In a political climate that has been polluted by the toxic politics of race and religion over the years, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu’s recent policy pronouncement has come as a breath of fresh air.
In his policy speech at the launch of the party’s national convention 2023, Mat Sabu, as he is popularly known, said Amanah completely rejects the identity politics and divide-and-rule policies that are being pursued by the opposition Perikatan Nasional coalition.
The emphasis on identity and polarising politics in the mainstream political arena has been counterproductive as it fosters injustice and disharmony among the diverse population.
That is why it is particularly significant that the agriculture and food security minister pointed out that his party spurns the discrimination of minorities and the domination they bear that is underpinned by the notion of racial supremacy.
It is concerning when discriminatory practices are normalised and have become part of a policy as the people – irrespective of race and religion – expect to be treated equally in vital areas of life such as education, employment and business.
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Discrimination has the adverse effect of denying young people from being given equal opportunity to develop their talents through educational institutions for their benefit, as well as in the interest of nation-building.
A brain drain is one of the outcomes of discrimination and has cost the nation dearly.
Amanah’s concern for the welfare of the minorities is well-placed, as under certain circumstances the latter face the impact of majority rule, which may clash with their interests.
The cultural practices or lifestyles of non-Muslims may be constrained by a ruling imposed by Muslim-led authorities.
For instance, the sale of alcoholic beverages or other items considered non-halal may be restricted or disallowed in certain areas even if there are non-Muslims residing in the vicinity.
Very much in the Islamic spirit of “mercy on all creations” (rahmatan lil alamin), Amanah is ready to rightfully protect non-Muslims in the event they are oppressed, as they can be vulnerable to certain social forces whose vested interests would infringe on their rights and interests.
Defending the minorities, which include ethnic Indians and Orang Asli, against oppression under such conditions would go a long way towards enhancing a sense of belonging among them and attaining justice, which is stressed and valued by Islam.
Incidentally, arch-rival Pas, a component of PN, seemed to have changed tack recently in an apparent response to Amanah’s emphasis on inclusivity. Unlike in the past, Pas extended Christmas greetings to Christian Malaysians – a welcome development.
However, cynics would put Pas’ supposed change in outlook down to the party’s frantic desire to gain ethnic minority support and votes in its pursuit of political power.
While Amanah’s recently pronounced policy is commendable and may gain traction among the minorities, particularly the non-Muslims, the party would, however, have a monumental task of convincing the ethnic Malay community, many of whom have been led to believe over the years that their position and interests are always under threat.
There is a need to impress upon the Malay community the importance of having much-needed confidence when living in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multicultural society, as well as a challenging world.
Amanah will also have to face obstacles placed by politicians who have been profiting politically and materially from dividing the people.
The Pas splinter party has a lot of work to do as it is swimming against the tide of the “green wave”.
At the same time, the party will also have to address certain policies of the sitting government that may be construed as discriminatory, such as university intakes, scholarship awards and civil service employment.
Amanah has taken a vital step towards forging a moderate, just, progressive and harmonious Malaysia. It is a road worth taking. – The Malaysian Insight