KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim’s Cabinet position is now untenable following his suggestion that Malaysians should vote along racial lines, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers said today.
Opposition MPs accused Shahidan of being blatantly “racist” with his remark, which they alleged could lead to a racially segregated and discriminatory electoral system if allowed to continue.
DAP’s Dr Ong Kian Ming went on to liken Shahidan’s remarks to the now-abolished apartheid regime in South Africa, in which people voted for representatives from their own ethnic communities.
“What he is advocating for is electoral apartheid. That system has been condemned by every single country, including Malaysia,” the Serdang MP told reporters in Parliament.
The first-term lawmaker pointed out that Shahidan’s suggestion was not supported by any legislation within the Federal Constitution, and that an MP cannot not be defined by race.
“I ask the prime minister to ask for Shahidan’s resignation. It’s a mockery of Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak)’s 1 Malaysia concept and it makes a mockery of the National Unity Council (NUCC)’s efforts,” he added.
PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said that Shahidan’s remark was unacceptable to an increasingly “urbanised” Malaysia, adding that such “racist and out-dated” comments should not be entertained.
“It’s sad to see a minister stoop so low to undo the hard work done by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reform,” she told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.
Another PKR vice-president, Batu MP Chua Tian Chang, questioned the incongruity of Shahidan’s statement with Najib’s 1 Malaysia concept of racial acceptance.
Chua then urged all MPs to take a united stand against the “racialisation of politics”.
“The prime minister should clarify Shahidan’s statement and reprimand him,” said Chua.
Pokok Sena PAS MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar said Shahidan’s statement showed he was “clueless” as to the democratic principle of the “one person, one vote” concept.
Kuala Krai PAS MP Dr. Mohd Hatta Ramli also weighed in on the matter, saying that Shahidan’s statement was an embarrassment to PM Najib’s Cabinet.
“I thought he was kidding,” Hatta told The Malay Mail Online.
Shahidan, who is a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, suggested earlier today that voting along racial lines would resolve every racial conflict in the country.
The proposal followed his remarks in the Dewan Rakyat this morning that the principle of equal legislative representation of “one person, one vote” is not suitable for Malaysia unless it is implemented in accordance with the country’s multi-racial composition.