I often ask my non-Malay friends at golf what they think of the country’s politics. They all acknowledge that as Malays are the majority race, they are the deciding factor in the country’s politics and administration; and therefore my friends hope that the Malays will choose the best and most qualified among their race to run the country. Unfortunately, after 60 years of governing under the same party, the old leaders have not left behind a succession line of younger politicians to take over from them. The result is what we are seeing now — the same old veterans jostling for power by hook or by crook.
It’s ironic that for a young country, we don’t have capable young Malays at the top in politics. Instead, they remain stuck at the lower ranks of the political hierarchy although they are highly qualified. That’s the tragedy facing the country today as we struggle to deal with the pandemic, the global economic uncertainties, and the geopolitical instabilities. These huge challenges require fresh brains to lead us with new ideas, putting aside the sterile politics of race and religion to embrace the reforms to make the government rule with transparency, accountability, and integrity.
We can expect the younger politicians to be free of the skeletons in the cupboard, and therefore not likely to resort to racial politics to hide their secrets under the draconian laws which were often used to intimidate political opponents or suppress the freedom of information. For example on the 1 MDB scandals, while the whole world knew about the political leader behind 1MDB, Muslims were told not to commit fitnah by believing the allegations from western media as this was a foreign conspiracy to topple the Malays from the political leadership of the country. The Chinese opposition politicians were accused of abetting with foreigners so that they could take over the country. Luckily for Malaysia, such a racial twist on 1MDB did not work to save the ruling party from defeat at GE14. The results show the Malays today are less easily influenced by dirty political tactics than before.
It also shows that the new Malays and the non-Malays will respond favorably if the younger Malay politicians are willing to step forward to take over the political leadership of the country from the old horses.