faced by this nation and Malaysian as a whole.

  2. #2 by on cheng on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 3:54 pm

    why never blame kelantan malay been ungrateful when they voted in PAS since more than 18 years ago ???

  3. #3 by mauriyaII on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 4:27 pm

    Kee Thuan Chye does not mince words. He calls a spade, a spade without any fear. If there is a racists or the mother of all racists in the country, it is none other than the evil Mamak Kutty.

    Malaysians who voted for the Opposition, voted for a change. They voted to get rid of the endemic corruption that has insidiously crept in the past 5 decades, especially during the 22 years of Mamak’s abuse of power and misrule.

    Najib is no leader. He just promoted himself with a fantastic slogan – 1 Malaysia – to deceive the people. His transformation programme did not transform the economy into anything to crow about. Only the national debt increased exponentially. His continued rule will ultimately bankrupt the nation.

    Najib is so muddled in his thinking that he wants national reconciliation but at the same breath gives vent to his racist leaning by endorsing Utusan Malaysia. How can he be the PM for all Malaysians when he thinks along ethnic lines? When is he going to wake up to the fact that ONLY UMNOBN is still harping on race and religion while the rest of the country aspires to become Malaysian without being compartmentalized along race and religion.

    UMNO/BN has all along won the GEs because of gerrymandering and the flawed electoral constituency system. When parliamentary seats are allocated not based on the proportionate number of residents in an area, but according to the whims and fancies of the EC just to get a majority of a particular race in parliament, it is a travesty of natural justice.

    Pakatan Rakyat should go all out to ensure that the present EC setup is not continued. The EC should be subjected to a total revamp and the chairman and his top subordinates dismissed if Malaysia is to see true democracy.

    If the government is adamant in keeping the present EC and their gerrymandering ways, another mammoth BERSIH rally should be called to drive home the point that Malaysians have had enough of all the bullshit that is thrown at them by UMNO/BN

  4. #4 by vsp on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 4:49 pm

    Najib’s mouth sings a beautiful melody but his hearts refuses to sync to the music.

  5. #5 by 1elderly voter on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 4:59 pm

    I have been trying to tell everybody that it is my constitutional right to vote for anybody I like and nobody has any right to question me or say anything about it and that includes that ahjibbkhor. Right?

  6. #6 by kcbehnet on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 5:19 pm

    Good writting.
    BN had been too long ruling the country, until they subconciously think they are the country. This is bullshit.
    Najib had been brought up in the UMNO environment. He know the ne era should not be racist, but subconciously he keeps on leaking from his mouth wih comment that are racist.

  7. #7 by sotong on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 7:09 pm

    Racism is part of human nature and it is a mark of civilisation to go above that. This requires constant and good political leadership.

    Racism is something you don’t let simmer. It doesn’t simmer….. it explodes!

    Our so-called career political ‘ leaders’ are promoting racism through media to promote their policies… wonder the country is very sick with many mentality ill people in politics.

  8. #8 by sotong on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 7:19 pm

    Majority of Career Politicians are selfish, lack empathy or guilt, are grossly dishonest and manipulative… a psychopaths but with power and influence to cause a lot of damage , injustice and suffering.

    A bunch of shit stirrers to cause unnecessary hatred, fear, confusion, insecurity and etc. among the ordinary people to hold on to power at all cost.

  9. #9 by Bunch of Suckers on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 8:03 pm

    Bunch of suckers and mother-toppers, shut all your damn stinky gaps!!!!

    I exercised my Constitution Right, and I have my Right to vote whoever I wished legitimately and constitutionally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Why you suckers and mother-toppers keep bothering me and labeling for being ungrateful???????????????????????????????????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Suck your mother-toppers!

  10. #10 by Winston on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 8:28 pm

    In fact, it’s a mortal sin to even deign to give a reply to these childish scums.
    It is the duty and responsibility of every Malaysian to ensure that they pay back every sen that they have robbed.
    And ensure that they be locked in a lunatic asylum for good.

  11. #11 by SENGLANG on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 9:08 pm

    I fully agreed with what Mr. Kee’s analysis about. Chinese vote against BN has nothing to do with race. For those who are advising MCA AND GERAKAN must take note on what Mr. Kee wrote above.

