Malaysiakini : “We are a party
for the Malays and bumiputera. Not just in name, but this party was
formed for the Malays whom we see now as having lost their protectors.”– Dr Mahathir Mohamad
| Let me get this out of the way. Maybe some of you think like this
too. I do not care that former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak is not
in jail. I am reasonably confident that the process that could put
him in jail is underway albeit at a snail’s pace because the nature of
his malfeasance, the scope of his criminality and the players involved
warrant slow meticulous, legal work. To claim that people are
disappointed in Pakatan Harapan because the former prime minister is not
in an orange jumpsuit is disingenuous.
Some people are
disappointed in Harapan not because the pace of reforms is slow but as
the months drag on, it is becoming obvious that Harapan has no intention
– unless forced to – to carry out its elections promises. In fact, if
they are not backtracking on campaign promises, they are outright
claiming that they have no intention of carrying them out.
removing Najib was the only reason you voted Harapan, then this is not
an issue for you. I would argue that if you are a non-Malay, you voted
for Harapan even with Bersatu in the mix because you thought that
finally, this country could move in a direction where Malay supremacy
and religious extremism would be tempered with egalitarian policies that
were needed in this fast-changing geopolitical landscape.
idea that only Mahathir can undo the damage he did displays a profound
lack of introspection by people making this argument. In addition, it is
naive. The road Malaysia was on was not created by Umno alone but
rather, a compliant polity who voted in the BN regime for decades and
often demonising the opposition as idealists or worse, claiming that the
opposition could not run the federal government.
There is this
dumb argument floating around that we should give Harapan more time
since BN had six decades (or thereabouts) to “destroy” this country.
This argument is not only ignorant, but it is also ahistorical. BN had
functional policies at various times (just ask the current prime
minister) and the opposition had a decade (or thereabouts) in control of
certain states to differentiate itself from the federal government.
are not talking about political newbies struggling with new-found
policy-making power but rather mainstream political cabals which
understand how the system works because most, if not all of them, were
practising the mainstream politics of BN.
When Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman claimed that Harapan may lose
the next general election if it pushes reforms too fast, he is merely
claiming that those ideas that the non-Malays (and some Malays) believe
in such as equality and secularism are anathema to how mainstream
political coalitions function in Malaysia.
This is not the fault
of Bersatu alone. This is also the fault of the non-Malay coalition
partners in Harapan. Everything is connected to race and religion in
this country; hence, even when it comes to reforms, which you would
think have nothing to do with race and religion, the Harapan government
What do people mean when they say Harapan is like BN? For someone like Terence Gomez, it has to do
with the economic institutions of this country and the similarities in
policy-making. For others, it is the similar Islamic narratives that
fuel a supremacist mindset in the greater Malay community. For most
though, it is the protectionist policies – economic and social – that
are the bedrock of “ketuanism”.
Pointless to defend
whenever Umno talked about “Malay” rights, they always had this useless
qualifier that the “rights” of the non-Malays would not be forgotten.
What did the MCA and MIC do? They dutifully nodded their heads and were
mocked by the then opposition. Now Bersatu makes the same claim
that Malay rights will be upheld but this does not mean the non-Malays
would be forgotten.
And what does the DAP – the dominant non-Malay power
structure - and the non-Malays in PKR do? They dutifully nod their
heads. If non-Malay rights were not forgotten, then something like recognising the United Examination Certificate (UEC)
would not be put in cold storage for the next five years to be “studied
with relevant parties” or the Harapan government would not be bending
over backwards to satisfy the religious extremists in this country.
is exactly the “social contract” of the BN regime and now Harapan,
which is why protestations that Harapan is not like BN are worthless. Honestly,
the MACC going after the former BN regime does not really inspire
confidence in me. When they start going after the Harapan establishment,
then I know that we have a truly independent institution.
keep telling Harapan political operatives who talk to me, there is only
so long that you can give them bread and circus. Sooner rather than
later, the people will be tired of the constant exposé of the corruption
of the former BN regime and those Malays who voted for Harapan will
want to know how exactly their lives have improved under a Mahathir
I want to know from the youth and sports minister is exactly which
social and economic reforms, if rushed too quickly, would lose the Malay
base? What institutional reforms, which if pushed too quickly, would
lose the Malay base.
Maybe if the young minister answered these
questions, people who have an issue with the non-existence of political
will when it comes to reforms would have a better understanding of what
is possible in this new Malaysia.
Until Harapan answers these
questions, it is pointless defending the idea that Harapan is not like
BN. Honestly, if Harapan just said that we were talking about those good
ideas of the BN regime and going back to basics before "you know who"
screwed it up, there would not have to be these articles defending
Harapan's nine-month record. It turning into BN is not the problem
especially if one (objectively) considers some of the policies which
did work or could have worked.
Claiming to be something else when you aren’t, is.