Monday, November 9, 2015

Dr Mahathir a strong supporter of race-based politics, claims academic

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the greatest obstacle to non-ethnic based politics in contemporary Malaysia, according to an academic.

Prof James Chin of University of Tasmania wrote in a chapter in the soon to be launched book titled Malaysia Post-Mahathir: A Decade of Change? that in the decade after his retirement, there "is little doubt that Mahathir still sees himself as the ultimate arbitrator of Malaysian politics. For him, Malaysia belongs to Umno, an Umno with his imprint.”

"He is the single most important roadblock to anyone in Malaysia who wishes to break free from an ethnic-based (and increasingly Islamic-based) political system.

"In Mahathir’s worldview, he sees himself as the only politician who created modern Malaysia and his model, based on Malay supremacy, is the only model applicable to Malaysia.

“Mahathir is one of the strongest supporters of race-based politics in Malaysia and does not see racial discrimination against the non-Malay population as a problem.

"For Mahathir, Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) is the cornerstone of Malaysian politics and of political stability in Malaysia. In his view, Najib’s 1Malaysia not only undermines Malay supremacy but gives false hope to the non-Malay community that they may get political equality," Prof Chin wrote in the chapter Identity Formations in Contemporary Malaysia: Traversing and Transcending Ethnicity.

The book, edited by Prof Chin and Prof Joern Dosch of University of Rostock, Germany claimed that some Malaysians were starting to reject or were ambivalent about racial identities.

The Malaysian socio-political environment has been described as being “constructed in principally ethnic terms”, while ethnicity has been a predominant “framework for interpreting Malaysian society and politics.”

Malaysia Post-Mahathir: A Decade of Change? will be launched on Monday at Sunway University. It is published by Singapore-based publishers Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Private Limited.

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