Wherever it takes disaster to unite, politics generally divide: and in eras of intense uncertainty, a nation’s people retreat into the tribes in which they feel the most secure.

–Criss Jami, American poet

As a Chinese and a Christian, let me make an honest political declaration here.

If I were younger and keen on embarking on a political career, I would never sign up with a race or religion-based party.

Hence, a Chinese-based or Christian-based political party is a “no no” for me.

My reasons are clear and simple. If I were to be an effective political leader, my campaign must be on a platform of anti-corruption, free and fair elections, reforms, justice for all and greater democracy.

My race and religion should be irrelevant in my political pursuits because we are all equal under the Malaysian sun.

I doubt I would be doing justice to myself, the nation and fellow citizens if my work is concentrated only for the interests of those of my race, the Chinese, or those sharing my religion, Christianity. That should never be the case.

Identity politics is totally out for me. My personal sentiments on race and religion should never have any bearing in my political work and decisions I have to make.

When Pakatan Harapan won GE14 in 2018, we thought we would witness the dawn of a “New Malaysia”. But that was not to be, even before the PH government collapsed in February this year.

Over the past two years, we have witnessed how the change in the characteristic of Malaysia’s Malay parties from a plural platform to an ethno-religious one has transformed the country’s political landscape.

We have reasons to worry because when identity politics becomes pronounced, it is inflammatory.

It should be of great concern to us now because in recent days, we have witnessed yet the formation of another race-based party.

Five days after he first declared that he was forming an “independent” party, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced on August 13 that his new party would be named Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang).

Its mission is to cleanse the country of corruption and money politics, he initially declared and rightly so.

“It is not to further fragment the Malays but to give Malays a place so they could choose a party that fights for them,” he continued.

When you talk about fighting for only a particular ethnic group, it becomes a damper. Why another race-based party again, Dr Mahathir?

Sadly, for the nonagenarian, it is always about fighting for one race and that the struggles of one race is paramount. Dr Mahathir will never change on that count.

Should I feel sorry for the grand old man when people branded him a racist?

Many Malaysians, including this letter writer, are concerned of this new racist streak enveloping the nation. I share the views and valid concerns he had expressed recently in a news portal.
“Racism is deeply embedded in our national journey into the future. Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s intention to set up yet another Malay political party clearly defines how seriously we are rooted in race ideologies.

“And let us not pretend with politically-correct statements like claiming that race-based parties will be moderate and inclusive.

“The very notion of having racially skewed political parties means there is no inclusivity. Moderate thinking only takes a back seat when we are faced with the raging bull of racist ideologies.

“For a nation that has been independent for over six decades, we have not learnt how to nurture a single nation of “Malaysians”.

“Sad. Very painfully sad as you witness Allahyarham Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman’s dreams vaporise slowly but surely,” he added.

I am very proud to add that in my dear homeland of Sarawak, there are only multi-racial parties.

PBB is a Bumiputera party but its membership is open to Malay/Dayak and Muslims/Christians. SUPP is Chinese-dominated but is a multi-racial party with a Dayak as deputy president.

The other two GPS components, PRS and PDS, are also multi-racial. Likewise, all other opposition parties in the state.

Sarawak politicians share a common belief – politics must be inclusive.

Sarawak must be doing something right.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. Feedback can reach him at tribunenew2019@gmail.com