Ethnic conflict is manufactured to divert attention from UMNO’s internal strife

Zahid Hamidi

Media statement by DAP National Political Education Director Liew Chin Tong on 2nd September 2014

The increased political temperature centered around racial talks and the recent persecution spree of opposition leaders, civil society leaders and academics, and even the volunteer patrol teams in Penang are similar to the atmosphere during Operasi Lalang in 1987.

The latest comment by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the Segambut UMNO Annual General Meeting yesterday reflects the sentiment of UMNO’s hawks. He said that non-Malays were increasingly arrogant. “We allowed them to be indebted to us without needing them to pay it back; they are now insulting Islam and the Malays under the pretence of democracy, freedom of speech, and globalisation.”

It has been UMNO’s modus operadi to galvanise its hard core base by focusing on the 3R agenda (race, religion and royalty) and to drive a wedge between the Malays and non-Malays.

Interestingly, Zahid noted that there were now Malays joining DAP.

Since the withdrawal of support for Najib’s premiership by former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Dr. Mahathir’s comment that Najib fared worse than Tun Abdullah Badawi, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been under tremendous strees and challenges from the extremist lobby.

Dr. Mahathir’s calibrated his attack on the eve of the season of UMNO divisional general meetings, which will be followed by the National Annual General Assembly, inflicting huge damage on Najib in the eyes of the UMNO faithful. His formula is simple: create fear among the Malays and rule with an iron fist.

Najib and Zahid are dancing to the tune of Mahathir and the hawks. Indeed, Zahid is now notoriously a hawk himself. Zahid is paving the ground for an Ops Lalang-like attack on the Opposition to divert attention on internal UMNO strife. In April 1987, UMNO had its most divisive party election which saw Dr. Mahathir winning with only 43 votes against Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah at the presidential election. On 27th October 1987, 106 senior politicians and activists were detained under the Internal Security Act.

The fear unleashed through ISA or prosecutions under the Sedition Act is meant to disarm dissent both within UMNO and outside the ruling coalition.

Hence we must be clear:

First, the fault-line in Malaysian politics is not that of between the Malays and the non-Malays but between old politics of fear, greed and corruption and the new politics of reforms. There are non-Malays who are corrupt and there are many Malays who are supportive of new politics.

Second, UMNO fears democracy and freedom of speech. Democracy and freedom of speech are threatening autocrats but not the pride and dignity of any ethnic group.

Third, DAP is a party for all and not representative of non-Malays. DAP represents all Malaysians and if more and more Malays and Bumiputra become part of DAP, UMNO will not have its whipping boy anymore. If UMNO is not able to paint DAP as a non-Malay champion, UMNO would have no more reason to exist as its sole legitimacy now lies in its claim to “defend” the Malays against the threat of the DAP.

Fourth, the future of Malaysia will be determined by whether most Malaysians can see beyond ethnic boundaries to see a shared destiny and fate of all Malaysians especially in terms of a prosperous economy for all and not just UMNO cronies.

Liew Chin Tong

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