Focus On Greater Problems Like Income Inequality, And Not Race

COMMENT: My heart aches when I read about the political news recently. It has become increasingly clear that something has gone wrong to our beloved Malaysia, and sadly, under the leadership of Pakatan Harapan. Its people are tearing apart. Race and religion continues to segregate and separate us, even more than before. Politicians are leveraging all advantages to catapult themselves to “stardom” by embracing their own race instead of the idealism to create an equitable society for all.

As a member of the PH government and more significantly for some, a non-Malay youth, I cannot stress enough how worried I am of the prevalence and perpetuity of this race-based, Malay supremacist mindset which continues to undermine and sabotage the progress of our nation to become a fully inclusive and developed society where all Malaysians – Malays or not, will be proud to declare this land as their home.

And yet, this is where we currently stand as a country and nation post-GE14. As the hype of Pakatan Harapan’s unprecedented election victory slowly waded off and the people losing their confidence in the government, where is this Malaysian ship heading in the uncharted waters and in which direction must the Pakatan Harapan coalition government steer its rudder towards?

As Youth and Sports Minister of Sabah, I felt obliged to stand up and speak on behalf of youths who are fed up with the political landscape of Malaysia, the growing racism and race-based politics which is clearly still dominating certain factions of our society and the indifference of some of our leaders for not speaking out against them – all this in the midst of our struggle to rebuild our crippled economy no thanks to the deeply rooted culture of corruption , exemplified by the global financial scandal 1MBD.

In the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, we promised to bring hope to the Malaysian people who fought together valiantly to reject race-based, supremacist politics. Why are we going back now to that which we have so fiercely rejected? We promised to forge an equal and fair nation to uplift the poor across the board regardless of their race. Why are we still talking about race and religion when poverty recognizes neither as its boundary and cuts across all these facade to the very marginalised in our society? Are we not supposed to help all poor Malays, all poor Chinese, all poor Indians, and all poor natives? Why are we as human beings, choose to willfully blind ourselves to the suffering and plights of our fellow countrymen, for something which we all do not have control over – our race?

In the remaining 3 years of governance, PH should and must unite the people once again as they did in GE14 – to bring their focus back on creating a shared and equitable economy where all Malaysian regardless of race would enjoy unity and prosperity.

As a youth, I urge the PH government to not be distracted by trivial issues which seek to divide us, but instead focus on greater problems such as income inequality, job creation, and nation building. Be it Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Bajau, Dusun, Rungus, Dayak, the real problem lies, ironically, in the inequality that puts all Malaysians in the same boat regardless of the colour of our skin.

On this note, I must give credit where it is due and praise the PH government for the good initiatives such as PekaB40 and mySalam, which continues to bring insurance coverage and benefits for the B40 group regardless of race.

Any way, three years is all we have left if we were to be sincere in bringing real change to the people, and they will not be fooled again this time. And I wonder at the thought of why some parties in the PH coalition continues to accept and bring in political frogs who would undermine our struggle over the years. This is not the time for more politicking, territory-seizing, and party strengthening! We are the new generation of leaders who could rewrite how the system works, how the country is to be run and how our politics should really be – by the people, of the people, for the people.

Time is running out, our youths are getting more disappointed by the day, and I fear that their patience will soon run out too. They desired for a more united, moderate and hopeful Malaysia, and they deserve it when they gave us their hope, their dreams along with their votes on May 9.

As cliché as this sounds, Malaysia belong to all Malaysians – Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Dusun, Murut, Iban, Bajau, Orang Asli etc. Malaysians rejected the kleptocratic BN regime in the past GE, and lest we ever forget, let this serves as a reminder to us that they too could reject a disunited, disillusioned, and direction-less PH. My fellow colleagues in the PH government, I urge you all, as I remind myself daily, to carry out the mandate given to us by the people with dignity, to work hard not only for the present generation but for those to come and for God’s sake, to bring some hope to people as we have promised them we would.

* Phoong Jin Zhe is the Sabah Youth and Sports Minister and DAPSY National Publicity Secretary