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#KamiNampak Calls Out Racial & Religious Campaigning By Melaka Poll Candidates

The initiative by a local youth group recorded more than 17 cases of "conflict rhetoric" along with the use of "disinformation, misinformation, and malformation" by Melaka poll candidates while campaigning.

Cover image via Asyraf Hamzah/New Straits Times

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An initiative by a local youth group has called out the use of racial and religious sentiments in campaigning by Melaka poll candidates

In a statement, Architects of Diversity Malaysia (AOD) said that the initiative, #KamiNampak, which was launched to monitor the use of the "race and religion card" by Melaka state election candidates, has recorded more than 17 cases of such instances on social media.

#KamiNampak translates to "we see" in Bahasa Melayu.

According to #KamiNampak, using race and religion is "conflict rhetoric", which is political rhetoric employed to highlight differences between people and opposition towards groups and ideas.

Such narratives, the initiative said, blame various groups for social problems, reinforce negative stereotypes, and may create demand for policies that harm a specific racial or religious group.

It said that all three main coalitions — Barisan Nasional (BN), Pakatan Harapan (PH), and Perikatan Nasional (PN) — have used the conflict rhetoric in the lead up to the Melaka election scheduled for Saturday

Additionally, #KamiNampak said that it found that the Melaka poll candidates also engaged in "disinformation, misinformation, and malformation" while campaigning.

Among the politicians found to be using the race and religion card include BN's Paya Rumput candidate Datuk Rais Yasin who reshared a TikTok video of UMNO Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki claiming that only UMNO and BN can defend and protect the dignity and pride of the Malay-Muslim community.

DAP, which is part of the PH coalition, also played up the religion card by accusing the PN and BN-led "Malay-Muslim governments" of increasing the frequency of special draws by number forecast operators.

"You call yourself a Malay-Muslim government, but lucky draws increased to 22 times," DAP said.

Meanwhile, Melaka PAS women's wing treasurer Hawa Yaakub accused PH of exploiting, humiliating, torturing and oppressing Muslims in Malaysia like Uyghur and Kashmiri Muslims in China and India.

She also mischaracterised Uyghur as a location.

Uyghurs are an ethnic group native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

On the other hand, Kota Laksamana candidate Benjamin Low Chin Hong from MCA, which is part of the BN coalition, was seen making fun of Malay names in an interview.

As such, AOD Malaysia co-founder Jason Wee lamented the fact that our politicians use such polarising strategies for their own gain

"We cannot move forward with national unity if our own leaders still use polarising strategies for their gain," Wee said, adding, "The shadows of our colonial divide-and-rule tactic still run deep within our political system."

Meanwhile, AOD Malaysia senior associate Mayna Patel urged that the focus should be on policies.

"It is high time politicians stop exploiting race and religion while campaigning and focus on policies and what they can really do to uplift the people’s lives," she said in the statement.

For the full list of such election offences, visit the AOD website here.

Over the week, a video showing an uncle chasing away two individuals believed to be campaigning for the Melaka state poll went viral:

There have been other controversies in the lead up to the state election: