Malaysiakini : "This does not mean that MCA is finished, however. You remain the only opposition in town." – My open letter to MCA
COMMENT | Many readers have been emailing me asking what I thought of Pakatan Harapan’s lossin the Semenyihby-election. Two points need to be considered. The first is whether this victory will stem the leakage of Umno into Bersatu.
The second I elaborated in my article about that familiar Malay tune
in Semenyih – “So, the real question about playing the Malay tune, in
Semenyih and beyond, is how far right is the Malay Harapan establishment
willing to go to defeat the Umno and PAS union, and how far is the
non-Malay establishment willing to follow the Harapan Malay establishment?”
MCA secretary-general Chew Mei Fun’s claim that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is using DAP to further his Bumiputera agenda is correct. Malay power brokers have always used their non-Malay coalition members to further their racialist agendas.
is part of the 'social contract' that supposedly maintains 'tolerance' –
an odious word – amongst the various communities in Malaysia. The
thing that strikes me about Chew's claim is that while social media
still likes to portray MCA as a spent force, there are many diehard
Harapan supporters who grudgingly admit there is some 'truth' in what it
I, on the other hand, do not have to grudgingly admit
anything. I think MCA has been highlighting issues that need to be heard
in this do-not-spook-the-Malays era. However, it is not
only Mahathir who has been using DAP to further his Islamic agenda; he
is just the latest. Ever since Pakatan Rakyat, I warned that certain PAS
personalities – and now Amanah political operatives – blurring the
lines between Islam and the supposedly secular politics of DAP could
only lead the latter down a very dangerous path.
Not mutually exclusive
this country, race and religion are not mutually exclusive. You cannot
court the one without the other. I have never seen the visceral hatred
some Islamists – from any of the Malay power structures – have towards
DAP than they ever exhibited towards MCA. Why is that? Because MCA
never attempted to define Islam as some in DAP and their supporters do
when going about this Bangsa Malaysia propaganda.
While MCA has
always been opposed to the policies of PAS, they went through a bad
patch when the late Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat was in charge, because what
he managed to do was play well with others in an attempt to
democratically win federal power. This changed with Abdul Hadi Awang leading PAS and Pakatan falling apart, which resulted in the birth of Amanah.
Just recently, a PAS strategist said that while the party
has had its issues with MCA, they never thought it was hypocritical.
They supported Umno – especially in the 'Mahafiraun' years when Mahathir
was in power the first time – and did not hide their “Chinese face.”
when Chew talks about DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng’s eagerness to
discard his 'Chinese' image in furtherance of Malay support, this goes
to the heart of the horse manure politics of this new Malaysia.
I was appalled by the finance minister’s statement that he was “Malaysian”
when he was chosen as finance minister. “When DAP leader and
newly-appointed finance minister Lim says he considers himself Malaysian
first, it is mendacious and subservient since he sitting at a table
with someone who heads a Malay-only organisation, feebly makes noises
(with his non-Malay partners) about following the constitution (as if
the Federal Constitution is not a compromised document) when confronted
about 'Malay rights,' but most importantly, it is a negation of
non-Malay cultural identity at the expense of Malay realpolitik, which
is the foundation of 'ketuananism'."
But didn’t MCA do the same
thing during the long Umno watch? Yes and no. Yes, they were furthering
the bumiputera agenda of whichever Malay potentate was in power, but no,
they were not raising the toxicity level in the political landscape. They
never attempted to promote any agenda like the Bangsa Malaysia
Kool-Aid, nor did they attempt to redefine Islam as a 'moderate'
religion with the aid of Islamic political and religious operatives.
relied on Umno to do that, which was self-defeating, but if we are
talking realpolitik, then it was the only option they had and for a time
they had the support of the majority in the Chinese community.
I cannot blame MCA for this, nor DAP for that matter, because this is after all the malaisesystem:
“Now I am not saying that the non-Malays had no part in making this
system, but as recent events have demonstrated, most of us have very
little intention of destroying the current system. "Replacing
former premier Najib Abdul Razak, in case you did not get the memo, is
not destroying the system. It merely means we are setting the system
back to its default setting.”
No lessons learned
Here's the thing. Why hasn’t DAP learned the lesson of the downfall of MCA? This
is not a question of inexperience. DAP has led Penang and been a part
of the Selangor government, and within this context, all they have
managed to do is walk in the footsteps of MCA, while attempting to
destroy it once and for all.
Did it ever occur to anyone that the
problem with the Malay community is that there is very little choice
when it comes to the political parties they vote for? Do we want the
same kind of dilemma in the non-Malay communities? I think not.
if you are a non-Malay mainstream political party, in varying degrees,
you have to service Malay power structures when it comes to the
bumiputera agenda. What you can do is remain staunchly secular
eschewing any kind of agenda of attempting to court Malay votes through
Islam, and loudly advocate for egalitarian policies while supporting
non-religious affirmative action programmes for the Malay community.
You have to do this so long as you are aligned with Malay-only political power structures.