Mahathir’s ungrateful children - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, March 24, 2018
Click on image to enlarge
Malaysiakini : “The point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push
an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate
truth.” ― Garry Kasparov, Russian chess grandmaster
COMMENT | So, this spin maestro
(a long-time friend) aligned with Bersatu took me to task for referring
to Bersatu members as “Najib refuseniks”. “Can’t you people (“you” people?) understand that he is trying to
save the country,” he went on. I cautioned him that when a propagandist
starts believing his own propaganda, he should quit the business but we
have been friends for many years and he did raise some interesting
issues that I am always willing to discuss.
People got all hot and bothered when Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar
Mohamad Hasan told youths to take physical action against those who
slander BN but forget when rowdy Bersatu members disrupted a Pakatan
Harapan Negeri Sembilan convention after they got butthurt over “being allocated the least number of state seats among the four component parties.” Talk about your Umno DNA. I asked this friend, would he prefer it if I referred to Bersatu as
the Malay vanguard because that is the perception that the party is
attempting to generate.
Bersatu leader Mohd Rafiq Naizamohideen attempts to do just that when he waxes lyrical about what the old Umno stood for and how young leaders shaped the direction of the party. What he leaves out is that the hegemon nurtured young talent through a
system of patronage, grooming young men and women to whisper the
poisoned words of old grey-haired men to a polity racked with religious
and class divisions. I know people in the #UndiRosak crowd, NGOs and outlier political and
social activists whom I could make the case that they are the Malay
vanguard but unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Bersatu.
This, of course, has nothing to do with the demographic that Bersatu needs to win Putrajaya. Mukhriz Mahathir really should not feel bad
about playing the race card. After all, that is the function of Bersatu
in Harapan in its quest to oust Najib, isn’t it? The race card,
unfortunately, is more than just a diversionary tactic. It’s what sustains the Umno hegemon and any party which chooses to
replace it. So potent is this card that anyone wishing political power
in this country has to use it - or so conventional political wisdom
Political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff had to remind people that he did not wet himself
when he met the old maverick but he is a construct of Mahathir and Umno
politics, which truth be told is not mutually exclusive. Maybe he should have wet himself a little when he met his maker.
Kamarul, after all, is a child of what the Mahathir era wrought. All of
Umno is. Everyone who supports Umno, including those who vote for them,
is. They are all Mahathir’s children.
The sacred cows
And people like Kamarul are ungrateful. In fact, the whole of Umno is
ungrateful. The non-Malays can point to the old maverick and claim that
he is all that is wrong with the country but for your average Malay
(who in some cases have votes that carry more weight), they owe it all
to the old maverick. Mahathir gave them everything. He taught them how to think, how to maintain power, how to use legislation to curb dissent. Folks may complain about the Election Commission (EC) delineation
chicanery but Mahathir literally defined the political landscape.
He can rightfully take credit for creating the Malay middle class and
he can rightfully take credit for creating “Malay” citizens whose
geographical location and religious leaning made them easier to
assimilate into the Umno body politic. Of course, these days he demurs
but reality and history say otherwise. But let us concentrate on Kamarul for a minute. Muhkriz acknowledges –
for political reasons – that whenever Umno could not address big
issues, they relied on demonising the DAP and let us go further, they
would demonise the Chinese community. This is an old trick but one that
people like Kamarul have expanded on. Children adapt, as they say.
Kamarul’s attack against DAP, more specifically the "evangelical
DAP", is a coordinated attack using religious sentiment as a basis to
discredit Mahathir, Bersatu and Amanah as protectors of that most sacred
of Malay rights, the right to use religion as a means of stifling
dissent by non-Malays and the “puak liberal” in the Malay community. This, of course, is a dangerous game but because Mahathir poses such a
significant threat, dangerous methods are needed. This is why Bersatu
has to defend itself against attacks that it is not Muslim enough.
Remember these were the same attacks that Umno had to defend itself
against back in the day from PAS.
However, since these days PAS is simpatico with Umno, they have
turned their attention against Bersatu and any other Malay party which
works with the DAP, whose reputation - partly self-inflicted and partly
damaged by Umno propaganda – is damaged in the eyes of the demographic
that Bersatu is courting.
Great debt to Dr M
The children of Mahathir, specifically the Umno-aligned
intelligentsia, these days find it difficult to mount a successful
attack against their maker. The civil service has become a demographic of their own which
understands the great debt they owe Mahathir but more importantly are
troubled by the profligate scandals which threaten their livelihoods. This is why Umno has to spend so much money on them while Mahathir
just has to float about them reminding them that back in the good old
days, their job security was not threatened by the numerous scandals
that engulfed Umno.
The Malay petite bourgeoisie - unlike the Malay haute bourgeoisie who
still pander to Umno the party as opposed to Umno the man (Mahathir) -
still believe that Mahathir is a powerful totem. People always talk about the feudalistic mindset of the Malay
community but buried beneath it is a resentment of the sacred cows that
we are told are, well, sacred to the Malay polity. Umno and its allies are always trying to draw the royalty into their
political conflicts. The reality is that Mahathir has done his fair
share of curtailing the powers of the royalty and although this was a
tricky endeavour, he and his party have found support in the
demographic, we are told, hold these things sacred. There is a reason
Mahathir always successfully portrayed himself as the little guy
going against higher powers for the benefit of the Malay rakyat and if
you think that his wife and him returning all those royal awards mean
nothing, then you are underestimating the symbolism of the act and the
simmering class resentment in the Malay community that Umno these days,
with all its financial scandals, is acutely aware of.
If Bersatu is a nest of Najib refuseniks then Umno and the cabals that support it are Mahathir’s ungrateful children.