Pakatan supporters who accuse BN of playing the race card must first sort out which is the horse and which the cart, and put them in their correct order.
Our race politics follows on from the social landscape and not the other way around.
In Penang, there is a Sun Yat-sen museum, memorial as well as tourist ‘heritage trail’ due to the Chinese immigrant community holding on to a China orientation for many decades pre-Merdeka.
Attacking the BN communal formula (Umno for Malays, MCA for Chinese, MIC for Indians and so on) is quite typical of Pakatan campaigners but ignores a necessary understanding of the facts of history.
In 1948, the Kuomintang in Malaya counted a membership of 45,000 Chinese. To comprehend the scale of this number: Kuomintang had more than double of the 19,543 PKR members who voted for Azmin Ali to become deputy president in the party’s last election. Public gatherings were held – yes, in Malaya – where the Chinese commemorated Kuomintang founder Sun Yat-sen’s birth and death.
In the late 1930s leading into World War II, the Malayan Communist Party formed a movement to galvanize local Chinese to support China when it was invaded by Japan. These developments indicate a China-imbued identity consciousness and by extension a Chinese self-identity among inhabitants here.
The Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) were guerrillas who saw their resistance to the Japanese occupation of Malaya as linked to the war of resistance ongoing in China at the same time.
From the end of the war until the British clamped down on such activities, the Chinese in Malaya celebrated the Oct 10 anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of China, i.e. China’s National Day. At these gala celebrations, portraits of Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong were hoisted. The flag of China was also flown.
Why did the events mentioned garner wide participation? Answer: Because the Chinese pre-Merdeka perceived themselves as China nationals.
The China Democratic League (CDL) was a China political party that had branches catering to the Chinese diaspora, including those living in Malaya.
Nan Chiau Jit Pau – a CDL party organ first published in November 1946 and read by Chinese in Malaya – boasted a circulation of 22,000. For comparison, the New Straits Times today sells only 73,000 copies on the street.
Chinese newspapers in Malaya used to refer to China as “our homeland” and “our country”, and their content showed a keen interest in affairs of the Chinese mainland. In fact, Kwong Wah Yit Poh was founded by Sun Yat-sen.
The Malayan Union proposal required the Chinese to shift their political orientation fully to Malaya, and that was why the 1946 plan was given a lukewarm reception initially.
In fact, the Chinese up till 1957 – when some were forced to make a choice – considered themselves sojourners. (Sidenote: Those living in the Straits Settlements acquired citizenship by operation of law).
They still repatriated money ‘home’, much like the Bangladeshi workers we have in our midst are transient migrants who send money back to their wives and parents.
When Pakatan supporters accuse Umno of Chinese bashing, they forget the other side of the coin where not a single day passes in the online portals and social media network in which Umno and Malay bashing does not occur.
Don’t just blame Umno alone for the short-lived 1Malaysia project meeting its demise. The concept was stillborn because thwarted at every turn by the opposition.
At last count, Umno has 3,297,358 registered members. Multiply this figure of 3.3 million with 2-3 other adult family members in an average Malay household to realise the ocean of individuals implicated by the opposition trope that Umno is the Lord of Darkness and embodiment of pure evil.
For Yeopies, only one party is at fault – Umno.
It would do well to remember the dictum ‘for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction’. This implies a ding-dong.
Umno is accused of employing political gimmicks to con voters. Well, it’s six to the half dozen because the opposition is not free of con artistes either. And at least we don’t see chameleon Umno politicians wearing a crucifix for the purpose of wooing Christian voters.
The above is a condensed version of my Letter to the Editor yesterday. You can read it full-length at Free Malaysia Today.