R.A.B.U - The final conflict in the Malay community - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Malaysiakini : “We call upon all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion,
political situation, creed or parties, young and old, to join us in
saving Malaysia from the government headed by Najib Razak. We must rid
ourselves of Najib as prime minister. If he’s allowed to go on, the
damage will be worse and worse.” - Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Pakatan Harapan leader
COMMENT | To my Malay comrades,
old and new, this article is for you. I am not fishing for votes for
Pakatan Harapan. Indeed, this will be the only time I will do this. Never has the Umno hegemon been so afraid of losing political power.
They are doing everything possible to mute the voices of those who will
not submit to their power. This is not a political conflict the
non-Malays can prosecute on their own. No election will ever be. As the
years go by, the window of opportunity will close until the light of
democracy can no longer seep through and we Malaysians will eventually
be consumed in the darkness that fascism brings. You know what I speak
DAP’s Liew Chin Tong proclamation that GE14 is our final battle
is slightly queer. Shouldn’t that be “war”? After all, a “battle”
implies a continuation of hostilities until a “war” which defines an outcome. So is this the final battle before the war? I realise when opposition MPs talk about “wars” in the political
sense, the Umno hegemon will be up in arms – maybe literally – and there
would be this nonsense about a Chinese MP warring with the placid Malay
community. Claiming that a political party will defend Putrajaya with
the last drop of their blood, brandishing the “keris’” around and
claiming enslavement of the Malay community if they lose this “war” with
DAP, is the province of Umno.
Since I too am bound by certain imposed norms, instead of “final
battle”, I will say “final conflict", which implies finality and which I
assume was what Chin Tong was going for. However, this is not “our”
final battle. This is the final conflict within the Malay community.
This GE will once and for all determine if the Malay community will
reject Umno and embrace a two-party system or continue supporting the
Umno hegemon when the other two communities have abandoned BN.
The stakes are much higher than merely living in a kleptocracy and
systemic inequality. If the opposition loses this fight and depending
how badly they lose, we would be bereft of any kind of sustained
opposition against the Umno hegemon. Malay opposition power structures
have to win at least one state and preferably as a dominant political
party, to ensure the survival of the opposition as a credible threat to
Umno. If the Malay community does not endorse through the ballot box
alternate Malay power structures in the Malaysian political system, what
could happen if the opposition loses is the DAP could be the last party
standing surrounded by either a weak coalition of Malay powerbrokers or
worse, a resurgent Umno.
Does this mean that the struggle is over? No. It would just mean that
it would be more difficult for the opposition because it would mean
that the opposition would have to redefine itself. Some would argue that
this is a good thing but this is not the conversation we have to have
now. At this moment, if you are a Malay who believes in a two-party
system, this opportunity is the closest “we” have of attaining that
goal. There has never been a time when Malay power structures have been at
such odds with one another in a way that could change the course of this
country. This is the perfect opportunity for progressive Malays and
those who think like them to stake their claim on the future of this
If this is a fight between the current Umno grand poobah and Dr
Mahathir Mohamad, this is also a fight between the disparate power
groups aligned with the latter, who may stem the tide of religious
extremism and the corrosive culture of corruption that hastens the
ascension of religious extremists in this country. If Mahathir and the opposition manage to dethrone Najib, there is a
possibility of a recalibration of the power structures in this country.
There is a chance for political reform. There is a chance that we will
not become a theocratic state because of a compromised leadership
struggling to maintain power.
Why this time is different
Now, you may hate the opposition. You may hate the compromises they
made. You may hate the fact that they have aligned with the person they
themselves claimed is the architect of this mess, but the reality is
that if the Malay community does not decisively vote for the opposition,
then we would be in some very deep horse manure. I have already put
down my ideas of what I think would happen if Umno won badly.
The upside is that even if Umno wins badly, there would still be hope
for the opposition. It would be difficult and we would find ourselves
in the terrain usually the province of theocratic weasels but at least
we would still have a voice, provided the Malay community empowers the
opposition Malay power structures and these groups realise that they
cannot play the same Umno game. I always tell Malays who could not be bothered to vote that the
opposition has thrown in everything in this election. People think that
the stakes are not high and that there will always be an opposition.
After all, the opposition has lost before and they have managed to make a
However, this time it is different. The Umno hegemon has already lost
its two-thirds majority. It has suffered electoral setbacks in states
which it assumed it had an iron grip on. The opposition did this without
the help of the former prime minister. However, this is the first time
when the Umno hegemon could be supplanted as the sole guardian of Malay
power because of Mahathir.
Some people do not seem to understand the significance of the struggle between the current prime minister and the old maverick. If Bersatu as the sole Malay-based party manages to dislodge Umno
from Putrajaya – even with the assistance of the non-Malays – this would
radically change Malay politics. This would mean that the Malay
community would no longer solely subscribe to Umno. They would have a
choice between different political parties. No longer would Umno have
dominion over the Malay vote in a majoritarian sense.
The mainstream in the Chinese community have made their choice. While
I do not speak for the disenfranchised of the Indian community, all
evidence suggests that their dissatisfaction against Umno is based on
their hatred towards the MIC. Whether this translate to hatred towards
BN - Umno and the MCA - remains to be seen. Hence as far as the
non-Malay vote goes – in the Peninsular – I am pretty confident that the
opposition will not suffer from lack of non-Malay votes and this
extends to Malay opposition operatives relying on non-Malay votes.
As I argued in numerous pieces, this is the existential war within
the Malay community. While “our” votes are of less value – electorally
and demographically speaking – from the votes of the demographic that is
needed to take Putrajaya, we have arrived in a situation where
non-Malays are spectators to the final conflict in the Malay community.
Of course, there are many people who do not vote for various reasons.
There are people who understand that thriving in this country means
working the system and making peace with the reality that the political
system is designed never to be the one they hope for and most political
parties have no desire to change it. These people also despise the
partisan politics that infects our public spaces. The outcome of this
election will no doubt elicit a fair amount of schadenfreude from these
However, whether they vote or not, this election will determine if
the Malay community wants a choice on how they want to be governed. And
choice, even though compromised, is the only thing that will save