Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Racial in a Multiracial Pakatan Rakyat?

Quote: drchua9.blogspot.com

As some of you may know, I appeared live on RTM2's What Say You programme on Sunday to discuss the consequences of Umno-PAS talks on multiracialism in Malaysia. While it was a lively discussion, what is clear from the response to the programme is that the Chinese in Malaysia no longer see things from a narrow racial perspective. The MCA must evolve along with the Chinese community in articulating such views.

As I said on the programme, the MCA may be a Chinese party but our outlook must be multi-racial. We must be issue-centered. The issues the Chinese are concerned about today cuts across racial barriers. These issues include the economy, corruption, Hindraf and equal access to educational opportunities. That is why the concept of Malay unity has sparked some concerns among the Chinese community. The Chinese have responded strongly in favour of the purportedly more multi-racial approach of the Pakatan Rakyat alliance.

While I do not believe the Pakatan Rakyat is better placed to unite all Malaysians, it is nevertheless necessary for us in the MCA to respond or else we will be painted into a corner as a coalition which represents narrow racial interests. The concept of Malay unity in the form of any Umno-PAS alliance is a turn-off to most Chinese voters because it suggests other races are precluded. The presence of PAS in Pakatan Rakyat is less of a concern because PKR is multiracial and the strongest party. It is our responsibility to ask UMNO if they realize they risk alienating non-Malays permanently.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) concept is still the only way for Malaysia to progress together as partners. But right now, the copycat version in Pakatan Rakyat appears much more appealing to many Malaysians because the different members –DAP, PKR, PAS – seem to have an equal say in the direction of the alliance, and are united under Anwar Ibrahim. Many voters stopped supporting the original – BN – because Umno appeared too powerful, and the other partners appeared to have less say in the direction of the country. We in the BN will have to work hard to change this perception. And this must be done together as partners.

The fragile co-operation between Pakatan Rakyat is possible because of Anwar Ibrahim. I cannot imagine how it will work in the longer term.