An Open Letter To Voters – Reject Racial Politics

Dear Malaysian Voter,

Based on my own crude estimation, 40% of voters in Malaysia have already decided to vote for Barisan Nasional. Another 40% of voters have already decided to vote for the Opposition or Barisan Rakyat, which is the people’s coalition of 6 political parties, namely PKR, PAS, DAP, MDP, PSM, and PASOK. That leaves 20% of voters, who are still undecided on who to vote for. If you are among those 20% of voters, I have written this letter especially to you, and I hope that you will allow me 10 minutes of your time.

I would just like to point out only 2 things that I hope you will take into account when casting your vote:
1. The threats issued by race-based political parties
2. The future and relevance of race-based political parties

I personally believe that these 2 issues should be at the foremost of your mind when deciding who to cast your vote for, because your ONE powerful vote will determine the direction that this country will take. This in turn would determine your future, and most importantly, the future of your children and grandchildren.

The threats issued by race-based political parties

Flip through the newspapers and scan the news sections for the past few weeks. Search through the blogs that have commentary on some leader’s statements. The threats issued by the race-based political parties are subtle and veiled, but it’s certainly there.

UMNO would tell the Malay voters that if they did not vote for UMNO or BN, then Barisan Rakyat will destroy or revamp the NEP, and leave the Malays marginalized economically. They would also warn that Barisan Rakyat would undermine the position of Islam as the official religion of the country.

MIC would tell the Indian voters that if they did not vote for MIC or BN, then the Indian community will pay the price in terms of loss of representation in government. The threat by MIC is actually more forceful and condescending, as they claim that the rights of Indians will basically be disintegrated if you voted for Barisan Rakyat. For example, read the ad that MIC has printed in the newspapers. (View Ad)

Photo credit – Malaysiakini

MCA would tell the Chinese voters that if they did not vote for MCA or BN, then the Chinese community has much to lose, as MCA would no longer be able to champion the cause of the Chinese people in government. MCA leaders exploits the Chinese community’s fear of violence and chaos when they continuously bring up the possibility of another May 13th 1969 if they vote the Barisan Rakyat. MCA will point out that the only way the Chinese community will see development is if they vote MCA, because basically, they have the money and Barisan Rakyat does not.

Those are the threats of the race-based political parties in Barisan Nasional. There’s one common theme among these threats: Vote for us, the UMNO/MIC/MCA, or else the Malay/Indian/Chinese community will certainly suffer. This creates a situation where all 3 races start fighting each other for their own rights, and in the end, all 3 races have to settle for something less than they demanded, and merely tolerate each other’s existence.

Is this the Malaysia we want now, where the people merely tolerate each other, rather than celebrate and cherish each other’s differences? As a nation aged 50, shouldn’t we start to all share a common vision for our country so that we can move forward and be a great nation in this world, rather than be bogged down by racial differences while ignoring the big picture called globalization?

Are the threats issued by these parties even credible? If the NEP, in its current form is truly effective, why are there still so many poor Malaysians, regardless of race, in this country? Who has the NEP benefited? It has only benefited a handful of Malays, Chinese, and Indians who have close connections with the government. While these well-connected business tycoons and politicians prosper, the majority of the people are to be content with fringe benefits while some others are even left out entirely. This has created a situation where the rich-poor gap in Malaysia is among the widest in Southeast Asia, and this normally leads to discontent, crime, and social issues.

As for the undermining of Islam as the official religion of the country, the Barisan Rakyat has officially endorsed the following statement from the People’s Declaration, or the Deklarasi Rakyat :

We, Malaysians of all races and of various faiths, pledge to uphold at all times the foundational principles of the Malaysian Constitution, namely: that Islam is the religion of the Federation, and all other religions shall be practiced in peace and harmony.

The Barisan Rakyat certainly does not want a religious war in Malaysia, since it will benefit no one. The Barisan Rakyat just wants Malaysians to be safe and secure in the knowledge that they are free to practice their religion in peace. Wouldn’t it be great that Malaysians be allowed to practice their faiths without any fear of persecution or discrimination?

As for MIC and MCA, they have been the voices of Indians and Malaysians in the government for 5 decades. They promise to fight for their rights, but throughout this 50 years, do you feel that both communities have increasingly lost representation in government? This is the effect of the power-sharing formula between race-based political parties. It is natural that the dominant party (in this case, UMNO) will have the bigger share of power. Meanwhile, the Barisan Rakyat has hopes for a Malaysia for all Malaysians, regardless of race. Isn’t that a lot better compared to an inequitable power-sharing formula that will eventually crumble? Unfortunately, a Malaysia for all Malaysians can only be a reality only if Barisan Rakyat has your vote.

Why should you be afraid of the threats of these race-based political parties? Instead, I urge you to take on these threats face-on, and view them as empty threats.

The future and relevance of race-based political parties

The power-sharing formula based on race will eventually crumble, and you might even be alive when that eventually happens. Yes, it’s a matter of when, not if. I predict that it will crumble because logic tells me that there will come a point in time when any dominant party with the most political power eventually decides that it no longer needs to share the power. In the case of race-based power-sharing formula, that means that the dominant race will have the most political power. If I were the most dominant by far, why would I want to share my power with anyone else? It might work if the leader of the dominant party was visionary and magnanimous, but what if a leader emerges from the dominant party that is racist? It’s not that hard to imagine such a leader emerging from UMNO.

The coalition between UMNO, MCA, and MIC will get increasingly shaky. At the moment, UMNO, as the dominant race-based political party still needs MCA and MIC to form the government because 35% of the population of this country is Chinese or Indian and there are still many Chinese and Indian voters for BN. However, will UMNO still need either MCA or MIC when 35% becomes 10%? That’s entirely possible, and it’s accelerating towards that 10% figure because of increasing migration rates and decreasing birth rates. When that eventually happens, then I am afraid it will be too late for MCA or MIC to turn back time.

Therefore, I cannot stress enough on the importance of shifting your focus from what the government can offer you based on your race, to what the government can offer you as a Malaysian, regardless of race. There is surely no future for race-based political parties, because the race with the least population will surely slide downwards towards irrelevance and eventually, oblivion.

Your vote determines the future of the country

Malaysians, if you want equal rights as citizens of this country, you should no longer trust in this dying breed called the race-based political party. There is no better time than now to put an end to this farce called the Barisan Nasional.

Even supposedly non race-based BN coalition parties are starting to fall into the race trap. For example, Gerakan, the supposed party for intellectuals, is fielding all Chinese team during the coming elections. Are there no suitable or intellectual candidates from other races?

Call me an idealist, but I have hopes that one day, all Malaysians will possess commonly shared goals and aspirations. Then, we will be able to step forward and face the world together, hand-in-hand, as one nation, and one people. The only way that is going to happen is for you to say no to Barisan Nasional this March 8th 2008. The power to decide is solely in your hands, so don’t let empty threats by the BN diminish that power. You can make a difference.

Let’s make the 12th General Elections in Malaysia the beginning of the end for race-based political parties.

Kenny, 27, Rakyat Malaysia

If you are still not convinced that Malaysians should ditch Barisan Nasional and race-based political parties, then I can only thank you for reading this far. If you were convinced that this open letter to undecided voters will help them make a decision, then thank you for reading as well, and happy voting. Please pass this message on if you think it might help you or your friends decide. I can’t believe it took me 5 days to write this up.

Barisan Rakyat Sidebar