Fear and loathing in New Malaysia - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Malaysiakini : “The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” - James Branch Cabell, 'The Silver Stallion'
| I suppose, once you leave Malaysia, you are “Malaysian”. In Malaysia
you remain a racial demographic and all that entails. The prime
minister’s comment about how “Malaysians” overseas are valued for their
professional “skill set” is indicative of how, once you leave our
country, you truly become a citizen, or at least politicians talk as if
you are a citizen and not belonging to a racial group.
from the “Malay Dignity” forum has brought upon some soul searching in
people who viewed a change of government as the beginnings of a new
Malaysia, or a repudiation of the failed policies of the former Barisan
Nasional (BN) regime.
The reality that Harapan is morphing into a neo-BN has reinvigorated
the discourse surrounding the idea that non-Malays do not really have a
place under the Malaysian sun. There are three interesting comments - 'A deep sense of despair' by Michel Chng, 'Totally hopeless now' by Ho Lee Peing and 'The Chinese dilemma' by Kuik Cheng Kang, an attempt to frame the non-Malay discourse surrounding the Harapan win as one of failed expectations.
reportage of the Malay dignity forum produced an emotional reaction: “I
really thought we would finally see a New Malaysia following a change
of guard in Putrajaya. I suddenly found myself choking back tears as I
Ho wonders if we should we leave this land out of sheer
despair and concludes: “The nonsense uttered by our politicians and
happily echoed by the black sheep in the academia serves to remind us
that as co-authors of the Malaysian destiny, we cannot afford to become
pessimistic, less so despair."
'The Chinese dilemma' is an answer to the Malay dignity forum: “To put
things forthright, the dilemma of the Malays today has been a result of
their own work. Unfortunately, the Chinese community is made to take the
The problem I have with all these pieces is that they
fail to address the reality that non-Malays, for decades, were complicit
in supporting a regime that eventually morphed into a kleptocratic
state, the apogee of which was the Najib regime.
policies were not only the result of Malay stewardship, but also the
enabling of non-Malay political power structures. This idea that a New
Malaysia could be created by replacing the former kleptocrat with one of
the chief architects of the old order is ludicrous.
I am not saying this with any schadenfreude.
How could I, when I was one of those people who were advocating for
Harapan to name the current prime minister as a seat warmer because
overthrowing the Najib regime was of utmost importance?
fair, I was always clear-eyed about this strategy and leading up to the
elections, I always attempted to point out how the Harapan coalition was
slipping into Umno/BN mode. Close associates and partisans with rancour
accused me, among other things, of being an Umno saboteur.
now, non-Malay politicians who, before the election claimed that MCA and
MIC were "running dogs” for their Malay counterparts, are realising how
difficult it is to manoeuvre in the racial and religious terrain that
they inherited. Keep in mind that we are not talking about novice
politicians, but seasoned veterans of decades-long political conflicts
who should understand how the system works because they were in control
of a few states.
now we have partisans who make excuses for Harapan, claiming they need
more time, when before the election, politicians were telling their base
that there was no time. Some folks thought that the old maverick had
changed, but the reality is that there are many people who view his
reign as a success, and that Old Malaysia under Prime Minister Dr
Mahathir Mohamad (above) is the best we could hope for.
Mahathir's supporters, who are a legion, get frustrated with Harapan
partisans who blame Bersatu for attempting to carry out the role Umno
did. And this is not some sub rosa agenda of Bersatu. Harapan
politicians, before the elections, told us that Bersatu was needed to
shore up Malay support, which it did not manage to do.
some Harapan partisans are telling us that there is no one else to vote
for. This was the official BN narrative for years. People think that we
finally got the change we wanted, but for many people the country, its
policies and racial dynamics were fine, and the only thing that was
wrong with the country was Najib Abdul Razak.
There are people who
are advocating leaving this country and there are people who say that
we should stay and fight. My answer has always been the same. 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.
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 Middle East.
Either you refrain from voting
until you have political coalitions that will fight for the Malaysia
you want, or vote for coalitions that want to maintain the status quo.
At this point, either option is not a value judgment for me.