By K Veeriah
The 2022 general election outcome has been a revelation – it has laid bare the race and Islamic-centred influence of the political ecosystem of our nation.
In the Malay heartland, the surge in popular votes in favour of Pas is a clear sign that many ethnic Malays are moving towards conservative Islamic values. That wave seems to have engulfed even many young Malay voters.
This should not be surprising, given that the education system has been infused with a racial and religious orientation – no thanks to such educational approaches moulded by past Barisan Nasional leaders, including Anwar Ibrahim when he was the education minister. They say you reap what you sow.
Whilst the ethnic minority voters and the ‘liberal’ Malays have been consistent in their preference for Pakatan Harapan to govern the country, that has not resonated in the predominantly Malay-majority states such as Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis.
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The PH coalition failed to sway voter sentiment in the Malay heartland and among young Malay voters. Despite the perception that young voters would root for change, PH seemed unaware of the pulse of the racial-religious inclinations of the young Malay voters.
Many Malays voters, having abandoned Umno-Barisan Nasional but consumed with racial-religious preferences, were left with the only option that seemed available to them – the Perikatan Nasional coalition, in which Pas has emerged as the dominant party.
Whilst the political entities are jostling to obtain the numbers to form the government, it would be a tragedy if PN gains traction to govern the country for the next five years.
Pas, with a commanding majority in a PN-led government, would probably pursue its pro-Islamic agenda subtly. Such a situation would invariably drive away investors and erode the already fragile economy.
Next year is likely to be a challenging time for the Malaysian economy. Inflation, geopolitics and a possible recession can only be mitigated by a government that is committed to facing such challenges, regardless of political idealism.
Politicians should prioritise driving the economy, creating jobs and uplifting the socioeconomic conditions of the people – the polemics of partisan politics notwithstanding.
K Veeriah is a veteran trade unionists based in Bukit Mertajam, Penang