I explored this issue here
(two years ago) – “In other words, standing up to bigotry and racism
becomes a racist act and questioning those very provisions or policies
that divide us along racial and religious lines becomes a racial
political agenda. This is funny because oppositional parties are bending
over backwards and in doing so engaging in the kind of political
behaviour that contributes to the system of oppression that has
sustained Umno all these years.”
This is exactly what is happening
to P Waythamoorthy, a political operative who has been told to resign
for comments made 10 years ago and because the Malay far right needs a
causality in the culture wars that they are pinning their hopes on to
return to federal power.
The irony is, of course, nothing Waytha
has said in connection with the International Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) warrants the
kind of sanctions put forward by these Malay supremacists.
Waytha is the convenient scapegoat for the political machinations of a
government which has found itself in a political quandary not because
they have been outplayed by the Umno/PAS opposition, but because they do
not have the scrotal fortitude to carry out the reforms they were
shrieking about before May 9.
Indeed, as one Umno political
operative told me, for those “stupid people” who think that New Malaysia
is not about race and religion, this is a wake-up call for them. The
fact is that this whole Icerd controversy is something that works only
because of the statements to further the Bangsa Kool-Aid narrative.
as a political operative at least has been honest about his racial
politics. True, I have had many public spats with him about his
political stances but his political narrative - for better or worse -
has been to put himself forward as an advocate for Indian issues, much
like the way that Chinese issues are framed as a “Malaysian” agenda.
of course, goes against the Kool-Aid which demands that our culture be
sublimated by some opaque Western notion of assimilation. Mind you,
assimilation is a one-way street with the Malay "new Malaysians" exempt
from this silly idea.
When it comes to Malay supremacy in terms of
Article 153, Waytha like most Harapan political operatives has been
extremely circumspect. For instance, when questioned on the “time
limits” of those special rights (affirmative action policies), which
Icerd is supposed to limit, Waytha stated that there is no time limit
when it comes to the special rights as provided in the constitution of
Malaysia. Indeed, he expressly stated that if there was such an issue,
then Icerd would not be ratified.
In one of my earlier articles, I
referenced an Umno minister who claimed that the special rights of the
Malays would go on in perpetuity. So far, nobody from Harapan, certainly
not a political operative like Waytha, has suggested otherwise. Indeed,
when it comes to a provocative issue like Icerd, Waytha has become the
poster boy for Malay anger, simply because the non-Malay members of
Harapan have decided that they do not want to tackle this issue because
to do so would put a target on their backs.
Impact of discriminatory policies
May 9, the same politicians were talking about Bangsa Malaysia and
after May 9, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng proudly declared himself a
“Malaysian”. However when it comes to anti-discriminatory legislation,
which could pave the way to a more equitable Malaysia, nobody wants to
spook the Malays.
When questioned about Icerd for issuance, this is what Lim had to say:
“We did not raise the issue. It was Waytha who did.” Pressed on DAP’s
stand on ratifying the Icerd, Lim said his focus now was on improving
the country’s economy. “My concern now is addressing the country’s
economy,” he said.
Huh? This is funny of course, because even if
we take Lim’s cowardly deflection at face value, discriminatory policies
do affect the economy. Discriminatory policies affect the economic
viability of not only the non-Malay community, but more importantly the
majority Malay community in this country.
affect employment opportunities, education opportunities and the very
ecosystem which sustains a vibrant economy able to withstand the
vagaries of turbulent world markets. But do not let this little detail
get in the way of not acknowledging, much less defending, a policy that
could actually save Malaysia. And never mind that Waytha is a part of
GK Ganesan’s piece,
“Will Malaysia’s ratification of Icerd ‘injure’ Malay rights” is an
admirable defence of Icerd but presents its own set of problems. If
Malay rights – however you choose to define, misinterpret or just plain
fabricate it – are anathema to a New Malaysia, and if Icerd does not
“injure” these rights, why bother ratifying it in the first place or
object to it?
What Icerd does is remind people that we are equal.
At the very least, special provisions could be attempted for
marginalised communities to make them equal. You may disagree with
affirmative action programmes for the minority, but you have to be
invested in the system to believe that, by virtue of race, you have
This is why PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang gets to say that there should be a Muslim-only cabinet
and his minions attempt to clarify his position, which only makes it
worse. This is why you get the top cop in Terengganu claiming that the
crimes of the pendatang are hampering
the peace of the Malay community and even someone like then home
minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claiming that lethal force is used by the
cops to protect Malay life. All of this is a matter of public record.
of writing this piece, so far nobody has come to the defence of
Waythamoorthy. I mean, Icerd is dead in the water. The Harapan grand
poobah has said that it cannot be ratified, with reasoning that
is predictably mendacious. Zahid has actually threatened that the
Malays could run amok if this is passed, yet he has not been hauled up
by the state security apparatus for threatening the peace and stability
of this country.
Who gets screwed when it comes to this issue? The
Indian minister who is left holding the bag of horse manure, which is
what this issue has turned into. And this is most important lesson of
In this New Malaysia, if you advocate egalitarianism
or anything that stifles the discriminatory system (even if you are left
holding the bag), you are on your own.