Sense and sensitivity


How can the country progress if a significant portion of society is always worried that any advantage given to other races or religions translates into a threat to its position?

Amalina Anuar, Free Malaysia Today

DAP election strategist Ong Kian Ming made good sense in his recent call on his party to be more “mindful of the feelings of the Malays” and to “stop doing things that offend them” if it intends to win Malay votes in the next general election.

It cannot be denied that DAP needs the Malay-majority vote in order to come into power.

However, one wonders just how far the DAP will go to avoid doing or saying things that offend the Malays, especially when some of them are hypersensitive to the point of irrationality.

Need anyone be reminded of the brouhaha over the crosses on roofs in Langkawi, for instance?

Just as Malays, as well as other Malaysians, are hypersensitive about religion, they are equally hypersensitive about race. People seem to think that only someone of their own race can understand their plight and protect their rights.

This hypersensitivity exists at all levels, whether in the general population or in the top tiers of government. Any kind of criticism directed at the government, even if it’s valid and constructive, is met with defensiveness and sometimes even claims that the public isn’t grateful for efforts on their behalf.

DAP may not be the reason why hypersensitive Malays exist, but it is part of a political system that perpetuates and worsens the situation. This reality persists because political parties pander to this hypersensitivity. But it is also a testimony to democracy’s weaknesses.

Democracy is flawed in a sense because elections are a numbers game. Quantity is prioritised over quality. The best policies don’t always garner the most support, and the policies that garner the most support are not always the best.

So the question is this: once a political party has the quantity of voters to put it into power, will it then work on the quality of its leadership and policies? Or will it allow this hypersensitivity to get in the way of true development?

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