Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Class Politics - the Other Option?

"The HINDRAF movement is symptomatic of the fundamental problems that remain entrenched in our country and to stoke the flames of racism would only exacerbate racial tensions and animosity among Malaysians.
Malaysians of conscience who are committed to reforming this nation must recognise that a viable opposition is essential and now is the time to support it.
For the pro-reform parties in society to work together effectively, they must find common ground, be open to communication and collaboration, and resist the temptation to scapegoat other races for their problems and frustrations."


“Only a class based movement not based on ethnicity and religion can truly built a nation without discrimination, race based corruption and race based politics. The ruling party would be able to rule and would continue to rule as long as the people are divided. The ruling party is not going to build a united Malaysian Nation, as it is not going to work to its advantage. The Opposition too have at many occasions being sucked into the same mode to win support of the people.
The future of Malaysia can go two ways – Race and Religious Politics which is the rule of the day versus Class based politics – cutting across race and religion lines. It is a serious question as race and religious politics with its history and conditioning remain the most effective way to mobilise the racially divided people. It is a question every person has to ask and ponder. It is a question which is going to continue to haunt us.”
-Setiausaha Agung, Parti Sosialis Malaysia

The above were the statements of DSAI & PSM of late, in response to the recent recent ethno-religious demonstration in Kuala Lumpur.
These statements got me thinking (not that I never thot of it in the past) - if at all we as Malaysians, have the mental capacity to break away from the ethno-religious politics that has become so firmly entrenched in "our" minds. So much so, any proposed option for anything along other ideological lines (than that prevalent) are declared "not feasible".

While what DSAI and Mr. Arutchelvan of PSM say may be true, how is it that educated individuals (ulamaks and umaraks, as one blogger would put it), choose to ignore this fact?

Isn't it obvious that the people are being taken for a ride? Is it really worth voting in a system that thrives on the ignorance of the masses?

How can they get their message across, into the hearts of the people to have national interests above selfish sectarian interests? How can the trust, that has been so efficiently subverted by "certain quarters", be cultivated for a truly united and unique Malaysia?
Despite the failures of race/religion politics, the masses seem to take to it like ducks to water. They subscribe to this idea, thinking that their "race, religion and heritage" is protected in this manner.

This phenomenon/ problem has been compounded by the "perceived rise of Islam" as a political force, and "exclusive socio-economic policies" by certain quarters.

Despite all the propaganda that has been dished out, it is time we acknowledged that "working together for larger interests" has never been the Malaysian way.

Instead, we have a system of "separate development" wherein, the selfishness of "to each, his own" is the philosophy. In other words, it is no different from the apartheid of Pietr Botha in the pre-Mandela South Africa.

In their intellectual bankruptcy, many a pseudo-intellectual try to play on emotions of a clueless people, who seek refuge and solace in the artificial constructs of race and religion based politics. It is a plague that feeds on the fears and insecurities of the innocents.

EQ- Zero in Action

Pardon me if I'm wrong - to me, the answer is plain and simple;

-First and foremost, we need educated politicians - (as opposed to the current IQ & EQ zero crop)

-transparent socio-political & business practices.
-We need to have a free media and a liberal education system that subscribes to excellence and affirmative policy.
-We need to arrest the unnecessary political meddling in all sectors of society.
-We should increase impartial and fair educational and business opportunities for the poor, without stifling competition.
- We need to abolish "sectarian" party politics thru liberalized education.
-Education has to be streamlined into three viable languages (Malay, English and Mandarin).
-Tamil as a medium of instruction has to be abolished, as it has no real economic value. It should be preserved by encouraging it with incentives of some sort- eg scholarships.
-Faculties in Universities have to be developed for ethnic studies.
-Unrestrained philosophical/ ideological debates need to be encouraged.

In order to assist in the evolution of the nation in a progressive manner, all parties need to refrain from using religion and ethnicity as a platform.

History has proven that theologically and ethnically based politics has polarizing, repressive and disastrous economic consequences, which are often incomprehensible to the masses who are desperate for a revolution. It would be wise of Malaysians not to descend to that level of desperation - wherein they have to turn to theology for statecraft.

Theology and racism in statecraft are for the ideologically ignorant and bankrupt- It would indeed be a sad day for Malaysia, when the masses have to turn to religious zealots or opportunists for political salvation. These are the two major factors that have polarised the nation today. To deny this would be foolhardy.

In order for the nation to evolve politically, we also need an enlightened electorate and student fraternity, who understand basic concepts of statecraft, democracy, socialism and elementary economics. Without real debate and discussion at the grassroots, nothing will come of this fight for justice that our fractured opposition parties grapple for.

Why is is so hard for the opposition to unite under one platform of social interests?
It is only becos they too have succumbed to the propaganda machinery of the neo-colonialists - be they chauvinistic nationalists, racists, religious ideologues, opportunists or simply ruthless capitalist pirates.

After the first 12 yrs of independence, then next 12 yrs of NEP ripened for 22yrs of repressive "Mahathirism", Malaysia has come to a stage of transition and transformation - when people have begun questioning the values that have been promoted by the authorities for 50 yrs. Malaysians are beginning to realize that all is not as rosy as depicted by the media - partly with the help of the Internet and communication revolution.

In all periods of history worldwide, when communication underwent a revolution - it heralded some form of socio-political upheaval and/or industrial revolution. Malaysia is no exception. To deny it, would only lead to turmoil.

Without this factor, all fights on the political front be it in the parliament, elections or demonstrations/marches/petitions, are doomed to fail.
Those who control communication, will be the elite - who will rule- who will define, make, interpret and break the law at their whim and fancy.

The message of a class based struggle need to reach the hearts of the heartlanders. They need to understand that their heritage,culture, religion and right can only be protected with a class based political scenario - as opposed to the elitist ethnic politics that is prevalent today.

The people need to realize that democracy is the only way forward - as opposed to the tried and tested authoritarian "asian values" - and speed of liberalization of the media is the key factor that would determine the progress of this phenomenon.

For social democrats to get their message to transcend the ethnic and religious divide, they would have to start educating the public on its ideals, economics and socio-political significance.

For this to be realized, we need a free media and liberal educational system. With these two factors, the peaceful transition and evolution of the Malaysian political landscape would be inevitable.