MP SPEAKS | I wish we lost in Semenyih for all the right reasons. And by that I mean people voted us out because we are still working on fulfilling some of our election manifesto promises, prices remain high, a public transportation system that doesn’t leave much to be desired or because wages remain stagnant.
In short, I wish the defeat was caused by Pakatan Harapan not doing enough to address the day-to-day issues affecting the people.
But we can’t go on kidding ourselves.
The fact is we lost because the Malays in this country believe they are losing power.
The fear of losing out on their favourable position has cost us the votes.
This is the sad reality and one that has been propagated by Umno during its six decades of rule.
And “in keeping with tradition”, senior Umno leaders took turns unleashing racial and religious venom during the Semenyih by-election campaign by accusing non-Malay Harapan ministers as “penumpang“, pointing out that they did not swear on the Quran when they took their oath of office.
In his campaign speech, Umno lawmaker and BN secretary-general Nazri Abdul Aziz (photo), reportedly questioned the appointment of non-Muslims as the attorney-general, chief justice and finance minister as a threat to the Malay special rights.
Fear mongering and the play of religion and race on politics kept the former government in power. Umno and PAS continue to manipulate this fear to keep the Malays on a leash.
If we care, to be honest, we will admit that the vast majority of the Malays remain poor. We will admit that policies tailored by Umno to uplift the economic status of the Malays only created a small group of elites within the community that used political connections to enrich themselves.
The Harapan government is committed to protecting and promoting the rights of the Malays and every other Malaysian.
The Malays need not fear of being out in the cold just because certain key positions are held by non-Malays.
American author and motivational speaker Jack Canfield said: “Everything you want is on the other side of fear”.
Here, real harmony and a new Malaysia where every citizen enjoys equal rights, lie on the other side of fear.
It’s, therefore, the responsibility of the government to demonstrate its ability to create equal opportunities for everyone.
But this cannot be done with mollycoddling the Malays or topping up on privileges for them.
However tough it may seem, the government must work towards earning the trust of the Malays without compromising on the rest of its people.
Or this will just end up as another Umno rule.
CHARLES SANTIAGO is the MP for Klang.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.