Politics is about perception, and perceptions are formed subjectively, involving cognitive skills and non-cognitive influences.
Cognitive skills involve the mental process of knowing, learning, and understanding things. They are more specific, scientific, and analytic.
The non-cognitive influences depend on a person’s emotional, emotive, intuitive, perceptual, and visceral state. More often, they are associated with an individual’s personality, temperament, and attitudes. They can be more sceptical.
In my many interactions with the public, I have been asked about my views on the latest political developments. I have always taken the opportunity to ask them back, and ask for their thoughts.
When it comes to local politics, by and large, non-cognitive individuals will be supportive of a change, or ‘ubah’. They are euphoric about Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as their chosen prime minister and continue to gloat about the success and the ‘romance’ of ubah.
One common thought among them is that “the Malays are now politically divided, and this will augur well for the Chinese”.
When I ask them how and what have the Chinese gained so far, they are always caught off guard and seem lost. Some will quickly retort, “Give them time”.
The cognitive thinkers will tell me that they miss the political stability of the past, when there was order, and an umbrella of certainty. That was when we knew what we were getting, and what we were not.
When asked about the political disarray, and whether or not the Malay political split had benefited the Chinese or the non-Malays, they will hesitate thoughtfully.
Some will reply by telling me how the Pas and Umno conflict in the ‘80s and ‘90s had transformed us, from being so-called secular, to more Islamic-centric.
“Now, it is even worse. In the past, we were told that the Chinese or Indians would be left with the ‘crumbs’, but today, we seem to be sidelined as the competition for Malay votes intensifies,” they said.
They added that the budgets for the new villages, for vernacular education, and the many expectations and promises for the “non-Malays” are not coming, or are not as forthcoming as before.
That’s the cognitive thinkers’ “perception” and critiques, but they are just a handful. Malaysia’s unity government needs to come up with the facts and figures to rebut this perception before it spreads.
The non-cognitive take – that a divided Malay benefits the non-Malays – was rejected in total by the cognitive thinkers. They say that we were now sidelined and sacrificed, as the fight between PKR-Umno and Pas-Bersatu intensifies. The Malay votes are the “Dai Di” (a card game of Cantonese origin), or the Ace of 2 in the game of Dai Di.
The truth is that Chinese politicians are generally clamming up, going into silent mode suddenly because they are embarrassed or nervous about the hyped-up “green wave”.
They do not want to talk about the politically explosive subject of race and religion that will be more detrimental to their political interests when they have already secured the Chinese votes.
Personally, I prefer the Malays to be united, for a stable, united, and harmonious nation. As the proverbial Malay saying goes, “Gajah sama gajah berjuang, pelanduk mati di tengah-tengah”.
The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.