Ideological and identity-driven narratives continues to shape Malaysian politics, say experts

15 Aug 2023 08:08pm
Dr Oh Ei Sun (left) and Dr Syaza Syukri (right) - FILE PIX
Dr Oh Ei Sun (left) and Dr Syaza Syukri (right) - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - Noting that Perikatan Nasional (PN) has established itself as being pro-Malay and pro-Islam, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's approach aims to counterbalance this narrative with a focus on socioeconomic concerns.

According to an expert, Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Dr Oh Ei Sun, the emergence of a unity government has the potential to ignite a competition with PN centered around being more vocal in championing Malay and Islamic causes, possibly evolving into a contest to demonstrate commitment to these core identity markers.

"However, amid this evolving political landscape, Anwar Ibrahim's distinctive approach stands out, as he strategically counters this narrative with a focus on socioeconomic issues.

"By prioritising these pressing concerns, Anwar aims to appeal across ethnic and religious lines, fostering inclusivity and minimizing divisive tendencies often associated with identity-based politics," he told to Sinar Daily

Anwar's emphasis on socioeconomic challenges underscores his party's dedication to addressing the daily struggles faced by many Malaysians.

This strategic maneuver seeks to bridge divides, foster unity, and genuinely improve the welfare of all citizens, Ei Sun added.

"In the evolving political sphere, the interplay between ideological and identity-driven narratives continues to shape Malaysian politics.

"Anwar's focus on socioeconomic concerns introduces a unique perspective that underscores the urgency of meeting immediate population needs, while promoting a more harmonious and inclusive national conversation."

Meanwhile, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Political Science Association Professor Dr Syaza Shukri stated that the enduring 'take back' narrative, resonating with Malay anxieties and perceived threats, is likely to persist, yet necessitates a broader perspective.

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"While providing temporary gains, this narrative risks exacerbating divisions and undermining unity.

"Political entities, particularly the government, wield a pivotal role in steering the nation's trajectory." Syaza said.

Rather than perpetuating an exclusive stance, an opportunity emerges to forge a unifying narrative—an inclusive Malaysia anchored in Islam.

This narrative should transcend ethnic confines, embracing diversity and shared nationhood, while remaining comprehensible and embraced by all Malaysians, she added.

"By highlighting collective aspirations, it can foster belonging, unity, and allay exclusion concerns.

"The government's embrace of an alternative narrative underscores its leadership in navigating intricate identities.

"A thoughtfully constructed, inclusive narrative holds the potential to shape a resilient, harmonious future for Malaysia—embracing diversity, upholding common values, and championing the 'Malaysia Boleh' spirit." she said

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