I refer to M Ahmad's letter demonising Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP (Peoples' Action Party) as Chinese chauvinists purportedly to divert attention from the Islamphobia debate and other racial issues currently raging in cyberspace which has obviously put Umno and its marginalisation of non-Malays in a bad light.
To begin with, though I concur with Ahmad's view that the Seenivasagam brothers of the PPP were staunch opponents of Umno's racist policies in the 1950s and 1960s, he failed to include similar like-minded others such as Dr Lim Chong Eu of UDP (United Democratic Party) and Dr Tan Chee Khoon and Lim Kean Siew of the LP (Labour Party). Though the Seenivasagam brothers, Dr Lim, Lim, and Dr Tan were vociferous critics of the Alliance then, their appeal was by and large, localised. It was confined to the Kinta Valley of Perak, Penang and KL respectively.
Even though they championed the rights of the underdogs as Lee Kuan Yew did, the latter was one notch above them in that he could mobilise practically the entire non-Malay opposition nationwide to converge at the Malaysian Solidarity Convention (MSC) to oppose the Alliance via the slogan 'Malaysian Malaysia' when Singapore was in Malaysia from 1963-65. On that score, I would agree with Helen Ang that Kuan Yew was the most powerful or influential leader of the non-Malays.
It was precisely this perception of him by Umno that dashed whatever hopes the non-Malays had of Lee then as their political saviour with Singapore's separation in 1965, which I shall refer to again. Even though the MSC was a still nascent political movement with its as yet untested mass appeal, such was the fear (bordering on paranoia) of Lee on the part of Umno that Tunku Abdul Rahman did not take any chances and ejected Singapore out of the federation on Aug 9,1965. The rest, they say, is history, but it is a history where Lee had exposed the dangerous side of Umno, and many having experienced that, would say he is right.
Though not blaming the Umno/Alliance for the high possibility that Malaysia might have become another Nigeria or Bosnia had Singapore not left Malaysia, Ahmad wrongly goes on to blame Kuan Yew and the PAP as well. I'm of the many that would disagree with him.
What Lee and the PAP fought for between 1963-65 was as legitimate as what Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and others are fighting for today. Just like parties in the Barisan Alternatif pursuing their struggle, Lee and PAP were not the Malayan Communist Party advocating violence to overthrow the government.
He was merely fighting for a 'Malaysian Malaysia', for aspirations of the then 60 percent non-Malays (including the non-Muslim indigenous peoples of Sarawak and Sabah) of our multi-racial nation. On the basis that all were Malaysian citizens, it was perfectly legitimate for Lee to claim political equality for non-Malays with the Malays. something denied to them by Umno's Ketuanan Melayu. He was doing this the legitimate and peaceful way through debate and discussion via democracy.
Umno, which apparently had no answer to Lee's 'Malaysian Malaysia' countered through primordial racism, the only ideology which it has known since its establishment in 1945. This is something which can lead to ethnic cleansing when pursued to its logical end as Bosnia and Nigeria have shown. The crass communal appeal of Umno leaders like Syed Jaffar Albar, not to mention many years later the hysterics of Umno extremists during their recent assemblies capped by Hishammuddin Hussein's notorious 'keris' wielding incident, are now on record as the worst instances crass racism.
What Ahmad has highlighted, and which the pro-establishment mainstream media has deliberately played down, is the dangerous side of Umno, that the party would not hesitate to resort to, first, draconian means, and ultimately violence when it finds that it can no longer cope with the peaceful legitimate political challenge of the opposition through open debate.
As the Umno- dictated trend of Malaysian politics for the past 50 years has always been race and nothing but race, whatever political challenge posed by the opposition must eventually boil down to racial issues when political contestation escalates to reach its logical conclusion as the PAP and other opposition parties have discovered. That was how Singapore was ejected on Aug 9,1965.
This is the 21st century and Malaysians of all races, including the Malays, are better educated compared to their counterparts in the 1960s and 1970s. Thanks to the Internet, Malaysians are able to be informed of the many misdeeds of Umno which the mainstream media have chosen to black out. Malaysians of all races are able to think for themselves and separate the wood from the trees when subjected to a lot of government propaganda in the mainstream media.
The injustices perpetrated by Umno which Kuan Yew and PAP highlighted 42 years ago are now being articulated by Anwar Ibrahim and no doubt many Malays who think Malaysian (though many of the latter dare not say so publicly). Anwar and Keadilan are paying the high price in attacking Umno's Ketuanan Melayu and the NEP.
Let Malaysians of today judge whether Lee Kuan Yew's 'Chinese chauvinism' or Umno's crass communal appeal is the bigger evil in causing the 1,001 problems in the country today. Let it be known that just as the DAP and Anwar are reacting to Umno's racial politics today, Lee did so similarly between 1963-65. Just as Anwar is doing so today, Lee was reacting to Umno's crass communal appeal between 1963-65.
Regarding Ahmad's stale accusations that Malay Singaporeans are discriminated by the Chinese majority there, especially they being barred from the armed forces, others have refuted him to the extent that they now ring hollow. I have nothing further to add.