Prince Rupert’s Drop in Malaysia’s politics

Friday, March 10, 2017

 

If you're a science enthusiast like me, chances are Prince Rupert's Drop is of no strange term to you. Prince Rupert's Drop looks like a tadpole-shaped droplet, and it exhibits a strange and counterintuitive characteristic - it is able to withstand extremely high impact at its rotund end. It is so strong that it is even able to deflect bullet.

However, the Prince Rupert's Drop does not come by without weakness. If its tail is slightly damaged, the whole structure will disintegrate and shatter in explosion. This is a result of the high potential energy contained within the droplet when it was first formed.

It is mind blowing to even imagine that such strong structure also has its Achilles' heel. It somehow relates to the phenomena in Malaysia politics that has lasted for decades.

In almost every chapter of Malaysia's politics, race and religion have always been on the headlines. It is not unnatural. It is an easy way out for some politicians in a multiracial country of democracy. 

To talk about the influence of racial and religious issues in politics, we can make reference from the recently concluded Jakarta Gubernatorial. Ahok's defeat is somewhat the primary product of a religious controversy. Many said the election has set a tough future for Indonesia's politics as the politicians now have to unwind the religious tension and undo the polarisation that has divided Jakarta into mere "Muslims and non-Muslims".

We may have acknowledged the existence of racial and religious unease in Malaysia politics, but we may not have an idea to what extent it has rooted into the core of our society.

The incident that took place last week at Austin Perdana, Johor Bahru is no isolated incident. It sheds light into a long-existed problem in our society. It showed how quickly people can fail to be understanding and tolerant, which is what causes our society to be fragile and divisive.

Malaysia's general election can be a matter of months. Recently we saw political figures / parties being labelled as "anti-Islam" or "anti-Malay", and we saw religious issues being played out by politicians.

These happened because race and religion are what made Malaysia strong and weak. It is like the rotund end of the Prince Rupert's Drop. It is almost invincible and it is the safe card to play. When it is carefully planned and executed, it takes more than logical arguments to correct it. 

If the people of a nation are divided and manipulated for the interest of a small group, it will be disastrous for all generation to come. And our inaction will eventually cost them more to fix it. 

However, I believe Malaysians' desire for moderation and logic will prevail. Our determination for a Malaysian first nation will overcome our differences. Our action today will be the tail of the Prince Rupert's Drop.

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