Time to stop the talk, and start the walk

By Lim Sue Goan, MySinchew

We celebrated our National Day on 31 August under an atmosphere filled with racial sentiments. On the eve of Malaysia Day, there was a dispute over whether or not the Singapore administrative model is better than ours. Are such disputes necessary?

Malaysian politicians criticized Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew for his governing theory given in a recent interview with the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. Lee might not mean to offend anyone but some people still found it harsh and took his opinon too seriously.

Lee said that “if the Tunku had kept us together, what we did in Singapore, had Malaysia accepted a multiracial base for their society, much of what we’ve achieved in Singapore would be achieved in Malaysia.”

He said “if”, and we know that no one can turn back the clock and there is no “if” in history. No one can ever verify what will be the outcome if Malaysia had adopted the Singapore administrative model.

It is not necessary to take a sigh and memory of an elder so seriously. However, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has responded fiercely. He criticized Singapore for joining Malaysia at that time and blamed Lee’s catchphrase “Malaysia for Malaysians” for planting the seeds of today’s racism in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said that as Bumiputeras have not yet achieved the same economic level, the affirmative action policy is necessary. And the current deteriorating racial relations are a result of competition between the ruling and alternative coalitions after the 2008 general election.

And Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin even said that an apple should not be compared with an orange.

Perhaps, Mahathir is trying to repeat the old trick to expand the market of his Malay sovereignty. No matter what kind of words used by the politicians to fight back, future generations will still assess Malaysia and Singapore based on the countries’ actual strength.

It is undeniable that the competitiveness of Malaysia has been in decline for three years while Singapore has been ranked among the world’s top competitive economies. Why the difference is so great after Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia?

Instead of wasting time to argue the history of whether the People’s Action Party (PAP) of Singapore is the culprit causing racial polarization in Malaysia, it is better to spend time on self-improvement. Such a dispute is meaningless and even if we win the war of words, it is unable to change the facts. We should just leave the issue to historians for professional judgement.

What Malaysians should do, and do it immediately, is reform, stop the racial divisions and discontinue meaningless debates. How can we reform if we are confused and lose our direction just because of Malay rights group Perkasa, which has only been formed for less than a year?