Yoursay: Political will and courage needed to turn tide of bigotry

    (Updated )

    YOURSAY | ‘Harapan must do more to open rakyat’s minds so we don't live in ‘fear’ of fellow citizens.’

    Time to have ‘difficult conversations’ about our divided nation

    The Wakandan: Bukit Tengah assemblyperson Gooi Hsiao Leung should be commended for speaking up on this issue, and going where Pakatan Harapan’s politicians dare not tread.

    The three general themes – landlords (Malays) and squatters (non-Malays), Malaysia being a Muslim country where other religions cannot be promoted, and non-Malays becoming bolder and excessive (especially after May 9, 2018) – identified in readers’ comments responding to his statement are worth noting.

    How this should be dealt with is worth further thought by Harapan’s leaders for these are real feelings experienced by a section of the Malaysian population, whether we like it or not.

    And thus Gooi’s question, about why the Malay leaders in Harapan are not speaking up on this issue, is pertinent. The prerequisite is, of course, whether the leaders themselves agree on the validity of the themes or not. It has to come to that.

    If they do not agree, then there is small chance that anything will be done at all on this matter - just like the current Brexit issue in Britain, where even after the referendum, their lawmakers do not agree on the action to be taken.

    Sadly though, the reason for Malay leaders in Harapan not speaking up, beginning with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and then Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Harapan de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and even Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, is perhaps that they agree with the themes that Gooi mentioned.

    Secondly, maybe they do not have the political will and courage to turn the tide of racialism and bigotry, which is too much of a political price to pay.

    Shahzamani: Race, religion, royalty – these sensitivities are all driven by politics. Of course, there is good politics and there is venomous politics.

    It's hard to play good politics. Good politics requires strength of character, courage, great communication skills, vision, innovation and, most of all, patriotism to the country called Malaysia. And it's hard to sell good politics to the masses whose minds have been poisoned for decades.

    It's a lot easier to ride the bandwagon of venomous politics by waving the keris and screaming race, religion and royalty until one's face turns blue. It requires a lot less brainpower to do.

    Given the current crop of Harapan leaders, I think Anwar, PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli and Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar have the potential to be torchbearers for Brand Malaysia. But we must give them space and time.

    Harapan is only a yearling. Already the pent-up expectations of the long-suffering populace have inundated the Harapan leadership.

    Let's just hold tight for a brighter tomorrow for Malaysia.

    TCM: Most of the issues reported are sensationalised and two-dimensional. Two-dimensional here means it has no depth, and therefore we cannot understand the full picture of the story beyond what is reported, and thus, the third dimension is left to our own interpretation.

    Furthermore, comments given behind keyboards are easy. Anonymity emboldens people to say things that we normally would not. If asked to have a face-to-face dialogue, many of the comments here wouldn't be uttered.

    Therefore, I see comments on reports like this as usually being uninformed and would not take too much notice of those who express extremist views.

    The majority of Malaysians are mature. Given the full picture, we can all have a dialogue, but it is also time for the moderates to stand up and be counted.

    Otherwise, all we hear are the two percent of extremists - based on my loose estimation - who could be misinterpreted as the majority.

    ChuenTick: Gooi, good for you - at least we still have one Harapan politician willing to speak up.

    PAS has joined the fray and with that, there can be no hope of any meaningful dialogue. With the Cameron Highlands by-election coming up, I can foresee the Harapan leadership falling over each other trying to appease the religious extremists.

    Anonymous 1689721435778173: I agree with Gooi. Unless the majority of Malays do not change their mindsets, the country will fail, and fail miserably instead of becoming great.

    I remember in 1969 when they talked about the New Economic Policy (NEP) to be implemented in 1970, and the leaders promised that it was temporary - just to help the Malays to catch up economically. It would not last longer than 20 years.

    See what happened? It is now 2019 - 29 years after the expiry of the NEP and the policies are still there. In fact, it has brought about corruption and cronyism, and much of the country's wealth has gone down the drain.

    Are the Malays any better off? Some, maybe, but the majority are worse off because the benefits did not trickle down to them but only to a few cronies.

    The NEP and its successors have become a crutch and have destroyed the will of their beneficiaries to strive to be competitive. There has to be a better way instead of just repeating past errors.

    MalaysianMalaysian: Gooi, thank you for addressing the "elephant in the room".

    Harapan leaders need to do more to open the minds of the rakyat so we don't need to live in "fear" of our fellow citizens.

    Kevin: People are doing all they can to politicise trivial things to gain fame, and to destroy the harmony that Malaysia has enjoyed. They don't mind seeing people fighting with one another, for this will make them happy, giving them a sense of achievement.

    The government needs to find a way to stop this rot, or else there would be trouble soon caused by the very same people who started it all.

    By keeping silent and allowing them to harp on such non-issues, the government is giving them the greenlight to do damage to the nation.

    Quigonbond: The comments on Sinar Harian’s Facebook page is simply a product of more than 40 years of Umno conditioning.

    My personal view is that there is an urgent need to re-educate everyone, not just students, on how we became a nation, who are its citizens, and why we should stop calling certain citizens 'pendatang'.

    It would be nice for Malay leaders in Harapan to unite and affirm that all citizens are not ‘pendatang’, even to the extent of criminalising any provocation that says otherwise, similar to how anti-Semitism is treated in the West.

    Race should not be used to bait votes or to incite hatred. Political discourse needs to be more fact-based.

    Of a particularly tall order would be to change the mindset that Malays have been "dibangsatkan" (bastardised) after the 14th general election.

    Instead of pandering to the right and continuing to ask non-Malay/Muslims to empathise with Malay/Muslims (which is the easiest way to appease the latter group), Harapan needs to crank up its messaging to remind the Malays that it is Umno/PAS that failed them and that under the new government, divisions need to heal and we need more inter-racial or inter-faith discussions to close the gap and promote respect and understanding.

    The above is a selection of comments posted by Malaysiakini subscribers. Only paying subscribers can post comments. Over the past one year, Malaysiakinians have posted over 100,000 comments. Join the Malaysiakini community and help set the news agenda. Subscribe now.

    These comments are compiled to reflect the views of Malaysiakini subscribers on matters of public interest. Malaysiakini does not intend to represent these views as fact.

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