Wan Saiful: Malaysian voters still favour communal politics

  • Nation
  • Friday, 04 Nov 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: Communal political parties are what Malaysian voters seem to want and what voters have continuously voted for, said Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) chief executive officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan (pix).

Since independence, Malaysia has seen a rise of many communal parties like Umno, MCA and MIC, he said.

"There are some parties that try to change this situation. But the reality is that when it comes to deciding electoral strategy, they have to be communal too," he said at a forum organised by Centre for Global Affairs Malaysia (Icon) titled “Revisiting Democracy: Global and Domestic Trends” on Thursday.

He said that political parties have to consider the ethnic distribution of constituency and who they want to fill the spot.

"Even the non-communal parties need to play the communal game. That is what our democracy demand of those who want to contest in the game," said Wan Saiful.

Wan Saiful said that democracy is about what is popular, not about what is good.

"That is the irony of democracy. It can give you a good government, or it can give you a government that takes you in the wrong trajectory, or a government that harms your individual liberties," he said.

So if Malaysians want a country that values liberties, Wan Saiful said that it needs to a popular idea in the eyes of the voters.

"We need to change the climate of opinion so that it supports those improvements. We need to work on the public, not just the politicians," he said.

Wan Saiful said the future of Malaysia looks bleak, as institutions are not trusted, and not enough people are trying to change the public opinion to allow the election of non-communal politicians into office.

"So looking at the current domestic trend of our democracy, what will happen to the country as we move forward? I really don't know," he said.

"But what scares me the most is that some people are already suggesting that perhaps it is time that we also look at the idea of creative destruction and see if that is what we need to have for our country to go back to a healthier trajectory," said Wan Saiful.

"Have we reached that point of no return? Where the only way to get better is to first see a massive ruin of the country, that is a scary projection to me," he said.

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