The 'Don't spook the Malays' narrative - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, October 28, 2019
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | “Everyone smiles with that invisible gun to their head.”― Chuck Palahniuk, 'Fight Club'
a rejoinder to Anwar Ibrahim who falsely claimed that Lim Teck Ghee was
silent when billions were stolen. Not only was Teck Ghee not silent
when billions were stolen during the Najib era, he was attempting to
save Malaysia when Anwar was Mahathir’s blue eyed boy. Teck Ghee was not
keeping silent when the looting was going on all those decades ago. You
may disagree with Tech Ghee, but he was always trying to save Malaysia
before it become it became a fashionable term, which Harapan has
demonstrated means very little.
International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer, Ahmad El Muhammady's (above)
rejoinder that social media comments could trigger communal violence is
disingenuous for a variety of reasons. Social media comments do not
exist in a vacuum. The trigger of toxic social media comments are the
rhetoric of politicians and religious provocateurs.
rhetoric (for example) surrounding Zakir Naik, is a reaction to the
things he said , the things his supporters have said, but more
importantly the way how the state acknowledges that he is a threat -
barring him from speaking at public events – but coddling him for
2015 when Eric Paulsen, former executive director of Lawyers for
Liberty, was charged with “sedition” for tweeting that Jakim was
promoting “extremism”, El Muhammady said: “The situation could have escalated. It only takes one person to do it (act of terrorism).
are lucky because we have not gone to that level of craziness. Our
freedom is limited to other people’s freedom. It is not absolute.” The charges against Paulsen (below)
have been dropped since, but you have to wonder at the inequality of it
all when extremism, as a political tool, is normalized because the
minorities are always told to watch their words in case somebody gets
offended enough to start trouble.
like the recent example of the farcical LTTE threat, the provocations
of state actors are not the issue, but rather those who attempt to
exercise their rights, which are perceived by “extremists” as
provocative acts, the double standards when it comes to the state
Why is it that
non-Muslims have to be weary of not spooking the extremists, when it is
the job of the state security apparatus to hunt down extremists and not
merely bolster establishment narratives that are not grounded in fact
Remember when the mufti of Perlis wanted a Saddam Hussein strongman
to unify the Malays: “The Perlis mufti makes public statements that he
and his coterie are looking for a mass-murdering extremist to lead this
country and the state security apparatus is worried about today's
anti-Zakir Naik and khat rally? Imagine if a non-Muslim had said that he
or she was seeking a mass-murdering psychopath to lead this country
because they had had enough of Malay rule in this country. What do you
think the response from the security and political apparatus would have
What about when the young boy minister Syed Saddique
threatens the DAP with open season, if they do not punish one of their
own for critiquing a sitting prime minster over his policy decisions?
The statement is a radicalizing agent for "crazies" who think that the
DAP is infiltrated by communist and LTTE members who are going to
destroy the Malay community. If this is not a trigger, I do not know
Meanwhile, Lim Guan Eng (above),
earlier this year, got into a mess with his statements that the
Umno/PAS union was a declaration of war against the non-Malays. He
clarified his original statement, but police reports were made against
him and the political establishment was incensed by what he said.
course, when PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang says that non-Malays should
be Pak Turut and that the DAP – which is a stand in for the non-Malay
community, specifically the Chinese community – is out to supplant Malay
power, a talking point of Umno/PAS, the political and security
establishment seem to have no problem with this, nor the rhetoric of
partisans who spread falsehood online in the service of this talking
In progressive countries, the citizenry are taught that
they should not let the terrorists or extremists win by giving up their
value systems or retreating into regressive measures. Well, this is the
official narrative anyway. In this country, we are taught not to spook
the extremists. It does not matter if people are expressing their rights
of freedom of speech or assembly, but what matters most is the
sensibilities of extremists are not offended.
What the state does
is create these strawmen of a political or religious threat. It could
be the LTTE or the “communist” ideologies. Targets are assigned and
social media erupts in a frenzy of communal flame wars. While the straw
man burns we have political and religious operatives fanning the flames
knowing the danger, but expecting to profit from it.
happens? We get laws that further restrict free speech and dullards who
think they would be protected from the very speech mainstream
politicians use to ferment their base. The only losers in hate speech
laws and regressive security laws are the people who think that such
laws would protect them from the rhetoric of political and religious
The reason why extremists get their way is because the
state enables their behavior. The state nurtures their grievances, but
most importantly official state narratives seem to confirm their
delusions that their race and religious beliefs are under threat.
narratives of threats to national security should be based on fact and
not a political means to an end. However, of late in Malaysia, threats
to national security have become threats to the majority community. I
wrote about the Hinduphobia narrative and now of course, thanks to a
propaganda comic, we have the “Communist” threat. Both are targeted at
specific communities, but the underlying narrative is that the patience
of the majority is being tested by these “pendatang ideologies”.
Recent comments by Hadi Awang (above)
reinforces this neo-narrative. This quote in particular is important
because it illustrates the mainstream dogma of Malay politics. Hadi
wrote: “Remember! Islam teaches Malays that patience has its limits.
Only Malays that are too stupid and weak spiritually or who have lost
the soul of their race, lose their identity in their own land.”
in this statement is the threat of violence against the “Bangsa
Pendatang”. It is also an attack against Muslims who do not subscribe to
the group think that fuels mainstream narratives that the Malay
community is under siege. Hadi, of course, does not explain or needs to
define the limits of patience because the threat of violence needs to be
left vague, so that any incident could be a trigger for communal
Can anyone quote any instance where a non-Malay
political or religious operative has warned of violence if his or her
rights are not respected? The only people who make these threats are
political and religious operatives who claim to speak for the majority
Recently, the prime minster of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir
Mohamad lamented that the Malays were not entitled to hold gatherings
less they are accused of being racists. This is a politician who said
that the non-Malays built cities and bemoaned the fact that even with
all the discrimination they thrived economically .
narratives that Malay culture was under threat by the political rhetoric
of the non-Malays. Nobody cares if anyone wants to hold a conference,
even if it was race based. What the prime minister did not say was this
congress was about how the Malays were losing control in their land,
which is a false narrative peddled since May 13. Like Hadi Awang,
Mahathir with his “tolerance” spiel is furthering the idea that tolerant
Malays are being bamboozled by the nefarious non-Malays .
The main talking point of this new narrative? Malay patience has its limits, especially when they have tolerated so much.