Sin Chew Daily
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told a student leaders' summit recently to move away from race-based parties, asserting it was an obsolete idea that there must be a Malay party in order to succeed in politics.
He also urged young Malaysians to think beyond race-based politics and must be concerned about a party's policies and principles, not skin color.
Although bumiputras have made up more than 69% of the country's population today, there are still 22% of Chinese and 7% of Indians. As such, it is beyond doubt that Malaysia is a typical "multiracial country".
With multiracial country comes multiculturalism.
Switzerland has since long ago endorsed its "multicultural policy" and has been actively promoting mutual respect and tolerance among its people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Thanks to extremely high degree of mutual understanding, respect and tolerance among its multiethnic people, Switzerland has never witnessed any major interracial conflict for over a century, and the perfect ethnic harmony has made the country a veritable role model in resolving racial issues in the capitalist world.
It is the Swiss spirit to embrace racial harmony that Anwar has kept reinforcing. As a matter of fact, all political parties must transcend the race boundaries, and must be fair and just to all Malaysians in their pursuit of real reforms. A single-race party that is hastily put up just to stand in the election is a product of political shortsightedness.
Umno, MCA and MIC are all race-based parties, but at least in the historical context of that time, they came together to form Barisan Nasional. The same goes for Pakatan Harapan.
The formation of PPBM and now another Malays-only party by Mahathir just for the election has contravened the country's multicultural and multiracial spirit. It is no doubt a retrogressive move in a supposedly liberal and progressive world of 21st century. Such a narrow-minded advocacy will not help bring our multiracial nation together but will further entrench confrontation.
In Malaysia, our multiracial people have learned to respect one another. Only myopic politicians will incite interracial rivalry for the vote.
Sabotaging the existing harmony and stirring interracial conflicts will spawn catastrophic consequences too large for the nation to handle.
We should take cue from tragic historical events arising from ethnic conflicts around the world in recent decades.
Between 1915 and 1917, some 1.5 million Armenians were massacred in Turkey. During the Second World War, Nazi Germany killed over six million Jews. During the anti-Chinese riots in Indonesia in 1965, more than half a million Chinese were slaughtered, and between 1975 and 1979, some three million Cambodians were exterminated by the Khmer Rouge regime.
In more recent years, the civil wars in Syria sparked a "refugee crisis" in Europe, as nine million Syrians fled their war-torn country to 44 countries worldwide, mostly to Europe. You guessed it, racial and religious conflicts were to be blamed for this humanitarian disaster.
The Rohingyas living in Rakhine State in Myanmar have been persecuted, also on racial grounds!
PKR was set up with the objectives of promoting social justice and battling corruption. The party has since stressed the abolition of the New Economic Policy, advocating the elimination of poverty not along racial lines and rectifying flawed policies that have given rise to economic imbalances. The best strategy to defeat poverty is for Malaysians to work together in unity regardless of race and religion.
We hope that some day we may have a truly competent government that can fix our economy and lift the GDP so that all Malaysians can enjoy the country's wealth together instead of comparing which ethnicity is poorer than another, less so inciting confrontational sentiments.