Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The New Balancing Act?

I continue to be more than a little perplexed and upset at the difficulties in breaking the shackles of racialism. I’m not saying that race is 'obsolete’ or ‘irrelevant’ or that utopia is pigment free. After all pluralism and diversity are inherent to humanity.

I am merely against racial discrimination and the idea that any one race should be accorded more rights than another. Or that social order must remain ransomed to racial quotas. Post-8 March, I sense the newly elected MPs from the BR circling that big elephant in the corner, carefully modulating their previously shrill cry for Bangsa Malaysia. They seem to be vacillating between non-racial sloganeering and ye olde handy racial schtick. Perhaps our politicians are finding out that Mount Improbable is too difficult to climb so early in the day?

In Penang we have a safe formula of a Chinese CM and 2 Deputies, one a Malay and the other Indian. Is that shrewd or expedient, or what? And in the new Selangor State Exco lineup, Malaysiakini politely reports there is “an equal number of Malay to non-Malay members.”

I can understand why RPK is so exasperated:

Who the hell cares whether six are non-Malays and four are women? Are these people being chosen to run the state because of their race and gender? Should they not be chosen because of their qualifications and capabilities? Who are these six non-Malays and four women anyway? Are they the best of the lot? Will they outperform and outshine the previous Khir Toyo administration? Are we going to see Selangor grow and prosper by leaps and bounds? Is Selangor going to be paradise on earth?

Who cares? What matters is that six are going to be non-Malays and four are going to be women. That is what matters and that is what is going to guarantee a great future ahead of us. The calibre of the ten EXCO members was buried in the consideration of race and gender. That is the main focus and that is what appears to be the deciding factor. Woe to this country when race and gender override all other factors.

So is Bob:

Seeing gripes about not having a Hindu Tamil represented in the Selangor EXCO is dumbfounding. What would happen if I started griping that there's no Protestant Christian Teochew Chinese represented (we did; after all; embark on a public education campaign to get our fellow Christians [about 7 million of us of the Protestant expression] to vote wisely) or if someone else were to remark on the lack of representation of Taoist Hainanese, Theravadist Ceylonese, Mahayanist Foochows, Pure Land Hokkiens, Bahai Eurasians, Ahmaddiya Bengalis, Sikh Punjabis.

On the other hand, there’s Anwar’s proposed Malaysian Economic Agenda: it openly speaks about protecting the "interest of the Malays" while ensuring that "no one is left behind irrespective of race or religion." That’s going to be a heck of a balancing job whichever way you look at it.

Here's a letter from Feroz Qureshi to Anwar that's been circulating among blogs for awhile now. He says:

You are right in saying that the NEP is obsolete, not so much because it has been socially unjust but because Malaysia is finally ready to move on. Inevitably, two or three decades from now, reference to this acronym would be politically incorrect. But for now, you face tremendous challenges in making this work.

And I am certain that you’ll be able to convince the Malays that ‘a people cannot become special by getting special rights’.

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