This article first appeared in Malaysia Kini on August 29, 2018
Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil today expressed his concern that Malay politics could become more radical and exclusivist by the time the 15th general election rolls around.
He said “certain elements” appear to have become more vocal on racial issues and are veering towards extremism.
“If we are not careful, by the time we get to GE15 what we will see is a ratcheting up of racial sentiments that are more extremist, more radical, more exclusivist.
“That does not bode well for the future of the country. I think this is one of the big worries because I see that as a danger to the country itself.
“So, the political opportunism that presents itself to political parties… should we choose to embark on this kind of exclusivist political vocabulary, coupled with more radicalised action by fomenting certain narratives that are exclusivist – us against them – to become a right (wing) Trumpian force,” he said.
Fahmi was responding to a question from fellow panellist, political scientist James Chin, at the ‘A New Malaysia: The Way Ahead’ forum in Sunway University, where he was asked on his views on the future of Malay politics.
Chin pointed out that this has been ongoing in every election since the 2000s, but Fahmi said the situation may have worsened, and predicted that more radical elements in the opposition breaking away from party moderates.
Nevertheless, the PKR communications director also noted reports claiming that Umno has decided that some of its more vocal leaders, such as Sungai Besar Umno chief Jamal Md Yunos, should “take a break,” and said this bodes well for Malaysia if the reports are true.
For the record, Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa had dismissed the reports as “fabrication.”
Moving forward, Fahmi said, the government should enact laws that prohibit the incitement of racial sentiments, while also enforcing existing ones.
In addition, he said the economic bases for such narratives also need to be addressed as well.
Meanwhile, former Perak menteri besar Zambry Abdul Kadir said some leaders who had been branded as racists are merely products of political dissent.
“But the most import this is whether we condone that kind of remarks, whether the party condones that kind of personality. It is very important…
“Whatever you say about Umno and BN in the past 60 years, we have been the protector of the nation in terms of maintaining peace and prosperity,” he said.
“It is peace and prosperity; we never condoned certain personalities who talk so much about other races, criticising this or that people.
“We have been trying very, very hard. But of course, along the way, you will have this kind of personalities,” he said.
‘We have to move on’
Batang Sadong MP Nancy Shukri said at the forum that Malaysians should not focus only on finding fault with the previous government.
“Now we have to move on. Do whatever you feel should be done, and this will be a new (chapter) for the people… Look at what you can do now, and be good at it,” she said.
As an example, she said she received a parliamentary reply in the recently concluded Dewan Rakyat session that made reference to the Women’s Bureau, despite it having been disbanded years ago.
This, she stressed, shows that there is something wrong the government’s documentation and the ministers in charge had not caught the mistake.
Nancy added that ministers should shun parliamentary replies prepared by civil servants as is, but scrutinise and try to improve on it, as well as replies that simply state that a matter is being studied or that a committee has been formed.
Forget that. Even during my time (as minister), it is a taboo for me to give an answer where you still want to survey. Don’t give me that answer.
If others get fed up with it, so do I as a minister. I told that to my officers before. Sometimes I still hear that
Fahmi disagreed, however, and said that the alleged misdeeds of the previous government should not be “papered over” as though nothing happened.
He said the truth needs to be disclosed so that there may be closure and to prevent future mistakes.
Nancy clarified that she did not mean to imply that alleged wrongdoings ought to be overlooked, and that alleged wrongdoers can still be punished under the law.