Why bother ratifying Icerd? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, November 07, 2018
Anonymous #07988903 : The answer to your question:" Is there an expiry date on the psychological loss of the Malay community?" is "never". Until and unless the Malays themselves come to acknowledge their own weaknesses and stop blaming others because of their unwillingness to step out of the "fire wall" of self-deluded supremacy psyche, they will forever be afraid of their own shadows while the world has moved forward.
The glaring failure of the top echelon of the Malay leaderships in UMNO is for all to see if we believe the idea of Ketuanan is anything but good. The down side of this mindset not only is detrimental to the community as a whole, it also hindered the progress of this nation because of the pulling effect on the other races.A while ago, when I went to downtown KL, I was surprised to see many of the shops near the Jalan Tun Perak are occupied by the Bangladeshi.If there is anything to learn from this reality is this:
Even the more enterprising immigrants Bangladeshi and Indonesians are already ahead of the local Malays, while they still singing the supremacy tune. They can continue to shout Ketuanan until kingdom comes, very soon their bosses are no longer Chinese, but Indonesians or Bangladeshi or even those from Myanmar!
Malaysiakini : “However much history may be invoked in support of these policies
(affirmative action), no policy can apply to history but can only apply
to the present or the future. The past may be many things, but it is
clearly irrevocable. Its sins can no more be purged than its
achievements can be expunged. Those who suffered in centuries past are
as much beyond our help as those who sinned are beyond our retribution.”
― Thomas Sowell, ‘Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality’
COMMENT | I may have said this
differently elsewhere, but at this point, why bother ratifying the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
This idea of Malay special rights or privileges and the affirmative
action policies wrapped up in the propaganda of race and religion has
been exposed for the sham that it is. The latestmissive
from the culture war about Icerd by Chandra Muzaffar, one of Malaysia’s
most well-known public intellectuals, makes for depressing reading.
While the thrust of the piece was optimistic, in the sense that
Chandra advocates taking certain steps that are in the spirit of Icerd,
it still makes for bleak reading. For the most part, though, it was a
kind of justification (maybe unintentional) for the aggrieved feelings
of the Malay community (or the right and centre of the political
spectrum) to perpetuate a system which has demonstrated that it cannot
withstand moral or intellectual scrutiny.
It also places the non-Malay intelligentsia as part of the problem,
which mainstream Malay politics routinely does, instead of part of the
solution in dismantling a compromised system. While there is some truth
in that, it is pointless asking everyone to come together on an issue
which is fundamentally about the rights of everyone versus the
privileges that come with being in the majority.
Chandra reminds non-Malay “elites” and opinion-makers to demonstrate a
deeper understanding of the Malay situation, which is the psychological
loss of becoming a community among communities. The way to appreciate
this sentiment is to accept a simple historical fact that Malaysia
evolved from a Malay sultanate system.
This is really a strange thing to say, because who the Malays are
today has more to do with our colonial legacy, the social engineering of
political power structures, state-sanctioned propaganda, the change of
demographics through illegal and legal immigration and the influence of
Islam over the Malay polity.
If the Malay community has this psychological loss, imagine what it
must be for the Orang Asal in Malaysia. Not only are they a community
among communities, but they are also a minority among those communities
without a political voice except the one co-opted by the state.
In other words, whatever issues the Malays are grappling with today
has roots in a system which has very little to do with the Malay
sultanate system but everything to do with the colonial and
post-colonial strategies of the Malay elite, which does not necessarily
include the royalty.
A bogus threat
I just do not get it. Anecdotally speaking, when talking to
working-class Malays, for instance, what they tell me is that they are
not competing economically with the Chinese and Indians but rather with
foreign nationals. While religion is an equalising balance when it comes to these
foreign nationals, Malay nationalists complain that Islam has to be
protected from elements which would change the nature of the Malay
Meanwhile, Malays who support Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) for
instance still believe in Islam, which they say is compatible with
socialism on a thematic level, but mainstream Malay politics demonises
them as traitors of their religion. So I may be wrong - and god knows if I am, I never had a problem
admitting such in public - but this idea that the non-Malays are an
existential threat to Malay identity and economic survival is bogus.
Indeed, the problem has always been started by the narrative of the
Malay political elite and the enabling of non-Malay political
operatives, which presupposes that the Malay community is invested in
their narratives because the state funds activities that ensure
compliance through religion and racial fearmongering. Forget about the fact that affirmative action for the majority is
really a form of apartheid. Yes, I know, I hate people using that term.
However, when you have a set of policies which favours the majority
community, wrapped up in propaganda that the community will always need
assistance, and equate this with the affirmative action policies of
other countries seeking to equalise the field for minorities in those
countries, there is very little to discuss except to define the practice
with a term that most accurately reflects it, hyperbolic though it may
be. Chandra argues that the community's power and strength are derived
from the community’s dominance - by policy, not by merit – of public
institutions. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it is a
If anything, our blame for our failing institutions has been laid at
the Malay door precisely because those institutions have been defined by
race. This reinforces the siege mentality that Malay political
operatives like to talk about and furthers anti-minority narratives
which are the foundation of mainstream Malay politics.
But really, what has this got to do with anything? In contemporary
Malaysia, the existential question facing the Malay community, is why,
if they are supreme, do they seem so powerless in the face of a system
that purportedly represents their interest?
A baseline of democracy
A common refrain before the election was that the Chinese community
controlled everything and now, they want to control the politics of this
country. After May 9, the non-Malay political elite in this country have
settled down into their roles as enablers of Malay politics. Even when
it comes to issues like freedom of information, for instance, DAP’s
Steven Sim reminds us that certain values and “traditional worldviews”
have to be taken into account.
As I wrote:
“Since coming into power, non-Malay political operatives have suddenly
become sensitive to what MCA and MIC went through all those years,
kowtowing to a certain racial group, and justifying such actions with
dodgy ideological claptrap, like social contract and power-sharing.”
Look, say what you want about the Umno regime, but Chandra was
correct when he claimed that “rigid employment requirements in the 80s
yielded to more flexible approaches from the 90s onwards. For almost two
decades now, ethnic quotas are not adhered to in certain faculties in
various public universities.”
So historically, this idea of racial and religious supremacy was always a flexible idea with the Malay political elite. Everybody keeps talking about taking the middle path in this issue.
The problem is that there is no middle path to this issue. When we talk
about the principles of something like Icerd, we are not talking about
vague theories that help define democracy. We are talking about a
baseline of democracy.
But again, at this point, I really do not care if Icerd is ratified. I
really do not think things will change unless the narrative changes.
Until then I will keep asking, is there an expiry date on the
psychological loss of the Malay community?