THE 15th General Election (GE15) will mostly be fought on one theme – Malay unity. This is the message that will constantly be drummed up by the Malay-based political parties, be they from the opposition ranks or the party in power.
But this vigorous push for Malay unity can only come at the expense of national unity because the core belief of those advocating this course of action is that Malays must unite to strengthen their supremacy mostly in politics. The other races can remain permanently at the fringes of power.
The dominant race has been holding the reins of power for so long that they have come to believe that the government belongs to them and that they have the inherent right to control it for as long as they are around.
The call for Malay unity has been growing strident because of the perception that Malay supremacy is under threat not from external forces but from Malaysian citizens themselves who happened to be of other races and faiths.
Non-Malays have rights, too
In the eyes of the majority race, especially their politicians, the non-Malays have become a stumbling-block to more Malay political power. They see them as an irritating bone which must be removed from the throat.
Hence, the only effective way to meet the perceived threat from the non-Malays is to ensure they do not walk the corridors of power too often or have too much say in the affairs of the country.
But the stark reality is that the multi-ethnic groups are here to stay and they are inextricably a part of the political scene. They have inalienable rights that cannot be arbitrarily taken away or whittled down.
In fact, the non-Malays are the ones whose position in the national politics is coming under increasing attacks along religious and racial lines.
How then can the various ethnic groups check the seemingly unstoppable rising tide of Malay political dominance? There is only one path they can take and that is through the ballot box.
The GE15 is the one platform that non-Malays can effectively use to their great advantage. Although they do not have the numbers, their votes can still move and shake public opinion.
Non-Malays must unite
For this to happen, non-Malays must work doubly hard to forge their own unity. They must close ranks and throw their full support to a party that can stand up and speak for them inside Parliament or outside.
Only a non-Malay united front can best serve the interest of the multi-racial population. If all speak with one strong voice, one brave heart and one single mind, no one can browbeat them or bully them.
It is imperative that non-Malays realise that only political power can change their life for the better because once they have a booming voice in government, they can help craft policies that can better reflect the multi-racial character of the country.
If Malay unity is to consolidate and defend race, non-Malay unity is to protect and enrich the diversity of the nation’s rich culture.
If Malay unity is to ensure political power remains forever in the hands of the native people, non-Malay unity is to disabuse the Malay mind of this outdated concept and, instead, promote the doctrine of equal partnership and just distribution of power.
If Malay unity is to eventually establish a system of government detrimental to the well-being of the other races, non-Malay unity is to correct this disastrous course and steer the country back to the path of sensible co-existence underpinned by the power of representative government.
In short, non-Malays must acquire as much political power as they can muster – not to govern the country – but to check any excesses the dominant race might be contemplating. There must be checks and balances so that Malaysia can move forward steadily without any one race being sidelined, denigrated or ignored.
This can only be accomplished if the various ethnic groupings exercise their suffrage boldly to have more say in shaping Malaysia into a home rightfully belonging to all races.
In the ballot box lies the hope of the minority races because – to paraphrase what someone once said – it’s not the lawmakers who hold the destiny of a country but the people who cast the ballot. – Oct 24, 2022
Phlip Rodrigues is a former journalist.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: Free Malaysia Today