Malaysiakini Letter

We kept quiet – and paid the price

Mohd Sheriff bin Mohd Kassim  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | Siti Kassim's scathing article which describes the Malays and their religion as good-for-nothing is not fair to the many who have contributed to the country's development and lifted the poor from the bottom to give them hope for the future.

I refer to dedicated Malay civil servants who developed life-changing projects like the Muda Irrigation scheme to facilitate double cropping of rice in Kedah, the Felda land resettlement scheme, the Mara education projects especially residential college and UiTM, to mention a few.

The fact that there are many failures and scandals which dominate the storyline and eclipse these successes make Malays and Islam look like the demons of the country because they were, and still are, in charge.

It is not race and religion but instead the failure of Malay politics to adopt the secular concept of openness in government which holds politicians and civil servants accountable for their actions and abuse of power.

All these weaknesses in governance allowed the dirt to accumulate and become a fact of life. We, the public must blame ourselves that we always believed the politicians and religious preachers when they used race and Islam to hide the truth.

We kept quiet when the government banned the Far Eastern Economic Review in the eighties, for instance, or closed our eyes at the detention of opposition politicians as we believed the media reports and the “ceramah agama” that they were spreading anti-Malay anti-Islam sentiments.

We agreed when the government introduced the Official Secrets Act, banned student union activities on national politics, and supported the use of the ISA on innocent opposition members because they said we must defend the country.

We believed that the communists were coming back to destroy the Malays and Islam.

So, we agreed that schools should be more religious and nationalistic and books which were deemed un-Islamic be banned, that the civil service, universities, police and military should side-line the non-Malays, that Islamic authorities be given a free hand to criminalise all sorts of behaviour.

Failed GLCs were rescued and kept alive with subsidies. The public sector became a monster eating up the national resources.

All these restrictive and protective policies were considered justified for Ketuanan Melayu dan Islam.

The result is what we are facing today - the closure of the Malay/Muslim mind.

Thank God, Pakatan Harapan came along to challenge the old thinking and won GE14. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the Malaysian Renaissance and the opening up of the Malay mind.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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