Ismail Kassim: A Malay Triology – Politics

Part III: Why Malays can’t put their act together?

We are Malays and we must uphold our Malay heritage above all. All my life I have considered myself a Malay and a Muslim; not Sunni, not Syiah.

I honour our Prophet, PBUH, whom I consider a perfect gentleman; peerless and fearless. I try to imbue myself with the values he espoused and accept much of his teachings on how life should be lived in this world.

We should not get involved with the Semitic people, their perennial quarrels and their penchant for mutual slaughter.

Neither side is right; both are equally murderous, and both want power, not to build a progressive and equal society based on fear of God, but to oppress the other side for not belonging to their sect.

To these people, their strongest affiliation is to their religious sect and to their tribe; the sense of nation hardly exists. They have never learnt to compromise and work together for the larger interest of the nation.

True, in the early years, Islam liberated their minds and they became a progressive people but over the centuries they have slide backwards; today, they are among the most backward of societies.

For example, just take a look at the Land of the Pharoahs and you see another Mubarak in the making, made possible by the so-called liberals of their society. The military, which lost all their battles against the Israelis, is only good for oppressing their own people.

The trouble there is that the Muslim Brotherhood wants to force their Islamic agenda down the throat of the liberals, the latter wants to do the same to the Muslims, while the military wants to usurp power mainly to further their own ends.

As for the keepers of our holy places, look at them trying to imitate the Israelis, bombing Yemen and killing innocent civilians, to further their dubious self-serving goals.

If you look around the globe, the Chinese are fast on their way to becoming a respected nation, the Indians too have jumped on the same path and picking up momentum.

Alas the Arabs are still locked in their ancient enmities and the Malays seem to want to follow them on their path of self-destruction.

Just compare how the Australians behave towards Singapore and towards Indonesia when their citizens are about to be executed for drug offences. You can tell which country commands more respect from the Aussies and you know the reason why.

Across the Causeway, we see the spectacle of UMNO and PAS at each other’s throat, almost like a pantomime imitation of the Sunni-Syiah conflict in the Middle-East.

They forget the lesson of history. With 5000 British troops, the British ruled over 500 million Indians for 500 years.

A feat made possible only with the help of hundreds of thousands of collaborators because of disunity and jealousy among Indians, who hate each other more than they hate the white men. If the Malays are not careful, history can repeat itself in Tanah Melayu.

When I stopped reporting on Malaysian politics in Oct 1995, I felt then that the country was sliding down the hill. Two decades later, my opinion remains unchanged; the slide continues inexorably.

Politics is in a mess. The Malays are divided as they have never been, and the non-Malays disenchanted and demoralised, and race-relations never very good even in the best of times, has taken another tumble downwards.

Corruption in high places and in the Malay-dominated bureaucracy has become more rampant.

As for the rakyat, the bigots and the obnoxious among them have made themselves heard at frequent intervals, no doubt instigated by Nationalist elements, religious fanatics and politicians in furtherance of their own narrow and selfish goals.

Even before it lost Chinese support, UMNO have for years been pampering the Malay electorate on two fronts; closing its eyes to mismanagement of its pro-bumiputra policies and appeasing their insatiable demands for more and more Islam in public and private life.

The result is increasing greed within sections of the community for the material comforts of this world and at the same time for the divine blessings of the next world.

I do not see switching from the UMNO-led Front to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat as a viable long-term solution. A narrow win for the Pakatan will only trigger endless rounds of instability a la Thailand.

Malaysia is not ready yet for a two-party system, not now and not in the next few decades. A split within the dominant Malay community does not benefit any group, not the Malays and not the minorities.

Likewise, in Singapore, it is foolish of the Malays here to entertain any ideas that they could profit by playing one Chinese side against the other.

Only a united, dominant community will have the confidence and the ability to offer meaningful concessions to its respective minority.

In a democratic one man one vote system, UMNO are now in a dilemma. After losing the support of the Chinese and the more progressive elements from the Malay community, it cannot afford to alienate whatever little communal support it has left.

Without any concession to the Chinese, they won’t come back. If too much, it might lose its conservative Malay base. The result is stalemate.

The best way out for Malaysia is for the Malays to unite, for PAS and UMNO to get together minus their extremist fringe, and forge a common platform to build up the nation, develop the Malays and other indigenous groups into a respected community and to be fair to their minorities, who are assets to the nation.

Malay leaders should swallow their pride. Come to Singapore and see how the PAP have done it. Learn how to protect the interests of the dominant community while giving a fair deal to the minorities.

The selective discrimination against Malays in the security and military services is balanced by other benign policies so that overall things square up for the community.

It is not an impossible act for Malaysia to follow, but you need a strong leader to pull it off. At the moment, there is none in sight.


Source: Ismail Kassim

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