The Sun (Malaysia)
Racial focus worsens climate change
“Inclusive diversity without extremes is a higher middle ground that Malaysians should repossess if only the two political coalitions can lead their supporters to stand on it. It requires a broadening of mindset on both sides.
DESPITE all the hype over wind turbines and solar panels, electric cars and carbon suction plants, the “rain in Spain” no longer falls “in the plain” and instead the mercury has soared to 46.8°C. On the other side of the world, Beijing has been deluged with the heaviest rainfall since records began 140 years ago.
But in Malaysia, there is climate change complacency as, for geographical reasons, we have only experienced a mild heatwave and slightly more severe flooding.
We are where frontline nations stood 10 years ago, giving us a fortunate time buffer.
To embark on a completely effective aboutturn, it is important for everyone to know that climate change is not brought about just by a simplistic burning of fossil fuels.
The roots of this cataclysmic disorder are traceable to our deep-seated alienation from nature.
Malaysia ought to embrace the 2E lifestyle mixing economy and ecology in a blend that is anchored on a symbiotic relationship between human society and the natural world.
Nature is powered by a fuel called moderate inclusive diversity and Malaysia is founded upon such blessedness.
The Merdeka setup of Umno, MIC and MCA ensured a balanced representation of Malays, Indians and Chinese in government.
Upon the formation of Malaysia, this multiracial platform was further enriched by the inclusion of the diverse cultural mixes that characterise Sarawak and Sabah.
Other than Malays, Indians and Chinese, we have Orang Asli, Melanau, Iban, Bidayuh, Kadazan, Bajau, Dusun, Suluk and other friends.
Our nation’s inclusive diversity has been encapsulated in the tourism slogan: Malaysia Truly Asia.
Of particular importance are the Orang Asli communities who live embedded in nature and who affirm that nature is embedded in them.
Regrettably, this blessing of multifarious inclusive diversity is being discarded in favour of a confrontational diversity that resembles the pouring of sand into your petrol tank.
In recent years, there has been a steady and notable shift from the Merdeka generation’s inclusive diversity towards ethno-religious exclusivity.
For politicians, this shift is a guaranteed votewinner but it deepens the human alienation from nature and divides the nation along clear fault lines.
What has induced the majority of citizens to abandon our national inclusive diversity?
In the 1950s to 70s, the US served as a role model because it had fought courageously to end World War II.
But from the 1980s, the US started invading Third World countries and later got entangled in a domestic culture war between guns and gays.
The US factional split reflects a dichotomous tearing of the human mind that compels people to divide the world into combative irreconcilable halves.
In a previous article, we have seen how the US and the West stand on one side while Russia and China stand on the opposing side.
Total world defence spending by nations exceeded US$2 trillion (RM9.32 trillion) last year, absorbing one-third of the funds needed to boost ecology and the economy together.
Twelve rare metals are classified as war minerals because they are being used, not to fight climate change, but to make advanced weaponry.
At the national level, many countries are fracturing into two competing societies with deepening hostilities goaded on by a polarising political partisanship.
In the US, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party hold opposite ideas of what their nation should be.
In Malaysia, the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) coalition and the PASBersatu-Gerakan coalition also hold opposite ideas of what our nation should be.
The “friend or foe” approach by the US to human rights allows the people to keep and bear arms as a Constitutional right.
American states that are governed by the Republican Party have adopted laws permitting anyone who reaches the age of 18 to carry a loaded gun without the need for a permit.
Gun violence has killed 118,000 Americans from January 2020 to July 2023.
With 400 million firearms in private hands — averaging more than one for each person — the US is truly exceptional in pandering to gun lovers. Political partisanship is largely to blame.
Republican congressmen burnish their firearms credentials by featuring guns in TV ads, displaying rifle signs and making appearances at riflemen’s conventions.
Schools across America are now spending billions of dollars each year to increase security, including the purchase of metal detectors.
On the other side of the political divide, the Democratic Party is garnering votes by pushing a different type of human rights extremism: allowing 13-year-olds to undergo surgical treatments to change their sex.
Our politicians, too, have largely ditched the Merdeka practice of harnessing diversity and are increasingly drawn towards extremist schemes that misapply cultural and religious differences to stir up fear between communities.
By accentuating ethno-religious identity and depicting “others” as threats to one’s race and religion, they easily secure electoral victory.
Political scientist Barbara Walter, author of How Civil Wars Start, notes that “perhaps 75% of civil wars have been fought between ethnic and religious groups” since 1991.
A University of California (UC Davis) survey of 9,000 Americans last year showed that 51% believed there would be a civil war in America in the next few years and 2% said they would be willing to kill a political opponent.
Africa has for decades suffered tremendously as a result of ethnic discord and ethno-religious politicking has now engulfed India’s northeastern state of Manipur in civil strife, with violent clashes between the majority Hindu Meiteis and the minority Kukis who are primarily Christian.
It is no coincidence that tens of millions of Africans are feeling the negative health impacts of climate change in the form of heat stress, extreme weather and increased transmission of infectious diseases.
In South Asia, extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and storms are posing substantial challenges to agricultural systems in the region.
One sign indicating that Malaysia has transited to a corrosive fear-based democracy is the voting pattern at the recent six-state elections, wherein the vast majority of Malays voted for the Perikatan coalition and most nonMalays voted for the PH-BN coalition.
The majority of Malays voted out of fear that a significant role for non-Malays would undermine their ethnic rights and religious beliefs.
The majority of non-Malays voted out of fear that without a sufficiently adequate voice in government, they would be forced to abandon their secular lifestyles.
Fear has become so overpowering that some non-governmental organisations recently urged all political leaders who belong to the dominant ethno-religious community to unite and form a government that excludes the participation of other ethnic groups.
This call violates the inclusive diversity of nature and if carried through will plunge Malaysia into climate disaster.
Inclusive diversity without extremes is a higher middle ground that Malaysians should repossess if only the two political coalitions can lead their supporters to stand on it.
It requires a broadening of mindset on both sides.
In another article, we will explore what this broadening mindset entails and why the rejection of nature’s inclusive diversity will greatly weaken Malaysia’s ability to survive a climate change onslaught imperilling the lives of Malays and non-Malays alike.