KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese youth are “delusional” if they believe that Malay dominance in politics can be replaced by a change in the system, Singapore’s ambassador-at-large Bilahari Kausikan has said.
Instead, the top Singaporean diplomat said this dominance will be defended by any means, including a possible political alliance between Malay nationalist ruling party Umno and opposition Islamist party PAS.
“It is my impression that many young Malaysian Chinese have forgotten the lessons of May 13, 1969. They naively believe that the system built around the principle of Malay dominance can be changed.
“That may be why they abandoned MCA for the DAP. They are delusional. Malay dominance will be defended by any means,” Bilahari wrote in an opinion piece published in The Straits Times (ST) today.
Amid the current political upheaval in Malaysia, Bilahari cautioned that any new system that emerges will not only still have Malay dominance at its centre, but its enforcement will be even more rigorous with less space for the non-Muslims.
Singapore’s former permanent secretary for foreign affairs said that as Umno relies even more on religion for legitimacy, it will look to political rival PAS—which is now being led by conservative clerics after purging itself of their moderate leaders—for support.
“Umno and PAS may eventually form some sort of de facto if not de jure alliance that could be the core of a new ruling system,” said Bilahari.
“There may be token ornaments of other races, but the Malaysian system will then comprise an overwhelmingly dominant Malay government with a DAP-led Chinese opposition. This will be potentially explosive.”
According to Bilahari, the ongoing 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal has quickened the pace towards the formation of such a system, foreshadowed by the recent Bersih 4 rally that he said was dominated by the ethnic Chinese.
Bilahari also urged Singapore to let Malaysia solve its own political woes, as any systemic change will have a profound change over the Causeway even when Singapore practises the separation of religion and state.
“Are we completely immune to contagion from Malaysia? After 50 years, does our collective Singapore identity now trump racial identities? Maybe under some circumstances. Optimistically, perhaps even most circumstances. But under all circumstances?
“I doubt it. Let us wish Malaysia well and hope that the worst does not occur,” said Bilahari.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) suggested that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s fight for political survival has not only created divisions in ruling Umno but recently, also sparked racial discord in multiracial Malaysia.
In the article, WSJ took stock of recent developments on Malaysia’s political front, particularly the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally and the #Merah169 counter-protest, two events it said had sparked this purported racial discord.