Bersih 5 should be a 'Malay-sian tsunami' by Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Malaysiakini“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
- John F Kennedy, remarks on the first anniversary of the Alliance for Progress, March 13, 1962.
COMMENT Non-Malay friends of
mine, those disinterested in the state of the country but claim to vote
opposition, tell me that the important thing for non-Malays to do is to
work the system and most importantly, profit from it. Malaysia, they
say, is a great country to live in - stable, sheltered from natural
disasters - so what if the government is corrupt? It is like this
everywhere, they say.
Umno, meanwhile, does it best with its outsourced thugs to push a
hegemonic and racist agenda to maintain a ‘social contract’ that has
brought stability and wealth to a specific middle class, while
subjugating the majority of the Malay polity into subservience to Umno
through Islam. Nowhere is apathy embraced as a legitimate lifestyle choice and as a
means to deflect from issues beyond pecuniary self-interest.
Malays friends of mine - former diplomats, civil servants and
military officers - bemoan the fact that “Malay” leadership has devolved
into a quagmire of corruption and racism, our public institutions the
public face of “Malay superiority” and safety nets for a “Malay”
subclass, there to prop up a corrupt regime.
In my piece
urging the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak - with
apologies to the inspector-general of police (IGP) for my
perceived wanton law-breaking - I acknowledged that resignation is the
last thing this Umno potentate would consider. Why would he? Regional media reported that it was business as usual
for Najib, a day after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) made its
announcement to seize US$1 billion in assets bought with ‘stolen money’
from 1MDB -
“The message was clear: the premier is focused on matters at
home, especially the economy, as he seeks to preserve support among his
ruling party’s base of ethnic Malays, many of them in rural areas. One
of his pit stops on Thursday was a speech to employees of a government
agency that is tasked with helping thousands of smallholder farmers.”
The IGP also reminded Malaysians that any form of popular dissent would be sanctioned
because “We will not allow it because there is a way to ask the prime
minister to step down as stipulated in the law,” even though as Bersih
chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah points out no rally has been confirmed,
The IGP’s pre-emptive strike on democratic ideals would be much
appreciated in the Erdogan regime. I hear security personnel are in
short supply in Turkey now, so perhaps it would be a good time for
“lawatan sambil belajar” (study tour) for the IGP.
Maria has confirmed that a rally is on the cards, and former prime
minister and chief Najib refusenik Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has also
mooted the idea of popular dissent through street demonstration, added rather impishly,
"Malaysians are timid. In other countries, millions take to the
streets. Malaysians are very nice, we don't normally hold such
The mother of all street parties
The Bersih chief said: “More important to me would be the objective
of the rally and not the venue.” In this piece, I humbly propose my
objective of the rally, if given the green light.
Of the last Bersih rally, I wrote,
“The dangerous idea of the Bersih rallies is that each time it is held,
more diversity is introduced into our public spaces. The dangerous idea
that large groups of people of different races, political and racial
ideologies are congregating with a specific goal of demonstrating their
discontent of the Umno status quo.” Now I know I am going to get into trouble for writing this but it
needs to be said.
“Diversity” is not going to have much of an impact on
the removal of Najib.
What this Bersih rally needs to be about is the dignity and integrity
of the Malays. It needs to address the reality that Malay leadership
has failed this country and the only way to restore any semblance of
dignity to the Malay polity would be for the so-called “leaders” of the
Malay community with the help of their non-Malay counterparts to
mobilise the Malay demographic into coming to the mother of all street
Diversity should be reflected in the various 'Malay' rights groups,
political parties and oppositional Malay politicians or personalities
sympathetic to whatever strain of oppositional politics they think best
serves their communities interests, coming together against corruption.
Let me be very clear, I am not advocating that non-Malays discard
their obligation to democracy by not attending this rally but rather
that the focus of this rally should be on the Malay community and
non-Malay solidarity in fighting corruption, and as rights group Hakam
president Ambiga Sreenevasan clearly articulates,
“It is not just Najib that is guilty of what is going on in Malaysia,
it is the entire cabinet. All those ministers who are saying nothing, it
is a sin of omission."
Simplistically this is the time for that crew-cut Malay thug
screaming about special rights to make an alliance with that long-haired
liberal university student and say: “You know, we have completely different ideas about what it means to
be Malay, but that prime minster of ours is really corrupt and although
they say our economic numbers may go up, our community is really
suffering. Maybe we should do something about that.”
(I actually witnessed this at a home of a close Malay friend. Those were not the exact words but the intent is the same).
Defending Malay ‘maruah’
In fact, this Fredrick Douglas quote should be translated to Malay and passed around. “Those who profess to favour freedom and yet depreciate agitation,
are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain
without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of
its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a
physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power
concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
Malays should take heed of what Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar said,
“If there are some of you who wish to be an Arab and practise Arab
culture, and do not wish to follow our Malay customs and traditions,
that is up to you. I also welcome you to live in Saudi Arabia,” but most
importantly “…I believe there are Malays who are proud of the Malay
culture. At least I am real and not a hypocrite…”
This rally should be, for lack of a better phrase, be about ‘Malay’
pride - ‘maruah’ - and how Umno has systematically destroyed it. In
addition, this message should be delivered loudly and clearly, by a
decisive majority of Malay participants made even more ‘Malaysian’ by
non-Malay participants. This would mean Malay politicians and personalities getting off their
backsides and actually working the ground and mobilising support.
would mean ‘Malay’ leadership acting maturely and not descending into
juvenile behaviour in an attempt to be perceived as ‘Malay’ or ‘Muslim’.
It would mean Malay leadership putting aside their differences, acting
in the best interests of their community instead of their political
parties, and coming together - to borrow the prime minister's word - in a
'Malay tsunami' against the regime.
It would mean Umno refuseniks working in concert with Malay
opposition politicians - I mean the ones not bought over by the King of
Cash - and sitting down with non-Malay civil society and coming up with a
plan to safely and constructively demonstrate against a regime intent
on staying in power despite the numerous allegations of corruption
The only reason why the red shirts are so emboldened is that they
think that this rally would be another mostly Chinese affair. Of course,
I hope the red shirts understand that if things get out of hand, the
People’s Republic of China (PRC) may have something to say about it, but
even more reason for the focus of this rally to be about restoring
Malay dignity and integrity.
I mean already the PRC is supposedly (reportedly)
bailing out the Umno/Malay elite with regards to the 1MDB fiasco with
complex infrastructure contracts, how then when they have to actually
step in to prevent clashes? Embarrassing, I say.
What the opposition and people who support the opposition have to
realise is that there are diverse Malay groups out there with very
different ideas about the concept of race and religion that in some
cases are anathema to supposed oppositional ideas, but who want Najib to
resign because he is allegedly corrupt.
Now I realise some folks will have a problem with what I have written
but this is for my Malay comrades, their fears and aspirations. I have
said it and the ball is in their court.
In this case, the messenger is as important as the message.