Surviving without race-based parties

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DEC 18 — It is a blurred and confusing line.

On one hand there are numerous efforts and slogans coined to boost unity. At the same time, major political parties are divided by the various races.

The same people who speak about a Malaysian identity are quick to question the need to shut down vernacular schools. In some places, integration among races, hardly exists.

Just take a good look at the number of “friends” on your Facebook page. Most often it is of one particular race. Sadly (or not so for many), race politics is very much alive in Malaysia.

Having witnessed the Umno general assembly and MIC elections, observers are now eager to see what transpires in the MCA elections this weekend. There are some who are hoping for proper representation to fight their cause. There are others whose livelihoods would depend on the outcome of the polls.

And you may ask, why is this “bhai” trying to talk about the Chinese.

I grew up in Pekeliling Flats in the 1980s. The majority then were Chinese. I was brought up by my wonderful neighbours — the Tan and Sia families.

I was addicted to TVB series, often glued in front of the television between 6pm and 7pm daily. There were no X Factor, America’s Got Talent or The Voice then, only Jade Solid Gold. That was how I learnt a decent amount of Cantonese. Beyond remains my favourite Canto-rock band of all time.

And my in-laws are Chinese. I need not say more.

But has MCA, or for a matter of fact any political party, fought for my cause? No.

Despite being comfortable speaking in Bahasa Melayu, enjoying wearing the Baju Melayu during formal functions and having many good Malay friends, Umno is out of the question for I am not a Malay.

MCA? The members may say lei em hai thong yan, lei em sai thor si (you are not Chinese, don’t be nosy).

Can I rely on MIC? Apparently not as during the run-up to the MIC polls, there was talk that North Indian representation was not favoured. That spells segregation within the community.

There are the likes of Gerakan, DAP and PPP. But how effective are they in voicing the concerns of the rakyat without exploiting the situation?

I asked my Chinese friends — from various backgrounds and ages — if they were looking forward to the MCA polls. Their silence said it all.

A long-time Ampang MCA member admitted the party had lost the plot.

“The older generation may still be loyal to the party but the youths are not bothered. My son has a career and is now caring for his newborn. You think he is interested about MCA or who takes over on Saturday?” he said.

“Political parties need to justify their existence to survive. They need to convince the younger generation why MCA is relevant and what MCA is all about. And what affects the Chinese also affects the other races.”

A youth member based outside KL, meanwhile, said: “Many claim MCA has plenty of cash but my branch chairman had to use his own money when organising events. Why so? 

“I joined MCA to network and nothing more.”

Others I spoke to said the drama in MCA beats any TVB series and MCA is yesterday’s news.

Many are unable to relate to such politics.

They find it easy to consume a fabricated lie against the establishment than the truth. They would grab onto anything to slam leaders.

Such frustration is fuelled by the lack of explanation and initiative to embrace the people. It is typical human nature to be defensive when attacked but the key to earning admiration is to admit, rectify and progress.

Instead, we are bombarded with nauseating claims of phantom voters, immoral activities and corrupt practices. What about the party? What about the people?

There are agendas behind every political party but priority must be on the man on the street.

Political parties are not a playground for the elite few. Those within are supposedly elected representatives of the people, a reflection of a particular community. Thus the voices of the community must be aired — regardless of ethnicity.

Manifestos and pledges made prior to the elections should be followed through. Instead, we hear internal bickering disguised by the fight to champion the race.

Some may live in denial. But one thing is clear — there are many of us who have survived without race-based political parties.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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