The grateful tokens of multi-racialism

pic credit: Deklarasi Rakyat FB

A COUPLE of years before the 2018 national polls, at a time when someone lodging a report on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal ended up in jail, and his lawyer thrown in as well for good measure, Opposition and civil society activists banded together to figure out a political solution to what could only be deemed as a national calamity.

The political solution was sought because the civil society option, dubbed the Deklarasi Rakyat (People’s Declaration), despite achieving more than one million signatures in a targeted campaign, had failed to get Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak to answer for the syphoning of billions in public funds.

When the Deklarasi Rakyat was launched, it was aimed to hold Najib responsible in the hope that the Malay Rulers would respond favourably to the demand that 1MDB be investigated and Najib to relinquish his prime minister’s (PM) post.

As it turned out, the one million signatures were insufficient to move the Rulers, apart from a mild demand for the government to explain/solve the 1MDB issue, took the position of not interfering in politics.

The Deklarasi Rakyat initiator, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in discussions with the Opposition leaders and civil society activists, was of the opinion that a new political party be formed and that it joined the Opposition pact to face the Umno/Barisan Nasional (BN) behemoth.

When Dr Mahathir proposed that the new party, later on known as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to be Malay-based, there was opposition even from among his circle who were keen for it to be multi-racial.

But Dr Mahathir pointed out that if those opposed to Najib’s Umno/BN wanted to be in a multiracial party, they would have joined either one of the parties in the Opposition bloc — PKR, DAP or Amanah which, even though Malay-dominated, was more a splinter to PAS and both refused to be deemed Malay-based.

Furthermore, the objective of setting up the new party is to win over Malay/Bumiputera voters as well as members and supporters of Umno who had become disenchanted with Najib over the 1MDB case but were not prepared to vote or join multi-racial parties.

It was almost a consensus that the new party under Dr Mahathir would be Malay/Bumiputera based and the seats it was going to contest would mostly be those that Umno won.

Most had accepted that only a Malay/Bumiputera based party in the Opposition core that the might of Umno/BN could be challenged.

Then, together under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) pact and using a single logo in the 2018 polls, the Opposition managed to defeat Umno/BN which had had a firm grip on the government uninterruptedly since independence.

Much water has flowed under the bridge since then but there seems to be a sudden disaffection among those who opposed Umno/ BN and had supported the PH of Malay/Bumiputera-based party, in particular Dr Mahathir’s newly-minted Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.

Each seems to be of the opinion that it is time for the nation to discard race-based parties.

It is definitely politically correct but it is doubtful that those subscribing or advocating it are truly honest if not outright hypocritical about it.

Firstly, probably before scrutinising the race-based parties, it’s best to look at the leading multiracial parties.

In the first place, if everyone in these parties is for multi-racialism, why does it have to have so many different parties, in particular PKR and DAP.

Both had no objections for PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be the PM-elect and DAP leaders had publicly declared that their non-Malay leaders had no ambition of seeking the coveted post, at least not yet.

There’s no major ideological polarity. PKR’s ability to accommodate was proven when Parti Rakyat Malaysia was dissolved to be part of Parti Keadilan Nasional, PKR’s predecessor. Such a feat could easily be emulated if DAP is game.

As for the true-blue advocate of multi-racial party from PKR, surely the reverse, of DAP absorbing PKR, is equally acceptable.

And yet it is not going to happen simply because each has their own set of voters who, despite being advocates of multi-racialism, are equally stuck by their racial preference.

In the case of PKR, even if Anwar were to retire, the successor is going to be a Malay, at least in the foreseeable future as lining up for the deputy presidency are Malay candidates.

Similarly in the case of DAP, if the leadership is to be taken over by Malays it is likely that it will lose its ground with its traditional non-Malay voters.

Its recent party polls, when only one of the 10 Malay candidates made it to its central executive committee (CEC) gave rise to opinions that the DAP’s grassroot are not in sync with the leadership’s push for more Malays in the leadership.

With the party grassroot not heeding, DAP leadership resorted to tokenism, appointing a couple of defeated Malay candidates to the CEC.

A Malay DAP’s apologist claimed the defeat of almost all of the Malay candidates for the CEC belonged to the “wrong” cai (candidates listed in a group being offered collectively to voters).

It may be true but insofar as the general public is concerned, DAP voters are not fans of Malay candidates in their party leadership unless as tokens and that too for political expediency.

However, to cover up their inadequacies, some DAP leaders, especially the tokens, are quite brazen in condemning Dr Mahathir’s Pejuang.

In the first place, if political wisdom and principles were of essence, the realities and 2018 polls would have led to support for the setting up of Pejuang, or at the very least giving it a chance and not being strident against it.

The only way to stop the return of the kleptocrat-led Umno is to take them on in their own electorates as what Bersatu did in the 2018 polls. Bersatu is of course out of the equation given its betrayal of the PH mandate.

Instead of training their guns on Umno and Bersatu, these DAP tokens turned them on Pejuang, simply because they feel that the non-Malays are opposed to Dr Mahathir, ignoring that it is the only Malay party that continues to stand up against the kleptocrats and traitors.

These tokens, not necessarily Malays, are only concerned about their electorates that are made up of non-Malays and that pandering to them will ensure their continued hold in their constituency, a small pond it may be.

That’s how tokens are — they need to prove their worth, as tokens.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.