After 50 years of merdeka, we suddenly feel that the cultural divide between us Malaysians is resurfacing in a way that's most disturbing. It's more like the elderly mixed-marriage couple suddenly realizing their differences as their offsprings begin to form different ethnic groupings. And they started to quarrel on what went wrong!
Our political system has always been based on the coalition of ethnically based parties. Why the sudden panic to merge the parties together as suggested by the Acting Gerakan President TS Dr Koh Tsu Koon? Is it just an effort to put the party's "Satu Hati" slogan into high profile or the start of a new movement in line with the Malaysian Malaysia concept? The PM seemed very happy at the Gerakan national delegates conference ( NST pic. October 7, p.2) where the suggestion for the merger was made, but on the very next day commented that the idea was "impractical". He must have been taken by a big surprise with the suggestion, indicating that coalition leaders do not discuss things any longer before making important policy statements in their party's annual conference.
From another perspective we see DS Samy Vellu deriding Datuk Nallakarupan's effort to create MIUP, maintaining that MIC is enough to represent the Malaysian Indians' interest in the coalition government. The MIC boss is also unpurturbed by the allegation made by PPP's chief Datuk M.Kayveas that not enough is being done for the Indian community, though the former's generals keep lambasting the PPP champion. Promoting ehtnic interest is still the issue as is the main cause of Chinese dissatisfaction presented to MCA President Datuk Ong Kah Ting by critics of the MCA.
So many racial issues seemed to be cropping up these days making the ethno-cultural divides in Malaysia more and more conspicuous again. The National Education Policy is alleged to be biased in favour of the Malays, the NEP and all the concomitant creation of various special Funds (which to the Malays themselves, seemed to merely line the pockets of certain party bigwigs and enrich their cronies), the issuance of licence for business and provision of public services, etc.etc. All these talk about the non-Malays being sidelined or marginalized in spite of the fact that the business magnates and tycoons, the new millionaires and billionaires in Malaysia, and the majority of the nouve riche, are NOT Malays. The wealthy Malays are mostly those who have strong connections with the powers that be or the stalwarts of UMNO, such that the ordidnary Malays categorized them as a 'cultural class' of their own. Discomfort and distrust about their leadership is also beginning to be felt and even openly expressed through the grapevines.
Thus, national reintegration, seemed to be be what is required now. The ethinic, cultural or politico-economic subcultural divides or groupings which have acquired clearer and sharper profile all these years of rapid growth and development, must be defaced and obliterated. Racial issues usually stemmed from such divides and groupings, not just interracial but often intraracial in nature. Malaysians who have worked together, attain a more or less equal standards of living, live together in the lower and upper middle-class housing development areas, do not seem to have much problems of interacting among themselves. Their problems and dissatisfactions are directed more at the luxurious and high-flown style of living among the wealthy and powerful, because of their positions and connections in the ethnically based political parties, irrespective of race or religion. Their grievances become more worrisome and obsessive when the wealthy and powerful involved are considered not even fit to lead the nation and its people.
The merger of political parties need not be the solution to the problem. What is important is for the party bigwigs to stop creating their own clans and cronies which are enhancing the ethnic and cultural divides through their indiscretions, complacency, imperviousness to criticisms and superficial efforts to champion the cause of the ordinary Malaysian citizens,
especially of their own racial group. The ethno-cultural divides that exist in the country today is more the result of politico-economic exclusivity rather than ethnic differentiation. The working man-in-the street has nothing against his collegue no matter what the colour of his skin is or whther he goes to the mosque, the church, the temple or elsewhere to pray. Or whether he orays at all. It's the all-powerful and filthy rich party-men who act like mini Gods which cause the ordinary Malaysian citizens to split.