Thursday, March 13, 2008


It is not a Race thing, it is an Identity thing।

A number of international media reported that Malaysians head to the polls amidst racial tensions. They show pictures of Hindraf supporters throwing rocks, PAS within the Bersih march and FRUs spraying on demonstrators. It gives the misleading picture that racial strife is the main factor for the defeat of BN.

I don't believe that analysis is correct. I believe that we are seeing a new nationalism. Malaysians are asking - what does it mean to be a Malaysian. In fact, they're not only asking, they are answering it with their votes. It's a search for a new Identity. We want a Malaysia where all Malaysians are equal. That is why we see such a high turnout of first time voters who predominantly vote for the opposition.

These are the younger generation who were born after independance and do not share the divisive racial politics that came with the creation of the Malaysian nation state. They ask: Why should some Malaysians be less equal than others?

They vent their frustrations through the unofficial channels. If BN leaders have bothered to read blogs and web news, they would have an inkling into how huge this discontentment is. Instead they only believed in the mainstream media that has ironically created a bubble of illusion that led to their own downfall.

Non-Malays voted overwhelmingly for the opposition because they don't want to be 2nd and 3rd class citizens anymore. The Indian's call for Makkal Sakti- People Power which demolished the MIC and in places that are split between BN and opposition, their "minority" vote tip the scales away from BN.

As for the sway of Malay votes away from the BN, there is a palpable disgust that the BN is not doing enough to fight corruption and Bumiputera privileges meant little to them when they feel that wealth is only distributed among BN elites.

Anwar Ibrahim is savvy and he has been echoing this sentiment in all his ceramahs. He calls for an end to the NEP, and still attracted the Malay votes. And that's because the opposition coalition recognised that hunger, that cry for equality and the need to belong and answered it - Justice and equality for all. Even PAS has caught on. Nik Aziz says Islam does not discriminate. I saw many Indian youths and elderly Chinese bearing PAS flags campaigning for PAS.

The only party that is oblivious to this hunger is well - the BN। They are still scratching their heads wondeing what hit them. They can't hope to understand because their very existence is what is so hateful to many. They represent the old politics of divide and rule. Race-based politics where UMNO as the Malay party must be KIng to all other ethnic groups. And if you are not Malay by their definition, you are merely a "pendatang" who is here by their grace. "We should be grateful" is perhaps the most hated oft repeated line of the BN leaders to any dissenting voice. I say to them -They should be grateful for the overtime we have given them.

1 comment:

Li Kheng said...

Jules, it is indeed about identity. It is because that our formal and informal rights as citizens of Malaysia are bounded by issues of differences in identity and therefore, the way we are represented, that Malaysians have become extremely unsatisfied with the resultant inequality. Added to this potent mix of limitations are of course issues of power and who holds that power in order to benefit certain people and exclude others. Can we please see more analysis along the lines of identity, rights and power? Can other readers comment please? It is important that the international press stops talking about racial tensions when there were none other than those encouraged by the BN. It is these talks of racial tensions that contribute to the hegemony of BN.