Thursday, April 16, 2009

Root causes of racial politics in Malaysia

The Malaysian Insider's op-ed piece on Najib's inaugural Cabinet meeting ended with this paragraph:

After chairing the Cabinet meeting, Najib met senior editors of the mainstream media. He was expected to tell them to focus on bringing Malaysians of different races together, instead of highlighting differences.

The best way to ensure that the media focuses on uniting Malaysians instead of dividing them on ethnic differences is to stop all politicians from speaking about one race or another.

If a journalist asks a politician about the impact that one ethnic group has over the outcome of a by-election, that politician should be circumspect and judicious about giving a holistic appraisal of the issues that influenced the electorate.

On the other hand, if that politician dives into ethnic issues and wallow in frustration over perceived levels of gratitude or, the lack of it, then it is obvious that it is the politician who is harping on the ethnic divide when the rest of Malaysia is quite ready to move on.

So, to all politicians, be you in BN or Pakatan or any other party or Independent, to paraphrase JFK: Ask not what the media can do to stop ethnic talk, ask what you can do to stop the ethnic talk yourself.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, The fault, dear politicians, is not in the media stars, but in yourselves if you are prone to raise ethnic issues.

My proposition is that politicians are the root of all racial evil in Malaysia.


Antares said...

politicians are the root of all racial evil in MalaysiaHear, hear! Indeed, that's why they're called SHIT-STIRRERS :-)

Dhahran Sea said...

Fully agree with your argument; the only problem is, in Malaysia racial issues are fast becoming bread & butter to many politicians on both sides of the political divide, who just love going for instant glamour/limelight... they just relish to be in the media... and the sad thing is, they have their die-hard fans too... not unlike economics supply & demand... so the RM1M question is, how to do away with this stuation...

walla said...

The situation is asymmetric in two regards or more.

One, the quid pro quo for economic power in the private sector was political power in the public sector. But public sector is government. The asymmetry arises because government can do business in the private sector but private sector cannot do governance in the public sector.

Two, within government there is also asymmetry. Whether you have a PM, or DPM, or the important portfolios of finance, education, industry, defense and home, it's all by one party which espouses one race. There is a long list of how dominance has almost become complete in many sectors and organizations. No need to belabor the point. Because the first asymmetry has shaped the second.

It's all about one operating system. Or, a monolithic, monopolistic, achromatic, feudalized, self-propagating, set-up.

Take the computer industry, for example. A single monopolizing operating system commands the heights. Every new application that comes into view has to pay token to it. Like the archetypal tribute.

But nature and nurture espouse something else. Diversity. Walk into a rainforest and a multitude of flora and fauna await you. The other living kingdoms too.

Horizontally diversified while vertically integrated, life's cycle spins its web. So too the impetus for change in society. Change manifested by diversity reflecting evolutionary progress.

That's why the one-O/S computer industry was for a time peppered heavily by anti-trust judgments wherever the system tried to camp. Also its applications were targeted by hacks. And competition in the form of open source grew in popularity. Until the monopolist looked within. And changed itself. Somewhat.

When there's asymmetry, there will be reaction. But a paradox remains. Asymmetry should lead to diversity. Here the racial politics in asymmetry leads to tension held tenuously together by the game theory of MAD.

More than politicians being the root cause of racial politics in this country, the root effect of racial politics in this country is mutually assured destruction.

So how to do away with the situation?

Be honest. Adopt a face. Each person in a race should remember one face of another person in another race whom he or she had encountered, however briefly, in the past. Especially a good face impinging on the well of a happy memory. Mine was a chinese trishaw-man. He gave me a bag of those shiny colored glass guli's. Oh, was it half a century ago?

So, adopt a face. By the same token, show the faces. Of those who play racial politics. Put their faces on the front pages of the papers and the blogs. They themselves know who they are. 'Nuff said.

There is one more asymmetry. The monoracial, racialized, political party that elects the people who become the leaders that run all the key posts that are federal in level should remember that the friend of my enemy is not necessarily the enemy of my friend. To start with, all are malaysian citizens. It's a diversified ecosystem that should thrive in openness, not tit-for-tat.

After all, openness and transparency are the linchpins of checks-and-balances, innit?

So those who want to throw the book at people should instead devote their energies more to rebutting their grievances in measured tones with supporting facts, figures and records.

Unless they have things to hide behind the veil of denials and strong-arm tactics.

Bullyism is for cavemen.

I can talk to you for another twenty five minutes flat on education of the masses in preparation for mindset change leading to a healthier and more vibrant one, two and three Malaysia.

But i see symmetry winking her merry eyes at me. 36-24-36. Sheer symmetry. So why stay on at this screen? It's so unappreciated.

This post, even an epolicy, will find maddeningly obscurantic.