The real problem of the Malay community

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”

- Karl Marx

COMMENT | I do not think that the problems of the Malays are that they are not unified; I think the problem of the Malays is that they have no real choices when it comes to “Malay” leadership. Race and religion is the basis for all “Malay” political parties and Malay politicians are hampered by these two imperatives – or so they say – which makes it impossible to have a greater Malay polity that is progressive and egalitarian.

The opposition has defined this upcoming election as the election that could save Malaysia from becoming a failed state. Opposition political parties are blindly chasing the Malay vote hoping for regime change. Meanwhile, the rhetoric from the Malay establishment is indecisive and cautious because of the Malay political players involved.

This is why we get Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor hectoring Malay youths, asking them what Umno had done wrong? It is true that Umno has provided a lot but the problem is what Umno has provided is not worth anything next to what the non-Malays have acquired by themselves, in most cases. Malay youths are not angry with the other communities - at least a significant majority of them are not - what they are angry about is that Umno gives them enough to survive and does not give them the tools to exist independently of Umno.

Mainstream Malay leadership has blamed everyone (in no particular order) from the Jews, the Chinese, the United States of America, the opposition, music, alcohol, drugs, Christians, handphones, pornography, television shows, Hindus, Buddhist, Western culture, Asian culture, Indians, the CIA, the United Kingdom, the People’s Republic of China, multiculturalism and excessive laughter for all that is wrong or they think is wrong with the Malay community.

A few “Malay” rights activists I have spoken to say that because the Chinese are “united” in opposing Umno and because the urban Malay vote is split, Malay vote banks in the rural heartlands have to be guarded zealously, less Malay hegemony is compromised by weak Malay leadership beholden to Chinese (DAP) interests. These folks did not laugh when I pointed out that this is exactly what the Najib refuseniks are saying about the current Umno regime and Chinese (PRC) interests.

Even in a major corruption scandal like the 1MDB case, race becomes an issue. Establishment propaganda organs define the scandal as economic sabotage by rebellious Malay leaders aligned with Chinese usurpers, all the while shifting the blame to a “fat Chinese” hanger-on who bilked the country of millions.

This is the kind of self-reflection that happens in mainstream Malay politics. Remember how Ibrahim Ali, defined the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal? I wrote in an earlier column - “It has of course gone to ridiculous extremes as in the recent National Feedlot Corporation fiasco, where Ibrahim Ali and his ilk (bolstered by the right-wing state-controlled Malay mainstream press) suggest that an issue of corruption is really an issue of race and a racial provocation against the Malay community. The fact that the alleged whistleblower has been identified as a non-Malay is par for the course in this country’s national political debate.”

Whenever a struggle emerges within the ranks of Malay leadership that is when the issue of “Malayness” becomes all-consuming in the political landscape. For a long time, the only opposition to Umno was PAS and nobody certainly not the majority of the Malay community ever thought that PAS was an alternative to Umno....

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