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  Must a Malaysian obama be a Non Malay?

By: Choo Sing Chye

15 - 12 - 2008

Why must obama be a Chinese or an Indian? Can’t a Malay qualify? If we follow this narrow sense of validation then we are discriminating against capable Malays who aspire for justice and equality. On this level of thinking, we are certainly dismissing the very core idea of non-racial politics that Obama represents.

If we equate the colour of the skin or race in this restricted sense then obama had arrived 27 years ago in the form of Tun Mahathir (Indian) or Tun Hussein Onn (mixed Turkish blood) 32 years ago or Abdullah Badawi (mixed Chinese blood) 7 years ago.

If we want a Chinese or an Indian prime minister, it would definitely be a long wait – a very long long wait. We have not even started to discuss terms for a Bangsa Malaysia. The old social contract is breaking down and we have not sat down to renew the social contract that is agreeable to all races. We do not have a melting pot of cultures? In reality we do not even agree on the type of pot in which all our cultures be melted into. We are still embroiled in the Bumiputra and Non Bumiputra dichotomy which is some sort akin to a mild caste system.

What Bangsa Malaysia entails today is just an illusion. Like Arthur Miller’s American dream depicts in his play, "Death of the Salesman" the idea of anybody could become rich and succeed in the American Society is illusionary. The character in Arthur Miller’s play Willy Loman, found his dreams unattainable if not insurmountable (1) just like in the Malaysian Dream – we are still far from achieving this aspiration.

To have an obama political culture here we must realign our core thinking. Like Thomas Hobbes (1588 –1679) who although justified absolute sovereignty:

‘ was rooted in the need of men to preserve their lives and liberties rather than in the commands of the church. For this he is regarded as one of the first "Social Contract" philosophers’ (2).

Social contract does change. It changes with time. No where in Martin Luther King’s dream that develops the idea of a black president. But the main thrust of his dream is to amend justice by a new social contract. This new social contract would prevail over injustices in the American society and that the Americans will no longer be judged by the colour of his/her skin but by the content of his/her character.

King’s dream is about justice, non violence, compassion and in the core of it, harmony between the whites, blacks and others. This is what obama is all about.

It is not what Anwar Ibrahim taking about all this time???

1. Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman.

2. Patrick Watson and Benjamin Barber, ‘The Struggle for Democracy,’ Lester & Orpen Dennys Ltd., 1988. P 128


programmed by choo sing chye