By Yin, Letters from Ward 5, T.R.
If Idealism is a pleasing wife, reality is a bitch.
While some of us hope for the Malaysia our founders dreamt of – and whose dream we lived for a short while; today many (probably the majority of Malays) do not share this dream.
The majority of Malays do not want a Malaysia where all citizens are equal. The majority? Where are your facts? What study or poll am I basing my claim on you might protest.
I have none. Same as I do not need a thermometer to tell me the oven is hot.
Asking for proof is like Mahathir challenging his critics to prove he is corrupt when he hides behind the OSA (Official Secrets Act) and uses the ISA (Internal Security Act) to silence his more persistent critics. Today you can ask anyone about Mahathir’s alleged corruption and you will get a resounding YES. Somethings are so obvious, to insist on proof is deny what stares us in the face.
I am so sure that the majority of Malays want the status quo that I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.
If you are from the elite class of ‘connected’ Malays with access to opportunities denied to the rest, would you want your Alladin’s Cave to be opened to everyone, Malays or non-Malays? Surely you want to protect the monopolies you hold; the special contracts; make sure your billions are safe in the tax havens of the world.
If you are an Upper-Class Malay with connections and is doing well on the renteer system or enjoying the generous sinecures thrust on you, are you going to fight for a Malaysian Malaysia?
If you are a Middle-Class Malay holding on to a good job in government or Petronas or one of the GLCs, and your children go to exclusive Malay schools and colleges and get scholarships to foreign universities. You buy houses at a discount and you buy Amanah Saham Shares at a discount, are you going to throw all that away for a principle?
If you are a B40 Malay struggling to make a living; working like a slave to deliver food, rain or shine, to the plush suburbs of Damansara, Bangsar or running a gerai and your spouse clinging on to a low paid job, your children left to their own devices because both the parents are working. And you are told that it’s the greedy Chinaman and lain lain, who are stealing your nasi. Would you want a Malaysian Malaysia or the status quo however little it has given you. With Bumiputraism at least you have a chance. Your children have a chance to go to a Mara College or public university. You have a chance to buy a low-cost house at a discount that is if you manage to save enough for the deposit.
If you are a Malay politician and the easy way to be an Adun or MP is to play the race and religion cards instead of the hard task of selling a multi-racial Malaysia what would you do? You will tell the Malay rakyat the infidels want to change their religion, their customs and traditions. That you are the only thing standing between them and this existential threat. You will take the easy route to public office.
The people of Sabah and Sarawak were sold the idea of a multi-racial Malaysia of equal citizenship – that is why they agreed to join. But since Tunku departed and with the rise of Malay nationalism the Malaysia they joined is no more. Today many want a Malay Nation and they might just get it, although without Sabah and Sarawak (who will secede).
You don’t hear Sarawakians or Sabahans or Aslis talking about Ketuanan this that or the other. They are for a Malaysia of equal citizenship. Naturally they would want to be protected, perhaps with affirmative action which Article 153 is. Affirmative Action to lift the Malays and not a licence for racial supremacy or perpetual privileges.
The reality is that left to the Malays there will no Malaysia as envisaged by the founders. Since Tunku, every Malay leader has milked the racial and religious sentiments for all they can get to stay in power. If Malays have lost their dignity (not my perception but those of Malay leaders) it is the fault of the Non-Malays. If Malays have not “caught up” it is the fault of the Non-Malays. If Malays cannot compete with the others, it is because they need more crutches. But let’s not put all the blame on the politicians. Politicians bounce off public sentiments; if the sentiments of the Malay rakyat is for the status quo, politicians will take their cue.
On the other hand, if leaders do not make an honest effort to create a Malaysian nation but instead do the opposite how can we blame the rakyat?
Do we have a Minister of National Unity? What has he done to unite the nation?
I venture to say that this present government has given more funds (and power) to the Religious (Islamic) Department and to Islamic bodies than to fund national unity. So, Anwar is still hitched to the race and religion wagon. This government has not the conviction nor moral courage to do what is right – only do what is needed to stay in power.
A good leader will sell his vision, however hard that may be, to face up to any opposition however seemingly unbeatable, to lead and not just to follow what his opposition is doing just to win votes. Mahathir and UMNO did that vis a vis PAS.
Will Anwar out PAS PAS? Will he be even more Malay extremist than Mahathir and Muyhiddin? May be not, but it does not look like Anwar is for a Malaysian Malaysia either – at least he has not shown any signs towards that.
Reality is a bitch isn’t it? Yet hope springs eternal.
(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)
By Yin, Letters from Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan