The Politics of Ethnicity, Race and Emotions in Malaysia

I read the Malaysiakini news Umno offered PAS to jointly rule S’gor …

What a surprise… what a surprise….

Malay Agenda, Malay Agenda, …that is the theme of the secret meeting between former Selangor menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo and PAS leaders Abdul Khalid Samad, Nasharudin Mat Isa and the party’s Terengganu commissioner Mustafa Ali.

That meeting was held quite a long time ago (in relative terms of course) i.e. possibly on March 10 or 11. Apparently this meeting had the blessings of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

That piece of news should once and for all describe the state of things with regard to how well politicians serve public interests…

Indeed, one might say that in Malaysia there might be no such thing as a true public interest, especially when the ruling party UMNO keeps talking about Malay Agenda and Malay Rights and so on and so forth….

Now, last time I was beginning to discuss about politics and public service. That was in this post – Public Service and Politics (1).

As I said before, there are many reasons why people enter politics. One is to get rich and powerful. But yet there is another reason for participating in politics… and that is to provide public service….

The idea that politics is related to public service is related to the concept of economics. Students of elementary and intermediate economics are likely to be aware of the concept of economic system in which the production of goods and services is the primary objective. But much of the economic system that facilitates the production and transfer of goods and services are not based on market forces alone. Much of the institutions that builds up the economic system rests the assumption that there will be some selfless souls who will contribute to the betterment of the system without thinking apparent “rewards”. This is the essence of public service.

Within the field of economics, this idea is supported by the concept of market failure. Market failures happen when the market i.e. the interaction of buyers and sellers fail to produce the best outcome for society.

So far I am only talking about theory and even in this respect my scope is extremely limited. There are so many theories out there on the subject of society and social institutions and politics.

Now… perhaps we might to consider the state of the political situation in Malaysia. Do Malaysian politicians serve the public as they should be?

In particular how does the concept of “Agenda Melayu” fits into the concept of public service. Especially why only focus only on the Malays. Now, I find it strange that UMNO is championing itself as the defender of Malay Rights or Agenda Melayu. As was said before, UMNO has failed miserably in uplifting the socio-economic situation of the Malays. The proof is very clear for everybody to see – they failed to achieve their own objectives as stipulated by the New Economic policies. And yes, they even admitted that…

But why does UMNO still used the race card…even though if we look at it obkectively they failed miserably in this respect…

There has to be some kind of logic that is used here… a kind of logic that I may not understand… in which only they may understand….

Let me illustrate…

And this is illustrated by the recent Malaysiakini report on Saiful Bahari – Father: Saiful was used . Why the father made that statement in support of his son is not the question here. The question is why such event was highlighted as a media event i.e. the press release…

It could be that UMNO is using emotions to sway the public’s opinion… Could that be possible? Now, some may say why UMNO must be dragged into this situation? Well… in a country such as in Malaysia… nothing major happens without UMNO playing a role….

Indeed in Malaysia the situation can be described as a political monopoly as UMNO has virtually been the leading party in all elections even this one on March the 8th. The difference is that in this election, there is a possibility that UMNO may lose political monopoly.

And this brings us back to the main topic of this post. How do you expect politicians to perform public service if there is no real market for political positions? Of course, when Saiful Bahari’s lawyer made the press conference, one may see that this is a “family-affair” situation with a desperate father defending his son’s integrity. The problem with this press conference was that the “truth” is already been found and that Saiful’s father was merely stating it (albeit in emotional terms). That statement actually contradicts the dictum that the accused is innocent unless found guilty in a court of law. Yes, a court of law, not press conference. But yet the manner of the conference was held as if he truth is already known….

But whatever it is Malaysiakini report about the “secret” PAS-UMNO talks should make it clear about the truth….

The truth is that we must be wary of politicians saying that they serve the public interests…

Such is the sad state of affairs in Malaysia…

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Note: When I first wrote this post, it was meant to be a continuation of this post Public Service and Politics (1) . However, I must have digressed somewhat and therefore I change the title to the current one. Well, I suppose it is all right for bloggers to digress in any way they please… after all this is not a thesis or an assignment or even a formal report….


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