What is at stake in GE15

By Yin, Ward 5, Tanjung Rambutan

If at any time Malaysia is at a crossroad this is it.

GE15 is not just about which side wins government. It is about the future direction of the country; of what kind of Malaysia we will be.

Will we be a Malay Islamic country or will we be a plural, secular Malaysian nation? The lines for those who want the former and those who are fighting to retain the original Malaya/Malaysia dream has never been clearer.

The Malay Islamic Parties

UMNO, Pejuang, Bersatu/PN and PAS are exclusively Malay parties. They have made it their mission to defend “race and religion”. What they are defending the Malays and Islam against they have never once said, despite challenged to identify the enemies of the Malays and Islam. Truth is their enemies are anyone who does not subscribe to their agenda – including progressive Malays and liberal Muslims.

All these parties are fighting for the Malay Agenda viz KetuananMelayu, Islamisation of the country, Malay stranglehold on the economy through licensing, the mono-culturalisation of our plural society, the Malayisation and Islamisation of our education whatever the negative consequences to our competitive edge. In short, they want a Malay Islamic Nation, reducing the Non-Malays and Non-Muslims to the status of “Dhimmi” a minority with restricted rights.

Through socio-demographic engineering, the country has changed from a very plural society in 1957 to a largely Malay Muslim one in 2022.

The bureaucracy has been enlisted in this demographic engineering project. Citizenships (even today) are difficult to obtain by Non-Malays/Non Muslims even if they are born here. At the same time it is easier for Bangladeshi, Thai, Philippines and Indonesian Muslims to acquire citizenship with Bumiputra status.  This was very obvious in Sabah during the Mahathir years where the majority Non-Muslims became the minority almost overnight because Muslims from elsewhere were allowed in in large numbers and given citizenship.

At the same time many Non-Malays were “driven out” by the racial policies of the government which deprived them of equal or even fair opportunities in education, government jobs and business. Many decided to emigrate. Singapore, Australia, Britain benefited from the brain/skills drain.

The other reason for the decline in the number of Non-Malays is a lower birth rate relative to the Malays. Mahathir at one point openly encouraged the Malays to have bigger families.

This has been a project of several decades by Malay chauvinists to ensure their supremacy.

Culturally, Malay chauvinists attempted to impose a national culture based on Malay/Islamic culture. The National Culture Act of 1970 defined Malaysian culture as one based on Malay Muslim and native cultures. If it had come into law it would have turned Malaysia into a mono-cultural nation overnight. The ancient cultures of India and China which they have been practising for generations, would have been lost to the Indians and Chinese in Malaysia. The cultures of the natives of Sabah and Sarawak and the Orang Aslis who are not Muslims would have disappeared with time.

Economically they created a Malay mercantile class by regulatory and legal machinations – refusing licenses for Non-Malays, forcing the Non-Malays to give up their shares to Malays. Razak demanded 30% of his shipping company from Robert Kuok at par and later demanded the same again until Robert Kuok decided to sell up and move to Hong Kong. Other businesses faced the same “arm twisting” by the government. The latest has been the demand for 50% of the freight forwarding business of Non-Malays.

The NEP which targeted a 30% of the GDP by Malays reached 45% in 2006 according to an independent think tank – thus exceeding the target. But the government disagreed; basing its accounting on par value, instead of market value – an accounting practice not acceptable anywhere.

Fact is most of the banks are Malay owned and they also have a hold on the insurance business. It is obvious that the economic goals of the government has been reached over and above the NEP target of 30%.

To put an end to this argument Najib declared that there will be “no time limit” to Bumiputraism, perpetuating his father’s “Never Ending Policy” .

Malaysia’s electoral  boundaries are racially gerrymandered to the extreme, so that for example a Malay constituency of 10,000 can vote for one member of parliament while a  Non Malay constituency of 100,000 also has one MP. In other words, a Malay vote has 10 times the value of a Non-Malay vote.

The above is the Malay Agenda which parties like UMNO, Bersatu/PN and PAS are selling to the Malays – to “save our country, our nation, our religion.” 

It is worthwhile to note that despite such robust institutional racism which is supposed to lift the Malays economically, Malays still form the largest percentage of the B40 and the intra wealth gap between the rich and the poor is the greatest among the Malays.

There is a reason why China can raise 800 million from poverty but our Malay leaders cannot for a few million Malays. Successive UMNO (and now PN) governments have focused on enriching themselves, their relatives, cronies and sundry bribe-givers. The Malay rakyat get the crumbs and when they complain, these Malay leaders blame the Chinese and Indians for stealing from the Malays when they are the real thieves – Najib Razak is irrefutable proof.   UMNO et al are masters at race politics.

Meanwhile Malays are told that it is better to vote for a Muslim (even if he is corrupt and incompetent) than a kaffir however honest and capable. This is PAS weaponising Islam.

Malays are a generally conservative and religious community. The word of the mullah counts for a lot especially with rural Malays. When the mufti speaks they take note.  When Hadi Awang convolutedly explains the permissibility of bribes he makes rasuah halal. When Najib swears in the mosque that he is innocent, all is forgiven, reasoning is that he must be telling the truth if he dared swear on the Koran. Such is the simple minds of the rural Malays.

The urban educated Malays know what’s what. The argument of UMNO etc  then focuses on “Bumiputuraism” and all privileges that come with being a “prince of the soil”. Even when they know that privileges based on race is morally indefensible, some Malays allow themselves to be convinced that indeed as owners of the land they are entitled to privileges denied of others. Materialism is as powerful an argument as religion and race.

“Malaysia belongs to the Malays!” rang loud and clear at the Malay Dignity Congress. It is a core belief given voice by Zainal Kling, but one held by many Malays. This may as well be the battle cry of the Malay parties in GE15.

