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Malay politics in a fix

  • The biggest risk in Malaysian politics lies with the fact that a handful of individuals are in firm control of their parties without an effective checks and balances mechanism in place.

Sin Chew Daily

Following the footsteps of 25 distinguished Malay leaders in West Malaysia, some 20 local leaders from Sabah and Sarawak are also openly calling for the public to outright reject RUU355 amendment bill. This shows that there is indeed some problem with the Malay politics or we would not have seen so many moderate community leaders voicing up.

Four years have lapsed since the last general elections in 2013. Both Umno and PAS have deviated off course during the past four years, creating a slew of problems and controversies.

These two parties represent the Malay politics, which in turn steers the direction this country is heading to. In the absence of the ability for self reflection and rectification, the country will never be able to deliver itself from the current stalemate.

Take the just concluded PAS muktamar for instance. It was a more religionized convention teeming with religious agendas without any solid political strategies.

PAS leaders and delegates targeted their firepower at fellow opposition parties such as PKR, DAP and Amanah without offering any advice or opinion on the 1MDB scandal, systemic corruption, skyrocketing living expenses and other more pertinent issues in their capacity as leaders of an opposition party.

The assemblies of PAS syura council, youth and wanita wings along with the parent body all adopted the motion to break ranks with PKR for the simple reason the party had collaborated with PAS' enemies (DAP and Amanah) and that PKR did not respect PAS leaders. By right, Umno is the real and powerful enemy PAS will have to face.

In politics, an enemy's enemy is a friend, but PAS' decision to abandon its allies is something hard to understand.

The PAS muktamar also adopted the motion that only a Muslim could become the country's prime minister. A youth delegate even claimed that one of the reasons his party had decided to break the ties with PKR was because the Selangor state government had allowed Selena Gomez to stage her concert at Shah Alam's indoor stadium.

All these point to the fact that PAS is inching steadily towards complete Islamization while Hadi Awang is in full control of the party.

When a predominantly Malay party has advocated theocracy, it would put all its emphasis on religion, not the well-being of this country. All signs point to the trend that the relationship between these two parties has slowly moved from one of rivalry to strategic partnership.

As a matter of fact, way before PAS changed its course, Umno had already started to display a right tilt.

Umno abandoned its 1Malaysia advocacy soon after the 2013 general elections, introducing instead bumi empowerment policy in a bid to win the hearts of rural Malay voters.

When Najib took over as the prime minister on April 3, 2009, he attempted to win over urban, non-Malay and young voters in order to win back the two-thirds majority for the BN. So he introduced a series of reform programs such as the abolition of ISA and three state of emergency laws.

However, after suffering a major setback in GE13, Umno decided to steer away from this direction and set its sight on its fundamental support base instead to consolidate its hold to the federal administration.

Democracy and freedom have since taken the back seat and the Sedition Act he previously promised to repeal was revived while the policy of transparent governance was slowly retreating. For instance, there have been no follow-ups to the 1MDB investigations as the Auditor-General's report on 1MDB was classified as top secret.

In the latest settlement between 1MDB and IPIC, only a brief statement has been issued without specifying the amount of compensation and whether the government would have to bear this burden.

Such transparency is also non-existent in the case of Bandar Malaysia's collapsed deal. Now that IWH and CREC have denied that they have failed to perform their payment obligations, it is necessary for the authorities to offer a clear explanation on this matter. Intransparency will only trigger more doubts and panic in the market.

The rise of extremism threatening our religious harmony has also been a consequence of problems in our politics. Worryingly, this kind of politics will only lead more people down the wrong way.

Politics by right should serve the needs of the country and her people. But now, we are making economy, religion and even administration to serve the needs of politics, to an extent that even the civic society finds it difficult to reverse this trend because the country's biggest Malay opposition party is not on their side.

The biggest risk in Malaysian politics lies with the fact that a handful of individuals are in firm control of their parties without an effective checks and balances mechanism in place. This situation will only spawn a sense of helplessness among the rakyat and eventually political indifference in a vicious cycle.


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