The Jakarta Post
Alarming segregation among the Chinese, non-Muslim and Malay communities, the rising frustration of the Malaysian people against the government's slow pace in combating corruption and an increasing demand by young people for democracy marked the installment of Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday.
For the first time in the last 56 years, there was no representation of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) in the ruling National Front (BN) coalition when the new Cabinet took its oath of office on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur. Ironically, Prime Minister Najib called his team the 'Reconciliation Cabinet'.
The nation is clearly facing 'communal disintegration' and unless all, particularly major stakeholders, agree to take significant ' albeit painful ' measures to address the problem, the nation may soon have to face the reality that many non-Malay citizens no longer feel part of the nation.
Admittedly, the problems facing the nation are much more complex and complicated than outsiders may believe. The country's economy is growing steadily and, in certain respects, its economy is much healthier than Indonesia's.
Officially, the MCA refused to join the Cabinet following the poor performance of the coalition ' which includes the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the MCA and smaller parties including one of Indian ethnicity ' in last week's general elections. Such a rejection is a demonstration of the dissatisfaction felt among the Chinese community, which comprises about 25 percent of the total population, because the government continues to prioritize the majority Malays, treating them as first-class citizens, and those of other ethnicities or non-Muslims as second-class citizens.
By only getting 133 seats, the National Front failed to regain the two-thirds majority in the 222-seat parliament, which it lost in the 2008 election. Najib blamed a 'Chinese tsunami' for its election deficit, while the outspoken former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, reportedly blamed 'ungrateful Chinese' and 'greedy Malays' for the humiliating result.
Najib will probably lose his chairmanship in the next UMNO leadership election in October, but whoever succeeds him as the new leader will ultimately survive no longer than Najib.
As one of the key members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Malaysia's prosperity and cohesion as a nation has strategic meaning for the regional grouping and the population of this region. Malaysians know what is best for their future, and we, their neighbors, wish them luck and are ready to cooperate for the sake and prosperity of all the people in the region.