Malaysia's political establishment will never accept meritocracy - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Thursday, July 22, 2021
Malaysiakini : “We are in an unprecedented crisis today, and what do we still see
in the news? Race, religion and political patronage, things we used to
see in the 1980s; it isn’t going to save us from the bigger issues we
are facing now.” – Zaid Ibrahim
| Zaid Ibrahim’s recent public statements that ignoring meritocracy for
decades has led to the dismal response to this pandemic is just another
reminder that nothing will ever really change in this country.
is right, of course, but the reality is that while there are some
Malaysians who desire the systemic changes that would actually “save
Malaysia”, they are not represented by any political party or sustained
mainstream social movement.
If the response to this pandemic is
any indication, the political establishment will never embrace any form
of egalitarian or meritocratic policies. Race and religion will continue
to be the driving force of our country’s destruction and the political
elites and their fractured bases will continue playing the same old
You can witness the deleterious nature of religious
extremism, for instance, by the way the spread of this virus has been
enabled by “religious obligations” and a total disregard for shared
empathy and responsibility. The fact that a high-ranking cabinet member
gets to say that religion trumps economic interests – which is
intricately tied to social cohesion – should remind everyone that
successive governments, which include the Pakatan Harapan regime, did
nothing to combat the religious extremism that Zaid writes about.
In 2017, Zaid caused a stir when he suggested that young Malays should migrate
to escape from the Islamo-fascists who had taken over policy in this
country. He also decried the lack of Malay leadership in combating the
Arabisation process that had crippled not only the Malay community but
also the country.
Zaid wrote in a follow up piece, “If we have 10
more Zainah Anwar, or Dr Farouk Musa or Group of 25s; and if we have
more lawyers like Haris Ibrahim or Arhar Azizan (Art) Harun, then maybe
we have a chance, but we don’t have enough Muslims who care. They talk a
lot but fear of being described as ‘jahil’ prevents them from doing anything. Some are politicians, and so not losing Malay votes becomes a paramount consideration.”
how Art Harun turned out, it just goes to show how easy it is to spout
rhetoric that appeals to a certain progressive demographic but much
harder to find genuine “fighters” who actually give a damn about
correcting the failed ethnocentric policies that has put this country on
the path to failed statehood.
And if you think the political establishment does not understand this, keep in mind what Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of the opposition and Harapan head had said in 2016 in an op-ed in The Guardian:
“This has put Malaysia at a crossroads: it can either return to its
rightful place as a shining political and financial star in a developing
world desperate for such successes; or it can descend to the role of
yet another Muslim-majority country with a failing democracy and
What this Malay uber alles crowd has done is
prove that what Anwar wrote five years ago was more right than wrong.
Mind you Anwar and Harapan did exactly bupkis when they were in power,
which is why I wrote that Malaysians who actually believe in progressive
values and some form of merit-based policies have no political parties
or politicians who represent them.
Non-Malay politicians are complicit
what of our non-Malay political operatives? Hold on; forget about
non-Malay political operatives for a moment. This idea that non-Malays
will always find a way to achieve their ambitions in this racist system
is mainstream political propaganda. They do not need the system; hence
the system should reflect the needs of the majority.
corrupt politicians to shape anti-inclusion narratives that receive very
little pushback because, to do so, would jeopardise the political power
of non-Malays, which over the decades has diminished anyway.
if non-Malays question “privileges”, “rights”, and whatever else the
political establishment deems sacred, we are accused of causing
disharmony or being seditious or whatever other relics of colonialism
that find new use against age-old dissent.
Non-Malays not only
have to abide by the odious “social contract”, but we also have to be
complicit in it. Non-Malays who deviate from the group think or
non-Malay political operatives who attempt to argue otherwise are
vilified by their own, who tell them through various excuses and
justifications which boils down to not spooking the Malays.
some extremely brave Malays – who understand that it could be worse for
them – dare speak up, and most often they are ostracised by the
mainstream of their community because the political elites wage a
campaign of lies and propaganda against them and they will get no help
from non-Malay political operatives.
This is why non-Malay Harapan
political operatives were comfortable propping up their Malay partners
and reinforcing certain mainstream ideologies over their coalition’s
manifesto. In a nutshell, mainstream Malaysian politics – for non-Malay
politicians – is to enable and sustain the voting base of their Malay
colleagues, which makes it rather difficult for ideas, policies and
political agendas which could save Malaysia to be considered.
is so normal, right? We see Khairy Jamaluddin holding forth with
foreign dignitaries and the press, and nobody really cares that he is an
operative of a race-based party that supports policies that are
supremacist by design. The same goes for all the other non-Malay
race-based parties who have to enable such supremacist policies.
understand this dynamic, go back to the discussion in Parliament in
2018 when there were moves to sign the unratified International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Khairy wondered - “Are you saying that Article 153, which clearly gives special status to one group of people, must have a time limit?”
what one Umno hack said? That Malay rights and privileges were in
perpetuity. There is no endgame because the game (they think) goes on
forever. It does not, as history has taught us. Everything ends and is
This is why the Islamists and race extremists in this
country have told me that since the non-Malays are losing the
demographics game, it is only a matter of time when such discussions
will be irrelevant. I always argue that these discussions are irrelevant
now because no political coalition is offering an alternative.
putting the onus on the majority to “change things” is one of the
biggest political deflections and part of the problem. As long as there
is no real alternative, everyone is complicit in the system and blaming
the majority is part of the racist discourse that defines mainstream
politics in this country.
If there is any kind of political shift
it is that circumstances will force a change by necessity if not by