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Humans are ingenious at sniffing out minor differences to figure out whom they should despise

Steven Pinker, Canadian cognitive psychologist

We, inevitably, morphed into us-and-them no thanks to misguided socioeconomic imbalances. If anything, it’s a reflection of sheer populism and elitism erected by the AS-WE-IS (Anglo-Saxon-Welsh-English-Irish-Scots) colonials as a lasting legacy to their colonies that continue to salute their former sailor-merchants who ultimately became self-styled administrators in territories teeming with natural resources.


There is a lesson to be learned from a wannabe apologetic who declared that “I don’t’ believe in God, but I miss him.” In a similar vein, political maestros have cocktailed hype, hubris and hypocrisy to claim they are taking take care of the people (populism) as a national priority.


Since 1957, Malaya/Malaysia witnessed bouts of elitism and populism that misled, misfed the people, and misapplied the principles of a just government with false promises. But GE-14 and GE-15 further defined the us-and-them stench that defies deodorizing.


Notwithstanding a magic wand or a manic band, the us-and-them schemes breeds extremism and culture wars that must be punished as treason (derhaka). The present leadership is unable to starve and stave off the us-and-them culture warriors. Government cannot abandon its inherent right to justly govern a heterogenous society as its supreme duty and obligation.


Cultural diversity should not translate to racial polarity. Nothing is being done to heal this festering self-inflicted wound. Nobody must be marginalized, or penalized, because we did not get to choose our parents and cultures.


Meritocracy and competition where the best prevail, unfortunately, creates unspeakable hostility. No escape from this reality. Sour grapes make many whine and pine.


Marika Lindholm, a psychologist, suggested we inculcate a culture of ‘boundary spanners’ with the main mission of bringing together the We-are-One-People message. This is one area the government must prioritize in order to resolve the polarizing evils of race, religion, region – and accompanying rage.


The failed existing education system shuns its role in disseminating this We-are-One-People awareness starting from kindergarten. Any education system that decides to separate diversity with not-so-subtle insinuations of polarity must be outlawed, replaced and displaced with all deliberate speed.


Psychologists Henri Tajfel and John Turner in the 1970s described this human tendency to identify with social groups to probably feel wanted, counted and comforted. But this is the very reason one group perceives the other to be bad, and vice versa. Human nature is merciless.


Recently, an elder statesman opined that the Federal Constitution is silent on the issue of whether a non-Malay Muslim could become prime minister. The supreme law of the land is indeed silent on this issue, but that doesn’t stop mischievous misinterpretations and misapplications by the three organs of state, academia, and the voters. That screaming silence has yet to be tested.


Since 1957, the posts of prime minister and deputy prime minister were automatically reserved for and assigned to the president and deputy president of UMNO, respectively. Political supremacy replaced constitutional supremacy for 22 years (1981-2003). The Federal Constitution served only as an inconvenient truth, a reliable book-end, and a mandatory subject for passing law examinations.


Malaysians must realize that bringing race, religion and region into enraged toxic application is an affront to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong whose constitutional responsibility under Article 153 Federal Constitution is to look after all Malaysians.


The Special Court in Article 182 Federal Constitution must be reformed and endorsed as a constitutional court for the Agong and the Rulers to bring errant public officials to answer for their monopoly in rousing race, religion and region into a national frenzy that threatens national security and national unity enough to trigger an Article 150 proclamation of emergency.


Article 182(2) Federal Constitution grants the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Rulers the right to institute proceedings in this Special Court. As Head of the Federation, His Majesty is empowered to use this special tribunal to bring to heel, and to heal, offences committed by irresponsible politicians.


The us-and-them syndrome that stokes ill-will, causes disaffection, and foments unnecessary racial and religious sentiments is akin to waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Rulers which should trigger charges of treason against such incendiaries under section 121 of the Penal Code. Hardly happens like hurricanes in the hinterland!


There is a meaningless and irresponsible tenet that the Agong and the Rulers are not to involve themselves in politics. Must we be forced to forget that the Federal Constitution, as supreme law of the land, is a political document that bestows rights, privileges, duties and obligations upon His Majesty to dissolve Parliament, declare an Emergency, shutdown Muslim-only laundries, and appoint prime ministers without the incumbent’s advice. That is not politics? Or is it lese majeste?


A government that polarizes its people to deliberately destabilize the nation must not aspire for the next elections, but just fade away into the sunset like a has-been second-best gunfighter on his tired arthritis-afflicted horse to the strains of ‘sayonara,’ and ‘I did it my way.”


Ray Kurzwell’s advice ‘that the past is over; the present is fleeting; we live in the future,’ might be the catalyst to unite Malaysians as We, the People, to permanently jettison race, religion and region as a feud-inducing outdated feudal persuasion. This is the gold standard of a stable, strong and sturdy nation.


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