Monday, September 25, 2006

Historical baggage, Part 4

The political temperature in Malaysia has definitely gone up one notch following Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's racial remarks last week. The Democratic Action Party, which is primarily controlled by Chinese interests in Malaysia, has backed Kuan Yew's comments that Chinese in Malaysia have been marginalised.

The Straits Times
Monday, September 25, 2006
Chinese Malaysians are marginalised: DAP
By Leslie Lau

MALAYSIA'S main opposition party has expressed agreement with the comments Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew made on how Malaysia treats its Chinese citizens. The Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) said it was an 'obvious fact' that the Chinese in Malaysia were marginalised.

'The Chinese Malaysians, together with other non-Chinese like the Indians, East Malaysians and even poor Malays, have been systematically marginalised by discriminatory government policies that only favour the rich and politically connected,' said party's secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

MM Lee's comments were criticised by the Malaysian Chinese parties in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition as well.

Mr Lim referred to this as 'politics of denial' by BN leaders. 'It is dishonest as BN leaders themselves have stated that discriminatory government policies such as quotas and the New Economic Policy that result in some political and social marginalisation are necessary for racial harmony and national stability,' he said.

Well, it's not entirely surprising that DAP has backed the stance taken by Kuan Yew. After all, DAP was originally the Malaysian branch of Singapore's ruling party People's Action Party. There is suspicion that they still maintain close ties although they went their separate ways after the two countries separated in 1965.

Back to present reality. Why is the current situation politically charged in Malaysia? This is because:

1. The Malays do not appreciate any challenge -- internally or externally -- to their political dominance, especially when the Malays are split. Notice how leaders of the Malaysian Chinese Association -- a component of the national ruling coalition Barisan Nasional -- behave like political eunuchs and denounced Kuan Yew?

2. The Malay feud is still on-going -- the fight between former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Even they could adopt the same stance to whack Kuan Yew. Please see Historical baggage, Part 2 and 3.

3. Malaysian Chinese components of Barisan Nasional are still seething over remarks made by Badawi's son-in-law Khairy Jamaludin that non-Malay elements (read Chinese) will capitalise on the Malay disunity.

There is no danger of bloodshed or rioting in Malaysia, which has come a long way since the May 13 riots in 1969. The conditions are completely different today.

But the undercurrent remains palpable.

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