Quo vadis non-Malays when unity gov’t seems to be “empty promises and high drama”

INDIAN voters’ absenteeism, low turnout in supporting the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) coalition and general unhappiness with the coalition were some of marked features of the recent state elections.

The Indian slide was particularly conspicuous in Selangor, Negri Senbilan and Penang. Electoral analyses of ethnic voting behaviour by Bridget Welsh and Ong Kian Ming have made an attempt to explain reasons behind the slide of Indian support for PH-BN combine.

Dropping me and others, the racist statement attributed to the PKR elected candidate in Selangor and the rude behaviour of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim towards an 18-year-old female Indian student didn’t help the situation.

These factors merely confirmed the suspicions that the unity government under Anwar was all about talk and high drama.

It is pointless for Anwar to repeat the mantra that Malays, Chinese, Kadazans and Dayaks are his children but in reality, his regime under the weight of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) green wave is slowly but surely gravitating towards the right.

The above cited reasons could be the aggravating factors behind Indian disillusionment with PH-BN in general and the DAP and PKR in particular.

Indians are helpless

As far as ordinary Indians are concerned, they are not effectively represented in the PKR or the DAP.

These political parties seem to have a preference for Indian candidates who are not critical of the leadership, perform the yes-men role and those who refuse to take up the tragic and sad social, economic and cultural conditions of existence.

Nothing has really changed for Indians under the unity government; in fact, there is fear that the community will be abandoned lock stock and barrel in the coming years.

Anwar might have good intention but he is structurally incapable of doing things for the poor and neglected Indians.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (second from left) with Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (second from right) and MIC president Tan Sri S.A. Vigneswaran (far left) and the party’s deputy president Datuk Seri M. Saravanan

Under the ever-pressing threat of political Islam, there is tendency for him to move towards the right; any benefits accruing to Indians or non-Malays might further fuel the Malay resentment towards the Anwar government.

Anwar is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

DAP won all the state seats contested but lost one. It might be the party that has the block support of Chinese and Indians. However, despite its hold on the non-Malays due to the fear of conservative Islam, the party is not in the position to make demands on the unity government.

DAP playing safe

As somebody said recently, the DAP leadership is caught in the entrapment of not spooking the conservative Malays. Ironically, the DAP might be the bastion of non-Malay particularly Chinese support but its inability to deliver is in question.

(Pic credit: Harakah Daily)

With its solid base, DAP should by right translate its electoral strength to fight against the injustices committed against non-Malays in the country.

Gone are the days of Malaysian Malaysia.  The party’s uncritical embrace of UMNO has not gone well with the rank and file; the same thing is true with the rank-and-file UMNO members who prefer not to support the PH-BN because of the DAP.

Old hostility and enmity seem to prevail in the PH-BN combine. DAP is now caught in situation that it cannot do much for the non-Malays in the country. It has the difficult job of ensuring the survival of the Madani government.

Addressing the needs of its grassroots might not be the present priority of the DAP. I wonder whether DAP is able to maintain its present electoral strength in the near future.

The PH-BN coalition might appreciate the contribution of DAP; it remains the fixed deposit of the unity government. But the unity government must go beyond DAP to win the support of Malays. Right now, with DAP aligned to UMNO, the situation might be difficult.

The question now is whether the Anwar government can last a full five-year term without pandering to the Malay right? In this respect, depending on the DAP and UMNO alone might not be be helpful to Anwar.

Anyway, the political situation in the country is far from being stabilised but is in a constant flux. What happens eventually, might not be in the interest of the unity government. Let us wait and see. – Aug 18, 2023


Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the former DAP state assemblyman for Perai. He is also the former deputy chief minister of Penang.

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

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