    I knew very well MCA is to fall flat because while I do love MCA but I also hate them not because of DAP told me so but because they have not live up to what they claim ie represent and serve the Chinese community. YES many Chinese vote against them because they want to teach them a lesson.

    Look at Kampar, where MCA has lost its parliament seat, also because Chinese have totally lost faith on MCA at least the MCA now who is headed by an unwinable president.

  12. #12 by SENGLANG on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 9:12 pm

    Chinese also know very well the threats pose by MCA before GE13, ie if they not perform better than GE12, they will not participate in the CABINET. To the Chinese this is a threat and majority don’t like it. So now they have taught MCA LESSON and MCA will have no choice but waken up now.

    On the positive side, the fall of MCA is good for them so that their members will concentrate and focus on revamp the party.

  13. #13 by drngsc on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 9:36 pm

    Hi Kee, This is NOT democracy. What happened on 5th May was robbery, big time robbery. The people of Malaysia was robbed.
    I am sure that I do not have to explain to you that a true Democracy requires a separation powers. What we saw on 5th May were instruments of the state, the police, the EC and soon we will see the courts, contriving and working together to deny the people their right to have a free and fair election.
    The election fraud was big time, and big scale. They just robbed us.
    What they say afterwards is small crime compared to the big robbery.

    Now, what shall we do? What should people who believe in free and fair elections do? What do you do after you have been robbed?

    Tonight, we will see our Penang citizens answer, and tomorrow, our Perak citizens answer. We gave our answer on the 8th May.

    What democracy?. It is just a Great Malaysian Robbery.

  14. #14 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 10:14 pm

    ///We’re All Malaysians, Najib speaks with a forked tongue. I am repeating it here./// – Mr Kee Thuan Chye. And if Malaysian Insider’s report 11th May 2013 under “Anwar backs Azmin on Khalid’s MB Job, says must have consensus” were true, you think Opposition Leader is not when he says “I have no problem with Tan Sri Khalid. But the problem is… there is no problem but there should be consultation. Are there other names? New faces? Do we continue?” Sinar Harian quoted him (DSAI) as saying… Come on, the PKR president (his wife) endorses Khalid’s appointment as Selangor MB; so do DAP, PAS and majority of those in Selangor. Malaysians’ Democracy is non starter when leaders on both sides of political divide speak like this. The whole mass of majority Malaysians yearning for change will become disconnected and leaderless when their leader panders to the ambitions of one man for reasons only he understands. I am sorry to have to say this.

  15. #15 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 10:23 pm

    “I have no problem with Tan Sri Khalid. But the problem is… there is no problem but there should be consultation. Are there other names? New faces? Do we continue?” . This is made to sound democratic when the fact is that it is not. Pakatan you have a a real problem : that which is your greatest asset and glue is also your greatest liability and problem which unglues! Every one has problems – BN, UMNO MCA now PKR widening to PR and undoubtedly Malaysians have a leadership problem. What democracy ?

  16. #16 by lauksnatlks on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 10:38 pm

    Hi Mr. Kee,

    Do you seriously believe UMNO and gang understand the meaning of democracy. For if they do, they would not have felt so so lousy. What a bad loser we have in this country !! Anyway, I think PR had fired the imagination of the rakyat who have awoken. Long live Malaysia.

  17. #17 by negarawan on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 12:47 am

    It’s time that Pakatan come out with a shadow cabinet not only to show that the components can work together, but also to strengthen the rakyat’s confidence in Pakatan. Formalize the coalition and show that it is viable!

  18. #18 by CTan1964 on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 3:19 am

    A quantum leap towards a democratic, non-racist government is seeing more light as each day passes by.

    Thank you sirs.

    p.s. Lesson learnt: Fear not and Just and Peace shall prevail.

  19. #19 by Noble House on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 4:58 am

    Our state of democracy is likened to a prolonged recurring constipation where the only prescription available is the endless supplies of suppositories with no cure in sight. When you have some backwards thinking overzealous zealots and overprotective knuckleheads who still insist on reminding us twice a day that “there are only two kinds of people instead of one” living under the same Malaysian sun, it is a long way more to a ‘melting-pot’ society.

