Friday, July 6, 2012

A young Malaysian's answer to Dr M's dirty politics of divide-and-rule...

Dr M, you are wrong!

by Azrul Mohd Khalid | The Malaysian Insider

JULY 5 — I was quite disappointed to read of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s prediction that the upcoming general election would be more focussed on race and ethnic issues than ever before.

I think you are wrong, Dr M. Speaking as a product of your policies and far-sightedness in the creation of a Vision 2020 generation, I am happy to inform you, Dr M, that you have actually wildly succeeded in pushing us towards the formation of a more united, integrated and mature democratic Malaysian society (remember the Vision 2020 concept document?).

Through the programmes put in place under your leadership, the opportunities for education and learning provided by your administration, and through the shared experiences, heartache and pain that we have had over the past three decades, you bear much responsibility for the current state of affairs which resulted in the evolution of our people.

Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters
And the evolution is a good one. When you look at the young people today below the age of 35, there is much to be proud of. We used to gripe about how apathetic Malaysians in general were about the state of the country, how they often took for granted that which they are able to benefit from, and did not really want to participate in the political process. Well, things, as you well know, certainly have changed.

Though we are not quite there yet, we are getting ready to leave racial identity politics behind. We see the possibility of a new Malaysia. One that concentrates on addressing the real issues affecting Malaysians such as alleviating poverty and economic hardship, reducing unemployment, addressing corruption, improving livelihoods and preventing crime. Whether you are Melayu, Cina, India or lain-lain, it just doesn’t mean much to people any more. Everyone is in the same boat and we need to work together.

We should be wary and turn away from these guys who scream, shout abuse, and threaten violence in order to get their way. These are the people who claim to be the champions of speaking out and defending the rights and privileges of their race yet are the same ones who are still robbing these same communities and the rakyat blind for themselves and their families.

They do this while securing sweetheart deals and line their pockets with public funds. They distract us from the bread-and-butter issues by abusing and misusing religion to promote bigoted and racist agendas against those of other ethnicities and religions.

These are the ones who are obsessed in continuously speaking about race and are racist themselves, who jump at shadows, yell “traitor” and point to others at every single turn, offer luxury cars to encourage the intimidation of others, threaten physical harm and insist on maintaining the status quo for the benefit of the privileged few.

Look around you, Dr M. Does it sound familiar to you? If all you hear is race, it is because you surround yourself or are surrounded by people who are terrified of positive change and are only looking out for their own selfish interests. Maybe it’s time to find a new group of friends.

Meanwhile, we are moving on.

There has never been a prouder moment for Malaysians to be Malaysian. We have progressed far from my parents’ generation of “siapalah kita” to the current one who answer back “kita adalah rakyat Malaysia.” We are experiencing an empowered sense of shared destiny and a common vision.

If you had been at the rally on July 9 last year and the many rallies organised around the nation this year, particularly the one on April 28 at Dataran Merdeka, you would realise that this generation is neither an apathetic one nor are they troublemakers.

If you had been there standing and sitting with us and seen the peoples of Malaysia from all walks of life reflected in the faces of those gathered there that day in solidarity, you would realise that this is a group of people who care and love their country and who want to see a better Malaysia. You would have been proud of us.

When you see people standing in solidarity and unified together for no other reason than that they care about an issue of mutual and common concern which affects all Malaysians, are you not proud that we have looked beyond race?

Isn’t this what we sought to be and do? Are we forever going to be chained by the divisions created and cast by our former colonial masters? We cannot afford to be forever mired in racial identity politics

Today, to talk about race is to be selfish, narrow minded and to lack vision. A leader of today’s Malaysia must rise above race and communal politics. To remain relevant, the ruling coalition must learn to adapt and to accept the dawning reality that the old rules are increasingly fading into obscurity. It must reinvent itself or risk being obsolete, as some political parties are already finding out the hard way.

We need to move beyond the dinosaurs of the past who are fossilised and only know of the importance of race and their own selfish concerns.

We are moving on.

This will be Malaysia’s proudest moment when we take the first tentative and courageous steps towards a future where the divisive race-based politics will be increasingly less of a factor.

Perhaps the coming elections will be about race. It will be the beginning of how race ceases to become the unifying factor for people of this country. It will be the starting point when Malaysians began to see something greater than themselves and reached deep down and found courage in striking out into the undiscovered country, leaving the baggage of race in the dustbin of history.

Azrul Mohd Khalib works on HIV/AIDS, sex and human rights issues. He is becoming cynical and is in danger of losing his sense of humour and mind.