Malay uber alles, above everybody else - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
East Malaysians, don't count?
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | After Harapan won the last election, I assumed we had some breathing space.
I urge young Malays to plan their lives properly. Don’t make the same
mistake I did. Malaysia is a sick Muslim country that teaches you the
wrong things.” – Zaid Ibrahim
The recent comments by BN
secretary-general Nazri Abdul Aziz on the Semenyih campaign trail about
the racist inclination of the Umno grassroots on their fear of
non-Malays leading certain ministerial portfolios is neither shocking
All this is part of the Malay über alles strategy
of the far right and the foundation of mainstream Malay politics.
Non-Malay political operatives in Pakatan Harapan, now that the
coalition has achieved federal power, have to be careful about how they
define their power because everyone has been told not to spook the
Furthermore, because Bersatu was not the powerhouse Malay
bloc that Harapan had hoped for, the old maverick has had to resort to
all sorts of stratagems to entice Umno political operatives to step into
All this, of course, plays into the hands of Umno and
PAS who can now freely explore their racial and supremacist ideologies
without fear of losing their non-Malay base because the MCA and MIC are
out of play.
Two years ago, former minister Zaid Ibrahim, encouraged young Malays to leave this country
because of the policies of BN. This, of course, caused a stir. As
always, whenever Zaid says something, he does so without political
consideration. He spits it out because he knows that outlier Malay
voices think this way.
were the usual calls to stay and fight by those in the intelligentsia
who supported the then opposition Harapan. I was sceptical. In a piece
exploring what Zaid actually said – there is always confusion because
some pundits do not bother to refer to what he said, instead relying on
what others claim he said – I wrote:
“If you want people to stay
and fight for their rights, you must be able to demonstrate that staying
and fighting is something that is worthwhile. We are not yet at the
stage where you can point to incremental changes (elsewhere) and say
that this is progress. We are a developed country with narratives that
are evidence that religious and racial plurality is something we had,
but lost like many Islamic state narratives in countries all over the
After Harapan won the last election, I assumed we
had some breathing space. To my thinking and I suppose some people who
voted for Harapan, we believed that if we begin the process – however
incrementally - of dismantling the Malay uber alles ideology, we could
at least set the foundation for a brighter tomorrow for future
generations. This kind of thinking is not based on any idealist
impulses. This is pure self-preservation. People sometimes confuse
capitulation with pragmatism.
But as the days drag on, I see very
little hope or evidence that things are going to change. While I
received the usual hate mail for my last piecefrom
the usual suspects, I received many emails from Malays overseas, who
claimed that what Zaid two years ago was the right thing to do.
young Malays ask me how they can overcome a system which is against
them, but which people think provides privileges for them? Zaid said it
best: “They will continue to make you intellectually poor by stifling
you, giving you no freedom to grow and develop your minds.”
young Malay activist told me, there is this bubble we exist in. There
is some freedom in the political/activist circles, but it slowly
evaporates depending on where you go. Non-Malays, although they face
discrimination, do not have to look over their shoulder all the time in
case they are targeted by the religious bureaucracy or they are
sanctioned for making racially provocative statements which are in
reality egalitarian statements.
political operatives make an argument about how “immigrants” assimilate
in the West “Western” culture and norms, so why can’t the non-Malays do
it here too? This is a silly argument because assimilation of Western
culture generally means assimilating democratic and egalitarian norms
and not sublimating culture to Islam and racial hegemony which is what
is expected of the non-Malays here.
Please note, I am not saying
that the “West” is perfect, only that assimilation in the West means
submitting to a whole different set of values which are more aligned to
democratic first principles, rather than being pak turuts
(yes-men) which is how someone like PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang and the
rest of the Malay political elite sees the non-Malays. Are there
extremists in the West pushing a right-wing Judeo/Christian agenda? Yes,
but we should note the blow-back this agenda receives.
what you like about Nazri, but he is saying exactly what the Malay
grassroots believe, and keep in mind this is the base that Bersatu and
other Malay power structures in Harapan want.
How can you change
this sort of thinking? How long will it take? A generation? Two
generations? The non-Malays are losing the numbers game and in a couple
of decades, will there be any young Malays who would even think of
migrating because of a totalitarian government?
People often ask
what can they do. I have no idea. I cannot point to alternatives in
mainstream political parties. Young people who have left the country and
who correspond with me, tell me the same thing. There are no mainstream
alternatives in the Malaysian political landscape. One Malay power
structure is the same as the next. Lawyer Latheefa Koya correctly
points out that Nazri’s comments are an insult to Malays, but so is
claiming Malays need a party to defend them, that Islam needs to be
protected, the Malays are under siege and the DAP is working to destroy
Malay rule in Malaysia.
If Nazri is being investigated for sedition, then perhaps, the mainstream political system in Malaysia is seditious.