Some non-Malay politicians are going the extra mile to remind Malays/Muslims that they have no wish to be Prime Minister. This is an understandable response given our current circumstances but it’s the wrong one. The racists in UMNO and PAS will not stop their fear-mongering tactics to win the Malay vote — they will keep saying the Chinese (meaning DAP) are taking over the country, no matter how much the non-Malay leaders keep protesting otherwise.

After Ahok’s defeat in Jakarta’s gubernatorial election, non-Muslims everywhere have become extra careful about going for public office. They have to say that they don’t want the highest position, that they are in a minority party and so on. I wish they would take a more positive position. They need to say that every Malaysian — even if they are Chinese — can become the Prime Minister as long as the majority of Malaysians are happy with the choice. They should also say that even Penang can have a Malay Chief Minister if the majority of Chinese are happy with the person chosen for the post.

You see, politics in Malaysia is not just about winning seats and becoming a “Yang Berhormat”. Politics is about more than that. It must also be about fighting racial prejudice and educating everyone about what’s good for them and the country.

If a Malay can be happy with the best heart surgeon who can take care of his sick heart, why should he be opposed to the selection of the best person available to save his sick country? Of course, selfish Muslim leaders will tell Malays that only a Muslim should be Prime Minister. Soon they will tell Malays that only Muslims who look like them can be Prime Minister, and that other Muslims are not “Islamic” enough.

If the only person who is fit to be Prime Minister is a Muslim leader who is chosen by UMNO and PAS, and endorsed by Perkasa and Isma, then this country will turn into another Somalia or Yemen soon enough. It’s the job of politicians, especially those in the Opposition, to tell people what’s good for them. You cannot talk about good governance and leadership with integrity if you then backtrack and qualify it by saying that non-Malays are not acceptable or have no desire to be Prime Minister.

What about the non-Muslim Dayaks and the Kadazans? They are just as deserving as everyone else to hold the highest office in our country. Maybe that will not happen tomorrow, but the principle of it must be upheld.

Be consistent. Speak the truth. Any Malaysian can aspire to be Prime Minister, and that position must be supported by all of us who want this country to prosper. The only qualification for the premiership is that this person must be acceptable to the majority of the people of this country.

Those who are qualified and who can serve the country well must also be willing to be forthright. Don’t be afraid of PAS, UMNO, Perkasa, Isma and the hundreds of other mosquito NGOs out there, all of which are the product of the katak dibawah tempurung school of thought. Fighting racial prejudice is a long-term programme for the country, but it must start now. No one should be unenthusiastic about fighting bigotry and racial hatred.

– Zaid.my