An overdose of stale tacticsPosted: September 7, 2008
I’m finding more and more of these good articles in the Star lately. But even though these commentaries are good, the same cannot be said about their news reports.
Today, I read this article by Zainah Anwar, in her column that’s aptly named “Sharing the Nation”
Why the fear of open discussion on issues of public interest?
To accuse Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Tan Sri Khalid as traitors to the race for pushing for a more inclusive multi-racial agenda, or to accuse Prof Mehrun Siraj as bersubahat (in conspiracy) with the enemies of Islam for defending the right of the Bar Council to organise a forum on the impact of conversion to Islam in a plural legal system, is a strategy used by fascists and extremists to appropriate truth only to their own discourse.
Thus others are demonised, their ideas portrayed as threatening to race, religion and country and therefore all public discussion must be halted.
Take the issue of affirmative action for the Malays. How can we conduct a public discourse and minimise the polarisation given the divergent ideas, beliefs and fears, founded and unfounded?
First, it would be helpful to generate a rational and intelligent discussion on the New Economic Policy if we stop labelling those who question, challenge, raise the shortcomings and abuses in implementation, the unintended consequences of the policy and those who offer alternatives as pengkhianat bangsa (traitors to the race), merampas hak Melayu (seize Malay rights), menjolok sarang tebuan (stir the hornet’s nest) and other such sinister representations.
Questioning the NEP, its strengths and weaknesses, and its future standing does not tantamount to seizing Malay rights or treachery to the Malay cause or to the repeal of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. The NEP is but a policy instrument of Article 153.
What is being questioned is whether as a policy instrument it remains the most effective and just means to achieve its twin objectives of eradicating poverty and economic restructuring by eliminating the identification of race with function.
March 8 and Permatang Pauh have clearly shown that the language of ketuanan Melayu does not work at the national level.
For confident young Malays who can stand on their own two feet, the NEP is no longer the crutch they need to survive and thrive.
For disenchanted Malays who feel, whether rightly or wrongly, that the NEP has been so abused to benefit Umnoputras and the ruling elite only, the sense of fairness inherent in the “bargain” is something they can live with.
Can we please begin to have an intelligent, rational and civil discussion on the relevance of these objectives and the way forward in today’s confused and contentious times?
Read the rest of it HERE.
Can we have more of these coming, please?