Friday, August 21, 2009

"One Malaysia?" - op-ed article from the New York Times

I've just read a very interesting op-ed article by Philip Bowring, on the New York Times website. In the article titled "One Malaysia?", he (in my opinion) quite accurately describes the socio-political situation we Malaysians find ourselves in, in the aftermath of GE-12 and the first 100 days of DS Najib's government. How can one not concur when he writes, "Malaysia badly needs a break from 52 years of sometimes authoritarian and corrupt rule by a coalition of race-based parties headed by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which controls most levers of power and money"?

Bowring isn't accurate in everything; for example, he describes Altantuya's murderers as DS Najib's "security guards" rather than as police officers serving in PDRM's Unit Tindakan Khas. However, his last three paragraphs more than make up for it (bold emphasis mine):
Ultimately, the race issue prevents wholehearted cooperation among the opposition parties in Anwar’s coalition. Some of the Islamists hanker to make common cause with UMNO to strengthen Malay unity and defend pro-Malay, pro-Islamic discrimination. This in turn fits well with allegations by senior UMNO figures that Anwar is a traitor to his race by aligning with the Chinese and Indian minorities.

The notion that Malays and Muslims are under threat from minorities is absurd. But it helps keep Malays loyal to UMNO even while the ruling coalition can claim that it is both multiracial and moderate. The coalition, however corrupted, is still seen by many as representing moderation and stability. UMNO may have pandered to Islamist demands, but few would accuse its leaders of piety or puritanism.

Najib’s slogan is “One Malaysia,” an attempt to portray his government as a unifying force. Its actual policies may remain racially skewed in favor of Malays and oppressive of dissent. But given the opposition’s divisions, and the Malay sense of entitlement that makes multiracial politics so difficult, the slogan may work to keep UMNO in power for another decade.

Spot on, wouldn't you say? What are we doing about it?

Please do read the entire article here. You may need to register with first, which is free and takes only a few minutes. You can find more articles by Philip Bowring here.

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