A Bidayuh leader has warned that minority races will be further marginalised if the proposal by a federal minister - that Malaysians should vote along racial lines - is implemented.
“Race-based voting would give the Malays 60 percent of the seats, while the other races would have to share the rest,” said Edward Luak, who heads the DAP Serian division.
“Smaller groups like the Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Melanau, Rungus, Murut and Lun Bawang would have no chance to be represented. It would lead to greater ketuanan among Malayss, while minority races would be further marginalised.”
He was commenting on a proposal by Shahidan Kassim(right), Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
“In Sarawak, the Dayaks (60 percent) and the Chinese (28 percent) are in the majority. Does Shahidan want to see over 70 percent of the elected representatives coming from these communities?” asked Edward, noting that Malays make up 20 percent of the population in the state.
“We should be heading towards a Malaysian race, not (remain identified as) Malays, Chinese or Indians. What will happen to the 1Malaysia concept?
“Our pride in having a million colours, culture, smiles and dances, as mentioned in our tourism jingle, would come to naught.”
Another Bidayuh leader Boniface Willy Tumek (left) expressed his suspicion that ketuanan Melayu could be the motive behind the statement.
“It could result in Malaysia becoming an apartheid state where the minority races cen be subjugated by the dominant race and end up being oppressed and marginalised,” said Boniface, a committee member of PKR’s Mas Gading division.
“Seen in the (current context) of Umno politics, it is nothing more than a rallying call to the Malay community which has increasingly become disillusioned with Umno politics. It is similar to their intentions behind the (ban on the use of) ‘Allah’ (by non-Muslims).”
Sarawak PKR head Baru Bian said Malaysia would revert to political darkness and backwardness, and enter a “very dangerous future when issues will be very racial and parochial”.
“Politicians will play up racial and religious issues for political mileage,” said Baru, the Ba’Kelalan assemblyperson.
State Minister for Land Development James Masing disagreed with Shahidan.
“Voters should not vote along racial lines, and they should be racially and religiously blind when casting their votes,” said Masing, also the president of the Dayak-based Parti Rakyat Sarawak.
“They should vote for the best candidate.” The writer, who uses a pseudonym, is based in Sarawak.