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Mahathir to the aid of Umno-PAS?

  • If the PH government adopts and implements Tun Mahathir's racist discourse, the country will be plunged deeper and deeper into the valley of despair. Photo courtesy: Bernama

By LIM SUE GOAN
Sin Chew Daily

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be attending the Malay Dignity Congress on October 6, a new racial discourse launched by PPBM to counter the Umno-PAS National Consensus Charter.

This is not the first time Mahathir has come up with something to fight Umno-PAS cooperation.

In July this year, he invited members of Malay political parties, including Umno, to join his PPBM in a bid to unite the Malays. And now he is making the same call in the interest of Malay dignity in an attempt to further undermine the Umno-PAS cooperation.

The Malay Dignity Congress is organized by the UM Malay Excellence Studies Center in collaboration with three other local universities, namely Universiti Teknologi Mara, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, as well as Muslim Lawyers Association, with the objective of exploring the issues related to the Malays from the academic point of view. However, the congress will propose five major motions, including the implementation of national integration mono-stream education system, and to clarify the racial and religious background of a prime ministerial candidate, which are very much racial in nature.

At a time the country is facing severe challenges and tests, by right we should organize a forum to explore ways to identify the future direction for this nation instead of a race-based congress.

Becoming prime minister for a second time, Tun Mahathir should have very rich political experiences that should have helped him define the future of this country. Unfortunately, what he is more concerned about is whether his coalition will still be able to stay in power come the next general elections.

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has proposed a patronage system irrespective of race and religion but the same has been turned down by the prime minister who claims that majority of Malays are still poor and the government will lose the next general elections if it does not help the Malays.

PPBM is only concerned about the votes and is feeling uneasy that Umno-PAS are commanding 70% of the Malay votes because the opposition alliance will have the most direct impact on the party.

For instance, among the 36 state assembly seats in Kedah, as many as 29 have more than 60% of Malay voters. If Kedah is lost, Mahathir's son Mukhriz will no longer be able to become the menteri besar.

Similarly in Perak, where PPBM's Chenderiang state assemblyman Ahmad Faizal is the menteri besar, the state administration is also in danger because of the Umno-PAS cooperation.

Having said that, Mahathir's argument that Malays are at a disadvantage and they need the help of the government, is no fight for Umno-PAS' Malay grand unity to defend the status of the Malays and Islam. Sooner or later PPBM will have to be led by the nose by the opposition alliance.

Malay civil servants are also affected by the Umno-PAS cooperation. Mukhriz warned recently that while civil servants can have their own political affiliations, this should not affect their job duties and that actions will be taken against those messing up with government's projects due to political reasons. He also said some civil servants were present at the Muslim Unity Gathering in Kuala Lumpur on September 14. The PH government's policies will not be effectively carried out without the cooperation of civil servants.

In addition, Umno-PAS is seizing every opportunity to incite the sentiments of the Malay society, including calling a Penang factory killer as “martyr” and calling for Attorney-General Tommy Thomas to resign over the death of fireman Muhammad Adib.

PH leaders should strive to palliate the escalating social tension and focus on more important issues pertaining to the country's development instead of organizing a racist congress.

Race politics have over the years undermined the social peace and harmony in this country while squandering a great deal of educational and economic resources and opportunities without fundamentally addressing the issues of poverty, youth unemployment, low salaries and skyrocketing goods prices.

If the PH government adopts and implements Tun Mahathir's racist discourse, the country will be plunged deeper and deeper into the valley of despair. With economic problems continue to plague the nation, it is very likely for PH to lose the next general elections.

Tun Mahathir says he does not have enough time and need to work 18 hours a day. As a matter of fact, this country does not have too much time to waste in order to deliver itself out of the current doldrums. If Mahathir eventually chooses to retire only before GE15, he will give Anwar too little time to handle all the problems faced by this country, especially the emotions within the Malay society. With confidence level at a low, there is a big probability the federal administration will fall into the hands of Umno-PAS if a snap election is called. If this becomes a reality, it will be even harder for the country to turn back to the right track.

PH must not just keep conceding under the pressure of the opposition alliance. Sabah chief minister Shafrie Apdal has shown a really good example by announcing that the state government will recognize the UEC certificate. Such an extraracial gesture will help bring down the rising conservative forces.

Perhaps Tun Mahathir is too confident of another election victory or he wishes to have more time to leave behind a more impressive political legacy, but we have to come to terms with the fact that PPBM will never be able to change the mindsets of rural Malays.

The moderation forces in East Malaysia and the Peninsula are the most potent weapon to fight the Umno-PAS alliance. Unfortunately the PH administration's race-based policies have jostled out the moderation forces and Mahathir's leadership has further delayed the timing for true reforms while deepening the crisis within his coalition.

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