1 APRIL – The suggestion by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim that the concept of ‘one person, one vote,’ should be implemented by allowing each voter to only vote a leader from the same racial group shows the impractical and nonsensical consequences of basing politics on racial considerations.
According to Shahidan, “So the Chinese will only vote for Chinese politicians, the Malays for the Malays, and the Indians for the Indians. Then the number of MPs from each race will correctly represent the racial demographic of Malaysia.” If Parliament accurately and directly reflected the racial/ethnic breakdown of Malaysia this would produce peace and harmony.
Setting aside for now Shahidan’s complete exclusion of Sabah and Sarawak, his argument is basically that ‘if you are X you can only be represented by X and not by Y.’
On this basis Prime Minister Najib Razak cannot adequately represent all Malaysians since he is only identified with one racial group.
If we follow Shahidan’s political theory to its logical conclusion the Prime Minister should be 67.4% bumiputera, 24.6% Malaysian-Chinese, 7.3% Malaysian-Indian, and 0.7% ‘other.’ Leadership in this country will rest more on fine-tuned breeding programmes rather than elections.
Shahidan’s suggestion that multiple parties should be abolished and replaced with three parties – one for bumiputeras, one for Malaysian-Chinese, and one for Malaysian-Indians – is a more extreme version of the old Alliance/Barisan Nasional formula of consociationalism, whereby political order is achieved via multi-ethnic representation and accommodation.
The idea that candidates must racially match their constituents implies the implementation of geographical segregation on racial lines. Ethnically-mixed seats would either not be permissible or one or more groups of voters would be ineligible to vote for a candidate on the basis of their race.
Ultimately it is regressive to suggest that race should be the ultimate determinant of political choice. Barisan Nasional may be happy with this given that many of its component parties are organised on a racial basis and the BN has used its control of government to propagate racialised consciousness and anxiety amongst Malaysians.
However, the 13th General Elections showed that the majority of Malaysian voters chose to support Pakatan Rakyat, a coalition more centred around a programme of reform rather than race. Many voters have rejected race-based politics.
We are more than the sum of the racial classification imposed upon us by the state. Race says nothing about our economic needs, our desire for a better education system, our dreams and aspirations, or the content of our character.
The concept of ‘one person, one vote, one value’ stands against the current problem faced within Malaysia’s electoral system whereby electoral constituencies can have wildly divergent numbers of voters, but both receive equal representation with an individual member of Parliament.
The challenge Malaysian democracy faces is not to represent race adequately, but to ensure that each citizens’ vote is of relatively equal value to that of another citizens.’ By virtue of each us being citizens of Malaysia we should each be entitled to an equal stake in choosing our leaders.
We should be able to elect leaders freely and fairly on the basis of what they can do to better our country rather than on the shallow basis of shared physical characteristics. To propose otherwise is to deny our common humanity.
A minister that is unable to understand these basic principles of humanism and representative democracy is not fit to lead and should resign.
YIN SHAO LOONG