Race-based politicsPosted: August 21, 2008
A debate happened yesterday night between the ex-CM of Penang, and the present CM of Penang. The former is Koh Tsu Koon of Gerakan, the latter is Lim Guan Eng of DAP.
I didn’t watch the debate. It was too late for me here.
Looking at the photos of the debate, especially the one where the two are shaking hands after the debate, reminded me of a conversation I had with my dad yesterday morning.
Me: You know, DAP, PKR and Gerakan are multi-ethnic parties, right? But it’s funny how DAP and Gerakan are called “Chinese-based”, simply because their leader is Chinese, and PKR is “Malay-based” because their leader is Malay.
Dad: But there are Indians and Chinese in PKR what..
Me: Ya, there are also Malays and Indians in DAP. But they call it Chinese-based anyway. They’re multi-ethnic, but people tend to think that PKR will champion for Malay rights, and DAP and Gerakan will champion Chinese rights, simply because their leaders are Malays or Chinese.
Dad: So if we look at it this way, then the Indians have no representation la?
Dad: Nah, Sivarasa is in PKR right? So there you have Indian representation la!
Me: But you know what’s funny? There are certain politicians that I simply can’t tell if they’re from DAP or PKR. Like, I look at their names, and I think.. Hmm.. This one DAP or PKR ah?
Dad: But that’s good isn’t it? So you can’t tell which party they are from simply from their race ma. Like in BN, if he’s Chinese, then sure from MCA, if Indian then sure from MIC. All this race-based thing, not good la. So if you can’t tell which party a certain politician belongs to simply from the colour of their skin, it’s a good thing.
Towards the evening, we had conversation (2) about race-based politics.
Me: You know, I actually hope that BN can pull up their socks. They’re doing a terrible job now, but when one day Pakatan Rakyat form the federal government, I hope that there is a strong enough BN to be the opposition to keep PR on their toes. It’s because we always had this one-sided government with little representation from the opposition that we have what this kind of situation today.
Me: So that’s why sometimes when I see people from Gerakan and MCA leaving their parties to join with DAP or PKR, and I think, why leh? At the same time, I think it’s the right thing to do. But then if all the good people leave BN, then no hope la for a strong opposition next time!
Dad: I think they do good in leaving. If BN remains a coalition made up of UMNO and MCA and MIC, meaning that it’s still made up of separated races, then no point we keep them.
Dad: They need to change. Let them all join to form one party that does not discriminate against races. Otherwise, let it die a natural death. Let the people leave. Racial politics should die a natural death.
Me: But it’s going to be difficult, with 3.3 million UMNO members…
Dad: Difficult, yes. But in 20, 30, 40 years? It will die a natural death.
Race-based politics will die a natural death. If it doesn’t, it will be because we let it be.