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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Are we talking about Malay 'traits'?


"I want to be a normal member. Because I cannot do anything (for the Malays).”
– former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has chosen to insult the Indian community with his “attack” on Pakatan Harapan chairperson and former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Indian pedigree and subsequent actions as not being a Malay “trait”.
To be honest, I had been expecting something like this for a couple of months now - “The only thing that is different this time is because the Malay community is fractured, and Umno has had to play the race and religion card against its own. Playing the race and religion card against your own community is a recipe for disaster, especially when the country does not have an alternative to the Islam proscribed by Umno.”
Since the struggle for the Malay soul – read: vote – is now between Umno and Bersatu, this whole idea of demonstrating “Malay-ness" becomes the battleground, instead of real policies which would take the Malay community in a new direction.
I never understood what a “Malay” sejati was anyway. As far as I can tell, to Umno, any Malay who is not in the Umno fold in not a true Malay.
I remember when then prime minister Mahathir chided his Malay/Umno base (during numerous annual general meetings) on their “mudah lupa”-ness , their laziness , their ineptitude, their incompetence and their general “tidak apa” attitude , in other words “traits” which he found detestable, the sycophants that surrounded him went to the press and claimed that the good doctor was giving them strong medicine because he really loved Umno and wanted the best for Umno and its members.
Do you think I am seditious when I talk about these Malay traits? Mahathir has more or less said the same. The former premier said Malays had failed because they were lazy and sought the easy way out by reselling their shares, licences and contracts to non-Malays.
"They cannot be patient, cannot wait a little, they want to be rich this very moment... no work is done other than to be close to people with influence and authority in order to get something," he said. "After selling and getting the cash, they come back to ask for more."
Perhaps Zahid should take the former prime minister’s advice and learn from the Chinese: "If we take out the Chinese and all that they have built and own, there will be no small or big towns in Malaysia, there will be no business and industry, there will be no funds for the subsidies, support and facilities for the Malays. Learn from the Chinese."
Again, if you think I am racist or seditious for defining the narrative in such a way, please keep in mind that the reason why we have buffoons like these Umno ministers blathering on about authentic Malays is because the current opposition de facto leader, Mahathir Mohamad admitted that he “failed” to change the “Malay” mindset:
"What else (can I do) ... I have tried to be an example, tried to teach, scolded, cried and even prayed. (But) I have failed. I have failed to achieve the most important thing - how to change the Malays."
Now, of course, the Umno narrative is that because he was not an authentic Malay, what he really did was use Umno for his personal interests. This is kind of a joke because Umno has always had special privileges for its members, all the rest are discounted citizens.
Mind you these are the same traits that some folks believe would seep into their respective cultures, so Zahid is not the only person who is worried about the authenticity of his race and religion. Go figure.
However since this is the deputy prime minister we are talking about here, he never stops to consider that maybe just maybe, there is a Malay proverb that addresses this specific trait because such traits exist in the Malay community as they do in all communities.
But since this kind of basic logic is way over the head of a political operative like Zahid, what we are left with is the kind of Malay (ketuanan) trait that makes some Muslims worry for the mental health of their community.
This is the same kind of Malay “trait” that makes a group like Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) lodge a report against Marian Mahathir for “liking” a twitter post support of the LGBT community. Of course if some prominent person liked a Twitter post in support of some banned Islamic extremist group, these same people would have no trouble supporting a “like” and demonizing detractors as Islamophobic.
While some folks may argue that these are the “traits” of the Malay community and they would also argue that we should be mindful lest the other – pendatang – communities are tainted by such traits, ultimately what we are dealing with is the racist nature of mainstream politics here in Malaysia.
I am kind of fuzzy on the logic behind this attack. Is Mahathir not an authentic Malay because of his Indian heritage, or because he left Umno and is now working with the opposition?
If not leaving Umno is a Malay trait, then what does it say about all those other Malays who have left Umno? What does it say about those Malay who are not “tainted” by pendatang ancestry but who no longer are part of the Umno establishment?
And if working with the opposition is not a Malay trait then what does it say about the numerous Umno /Malay political operatives who are working with PAS, a supposedly opposition party and at one time the arch-enemy of Umno?
"This is our culture. We do not know what is hardship, we only want things to be easy," is how Mahathir defined Malay culture. Is he wrong? Of course Zahid will say that all these utterances of Mahathir just prove that he is not an authentic Malay ignoring the fact when he was saying them in the various Umno general assemblies, the sycophants were prostrating themselves before him and acknowledging their sins.
Ibrahim Yahya, the deputy prime minister’s aide, claimed that the politics of hate that is sowed by the opposition is destroying the country, but the reality is that that the politics of hate defines this country. This is just another example of what I have always said.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. - Mkini

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