  20. #20 by HJ Angus on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 7:22 am

    I believe that if we had free and fair elections, we will be having a new government today.
    I suggest the first order of business would be for the government to recognise that YES there have been major elements of cheating and to call for elections within 18 months after the following:

    1. Clean-up the Elections Commissions and NRD complicity wrt to phantom voters.
    A PSC should supervise this.
    2. Update the electoral rolls with the newly registered voters.
    3.Consider some of the points in my article wrt to delineation of constituencies. The PSC should also review all documents related to how the lines are drawn.

  21. #21 by negarawan on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 10:31 am

    HJ Angus :
    I believe that if we had free and fair elections, we will be having a new government today.
    I suggest the first order of business would be for the government to recognise that YES there have been major elements of cheating and to call for elections within 18 months after the following:
    1. Clean-up the Elections Commissions and NRD complicity wrt to phantom voters.
    A PSC should supervise this.
    2. Update the electoral rolls with the newly registered voters.
    3.Consider some of the points in my article wrt to delineation of constituencies. The PSC should also review all documents related to how the lines are drawn.

    This will only happen if there is high and relentless pressure from the rakyat. The 46%PM will cling onto power at all cost..

  22. #22 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 12:40 pm

    It is of course no sin to vote for the Opposition in a Democracy. It is however in a kleptocracy.

  23. #23 by Loh on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 2:53 pm

    Najib says that Malaysia, under him, is the best democracy in the world. Does a democracy question the right of the voters whom they choose? Najib does not even understand what democracy means, let alone has the ability to compare differences between countries. He should be ashamed of his statement; may be Malaysians, the minority that voted BN, should be ashamed of letting Najib become the PM.

  24. #24 by rockdaboat on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 4:24 pm

    The so-called PM seems to think that only those who had voted BN are correct and all those who had voted for opposition parties are wrong?

    My 6 years old nephew asked me, “Uncle, what of rationale is that?”

  25. #25 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 4:54 pm

    Yes, of course, I understand.

    But Maghathir does not understand.
    najib no understood.
    Mooyidin cannot understand.

  26. #26 by Winston on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 5:17 pm

    Yes, Malaysians are becoming a very, very ungrateful lot!!
    Especially the Chinese!
    They are the worst of the whole lot!
    They even wiped out the MCA and the Gerakan!!!
    How very ungrateful!
    What’s even worse, not only the Chinese, but also the other races, including the Malays and Indians are also becoming ungrateful.
    They all want to deprive the Pharaohs in UMNO/BN and their kin and cronies the opportunity to dip their ladles into the gravy train!!!!
    Not only that, they even want them to return all the wealth that they have swiped during their long, corrupted and scandalous rule!!!!
    That is the unkindest cut of all!!!!!
    But Malaysians have realised that our politicians are voted into office as the custodians of the wealth of the country.
    And this wealth is not manna from heaven for their exclusive benefit.
    It’s for the benefit of all Malaysians regardless of race and religion!!!!
    It’s long past time that they get this into their ultra, super thick skull.

  27. #27 by rjbeee on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 6:02 pm

    One thing left the need to be a spring to teach this rats a lesson…What ungrateful…who are the ungratef dogs..semua mahu..civil service, govt contracts lagi….

  28. #28 by rockdaboat on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 7:14 pm

    Mohd Noor Abdullah the so-called ex judge is truely of world class – A CLOWN.

    I would suggest that he apply to work in circus so as not to waste his talent!

  29. #29 by Anti_RACISM on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 8:01 pm

    Very doubtful PM/BN/unmo understand what’s meant by ‘WALK THE TALK’.

  30. #30 by patriotmalaysian on Sunday, 12 May 2013 - 10:10 pm

    IN US…those whites voted obama are disloyal and others especially the black african are ungrateful. Can we said that….of course no but unfortunately only Msia PM & XPM would said this to the rakyat.

    If Malaysia’s hv race party like UMNO, MCA & MIC, the country’s will be only going backward. These kind of parties tak boleh pakai lagi.

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