By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 - Malaysia is witnessing an explosion of racial politics that is more bitter and blatant than ever before, says former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed.
Writing in his blog, he claimed that "even the least observant cannot fail to notice how Malaysian politics now is more about racial inequities than about liberalism, human rights and openness."
"Malaysian politics have not been decoupled from racial sentiments and loyalties. And it is going to remain so for as long as the different races prefer to be separated and divided, prefer to strongly uphold their languages, cultures and their historical origins and links," he said while claiming that talk of reforms and liberalism was mere lip service.
While he conceded that there is now discussion on the Internal Security Act, the most bitter and angry debates were on Malay privileges, the social contract, the Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister being Malays, UMNO bullying, Chinese being immigrants and about Malay dominance.
"Even the criticisms regarding the way judges are appointed or promoted have elements of race that is hardly disguised," he added.
He wrote this in yet another attack on his successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi's leadership of Barisan Nasional.
He rationalised that the losses suffered in the March 8 general election by the governing coalition were not due to a rejection of racial politics but due to PM Abdullah's weak administration.
"Foreign observers and many in this country were jubilant because they claimed that it marked the demise of racial politics and racial parties in Malaysia.
"If it is because the Malaysian electorate had rejected racial politics, why did they vote for such parties as PAS, a very Malay Muslim party, and DAP, a Chinese dominated party?
"Even PKR is made up of Chinese dissatisfied with the MCA's representation of the Chinese in BN, self-serving Malays who could not find a place in the other Malay parties and violently racist Hindraf
Indians," he said referring to the recently outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force and adding that PKR were "anti-Malay" racists.
Dr Mahathir, who was Prime Minister for 22 years, instead said that the opposition's success in the general elections was due to "the defection by BN party members which resulted in the opposition parties, regardless of the quality of their candidate, getting the large number of votes to win so many more seats than they or anybody else expected."