What-lessons-can-singapore-learn-from-the-historical-14th-malaysian-elections – Part 2

May 18, 2018

Q: Many have criticsed Mahathir for perpetuating identity politics in Malaysia. Do you see a day when Malaysia will ever move away from identity politics to something resembling what we see in Singapore?

A: By identity politics. I presume Kompf, what you actually mean to convey in a politically correct context is race based politics. So what you actually mean to ask is why is Mahathir’s Parti bersatu Pribumi exclusively for Malays. Why cant a Chinese or indian join his party etc etc.

So what you actually mean to ask of me is this right or wrong. Is it good in the long term. Am I correct?

Q: Yes.

A: Next time just ask a question plainly. Dont try to come across as a politically correct ST or mediacorp journalist. Because once you put a policemam in your head, you will no longer make sense to either others or yourself…just be yourself Kompf.

The way I see it, identity politics will always feature in the political scenery only because there will always be a duality in the collective consciousness of Malaysia. At one end of the spectrum, you have the urbanites who are well travelled, western educated and cosmopolitan in their worldview. But you must also appreciate that most of them are Chinese. Then at the other end. You have the heartlanders who reside in the Kampung and over there their worldview is more conservative and parochial.

Even in the 14th GE. UMNO has captured more seats as an individual party. This illustrates that as far as the kampung constituencies are concerned, UMNO is still a force to be reckoned with. It may have gone thru a bad mauling, but it is definitely not a kaput case politically. This reality may well be conveniently elided by the sophisticated urbanites. But to anyone who is a political strategist, they cannot ignore it and this recognition is what accounts for identity politics in Malaysia.

Whether people like to hear it or not. Race and religion is still very much an operational reality that cannot be ignored in Malaysia. For example recently Guan Eng the DAP rep in PH was appointed as the finance minister. PKR, Annuars camp protested. So as you can see race politics is very much part and parcel of the Malaysian political scene.

Q: Am I correct to say you dont see anything wrong about identity or what you term race politics. But how does this square off with the whole idea of meritocracy?

A: Look here. Don’t let stupid people pull you by the nose and tell you that identity politics is third world, provincial and insular. Because even in Singapore, you will find plenty of it. Ask yourself why so many cabinet ministers are either ex generals or civil servants. Now isnt that a form of identity based politics. In the US when Trump highlighted the latent tensions between blacks and whites and apparent crime riven foreigners. Again isnt this a form of identity based politics?

My point is you have to be very careful when you use this term. Because it is a hall of mirrors that can very easily lead you to an error of judgement. As too often, political correctness mask the seedier side of what politics has always been and will always be.

Q: So am I right to say, you do not see an all inclusive political strategy emerging from PH that is blind to either race or religion.

A: Let me put it this way. If any party goes about adopting that pie in the sky political strategy which you have just describe, they will not go very far and the reason is because it is conceivable identity politics has become such a dominant feature not only in Malaysia or Singapore or for that matter every country in this world of how the 21st century electorate makes sense of the known world along with supply a credible explanation on how and who he votes.

What I find five chili incredulous is even after Brexit and Trump, there are still denialist who continue to talk as if identity based politics is something that is yet to take root in the collective stream of consciousness. What these erudite derellict intellectuals dont realise is, that age of identity based politics has already presaged them like a bus that once came their way…they dont even realize it that is why they keep insisting on using future tense when they use that word, identity politics.

I on the otherhand see the world as it is, warts and all.

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