It Is Still A Malay vs Malay Contest

The participation of the nons in politics is critical and of utmost importance in the new conditions of the post tsunami period. Any withdrawal of the nons at this juncture will repeat the failure of the Reformasi. 

By batsman

Actually my main concern here is the non-registered and non-voting voters. This represents a massive block that both sides cannot afford to ignore. It is a pity that no census has been done as to the reasons why they are apathetic or marginalize themselves from the political process. This lack of effort exposes the immature and non-professional aspect of Malaysian politics. I shall attempt, very unprofessionally, to make an analysis based on my discussions and observations for your consideration. 

However, before this can be done, it is necessary to know for certain what the political climate is like, for a false idea here means a wrong analysis down the road. This complicates matters somewhat for it is now a guess based upon a guess. 

Apart from the historical forces, 2 recent events helped shape the current political climate – the tsunami of 2008 and the Reformasi of some years earlier. 

The Reformasi was a Malay versus Malay contest represented by old entrenched powerful conservative forces on the one hand and young reformists on the other. The nons were bystanders and saw it for what it was – a Malay versus Malay contest. Unfortunately this was only a surface view and being bystanders, the nons did not understand the deeper implications of this contest. They therefore voted for the established forces, I suspect, to play it safe. 

The events leading to the tsunami of the 12th GE changed all that. The nons saw that it was not safe to play it safe and that it was instead a guaranteed danger over time. The arrogance of near absolute power that the nons help give UMNO for 50 years translated into an almost disastrous loss of all political rights and even their very lives threatened with waving kerises. 

They therefore picked up the courage of disgust and desperation to cast their votes for the reformist opposition. This was helped in no small part by the re-invigoration and re-energisation of DSAI released from a ban on politics and the realization by PAS which saw that the long suffering and bullied nons could be valuable allies if only they could be freed from fear and opportunism by an Islamic party offering to fight to the death to protect them from racist violence and harm. 

All these contributed to the tsunami of the 12th GE. However things never stay static for long. The renewed confidence of the nons saw them take a more prominent part in the politics of the country. There was even a small movement to take the lead in many issues such as beer and Beyonce. This was exactly what UMNO was waiting for. 

UMNO was waiting for the political climate to change from one of Malay versus Malay to one of Malay versus Chinese / Indian. The hope was that if the nons stayed on the sidelines during a Malay versus Malay contest of the Reformasi period, could the Malays now unite under the banner of UMNO if they started to see politics as a Malay versus Chinese / Indian contest? 

In addition PAS itself became confused and sidelined by the aggressive initiatives of the bullied and oppressed people it once swore to protect to the death. If these people have grown up and now took the lead on many issues, do they need the “to the death protection” of PAS anymore? Or are these once fearful and bullied people forging ahead confidently to form an independent sectarian political lobby of beer and Beyonce? 

I submit that events have moved beyond the old political confines. But are the old political confines completely obsolete? Are some political considerations still valid? Have racial and religious considerations moved to a new enlightened plane? 

I submit they have not and that the political climate is still one of Malay versus Malay contest. This does not mean that the nons have no part to play and should stay on the sidelines. This is also exactly what UMNO wants apart from trying its level best to change the political climate to one of Malay versus Chinese / Indian contest. 

The participation of the nons in politics is critical and of utmost importance in the new conditions of the post tsunami period. Any withdrawal of the nons at this juncture will repeat the failure of the Reformasi. There is now a new paradigm but it is only a partial one and not a complete one. The old race and religious sensitivities still exist if in less violent form. The nons therefore must continue to participate in politics to ensure their future in Malaysia, but they must not be seen to be seizing the lead because if they do, UMNO will find it a lot easier to turn a Malay versus Malay contest into a Malay versus Chinese / Indian contest. 

This is as accurate as I can make of the current political climate. The climate has also moved from one of loose and confused political demands of millions of individual voters to one of organized, disciplined and purposeful contest for the political future of Malaysia. 

This is where the block of unregistered voters and voters who refuse to use their votes also become critical. The organized political parties must now not only strengthen their own ranks, but use their newly organized and disciplined strength to reach out to the voters – initially to ensure the loyalty and support of existing voters and then to winning over undecided or new voters especially those not registered yet or not bothered to use their vote. To do so, it is necessary to know why these people do not bother or do not participate. 

The first sub-block comprise those who are completely marginalized and alienated socially and economically. They therefore see no reason to participate in the voting process. The obvious challenge is to move in amongst these people and help them lose their social and economic marginalization and alienation, not through gifts and charity, but through organization and activism. 

The next sub-block are those do not trust the political parties or their programmes. Their reading of the political climate is at odds with what the political parties are doing and rather than contribute to the confusion, they prefer to withdraw to lessen the impact of what they see as mistakes of the political parties. 

The most obvious areas of disagreement usually centre around the old issues of race and religion. I suspect lots of people still see a Malay versus Chinese / Indian contest as inherently dangerous and divisive and they would rather not contribute to make things worse. The formalisation of the PR coalition goes a long way to reach out to such people. The only thing left is persuasion and convincing them that UMNO has no strength to divide the people through race and religion anymore and that actively working in this area with appropriate policies and programmes is the best way to deny UMNO the ability to use race or religion to divide and rule. 

The next sub-block is the piggy backers or parasitic skivers. They are content to leave the hard work and sacrifices to others. They are the ones who prefer to spend their time making money while others make sacrifices for political and social improvements of society. They are the ones who litter expecting others to pick up the pieces. They are the ones who obsessively seek the freebies of life and avoid all responsibility and sacrifice. 

What should be done with such people? If you are unfortunate enough to meet such people, I suggest you seriously consider that there is a 50% chance you have chosen the wrong friends. Consider this – would you rather have such people as friends with who there is only senseless pleasure seeking than a friendly neighbourhood PAS member with whom, while awkward at first, a whole new world of possibilities is possible through sacrifice and hard work? 

I am not saying all PAS members are nice friendly people. Some are actually quite hard headed and scary in demeanor and attitude. Still you have a choice to avoid the more nasty, sarcastic, rude and irritating ones who are prone to boring lectures. Heeheehee.