|Wong Choon Mei |
KUALA LUMPUR, Mac 11: As Umno raises its racial rhetoric and attacks against non-Malay groups, cracks are widening among the component parties it leads in the Barisan Nasional coalition despite efforts by the mainstream media to paper over the growing discontent.
“Race-based politics has always been the hallmark of the BN but Umno has been getting from bad to worse and it is no longer possible for components like MCA, MIC and Gerakan to close one eye,” PAS vice president Mahfuz Omar told Harakahdaily.
“If they continue to act like three blind mice, then their own communities will reject them outright. In fact, the Chinese and Indians no longer respect them. Most Malaysians, even the Malays, think that they serve no purpose but to say ‘yes’ to Umno.”
Time for Gerakan to do more than just talk
Indeed, already-high concern is leaping as Prime Minister Najib Razak covertly sanctions a move by his Umno party to shift from the centrist stance favored by his predecessor Abdullah Badawi to the rightist and ultra-Malay one previously adopted by former premier Mahathir Mohamad.
Despite efforts by Najib to disguise this shift by making use of Malay rights NGOs such as Perkasa and MPM to lead Umno's charge, Malaysians have seen through the move and have condemned him and his party for the ploy.
On Wednesday, even the usually docile Gerakan publicly urged Umno not to open its doors to Kulim Bandar Baru MP Zulkfifli Noordin, who was sacked by his PKR party for indiscipline and playing the racial card.
"It is time for Gerakan to leave the BN. It is no point for them or the MCA and MIC to just keep talking," PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Harakahdaily.
“The fact that Umno is still willing to accept such reactionaries, while PAS has rejected them on the grounds of principles, underscores the dangerous and uncaring path Umno is treading just to maintain power.”
No longer an era of racial rabble-rousing
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had earlier said Umno was open to anyone including the controversial Zulkifli, who has been widely condemned for using religion and race to bolster his political popularity.
Although Zulkifli has said he will now become an Independent MP, there is little doubt that he and several other recalcitrant lawmakers who quit PKR recently amid corruption allegations will vote on the side of the Umno-BN in Parliament.
Meanwhie PAS, the second largest Malay political party, has said it would reject Zulkifli’s application if he applied. Although the party constitution allows anyone to apply, it is up to the leaders whether or not they wish to accept the person.
“To gain the political upper hand through unprincipled means and accepting people of low quality does not speak well of Umno and BN,” said Mahfuz.
“Why should Malaysians trust them any more when they so openly use racism and religion in their politics and the way they govern the country, even at the expense of the peace and security of the nation?
“This is no longer the era of racial rabble-rousing but one of civil society and harmony. Malaysia needs new politics not stale tricks to take it forward.”