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Why MCA must rejoin the Government

Posted: 07 Aug 2013 03:57 PM PDT

Zaid Ibrahim, TMI

The call made by the Chinese business community and NGOs for MCA to rejoin the Cabinet is not surprising.

If MCA is to have any future it must rejoin the Government, but party members must also do more than what they have become accustomed to doing. In the past, they delivered allocations to Chinese schools and representated the Chinese community in business and educational issues.

A few of their top leaders held Cabinet posts and this enabled them to dish out some contracts to the Chinese towkays. The lower-rung MCA operatives held positions in local councils, which gave them some leverage with grassroots members.

MCA needs to and can do more. Its deputy president's statement that rejoining the Cabinet would allow the party to be more vocal on issues that are relevant to the Chinese community is frankly hard to understand.

You can be vocal without holding Cabinet posts, and you certainly don't become a part of the Cabinet just to be vocal. You join the Cabinet to implement policies that you believe are essential for your community and the country.

If MCA were to rejoin the Cabinet, it must do so for the right reasons. Being vocal without having the ability or willingness to implement key policy issues will reduce MCA to being like just another NGO: vocal, but essentially helpless.

I think it is important that MCA rejoins the Government, especially if the party can get the Prime Minister's undertaking to listen and act on key issues.

On top of the list is for MCA to do its part to stop racism from spreading its wings in national politics. There is no way we can overcome economic and financial challenges in the future if the country is divided along racial, religious and ethnic lines, so a well-crafted Race Relations Act is urgently required.

The law must be there to punish or at least discourage racism and all its ugly ramifications from spreading. Discriminatory practices must be outlawed.

The rights of citizens must be respected, regardless of whether their forefathers came from China, India or Sulawesi. Immediate action must be taken against racist conduct and remarks.

Companies and the civil service must be open to all races without discrimination, for this is the only way we can progress as a nation.

Wanting to have a Race Relations Act is not asking for the sky. In fact, it was discussed at the Cabinet level but several senior ministers developed cold feet, making it impossible to carry  through. That was five years ago and race relations have clearly deteriorated since then.

A Race Relations Act will signal to the people that this Government is concerned about racial discord, that it has the political will to act against racism and racist policies, and that it has every intention to deal with the subject fairly to maintain peace and harmony.

Laws are useless if they are not enforced fairly or made applicable to those who violate them. In Malaysia, Malay or Muslim demogogues — especially from Umno and Perkasa — have escaped prosecution despite making blatantly racist remarks.

The Government, however, has been quick to act against those on the fringe or from other races. MCA should make it a point to get the prime minister to promise that the Public Prosecutor will be given a free hand to charge anyone — anyone at all — who violates the Race Relations Act.



Lee Kuan Yew’s view of Malaysia: An overly-pessimistic assessment

Posted: 07 Aug 2013 03:17 PM PDT

Douglas Teoh, TMI

A news article published on August 7 titled "It's Malay rule, so no difference if BN or Pakatan in power, argues Lee Kuan Yew" caught my attention.

Indeed, some of the former prime minister of Singapore's comments were spot on – the Pakatan Rakyat coalition does have many unresolved issues with regards to each component party's stand and how they would deal with the internal bickering when the coalition comes to power. However, there is one more pressing question at hand: Is Lee's remark about there being no difference between Pakatan and the Barisan Nasional really justifiable?

Lee: The elitist game of Politics

From a perspective that views politics as an entity played by powerful individuals who influence the entire game, he's right – we're doomed. For power is perpetually cycled, and re-cycled among the political movers (most of them Malays). And these political movers will resort to almost anything if they observe any hint of "threat" to their own stakes,  For these people, Malay supremacy would have to be defended at all costs, because this is by far, the easiest idea to exploit.

In other words, this is realpolitik, a politics based on practical and material factors.

In such a framework, as a result of their leanings and interests, the political elites make national decisions that benefit themselves the most. When the elites and their interest groups who support them don't get what they want, all hell breaks loose. This is where acts to silence dissent occur. When the political elites are ousted, they will still find ways to reinstate themselves; for as long as people need the Malay rights to go on, the politicians will have plenty of benefits and infinitely many (to borrow from the Monopoly board game) "get out of jail free" cards.

Paints a bleak picture, doesn't it? This is the game in which only a small number of elite people with the most resources in Malaysia can play.

The politics by the rakyat

However, with all due respect to his contributions, this is precisely where I argue that the Lee was misinformed – he has clearly overemphasised the power of the state, and also underestimated the development of the rakyat, as both an individual and a collective Malaysian identity.

The rakyat is perfectly capable of rational discourse, and coming together to demand sensible changes. The demand for clean and fair elections - Bersih - is one such illustration. When push comes to shove, our sensible people can wield power to can advocate reforms from public spheres.

Of course, there are still minor groups like Perkasa who advocates the "Cina balik China and India balik India" policies, but a good majority among us are sensible and muhibah enough to understand that multiculturalism means respecting one another as equals.

Just to quote a recent example: In the social media, news of an act of kindness by an Indian who offered a Muslim cashier (who hadn't gotten the chance to break fast yet) food, water and some time before continuing to attend to customers was shared over 9000 times. Many, including myself, were touched by such a simple, yet thoughtful act.

I interpret this instance in a positive manner: that the typical Malaysian is not a zombie that succumbs to a rational choice theory dominated by an economic cost-benefit analysis. We are perfectly capable of knowing right from wrong, empathising and responding to the needs of others.

As long as these sentiments are not broken, we can honestly care less about who governs – and instead focus on how the government is run, and whether our policies are fair and for the good of all the people.



‘Jangan mudah lupa’

Posted: 07 Aug 2013 03:04 PM PDT

We the rakyat are burdened today by the follies committed by Umno with their corruption and cronyism.

The other reason we cannot ignore Mahathir and his family is their insane wealth. They have money pouring out of every orifice and more.


I have often been asked in conversations, via emails and through comments made against what I write, why I am not grateful for what Umno has done for the Malays.

They ask that I should reflect upon the condition and situation of the Malays then and now. They ask that I should consider my own situation and ask myself where I would be if not for the policies of the NEP and Ketuanan Melayu.

And of course these Malays (invariably it is always the Malays that do this to me!) would wag their fingers at me and remind me of that iconic phrase 'Melayu mudah lupa!'.

Saudara, it is because 'Melayu TIDAK mudah lupa' that I started to write what was in my heart.

And if you care to read what other Malays have written through all these many years – read what they write and taken the trouble to think and work out for yourself the truth of what they write – then maybe, you too will agree that 'Melayu TIDAK mudah lupa!'.

Saudara, look around you today. We cannot ignore the presence of Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his family. And why can we not ignore their presence?




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