Race is overemphasised in how power is delegated in Malaysia.
Notice the developments.
Mahathir Mohamad’s main lieutenant Daim Zainuddin had to reassure the Malay Contractors’ Association.
A group, in the guise of a collection of NGOs, has urged the government to not go down the local elections route, because it might mean non-Malay mayors.
Anwar Ibrahim has since his release spoken about how Malays have to be comforted in these new hazy dizzying days.
I’m certain this is the wrong way to go. It leads to dubious choices.
A Malaysian government must ensure the system works, and this plan goes awry when an unofficial attitude to factor race is in play.
Should the transport minister be wary when he gets to disciplining driving schools which have “questionable” methods in getting their customers licences because they belong to Malay owners?
Would this be, yet another effort by DAP, where the minister Anthony Loke hails from, to undermine the Malay economy?
And in every other matter — vehicle permits, lorry emissions, express buses safety, KTM procurement etc — should the ministry’s senior civil servants filter the decisions of the minister as to its suitability to Malay interests?
Can the instructions of a non-Malay minister be construed as less powerful than one issued by a Malay minister?
When words like interests are given full weight in the delivery system it will lay down a series of banana peels in it.
Of course race is a factor, as are religion, age, gender, geography and every other demography.
It is the inclusion of it in the conversations to determine what is best in every given situation when governing. When one factor assumes a higher value in those discussions, it begins to justify subjective decisions. And when more than enough decisions are subjective, the objectives of good government will be subverted.
Which is why the overemphasise is problematic.
Would this please the contractors, deluded NGOs, former PMs and DPMs? Probably not, but perhaps they are stuck in a time warp.
This is a time for brave decisions, not just appealing to the worst of our human nature, the mistrust of all things appearing different from us.