PETALING JAYA: Irresponsible and hollow politics are putting Malaysia on a dangerous path to civil strife, warns electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0.
"In recent months, we have noticed a rise in narrow identity politics, with speeches and insensitive remarks that create ill-feelings and disharmony among the different races and religions of this country.
"We are deeply concerned that politicians in their eagerness to win votes and gain political power would sacrifice our nation's peace and harmony.
"For us, electoral victories won at the cost of creating deep wounds in our delicate social fabric of our communities, is not only irresponsible and hollow but put our nation on a dangerous path to civil strife," said the Bersih 2.0 steering committee in a statement on Wednesday (March 13).
It further stated that Malaysian politicians from both sides of the political divide should take heed of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's speech at the second session of the 14th Parliament.
The King had called for genuine unity among Malaysians that goes beyond sloganeering but one that is pursued with sincerity and appreciation.
"We call on politicians from both sides of the divide to take heed to the wise words of the Agong, who obviously cares deeply for all his subjects, to cease exploiting communal insecurities and start bridging the divide.
"As political leaders, they can be good examples of civility and honour in how they compete for the hearts and votes of the people, or be bad examples of selfish, narrow-minded or worse, racially divisive leaders," stated Bersih 2.0.
It also acknowledged that politicians are also the only ones responsible for the existing communal tensions.
"Citizens play a big part in fuelling the tension by posting racially charged and religiously insensitive comments that cause anger and hatred to others. There must be refrain from all provocative postings.
"For democracy to work in multi-cultural Malaysia, it has to be inclusive, taking into consideration the views and concerns of all communities.
Democracy is not just about the rule of the majority at the expense of the minority and definitely no groups should be deprived of their fundamental rights as guaranteed under the Federal Constitution but all groups, especially the most marginalised and weakest among us, be protected and not targeted to score political credits," said Bersih 2.0.
The electoral watchdog also said that it is also a good time for Malaysia to consider an electoral system other than the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system.
"The FPTP system was inherited from the British, taking into consideration the representational concerns of our various ethic and minority communities and achieve the 30% women representation in our Parliament.
"FPTP creates a winner-takes-all scenario that in Malaysia pushes parties to 'go for broke' which increases the toxicity of political rhetoric whereas a form of proportional representation system would give a voice to all.
"As a nation, we need to move away from narrow identity politics and find ways to forge a new national identity," said Bersih 2.0.