The question is whether progressive liberal parties like PKR and Amanah can convince the Malays that the status quo is unsustainable and morally indefensible. That the long-term future of Malaysia (and especially of the Malays) requires a new direction. 

Pakatan Harapan and other Multi-Racial Parties.

PH is talking about the unfinished business of post GE14, of the reforms they were going to institute before they lost government. They blamed Mahathir for stopping them from implementing their election manifesto. Mahathir said there was never any intention of carrying out their election promises. Were the leaders of PKR, DAP, Amanah knowingly party to this deceit? Be that as it may; what exactly is PH offering Malaysians in GE15?

PH does not give the impression of a united front and this may be its undoing. The fly in the ointment is MUDA.

Apparently DAP and Amanah are keen to allow MUDA into PH but PKR is not.

On the surface it is good to let as many opposition parties into the alliance as possible. Bersatu has shown its eagerness to join PH but was rebuffed. So what is so different about MUDA? More pertinent is the question of what MUDA stands for so that it does not become another marriage of convenience when the basic principles of the different parties clash.

PKR has cited a clash of principles. DAP and Amanah have not.

What is unclear is MUDA’S stand on racial discrimination when its president is on record as rejecting the ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) when he was a minister in the Mahathir administration. Syed Saddique has never properly explained why he was against Malaysia signing a treaty that forbids racial discrimination. Does this mean he would like to maintain the status quo of state sponsored institutional racial discrimination? How does this sit with DAP’s Malaysian Malaysia?

Syed Saddique never explained his backing down from this call for Zakir Naik to be deported and his making up with the fugitive Islamic firebrand preacher overnight. To questions raised he merely said that ‘we should move on’.  This raises a question mark about his stand on political Islam and his temperament when he can so easily make U-turns.

Syed Saddique has evaded the above questions even with members of his own party.

Even before DAP and Amanah entertain the question of giving up their seats to MUDA (PKR has made it clear that it would not) they should ask MUDA to come clean on such basic clash of principles.  Or are the two parties willing to risk another marriage of convenience?

My question is: What will MUDA bring to PH?  In the case of Mahathir one can argue that he still (at that time) had cache with some sections of the Malays. What exactly can Syed Saddique offer? Surely the youth divisions of PKR, DAP and Amanah have talents enough to attract the newly minted young voters.

The crux of the matter concerning MUDA joining PH is: Will it be a disruptive factor? Even if it joins because of the support of DAP and Amanah, is it worth it to antagonise your long time partner PKR? MUDA will be a disruptive factor in the coalition; some would go so far as to suggest it is a Trojan Horse.

Whatever, it will show up PH as a disunited party and voters do not like that.

Leaving aside its intra-party wranglings, it’s a tough ask for PH to convince voters to trust it again.

Malaysia Needs A New Direction

Four decades of Mahathirism has not helped the Malay rakyat, but are they willing to chance a new direction? Will they move from their comfort zone? Will they be convinced that any threat to the Malay race and Islam is scare-mongering by UMNO etc and nothing else.

The country just simply cannot afford to support a system where the minority is supporting the majority (I am going by Mahathir’s assertion that the majority of taxes comes from the Non-Malays). Where once Petronas could be counted on, its contributions will diminish as its oil reserves diminish; and as the world changes to alternative energy sources.

So where is the money going to come from to support a system where the majority of the population need not strive too hard because of government mollycoddling.

When government policies are driving out our homegrown entrepreneurs, who will provide jobs and pay company taxes? Foreign investors? Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia are very competitive destinations for Foreign Investments.

Surely, we need to make use of every talent we have to compete against these countries. Instead we drive out our best talents.

There is no dispute that Malay is our national language and should be taught in schools. However, we need to be competitive; we need to understand that English is the gateway to science, technology and international commerce and finance. We cannot do that if we are having more religious study periods than English in our schools.

Cambodia, Vietnam etc are equally proud of their national language and they don’t see the study of a foreign language as in any way belittling their own; why should we? But the race chauvinists among us would rather we lag behind than allow our young to study another language even if it will secure their future.

We need checks and balances to ensure 1MBD and similar on-going scams now in the courts do not happen again.

PH must explain to voters that such thefts mean less money for welfare programmes, hospitals and health clinics, fewer schools, bridges, electricity and water in the kampongs and longhouses. People understand if it is explained to them what they will lose.

Their job is made more difficult when the Malay parties make it that Najib has not been given a fair trial or even that it is an entitlement – BossKuApaMalu.

Not just that; we must make sure there will be no more Teoh Beng Hock, or Pastor Koh, or Amri Che Mat, or Joshua Hilmy, or Ruth Sitepu, or the many who die in police cells. Today it is them, tomorrow your father, son, brother? We cannot allow a police state.

Bumiputraism is morally indefensible and economically unsustainable.

But it is not an easy task convincing those who have been enjoying the perks of race for decades.

Other countries have had their crossroads.

America during their Civil War between the free North and the slave owning South. More recently South Africa between the apartheid regime and Mandela’s ANC.

GE15 is our crossroad.

How Malaysians vote will decide if we become a Malay Islamic nation – becoming increasingly irrelevant in the global community. A dull joyless mono-cultural country where no concerts are allowed and extreme Islam is practised.

A negara bosan instead of a negara riang where we enjoy life.


We find our roots again – a multi-racial, multi-cultural, secular nation as our founding fathers wanted us to be. Where all the races live together as equal Malaysians. To a question asked by the international press what he wished for the country, Tunku said “For the people to be happy”.


(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)

GE15 – The People’s Manifesto

Rebuilding Malaysia

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