Concept of assimilation ‘archaic’, Ramasamy tells Dr Mahathir
FORMER prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s complaint that race-based politics continue to thrive in Malaysia due to a lack of assimilation is an archaic way of thinking, said DAP leader P. Ramasamy.
The idea of assimilation is an archaic political model espoused to counter the British policy of divide and rule, but post-colonial leaders such as Dr Mahathir had not done anything to reverse such policies as they had benefitted from them, Ramasamy said.
“Mahathir had a chance to reverse this method of governance, but since the ethnic model with Umno dominance was useful to him, he continued with this racial model as it allowed for unlimited extraction of economic surplus for the Malay elite and at the same time satisfying the non-Malay elite,” he said in a statement.
“The political model that got the blessing of the British was the coming together of an ethnic alliance of Umno, the MCA and MIC.
Ramasamy, who is Penang deputy chief minister II and state DAP deputy chairman, said Mala not that Malaysians do not want to give up their separate identities, but that they have been conditioned by this model for decades.
“It serves no purpose to blame Malaysians for wanting to maintain separate identities as this was thrust upon them in a political environment that had antecedents in history,” he said.
“Now Malaysians are paying the heavy and costly price of the politics of the racial model of governance.”
Ramasamy pointed out that it might not benefit the Malay status quo to abandon the current political model either, “given the fact that the present divisive model ensures unimpeded extraction (of wealth) by the elite Malays”.
“Rather than expecting an assimilationist model, I think that the best the government can do at present is to take proactive measures to mitigate the worst effects of racial and religious polarisation in the country.”
On his blog on Wednesday, Dr Mahathir said race-based politics continued to thrive in Malaysia because the people insisted on retaining the cultures and identities of their country of origin.
The Langkawi MP said that unlike in other countries where the immigrants had adopted the local languages and cultures upon receiving citizenship, this had not happened in Malaysia.
This, he said, was the reason his party Pejuang had to be Malay based – to pander to Malay voters so that it could take on Umno.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT