National Unity Minister Aaron’s meeting with Tun M likely to be a monologue, an exercise in futility

IT IS nothing wrong for the National Unity Minister Aaron Ago Dagang to meet the twice former prime minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In fact, this kind of meetings should be encouraged to examine the state of national unity in the country. Aaron was upset that Dr Mahathir would cast aspersions on the Indians and Chinese for being not loyal to the country.

In an interview with a TV channel from Chennai, India, Dr Mahathir has expressed regret that Indians by adhering to their language, religion and culture, failed to assimilate with the Malays.

Quite a few leaders with the present government took umbrage to Dr Mahathir’s uncalled for remarks on the Indian community.

I replied to him by stating that his solution for national unity is the assimilation of ethnic groups such as Indians and Chinese.

However, despite being a PM for many years, I was astonished how he could recommend the assimilationist model of national integration.  This is a model that has been long been rejected in many multicultural societies.

Moreover, being the chief architect who kept the races divided to promote the Malay hegemonic model, Dr Mahathir was never keen to promote racial and religious unity.

Because it was in the racial and religious divide, the development model in favour of the Malays could succeed. Unfortunately, the development model which manifested in the form of the NEP (New Economic Policy) merely succeeded in widening the gap between the rich and poor Malays.

Tun M has himself to blame

Given the long years of in-built tensions and conflicts among the races, there was no way even a minimalist integration approach could succeed.

Dr Mahathir cannot blame the non-Malays as he was the person largely responsible for the development of centrifugal tendencies among the races.

While the Malays were given special rights and privileges on account of their Bumiputera status, the non-Malays were denied these rights on account of their recent immigrants’ status. Dr Mahathir refers to them as the “pendatang” (immigrants).

More than 60 years of political independence gave rise to a society that was racially and religious divided. While there was a semblance of order and unity, the racial and religious divisions created by the extreme nationalists like Dr Mahathir persisted stubbornly.

Blame cannot be cast on the Indians or Chinese or the Malays for the leadership of the country was solely responsible.

While Malay nationalists reinforced the racial, cultural and religious difference of the Malays in opposition to the non-Malays, non-Malay leaders similarly sought to reinforce the differences among the non-Malays, the Chinese and Indians.

However, the blame came to be cast solely on the non-Malays as those responsible for perpetuating their racial, religious and cultural differences vis-a-vis the Malays.

Dr Mahathir might be frustrated and desperate but he cannot blame the Indians or Chinese or even the Malays.

Yet, despite the divisive racial and religious policies over decades that served to reinforce the racial and religious divide, the society is generally harmonious and peaceful.

Credit should be given to ordinary Malaysians – the Malays, Chinese, Indians and others for peace and stability. If only we have leaders who are statesmen rather than ethnic and religious champions, the country would have made remarkable progress especially in realm of inter-cultural relationships.

A monologue at best

Dr Mahathir questioned why I left the multi-racial DAP to form an ethnic Indian party.

I replied by saying that DAP is not a multi-racial party anymore for it has taken a different political character that cannot be defended as multi-racial. I was surprised that Dr Mahathir could label DAP as a multi-racial party when he had nothing but venom for the party.

Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy

I wonder how he could suddenly turn around to “love” the party. By the way, my new party Urimai (United for Rights of Malaysian Party) is not an ethnic party but a multi-racial one with the focus on the Indian underclass.

However, Dr Mahathir’s sudden love for multi-racial political parties seems not in congruence with his own party affiliations over the years. Once he had membership in UMNO, later Bersatu, then with Pejuang only to abandon it one-and-a-half-year later.

He might have changed party affiliations but remained within the fold of an ethnic Malay political party.

Well, if he is taking so much about multi-racialism, why did he seek membership with ethnic Malay political parties? Why was there no initiative to form political parties that can enrol Malaysians?

Simply because Dr Mahathir does not believe in the formation of multi-racial political parties, he thinks that Malays can only be protected and advanced by a preponderant ethnic party.

While I welcome the meeting between Dr Mahathir and Aaron, I seriously doubt that such a meeting would have a significant impact on Dr Mahathir.

Given his vast political experience, Dr Mahathir thinks that he knows the answers as to what ails the Malaysian society. I think the meeting will be one in which Dr Mahathir will be doing the talking with Aaron listening.

In brief, it would not be a dialogue but a monologue! – Jan 18, 2024


Former DAP stalwart and Penang chief minister II Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is chairman of the Urimai (United Rights of Malaysian Party) Interim Council.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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