Does it make a difference who stirs Chinese emotions? - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, November 12, 2020
Malaysiakini : "Either Umno and the police are covering up an impending terror
attack, or MCA is making things up to scare non-Muslims into
submission." - Howard Lee (2017) at the height of the 'Better Beer Ban' fiasco
COMMENT | Ti Lian Ker's piece
about the DAP stirring up "Chinese" sentiment, now that they are back
in the opposition, got the predictable responses such pieces by the MCA
generates. It would be a mistake to dismiss Ti's rhetoric because it
points to underlying problems faced by the DAP during their brief stay
It also makes the point that non-Malay power
structures easily fit into their roles of cannibalising each other for
the political benefit of Malay power structures.
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
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 who would later abandon a moderate Islamic
narrative when in power. They 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.
MCA's history of nation-building, the kind
which involved managing expectations, compromise and yes, complicity,
was a big juicy target for a mob fueled by ahistorical polemics and
non-Malay (specifically the DAP) politicians who promised that the
non-Malay communities would not have to beg for scraps of the table
before Harapan assumed federal power.
the only criticism you can come up with to Ti's piece is playing the
MCA "running dog" card, then the opposition is in trouble. To understand
how badly DAP was under the thrall of the "mesra Melayu"
Kool-Aid, we have to go back to the words of the old maverick when he
was publicly castrating DAP leader Lim Guan Eng because he wanted to
demonstrate to the Malay base that they had nothing to fear from the
"We still have to give them, but what we gave to
them was very small (compared to what the Malays got). But we could not
say it then because then the Chinese would be angry," said then prime
minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"That's why we didn't talk about that. But now we have to because I have to explain this thing."
other words, the "Chinese" community was getting scraps from the table,
and everyone knew it, but nobody could talk about it. Non-Malay power
structures have to cannibalise each other like how the DAP demonstrated
in the TARC-UC fiasco.
Lim arrogantly told MCA that its time was
up, totally oblivious to the reality that his government was funding
Malay-only institutions, the religious bureaucracy and Malay-only
outreach programmes. And he, as the finance minister - a castrated
finance minister - was feuding about giving spare change (compared to
what was given to assuage Malay grievances) to a Chinese educational
The non-Malay political narrative post-May 9, 2019,
has been one of backpedalling, reversals, sycophancy and Orwellian
doublespeak because the weight of expectations collided with the
realpolitik of Malay rule. It was something MCA had learned over the
decades, and which was something that DAP managed to navigate in state
politics extremely well all the while demonising the MCA.
ultimately, the lure of federal power meant that whatever "good"
intentions the coalition had withered away in the face of the old
maverick's 'take no prisoners', 'make no apologies' strongman political
This kind of political perfidy got so bad that at the height of the khat controversy, Lim accusedSin Chew Daily of stirring up fear in the non-Malay communities.
"On my return home after four days overseas, I was faced with the unhappiness of the non-Malay community following Sin Chew Daily's
report that the Standard 4 Bahasa Malaysia textbook in Chinese and
Tamil schools would include seni khat," he had reportedly said.
does everyone see a pattern here? When any non-Malay power structure is
part of the government, they will bend the knee to Malay power
structures and depending on the narratives they create either before
they gained power either lower expectations or raise them to
Remember when DAP strategist Liew Chin Tong concluded that those who wanted the DAP to concentrate on its Chinese base were half-witted?
told our members that whenever a newspaper column or anyone, inside or
outside the party, tells us that DAP should just take care of its
so-called 'Chinese base', these people are either half-witted or they
have a malignant intention," he said.
Since we have a Malay uber alles
government, a frenemy like the old maverick whose birthday
pronouncement included the desire to continue playing the Chinese/Malay
economic canard, Pakatan Harapan leader Anwar Ibrahim who says "don't
spook the Malays", and a brief period of Harapan rule, where the DAP
bent over backwards not to rile up the majority, am I half-witted or
have malignant intentions when I say that, in this environment, DAP
should be concerned about looking after the interests of its Chinese
The problem has always been that the DAP has never been able
to live up to its multiracial ethos. The party relied on a cadre of
partisans and political operatives who have always been able to dominate
the discourse with such intangible terms like "pragmatism" and
compromise, all the while vilifying those who wanted DAP to be this
country's engine of change.