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Identity politics to the fore as election fever hits

Identity politics to the fore as election fever hits

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ELECTION fever upon us.

With the expiry on July 31 of one element of the memorandum of understanding between the government and Pakatan Harapan, the stage is set for the dissolution of parliament to make way for a general election.

DAP has been most hardworking, using every available platform, including parliament, to reach out to voters.

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok drew flak for making a mountain out of a molehill over the question of the Malay preponderance in the civil service.

She had asked for a breakdown of the racial composition of the civil service and if the government had any plans to make it more representative of the “Keluarga Malaysia” concept promoted by PM Ismail. 

Teresa had followed that up with a statement that race-based policy in recruitment and promotion has made the Chinese reluctant to join the civil service.

Why blame the government for the low intake of Chinese when they are not interested in applying for a job in the civil service, asked her rival in the 2018 election, Chan Quin Er.

The Malays are in preponderance simply because they want a job in the civil service, unlike the Chinese or Indians.

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It it strange that the opposition is always saying that it is the Malay political parties play identity politics.

Not that identity politics is necessarily bad: it’s just natural for one to help one’s community first, as long as that isn’t done at the expense of the other communities.

There was also a hint of identity politics when DAP publicity secretary Teo Nie Chin urged former prime minister Najib Razak to explain why he, in his capacity as then finance minister, had given favourable treatment to the main contractor Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd (BNS) building littoral combat ships (LCSs) for the navy. 

Identity politics is evident in the question because everyone knows that there is a preponderance of Malays in the military.

Najib replied on Facebook that he had given the contract to the company because the “BNS belongs to the Armed Forces Pension Fund (LTAT), which belongs to every Malaysian military personnel. I accept that LTAT is my ‘crony’ and our military and the rakyat are my ‘cronies’.” 

The question that Teo should ask is why did it take a long time for the authorities to discover the irregular practices of some officials in the LTAT and BNS that led to the LCS controversy and not why BNS was given the contract.

The grand idea is for the opposition to uncover a scandal on the scale of the 1MDB saga to ride on it in its campaign to defeat the government, like it did in 2018.

Political analyst Awang Azman Pawi has said that the RM9 billion LCS controversy was being used as a “political weapon” by the opposition.

The timing of the release of the report on the affair by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), chaired by  DAP member Wong Kah Woh  – at the height of election fever –  is too convenient to for coincidence.

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