Mahathir's undignified strategy of using non-Malays to demean Malays - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, October 09, 2019
Malaysiakini : "I don't feel guilty, my conscience is clear. I did what I thought
was best for the country, and if you don't agree, that is your right to
disagree." – Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad
The recent Malay Dignity Congress was nothing more than the Malay political elite and their factotums displaying their casus belli against the non-Malay communities brought upon by decades of political, religious and social mismanagement.
was a congress of the elite, by the elite and for the elite. There were
no new narratives about how to get a grip on the problems facing the
Malay community, but rather old narratives of how the Malays – read this
as politicians – had to compromise with non-Malay power structures
because there was no hegemonic Malay power structure that could ride
roughshod over everyone else.
of course, is a false narrative because, if anything, the DAP – a
non-Malay power structure, perhaps the main one – has been supine to the
old maverick and has more or less abandoned whatever first principles
it had, so as not to “spook the Malays”.
The attendance at the
congress – young people mostly from various universities – was an
ineffectual display of racialist sentiment, dwarfed by the larger
anti-Icerd rally that at least had a whiff of vox populi about
it. This was a stage-managed affair that resulted in food poisoning, an
apt metaphor for the kind of leadership on display.
the political landscape in racial terms, this so-called dignity congress
has opened itself to criticisms through a racial lens, and the
conclusions are sadly obvious. The spectacle of Malay leadership coming
together because the community is fractured and weak is, in reality, a
spectacle of failed Malay leadership.
of this, of course, make “hate speech” laws seem illogical and just
another diversion from the failure of policy, imagination and political
will of the Harapan government. I want to see a Harapan politician
justify that what went down in this “dignity” congress did not run afoul
of any proposed hate speech laws.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir
Mohamad took this as another opportunity to lecture the Malay community
as always asking for entitlements, but never once acknowledging that he
continues perpetuating a system of entitlements that he himself believes
has brought ruination to the Malay community.
The prime minister
seems to take perverse pleasure in lecturing the Malays about the system
he and the Malay political elite continue to enable, while at the same
time claiming to be a truth-teller to and of the Malay community.
race-baiting comments on foreigners is the flip side of the coin. By
always setting up the non-Malay communities as economic foils to the
Malay community, he continues narratives that the Malay community is
under siege and that while the community is “lazy” and unwilling to
work, the state is needed to protect them from the encroachment of
The prime minister's ahistorical comments about
“foreigners” – “The foreigners felt comfortable in this country and
wanted to stay. Like it or not, we were forced to accept or we would not
have achieved independence” - is just further evidence that non-Malays
will never be accepted as equal citizens of this country and will always
be used as pawns in a narrative of racial and religious grievances.
reality is that when it comes to “foreigners” in this country, the
economic threat is not from the Chinese or Indians, but rather the
influx of diverse foreign labour and the black economy it sustains,
which is a threat to working and middle-class Malays. Add to this a
religious bureaucracy that stifles the entrepreneurial spirit of the
community and impedes cross-sectional commercial interaction – and what
you have is a community which, locally at least, is marginalised from
their fellow Malaysians and the greater worldwide economic terrain.
fact is that no matter how much bleating Malay/Muslim power structures
warn against Chinese interference, the reality is that “Malay”
leadership has failed to encourage an eco-system of competitive
independence that would temper the consequences of the decades-long
immigration and labour mismanagement that have damaged the Malay
While the far-right have this dream of being the only “race” in this country, Syed Husin Ali (above) rightly points out the kind of conflict that would be the logical conclusion of this mono-ethnic paradise.
As Syed Husin argued, the reality would not live up to the fantasy: “Misalannya,
kurang kekayaan dalam kalangan Melayu. Orang Melayu yang di bawah akan
menganggap mereka miskin kerana kekayaan dikumpul oleh kelompok (orang
Melayu kaya) yang sedikit. Justeru, timbullah konflik. (For example,
Malay poverty. These Malays may think they are poor because wealth is
in the hands of a small elite (rich Malays). This will give rise to
Prime Minister has always described the Chinese
community in Manichean terms, especially when it comes to their place
under the Malaysian sun. In another congress, this one an Umno one in
2002, he said:
"If we take out the Chinese and all that they have
built and own, there will be no small or big towns in Malaysia, there
will be no business and industry, there will be no funds for the
subsidies, support and facilities for the Malays. Learn from the
Around the same time, in an interview, the prime
minister acknowledged: "The Chinese in Malaysia have no special rights,
they experience discrimination. But they are more successful than us."
does this tell us? It tells us that the prime minister has no problem
reminding the Malay community that their privilege and entitlements rest
on a community - Chinese - which is discriminated against, thereby
setting up a narrative of resentment and self-aggrandisement when it
comes to the state-created racial role in this country.
tells us that politicians, Malay and non-Malay, are merely playing roles
in the great con which is mainstream Malaysian politics. How long can
this go on? We are going to face very serious economic, social and
political issues in the coming years. How can we face such
problems if we are not united, but merely assigned certain racial and
religious roles and expected to be subservient to the so-called social
Look at the economic problems facing certain
demographics these days. Are any of them related to race or religion
beyond the fact that the system of cronyism and nepotism is stifling
genuine talent which any productive eco-system needs, and that race and
religion are used to form policy?
Look at a simple issue of
baby-dumping, for instance. What happened to the legacy of the
state-sponsored family planning system that was in place before the
religious delirium that grasped mainstream Malaysian politics?
prime minister has admitted that the colonial power left us with a good
system in place and all we had to do was build upon it. Then why is it,
that he and his proxies continue to play this game? Why is it that
non-Malay politicians continue to kowtow to this system?
is a tip for cowardly non-Malay politicians. Your base is not the
majority community. You do not have to worry about losing votes, but
instead have to worry about building consensus with whatever Malay power
structures most conform to your principles. It is as simple as that.
Unless, of course, what you want, are government positions and the
influence that comes with sponging off Malay power?
The dignity of
the Malay community has never been in question. This has always been
about the undignified behaviour of mainstream Malay politicians.