Multi-racial Party or Multi-racial Coalition?
Datuk Onn Jaafar, was and is, a Malay ICON. He was instrumental in gathering over 40 Malay NGOs from all over Tanah Melayu, literally means ‘Malay Lands’ , in 1946 to mobilise the Malay masses in REJECTING the ‘Malayan Union’. A new Malay political party by the name United Malays National Organisation(UMNO) was formed as a vehicle to unite the Malays in opposing the Malayan Union.
Malays, united under UMNO and Datuk Onn Jaafar, succeeded in forcing the British to rescind the Malayan Union. UMNO was CELEBRATED by the Malays, and Datuk Onn was regarded as the ‘saviour’ and ‘unchallenged’ political leader of the Malays. Yet, when Datuk Onn, influenced by the British, proposed to open up the membership of UMNO to non-Malays in 1951, he received COLD SHOULDERS from the Malays.
After leaving UMNO, Datuk Onn formed a Malay-centred multi-racial party called Independent Malaya Party(IMP), and then multi-racial Parti Negara(PN), but did not achieve much inroad into the politics of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. Overwhelming majority of Malays supported UMNO, while the Chinese were comfortable with Chinese-based MCA, and the Indians with Indian-based MIC. Yet, the three parties later on form a multi-racial coalition called the ALLIANCE PARTY to secure a 51/52 majority in the FIRST GENERAL ELECTION in 1954.
Since then, several ‘multi-racial’ parties were formed, including DAP, Gerakan and PPP. The parties managed to survive up to TODAY, as the parties are NOT MULTI-RACIAL in the true sense of the word. DAP has been identified more as a CHINESE PARTY and so is Gerakan. And, PPP has been identified as an INDIAN PARTY.
The latest ‘multi-racial’ party, PKR, was formed in 1999, following the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim from his post as Deputy Prime Minister and from UMNO, to provide political platform to his REFORMASI supporters. Anwar conceived PKR as a Malay-centred multi-racial party, in the same way DAP is as a Chinese-centred multi-racial party. However, PKR failed to attract substantial number of Malays, but managed to attract substantial number of Indians disgruntled with MIC, and English-educated Chinese.
As things developed, PKR has developed into possibly the first TRUE MULTI-RACIAL PARTY in the country, with the membership mix almost balanced among Malays, Chinese and Indians. Even Anwar Ibrahim is seen NOT CAPABLE to maintain the ‘Malay-centredness’ he seeked to maintain.
The COMMOTIONS ATMOSPHERE which marred the PKR Cabang elections of the last few days is serving us a CAUTION, whether to experiment with ‘Multi-racial Party’, or to continue with the PROVEN MODEL of ‘Multi-racial Coalition’ of race-based parties, which has proven successful in maintaining PEACE, STABILITY and PROSPERITY in our great country for over 50 years.
Anwar Ibrahim should have benefitted from the experience of Datuk Onn. But, WISDOM is becoming a rare commodity among our politicians these days….