The real problem of the Malay community - By Commander (Rtd) S THAYAPARAN Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, November 27, 2017
Malaysiakini : “The oppressed are allowed once every
few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing
class are to represent and repress them.” - Karl Marx
COMMENT | I do not think that the
problems of the Malays are that they are not unified; I think the
problem of the Malays is that they have no real choices when it comes to
“Malay” leadership. Race and religion is the basis for all “Malay”
political parties and Malay politicians are hampered by these two
imperatives – or so they say – which makes it impossible to have a
greater Malay polity that is progressive and egalitarian.
The opposition has defined this upcoming election as the election
that could save Malaysia from becoming a failed state. Opposition
political parties are blindly chasing the Malay vote hoping for regime
change. Meanwhile, the rhetoric from the Malay establishment is
indecisive and cautious because of the Malay political players involved.
This is why we get Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor hectoring Malay youths, asking them what Umno had done wrong?
It is true that Umno has provided a lot but the problem is what Umno
has provided is not worth anything next to what the non-Malays have
acquired by themselves, in most cases. Malay youths are not angry with
the other communities - at least a significant majority of them are not -
what they are angry about is that Umno gives them enough to survive and
does not give them the tools to exist independently of Umno.
Mainstream Malay leadership has blamed everyone (in no particular
order) from the Jews, the Chinese, the United States of America, the
opposition, music, alcohol, drugs, Christians, handphones, pornography,
television shows, Hindus, Buddhist, Western culture, Asian culture,
Indians, the CIA, the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China,
multiculturalism and excessive laughter for all that is wrong or they
think is wrong with the Malay community.
A few “Malay” rights activists I have spoken to say that because the
Chinese are “united” in opposing Umno and because the urban Malay vote
is split, Malay vote banks in the rural heartlands have to be guarded
zealously, less Malay hegemony is compromised by weak Malay leadership
beholden to Chinese (DAP) interests. These folks did not laugh when I
pointed out that this is exactly what the Najib refuseniks are saying
about the current Umno regime and Chinese (PRC) interests. Even in a major corruption scandal like the 1MDB case, race becomes
an issue. Establishment propaganda organs define the scandal as economic
sabotage by rebellious Malay leaders aligned with Chinese usurpers, all
the while shifting the blame to a “fat Chinese” hanger-on who bilked
the country of millions.
This is the kind of self-reflection that happens in mainstream Malay
politics. Remember how Ibrahim Ali, defined the National Feedlot
Corporation (NFC) scandal? I wrote in an earlier column
- “It has of course gone to ridiculous extremes as in the recent
National Feedlot Corporation fiasco, where Ibrahim Ali and his ilk
(bolstered by the right-wing state-controlled Malay mainstream press)
suggest that an issue of corruption is really an issue of race and a
racial provocation against the Malay community. The fact that the
alleged whistleblower has been identified as a non-Malay is par for the
course in this country’s national political debate.”
Whenever a struggle emerges within the ranks of Malay leadership that
is when the issue of “Malayness” becomes all-consuming in the political
landscape. For a long time, the only opposition to Umno was PAS and
nobody certainly not the majority of the Malay community ever thought
that PAS was an alternative to Umno.
This is why Umno never really considered PAS a threat. I remember in
the early days of the reformasi movement when Anwar Ibrahim aligned with
PAS and this co-dependent relationship emerged from the Anwar/PAS pact.
It was no secret even then that the religious folks within PAS were
uneasy with the alliance with someone who was branded by the state as a
sexual deviant. Before the PAS for all days, PAS friends of mine were
behaving as though they were in the midst of some sort of Stockholm
syndrome when it came to their dealings with Anwar.
Examine closely mainstream Malay politics and it is not about the
problems social and economic problems facing the Malay community but how
the Malay community is losing its relevance because mainstream Malay
power structures are beholden to “other” interests because the Malay
community is not unified. In many ways, Anwar changed this kind of
thinking by challenging the Umno regime on issues such as good
governance and wide-scale corruption but he was always hampered by the
religious imperatives of his political allies.
While the Chinese and Indian community had the (mainstream) option
over the years of embracing the DAP over the MCA and MIC, the Malays
only had PAS, until the ejection of political prisoner Anwar from Umno
paradise. Does anyone really believe that the average establishment supporter
can tell the difference between Umno and Bersatu beyond the fact that
the former can be, depending on how close an election is, gratify them
with short-term goodies?
Over the years, I have had many Malay people come up and tell me that
the problem with this country is that people do not get along. Well, I
think that people do get along but the problem is that the government
keeps introducing measures that make it very clear that they do not want
us to get along. These measures then become sacred cows, which needs to be defended by
any politician claiming to have the interest of the Malay community at
heart. How is any other community a threat, when every institution and
mechanism of power is controlled by the political elite of the
I have asked
these questions before – “What would happen if a majority of Muslims in
this country decide that they have had enough with state religious
authorities intruding in their lives? They have had enough of money
going into religious organisations while essential services that benefit
their community are underfunded and mired in bureaucratic corruption?
What would happen if they grew tired of the hypocrisy of the state where
Muslim elites were immune from the harsh glare of Islam but the rest of
the polity was not?”
Of course, if ever there was a conclave of Malay leadership these
types of questions would not be asked. Instead, the main objective of
the meeting would probably be to discuss how power could be shared while
maintaining the facade of unity which is all important to a racial and
This is why Malay youths will continue to be unhappy with Umno and
this unhappiness will eventually erupt in rage and Malaysia will not
have to be saved anymore.