Today, 31 Augst 2009, Malaysia celebrates its 52nd year of independence.

However, instead of reflecting on another year of progress, Malaysians face anxiety as the growing threat of religious and racial tensions spearheaded by UMNO and its proxies threaten to derail Malaysia.

Prime Minister Najib Razak espouses 1Malaysia as his policy — something his party has been speaking of for 52 years but undermines at every turn.

The ruling party owned media (especially the chauvinistic Malay newspaper Utusan Malaysia) have over the past few months attacked the non-Malay Muslim community relentlessly. They have accused Anwar Ibrahim, current oppostion leader and Nik Aziz, the spiritual leader of the leading Islamic party, of being traitors to the Malay race. Utusan Malaysia have used inflamatory language in ways that in any civilised country would only be considered blatant racism. Yet, Najib Razak stands by pleading ignorance.

Several shameless acts have also been perpetrated. The most recent was a vile anti-Hindu demonstration by several Muslims against a Hindu temple relocation. Malaysia’s embarassing achievements are best described in the posting by a veteran opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang, in his blog.

It may be the case that Barisan Nasional is losing the plot after 50 years. All of the major component parties are facing internal strife with the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) facing current leadership crises.

Well, 52 years ago, Malaysians got rid of a tyrant. Maybe it is time for new leadership and a new way forward.