KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — Politics has become far more racially divisive today than the politics of race itself, according to influential former minister Tun Daim Zainuddin who warned of the impending danger of persistent race-baiting by politicians.
Daim, who chaired a temporary advisory panel to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government known as the Council of Eminent Persons, cautioned against the damage racial politicking could inflict on the country’s social fabric if it were to spiral out of control.
“Racial politics isn’t becoming more divisive — politics is becoming more racially divisive,” he told The Star in an interview published today.
“These may start out as ‘games’ that politicians play in order to win support but there will come a time when politicians will not be able to control the emotions the politicians will whip them into a state of frenzy, and when things get out of control, they will disown them.
“But the country suffers, the rakyat suffer.”
Daim’s warning comes amid concerns over the all-Malay Umno-PAS alliance, which the former minister had described as problematic because it is seen to champion only the interests of a single race.
“The problem arises when you say that your cooperation is to champion only a certain race and a certain religion.
“It is not the cooperation that is a problem — it is what the cooperation stands for that is the problem. When we reach a stage where voters are voting according to race and religion instead of universal values, then we are in deep, deep trouble,” he was quoted as saying in the interview.
Critics view the political cooperation between Umno and PAS as a dangerous alliance intended to play on Malay insecurities.
Daim said he felt Malays have become more insecure despite seeing their privileges increase, which he claimed had also made the community weaker and more gullible to populist politics.
“Why are the Malays so ready to believe politicians who tell them their positions are under threat?
“Why are they seeing ghosts around every corner? As their privileges increased, unfortunately so did their insecurities. And conversely, their resilience decreased,” he told the national paper.