The crucial point which Hazlan Zakaria makes in his comment is that not a single ‘Malaysian’ - unless he or she is on the side of the devil; i.e. Umno/BN - should take the ruling government’s thrashings by laying down or at face value.
To change that, Hazlan says, ‘Malaysians’ must unite as one people, with one national identity, against the monster that - and Hazlan neglects to say this, for his own reasons - that Malaysians have created and now want to overthrow.
By fusing their moral courage and common sense at this vital time of Malaysia’s political history and stand up, eye-to-eye, to one of the nastiest and dirtiest third world governments in the world.
And that’s just the problem.
If anybody had bothered looking around them in Kuala Lumpur during the anti-Umno/BN, pro-Pakatan mass rally today, they would have witnessed that the majority of the protesters were yet again Malays. It didn’t matter which meeting centre dotted around metro Kuala Lumpur, Malays overwhelmed the crowd, hands down.
Go back to 1998 and the “reformasi” protests that broke out spontaneously in support of Anwar Ibrahim against his removal and arrest on trumped-up charges engineered by Dr Mahathir Mohamad that proved to be absolute lies. Back then, the protesters were wholly Malays, engaging in running battles with Mahathir’s police mugs.
So where were the rest - the non-Malays? Far from the madding crowd, I dare say. As the English poet Thomas Grey wrote in 1751 in his Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard:
Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray; ?
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life?
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Moral courage and common sense can’t prevail, let alone fuse, when this sort of separation continues to exist hard and fast. The country’s racial groups are rather like ships in the night; there’s no real discourse between them, much less amongst them. And yet, the vanguard of Malaysia’s future political direction comes mainly from the one ethnic group - the Malays.
It’s because the Malays, more than the others, truly believe that they have more to lose in their own country under the dominant Umno-Malay regime than do the others who, arguably, have less of a vested interest in Malaysia’s future. Presumably, this is because Umno/BN has systematically disenfranchised them and marginalised their rights over the last 55 years of its autocratic rule.
The majority Malays did not make Malaysia’s democratic dictatorship alone; the non-Malays - who twice (in 1969 and 2008) had raised their angst sufficiently to nearly topple Umno/BN - also contributed to the present-day ugly state of political affairs. They virtually handed it to Umno/BN on a silver platter. And now they are making squirrel noises, but from the sidelines - as today’s protest rally has yet again demonstrated.
‘Malaysia’s immature politics’
Hazlan Zakaria’s call is timely, but it’s not going to be enough. Malaysian politics is immature. That’s because the political system is immature. Political thinking in Malaysia remains trapped in its crude, unsophisticated third world mentality and methods.
It continues to breed ignorance and apathy in the villages, towns and in the semi-urban and indeed, sections of urbanised cities. Umno/BN knows it can still engage in gerrymandering electoral boundaries and engage in electoral fraud, including buying the people’s votes.
Until the mental landscape changes among ‘Malaysians’ from the ancient nature of their tyrannical cultures and traditions, in lockstep with their equally tyrannical religions, nothing is going to fundamentally change in Malaysia.
Hazlan Zakaria makes a brilliant point. Merdeka may have freed the country from the ugliness of British imperialism, but it was quickly replaced by a new imperialism that has been internalised by Umno/BN. This, incidentally, is not “internal colonialism” (a few Malaysiakini readers have been throwing the term around like confetti, without a single thought given to its theoretical complexities, multiple meanings or its epistemology).
But let’s not take it away from Hazlan Zakaria, who argues most cogently that the “local tyrants” have not ‘liberated’ the rakyat (I hate the term rakyat for all the internal contradictions it inheres) in “mind, body and aspirations”.
The local tyrants needn’t bother, since ‘Malaysians’ are doing a damn good job themselves of perpetuating oppression by keeping their distance and separation from each other through race, religion and class, even at today’s ‘uprising’ rally that is supposed to foretell the end of Umno/BN and, in the world of nations, how the rakyat has allowed Malaysia’s political and social systems to become so staggeringly putrid.