The speech of former Courts of Appeals judge Mohd Noor Abdullah has aroused much anger and many are demanding he be charged under the Sedition Act. I believe nothing is gained from this demand because:
1. I cannot remember a case when someone pushing for Malay rights has been charged with sedition.
2. I believe that it is in Pakatan's wish list to amend or repeal the Sedition Act. So if Pakatan had had its wishes fulfilled, there would be no Sedition Act to use against Mohd Noor anyway.
3. This is the most important argument. Is it better to have views like Mohd Noor's out in the open where they can be combated and defeated by argument and logic or beneath the surface where they may gather strength without anyone noticing?
Is it better for each community to know the hopes, fears and aspirations of other communities or to have smiling faces on 1Malaysia posters but with hate in our hearts towards each other.
I see the Malay community segmented as follows:
1. Those who strongly champion Malay rights and feel Malays are threatened by other communities, such as Ibrahim Ali, Mohd Noor (but I am not saying he is like Ibrahim Ali).
2. Moderate, educated Malays such as Najib, Anwar Ibrahim.
3.The progressive Islamic fundamentalists such as Mohammed Sabu, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
4.The rural, convervative Islamic fundamentalists such as Haron Din, Harun Taib.
5. The Malay rural base which look towards their Malay leaders for protection and guidance.
6. The dishonest, unscrupulous individuals who play the race card to empower and enrich themselves.
The urban non-Malay population, it seems to me, only knows how to talk to group 2, and, if they are Pakatan supporters, group 3.
In my first letter I have pointed to the breakdown of the paternalistic system of race relations where the boss man of the Chinese and Indian communities talk to the boss man of the Malay community who settle the matter by themselves behind closed doors and tell the rest of us to run away and be good children.
With the breakdown of the paternalistic system, it becomes extremely important for us to learn to talk openly, publicly and frankly with all segments of the Malay population.
I differentiate between those who strongly champion Malay rights and dishonest, unscrupulous individuals who play the race card.
Within the group who strongly champion Malay rights and the rural segments of the Malay population, we need to put to rest the genuine but unfounded fears of Chinese domination and correct the mistaken perception of great Chinese economic power and riches.
The prize is great. Given the choice between a corrupt but seen as protective ruling elite and the fear of Chinese domination, between gerrymandering electoral constituency boundaries and supposedly overbearing Chinese economic power, we should not be surprised at the choice these segments of the Malay population make.
If we wish for support across the board to do away with corruption and for fair delineation of electoral boundaries, dispelling fears of the Chinese community must be a priority.
There will also be far fewer opportunities for dishonest individuals to play the race card.
I therefore see Mohd Noor's speech as an opportunity to learn in more detail about the fears and grievances of segments of the Malay community against the Chinese community, provided I and others have the same opportunity to respond to his speech in front of the same audience.
I therefore support his plea not to silence him with the Sedition Act and to have a round table discussion instead on the points he has raised.
If Mohd Noor or officers of UiTM Alumni Association or Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung happen to read this letter, perhaps they can contact me at [email protected] to discuss how this can be arranged.
I would also be interested in hearing from others interested in this matter.
Unfortunately I do not have a transcript nor full video of Mohd Noor's speech. Perhaps Malaysiakini can obtain it for us or tell us where it may be obtained? (Ed's note: see below)
Of the short summary in Malaysiakini, I would like to respond to a couple of the points raised.
Mohd Noor complained that of the 10 richest men in Malaysia, only one is Malay. What is Mohd Noor's solution?
1. Seize the excess wealth from all 10 and give it to the poor Malays? - a socialist policy which would be supported by Parti Socialis Malaysia;
2. Seize the excess wealth from only the non-Malays on the list? - a racist policy and unIslamic.
Besides which Malays to give it to - to the poor ones or as former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad says "to those already successful in business as they know best how to use the extra wealth"?
3. Perhaps Mohd Noor means there should be more Malays on the list without seizing wealth from anyone?
But this is what the NEP is supposed to do and its failure cannot be blamed on the Chinese community who supported the NEP.
4. Perhaps Mohd Noor has some other solutions which we should be prepared to listen to.
The suggestion that vernacular schools should be closed in the interest of national unity has drawn the most heated response from politicians, but those who posted comments on Malaysiakini were less heated.
Several took the line that if standards in national schools are better, vernacular schools would die a natural death.
Mohd Noor should realise that asking for vernacular schools to be closed for the sake of national unity is equivalent to the non Malays asking for Umno to admit non Malay members for the sake of national unity.
Mohd Noor's question "When will our future generations be learning in the same class, eating in one canteen, when?" seems to me very important.
Several academics and commentators have claimed that national unity has nothing to do with the existence of vernacular schools without citing their evidence.
This is a question which deserves deeper study but I believe there are many ways to promote the racial mixing of our school children without the need to close vernacular schools.
Finally there must be consistency in the application of the Sedition Act.
If Mohd Noor is not to be charged with sedition, then neither should Tian Chua, for claiming that the Lahad Datu incursion is a sandiwara.
He was wrong but then many think so is Mohd Noor in several things he said. If Tian Chua deserves to be charged with sedition, so does Mohd Noor.
Mohd Noor Abdullah's speech
Racist? Ex-judge in his own words, Pt 1