Fear and loathing in the non-Malay polity

S Thayaparan

Modified 9 Mar 2020, 12:55 am

Power here is a zero-sum game and, in this case, the non-Malays and non-Muslims in Malaysia are the losers.

– James Chin

COMMENT | James Chin, professor of Asian Studies, University of Tasmania, wrote a bleak piece lamenting the right turn of recent Malaysian politics due to the Sheraton Move and his article’s ominous last line is the opening quote of this piece. Andrew Sia meanwhile asked, should the non-Malays just give up? Fa Abdul warns that non-Malay fears are justified.

All these pieces imply two points which I think need parsing. First, this idea that non-Malay political operatives have drawn a line in the sand when it comes to the state’s religious and racial policy. The second that non-Malay political operatives have been successful in maintaining that line in the sand.

Both are false in the sense that non-Malay political participation has always been about providing a fig leaf of "moderation" for anxious Malay power structures. The Arabisation process happened and the MCA for decades narcotised the Chinese community with piecemeal offerings to satisfy the preoccupations of the community. The recent murmurs by MCA about how the funding for TAR UC returning to "normal" is a case in point...

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