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Inappropriate GE13 victory speech — H. Lee

Inappropriate GE13 victory speech — H. Lee

MAY 07, 2013

MAY 7 — When Barisan Nasional (BN) was declared the winner of GE13, the prime minister in his first speech called it a “Chinese tsunami”. When Barack Obama won the US presidential elections, riding on his advantage among the Latinos and Native American voters, did any Republican call it a “Latino tsunami”?

The fact that Malaysia, after 56 years of independence, still allows political parties to exist along ethnic lines is not only condoning but actually propagating racial polarisation. And during the campaign period, we were certainly not short of calls hailing the Chinese people, the Malay people and other ethnic groups to vote for a particular coalition.

The prime minister himself is guilty of this. While he had said that “it is important the politics of Malaysia is not about polarisation”, he was reported to have said: “Please support the Barisan component parties which represent the Chinese community.” (The Star, April 3). I am not sure which component “parties” (in plural) he meant that represent the Chinese community, but he certainly gave the impression that he supported the idea that political parties should continue to exist along ethnic lines.

Did Obama, during his campaign speeches, openly appeal to specific Native American or minority groups, or to those of a particular gender, to support him? No. (I am using Obama as an example not because I worship him but simply because he is someone that we, Malaysians in general, and politicians, in particular, know.)

The ethnic agenda was everywhere. Ceramahs with warnings of losing one’s ethnic identity. Banners inciting racial tension. Advertisements and commercials suggesting doomsday for certain ethnic groups. The media also referred to candidates as a Malay candidate or a Chinese candidate, as well as a Christian candidate standing under an Islamist party. Of course, religio-centricism is another story.

One once-upon-a-time-well-respected politician even wrote in his blog: “When Kit Siang decided to contest in Chinese-majority Gelang Patah it is because he wanted the Chinese there and in Johor to reject working together and sharing with the Malays.”

And now our prime minister conveniently calls the new voting pattern a result of a “Chinese tsunami”? Who are all these people making these racist remarks? I was shocked to hear Najib confessing that he expected the results to be along racial lines, just that he “did not expect it to be to this extent.”

Had the prime minister monitored the social media and alternative mass media he should have an idea — now that the populist vote is not in his favour — that it is simply because the people are sick of corruption, injustice, lack of transparency, etc. and not because they are ethnic-centric.

If the prime minister is genuinely sincere about national reconciliation, he should put together his team of less-racist team-mates and get feedback from citizens on the street about what kind of anti-racist action we want to see in this country.

I also suggest the first thing the new Dewan Rakyat should do is to pass a Bill disallowing ethnic-based political parties to continue in this country. If our prime minister had once asked the people “Are you ready for BN?”, this is the moment they ask in return: “Are you ready for such a Bill, Mr Prime Minister?” 

I am confident most of the opposition MPs are ready for this. The prime minister knows best whether or not he can garner enough support among his own ruling coalition for such a Bill. If he is unable to command that support, who is to be blamed for condoning racial polarisation and for triggering other ethnic tsunamis in GE14??

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

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