Nik Aziz: Umno’s race-based politics at dead end

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BY CLARA CHOOI
ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR

KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 ― Umno’s consideration of the proposal for a single, multiracial Barisan Nasional (BN) party proves its admission that race-based politics is no longer relevant in Malaysia, PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said today.

In a statement here, the former Kelantan mentri besar said even from before, his party had always predicted that any race-based struggle would eventually hit a dead end.

“Umno would have to turn back. Whether in heaven or hell, its occupants are not identified according to race,” he pointed out.

“Even though Umno won most of the seats it contested, the deterioration of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) performance in the parliamentary seats contest shows that Umno is only supported the Malays outside the cities.

This is why, when Umno claims that it looks out for the Malays, to me, it has always been a lie.”

In the just-concluded May 5 polls, Umno emerged the biggest victors above its partners in the BN coalition, netting 88 of the 133 seats that the coalition won overall. Its foes in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) swept 89 seats.

It had sought to paint the vote trend as a Chinese-versus-Malay contest, with Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak saying that a “Chinese tsunami” had caused BN to bleed support.

“They are the ones who still swallow Umno’s bait,” he said.

MCA, the party that was tasked with delivering the Chinese vote for BN, saw its seat representation slashed drastically when it won in just seven parliamentary and 11 state seats.

To keep the non-Malay support for BN alive in the coalition and in respect of the vote trend, Gerakan suggested that BN allow direct party members and without restrictions based on ethnicity.

“I plead to all component parties such as Umno, MCA and MIC to drop membership based on race,” the party’s acting president Datuk Chang Ko Youn told a recent press conference.

He pointed that the coalition lynchpin, Umno, had already initiated the first step by opening up its door to other Bumiputera groups, rather than keep membership limited to only Malays.

Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday commended the suggestion as “rational” and said a deeper look into the proposal was needed.

Noting Muhyiddin’s remarks, Nik Aziz said that without realising it all these years, it had been Umno’s fight for the Malay race that became the very source of disunity among Malaysians.

He denied that his remarks meant he is anti-Malay but said he was against the ruling party’s “hypocritical struggle” in portraying itself as the champion of the Malays while only favouring a few.

“The Kelantan Malays were victimised for more than two decades just for choosing PAS in the elections.

“We are denied (oil) royalty, highway projects are pulled, housing allocations goes goodness knows where, and in many other ways, they are sidelined,” he said.

“This is why, when Umno claims that it looks out for the Malays, to me, it has always been a lie.”

Continuing his tirade, Nik Aziz also accused Umno of failing to prove its integrity through the polls process and pointed to limited civil freedom, including freedom of speech and fair access to the media.

“Therefore, if even the Malays are not protected, Islam rejected and democracy denied, what else does Umno have? Enough of lying to the people,” he said.

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