Old politics in new Malaysia

Many have characterised Malaysia after GE14 as the “New Malaysia”. In truth, what we have is the hope that the country will adopt a better set of values to build its society, that hope arising because the leadership of the country is now in the hands of a new set of leaders for the first time in the history of the nation.

But today, as we head towards the first 100 days anniversary of this historic development, thousands of people gathered in the rain to “defend race and religion” — a strong reminder that you can bring a horse to water, but you cannot compel it to drink.

It is undeniable that PAS cannot go past the fact that its agenda is about religion. What is unfortunate though is that it is unable to embrace a religion that has room for others to flourish. For them it is a zero sum game — for me to win, you have to lose.

It is also undeniable that UMNO, having flirted mildly with the idea of including other races, has clung on to its Malay agenda. It has demonstrated time and again that it is only willing to tolerate others as long as it is able to do whatever it wants. UMNO has shown this over the past decade or so in its leadership in Barisan Nasional.

And so, even though the sultans remain, the army is largely malay and muslim, the civil service is largely malay and muslim, the police force is largely malay and muslim, and even the new government is largely malay and muslim, PAS and UMNO has to conjure up demons and whip up the notion that race and religion require their defending.

DAP is now the devil incarnate, able to even compel Tun Dr Mahathir to comply with its agenda, which, according to UMNO, is anti “race and religion”. Somehow, DAP is now christian, with an agenda to christianise the country.

There is no logic. There is no truth. Only a desire to whip up racial and religious sentiments for political ends.

It just seems to me that UMNO and PAS are unwilling to let go of the past and embrace the opportunity for a better Malaysia. They are unwilling to become partners in nation-building. That the only way forward is for the country to leave them, and their divisive and exploitative ways, behind.

And then there is Rais Yatim.

Am I so glad he was not made Speaker of Parliament.

He has every right to his opinion about UEC. And in truth he has a point, that UEC does not comply with national educational policy. But this has nothing to do with “race and religion,” Tan Sri, unless you count the fact that it is what the chinese have been asking for for years. But of course you want to make it about race and religion, so that your opinion will have the force of that agenda.

GE14 is an opportunity. It is a beginning. It is historic. But we have a long way to go. How we need to pray for leaders who are willing to put the country first, willing to rule by uniting the people, willing to deal in truth and integrity.

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