Bersatu’s racism and the danger of anti-Icerd rally - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Malaysiakini : “That is straight up playing the racial card, there's no other way to see it. And I'm against it totally.”
- Shahril Hamdan, Umno Youth leader
COMMENT | I hope people understand that when the Pakatan Harapan grand poobah Dr Mahathir Mohamad acknowledges that Bersatu is a racist party,
he is essentially saying that every member of Bersatu is a racist. The
party and its members are not mutually exclusive. It really is not
important that Bersatu, although racist, is not against the other “not
race-based” parties, but rather that these multiracial parties are
willing to work with racists.
I am neither surprised when Mahathir
flouts his racist credentials nor surprised that there has never been
any pushback from the non-Malay power structures which supported him
when he led BN and now Pakatan Harapan. BN Redux is the realisation that
assuming federal power means ditching the Kool-Aid but still expecting
the non-Malay base to behave as if hooked on it.
As I said six years ago about the realpolitik
of Mahathir – “He never hid behind any politically correct
justifications for his policies, making the social and economic
inequalities faced by the community he claimed to represent as something
beyond their ability to overcome and exacerbated by the presence of
‘foreigners’ who took advantage of their hospitality. This, of course,
is pure rubbish but it is the narrative in which he chose to frame the
I have no idea if it is tragic or
funny, that the majority of the voting Malay demographic did not vote
for Bersatu but instead voted for Umno and PAS. So while Umno political
operatives are busy considering whether to jump ship to Bersatu if Umno
cannot capitalise on the race and religion card, non-Malay power
structures are getting nervous of the possible power Bersatu could
acquire, which is why we hear rumblings about anti-party hopping laws.
in Umno, like the young operative whose quote begins this piece, have
to grapple with the new reality - that a BN Redux means that they have
become the far right. Umno has to hitch their wagon to PAS, who are
embroiled in their own little power plays between the various factions
which the non-Malay urban demographic have no idea exist, but would
determine the nature of the alliance between Umno and PAS.
may be hypercritical of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, at least he had
the cojones to attempt a multiracial alternative. The drawback –
politically – is he has to make all these pro-Malay statements because
his bumiputera bone fides has always been in question. Not to mention
the internal power struggles in PKR which Malay political operatives in
Umno, PAS and Bersatu are meddling in, which gives the impression -
sometimes unfairly – that PKR is the clear and present danger to Harapan
hegemony. It is not.
I once wrote that if you set yourself as a
champion of your community, sooner or later, your credentials will be
challenged. The problem with Mahathir's babbling on about his racism and
that of his political party, is that he will always have to answer to
Umno and PAS when it comes to those issues that are sacred to the Malay
Mind you, those issues have nothing to do with
development or standards of living, but rather issues that diminish the
“rights” of the non-Malays in this country or hamper the economic
development of a multiracial country in favour of the kind of “Malayism”
that mainstream Malay politics want to impose on all of us, which is a
balance between racial and religious supremacy.
This is reflected
in the propagandising of issues like the injury of firefighter Muhammad
Adib Mohd Kassim in the recent temple riot. Numerous potentates have
made pilgrimages to his hospital bed, while non-Malay elites and the vox
populi have made sympathetic statements and started charity drives.
remember that someone like veteran journalist and now Bersatu member A
Kadir Jasin in 2013 wondered out - “As has always been the case, when we
send our policemen and soldiers into battle and are killed or injured,
the chances are they are Melayus and Bumiputeras. Perhaps there is
wisdom in getting more Chinese and Indians to join the armed forces so
that they too can die for one Malaysia” – in ‘I wish to remain a Malay’. We
are talking about a system of beliefs here no matter how the Bangsa
Malaysia types attempt to stick their heads in the sand, which
ironically is not what the political operatives they voted for are
A big anti-Icerd turnout?
Ibrahim Ali says that there are too many Indians in the cabinet, he is
just attacking a low-hanging fruit. Indian minsters are a target of
opportunity because the Chinese community or at least, the Chinese
minsters have to be handled in a different way. Claiming that Harapan is
giving away power to a minority in betrayal of its defence of race and
religion is the kind of trap, that Harapan always falls for because they
are too scared to lose federal power instead of wielding it.
are the themes of this narrative? They are all ahistorical. The reality
is that Malay power structures have very little interest in raising the
standard of living of the rural Malays because to do so would cost them
votes. Look at what happens in urban centres. All this is important to
remember when considering the real danger of the Icerd rally. Why
is Umno and PAS determined to hold this anti-Icerd rally? They have
already won this battle, so what would be the point of holding this
If you think the Harapan establishment is worried about
this rally, you should talk to some PAS political operatives and
activists, like I have. They are extremely worried that the turnout will
be low. They desperately want a massive turnout. If there is a low
turnout, this would demonstrate that PAS is weak and is unable to carry
out the threats of Malay/Islamic dissatisfaction that they believe will
contain the Harapan regime.
For political operatives in Umno who
do not want to work with PAS, it would be a lesson for the old guard
that PAS is not a potent religious or racial force post-May 9. A low
turnout would be a bummer for the current Umno hardliners because those
operatives who were hedging their bets, would now be free to join the
racist Bersatu without having to worry that Umno would have any power
that could pose a problem.
Mostly though, the powerbrokers behind
this rally want to remind Bersatu, which is weak, PKR, which is
compromised, and DAP, which is subservient, that although Umno and PAS
are not in power, they have considerable influence in the policy
direction of this country. This is about demonstrating how the Malay far
right is more powerful than the federal government.
Malay political operatives talk about ultra-liberals, not spooking the
Malays or any other rejoinders of compromise, all of this demonstrates
to the Malay far racial and religious right is that the government is
weak. That they do not have the support of the majority community.
exposing corruption scandals works in the short term when it comes to
destabilising Umno, the reality is that there are a younger set of
leaders just waiting to assume control of a party which they believe
still has the support of the majority of the Malay community. They do
not even have to have money to do this because the political
infrastructure is there in the civil service, the state security
apparatus and the fact that they do not have to compete with an opposing
If this is dangerous to Malay power structures in
Harapan, it is more devastating for the non-Malay power structures. How
does the Harapan Malay elite demonstrate their Malayness? The answer is
to encroach in the public and private spheres of the urban centres, that
rural Malays are told is the existential threat to their culture and
religion. Malay political operatives will always be on the
defensive when it comes to their racial and religious credentials.
Bersatu’s racism is exacerbated by the enabling of the non-Malay power
structures in Harapan.
This is the clear and present danger that
Harapan supporters should be aware of. The enemy is within, and the
anti-Icerd rally will determine how potent it is.