18 July 2011

UMNO playing race card on Bersih 2...

Umno, the commanding political party in the BN, is using the threat of Malays losing their political power to shore up its support base in countering the electoral reform demanded by Bersih 2.0, says national laureate A Samad Said.

Any implementation of the eight demands by Bersih 2.0, which includes postal voting reform, a major source of votes for the ruling coalition, is expected to erode its stranglehold on power.

"This (racial politics) is often raised by Umno. Most recently (with Bersih 2.0), there were also suggestions that Malay (political) power was being eroded," Samad said.

"All the prime ministers and deputies have been Malay, all the menteri besar are Malays except for Penang; Even among the MPs, many are Malays, so what is the excuse?

"This shows political power is in Malay hands, but yet the Malays are screaming of being threatened... it means the Malay leadership is at fault," Samad added.

On June 26, Umno-owned Malay daily Utusan Malaysia published an article attacking Bersih 2.0 chief Ambiga Sreenevasan, claiming she had a track record of angering Muslims and Malays. A day before that, 30 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members were arrested in Penang allegedly for 'waging war against the Agong', a symbol of Malay power.

In the fourth and final part of an exclusive interview with Malayskini, this leading figure in the world of Malay literature shares his views on racial politics.

'Umno has some reflection to do'

The 76-year-old poet and novelist said it was time Umno took responsibility and stopped blaming others for its failure.

"When they are pressed, they use racial politics and the Emergency Ordinance (EO) for convenience, which is unhealthy.

"The Malay leadership has to take responsibility for the ills in the Malay community. They are the cause of these ills.

"It's been (more than) 50 years (since independence), if they cannot galvanise (the Malay community), then they should reflect, not use racial politics to strengthen their position," Samad said.

Despite the attacks against Bersih 2.0, he believes that the best in Malaysian unity was seen on July 9.

"During the demonstration, there were Indians, Chinese, and Malays - you don't feel nervous standing by them, all of them wanted to membersihkan (clean) our democracy.

"It's something good, it's a very good start," he added.


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