The political spat between PH and PN may appear to be a disagreement between two coalitions with opposing opinions; PH is multicultural whilst PN is conservative and is comprised of only Malay politicians.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This is not about differing policies.
What we are witnessing is Malays fighting Malays.
All this while, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has not mislead Malaysians, but it is highly likely that many Malaysians have mis-read Anwar.
Anwar has never tried to hide his Islamic credentials, so why should it surprise anyone that some of his policies appear as if he is trying to outdo PAS in being more Islamic? It is widely known that Anwar refuses to spook the Malays.
His GE15 election campaign promised a multicultural Malaysia, but when he led the country as the PM of the Unity Government, many Malaysians were horrified that some of his policies had a distinct religious flavor.
These included the introduction of the Hadith-40 module in schools, the harmonization of Federal and syariah laws, or the involvement of JAKIM in national policy-making.
Harapan’s non-Malay supporters mis-read him. When Anwar promised multiculturalism, they should not think that he would sacrifice his Islamic ideals or forget his ABIM roots.
His supporters feared the Green Wave taking over the country if Anwar’s Madani administration was not given full support, and they were furious when his critics complained about Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s discharge not amounting to acquittal (DNAA).
They said, “Do you want PN/PAS in Putrajaya? PAS’ Hadi Awang will be PM.”
These supporters ignore both the short- and long-term consequences for Malaysia.
How will foreign investors view our legal system? What are we teaching our young about corruption? At what point will they stop making compromises?
Many Malay politicians focus on Malay unity only. Malaysia can only move forward with Malaysian unity!
Zahid’s DNAA lends credence to the allegation that both Zahid and Anwar had done a deal for the formation of the Unity Government last November, which probably involved freeing those in the Umno-Baru court cluster.
These critics were furious that Zahid’s trial had been prematurely halted with the DNAA, especially when a prima facie case had been established the year before. His trial should have gone to completion.
A very dangerous precedent has been set with the DNAA.
It may not have been the first DNAA, but Malaysians are fed up with the current political, economic and social crises.
Instead of dealing with important issues, politicians are merely playing politics.
The country is failing in many areas: in the economy, in food security, in agriculture, in education, in social cohesion, the falling value of the ringgit, the lack of urgency in addressing the cost of living crisis, the black hole of spending in the Ministry of Defense, and the self-inflicted harm to national carrier MAS.
Few of these politicians think about the country. They only think about clinging on to power.
For decades, the Malays were brainwashed into thinking that only Umno, PAS, or more recently, Umno-Baru clones like Bersatu, are the only parties which can defend the rights of the Malays and safeguard the interests of Islam.
Like night follows day, it was inevitable that the three Rs — race, religion and royalty — would be used to convince the Malays. It was no longer Malaysian interests, as only Malay interests mattered.
Speaking English in schools was seen as unpatriotic. Attending vernacular schools was seen as divisive. Malays received preferential treatment and non-Malays were considered second-class citizens.
Some Malaysians believe that the current political conflict is about the forces of multiculturalism fending off the conservatives.
The mainly pro-Harapan supporters strongly believe that only the Madani administration can stop the advance of the extremist PN coalition with its controversial Hadi Awang as the president of PAS and the Malay-first, Malaysian-second Mahiaddin Yassin of Bersatu, from taking over Putrajaya.
Pro-Harapan supporters fear the Green Wave and they will use the argument “the lesser of two evils” to justify wrongdoing, like failing to punish corrupt politicians.
So, when will Malaysians finally make a stand against corruption which they know is the ruin of the nation?
Both the ruling and opposition coalitions may tout the line that only they can defend the Malays, but in reality, they are not defending the Malays. They are only out to protect the rice bowl of the Malay elite. From APs to armaments, to allocations for housing, education and government contracts.
However, they will use the reasons that they are protecting the interests of all Malays. That’s not true. The elite and well connected Malays are the main beneficiaries.
Foreign leaders talk about national unity, but in Malaysia, many Malay politicians focus on Malay unity only.
Not every Malaysian is treated as anak Malaysia. Some are showered with love, many are spoilt, others are brought up as stepchildren and treated cruelly, and a few are shown the door.
For five decades we nurtured many Malay hypocrites who worshiped money and rejected principle and integrity.
They do not protect Malay dignity, but only their self-interests.
That is why Malays fight other Malays.
Malaysia can only move forward with Malaysian unity.
(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)