MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Saturday, September 1, 2018

There’s only one honest bumi agenda

“When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.”
― Yevgeny Yevtushenko
So, today is this big pow-wow amongst the Malay elite for a new bumiputera agenda, which would chart the course of the majority of this country. As Council of Eminent Persons chief Daim Zainuddin said, maybe this time they will get it right. Who is “they”? Well, “they” are the Malay power brokers of the new Malaysia, of course.
Leading up to this event, MCA and DAP got into a bit of a row about who was not spooking the Malays more. First of all, I have no idea what DAP’s Muhammad Shakir Ameer means when he says MCA is fighting fire with fire which would burn everyone, but I do believe that DAP is muddled when it comes to this issue.
Three important points need to be made:
The first is that DAP has no grounds whatsoever to claim that Chinese Malaysians voted against the racial politics of Umno-BN because the Pakatan Harapan regime, with its linchpin Bersatu, is led by the old guard of Umno, which is a race-based party. This, of course, is strange because Bersatu, unlike PKR and DAP, which are “multiracial”, has the lowest number of seats but yet by virtue of “not spooking the Malays” has the most say in government.
Second, to claim that MCA does not understand the economic reality that necessitates measures by “the Harapan government would have to take would seem ‘painful’ but necessary for the benefit of many” is ridiculous considering the fact that the raison d'être of MCA was balancing the economic, social and political aspirations of the Chinese community and you guessed it – "not spooking the Malays" – which is exactly the role played by DAP now.
Third, the idea that MCA wants to continue racial politics after 61 years of independence when DAP has to defend a bumiputera congress while the Malay political elite of PKR and Bersatu chart the course for the majority community, is laughable.
I was never one who bought into the whole “apartheid” horse manure propagated by some in the then opposition. If I did, it would make me look really stupid because of the compromises the non-Malay component of Harapan has had to make when dealing with Malay power structures. Much like the mendacity of Muhammad Shakir claiming that MCA does not understand the “economic reality” that makes non-Malay political structures subservient to the dogma of mainstream Malay politics.
Meanwhile, Umno is still suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress of losing power to Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Umno information chief Shamsul Anuar Nasarah claims that DAP is now a “pak turut”. No doubt, that raises the heckles of many but what he is saying is exactly what PKR president-elect Anwar Ibrahim and the rest of the Malay political elite realise - that non-Malays were never the threat to Malay hegemony but rather a disparate Malay polity was a threat to Umno hegemony.
When news of this big bumiputera meet first slithered out, I wrote: “When right-wing and far-right Malay elements talk about bumiputera privileges, they are not talking about a system of discriminatory practices, they are talking about those privileges in terms of morality, but more importantly, in a definitional sense of what it means to be Malay. Complete hogwash, of course, but this is the reason why the idea of reforming the system instead of ditching it completely has always dominated the debate.”
A bumi or Malay agenda?
Why even use the word “bumiputera” congress? Why not just say Malay agenda congress? After all, does anyone seriously think that the rights of Orang Asal and the indigenous people – non-Muslims – of Sabah and Sarawak are going to be on the agenda moving forward? I could be wrong and I will concede if I am, but does anyone really think that any time this idea of “bumiputera” agenda is bandied about, it is nothing more than reaffirming the rights and privileges of the Malay/Muslim community?
I know this is a politically incorrect thing to say, but the only bumiputera agenda that needs to be addressed is the real bumiputera agenda of the Orang Asal and the native peoples of Sabah and Sarawak.
And I will not even delve into the rights of the natives of Sabah and Sarawak because I still think what a political operative from Sarawak said to me, all those years ago when I was still with the state security apparatus, holds true. He said: “You people are the colonisers.” I understand that many people from Sabah and Sarawak will hate me for saying this but I am one of those people who thinks that Sabah and Sarawak should decide for themselves if they want to be "Malaysians".
I was rereading Joshua Woo Sze Zeng’s timely rejoinder about slavery in Malaysia and how native and Malaya’s emancipation was a colonial legacy that we should be thankful for. Quoting from historical records, Woo hones in on specific barbarities which no doubt defined the nomadic nature of the indigenous peoples of Malaysia.
“Hunted by the Malays, who stole their [Orang Asli] children, they were forced to leave their dwellings and fly hither and thither, passing the night in caves or in huts (pondok), which they burnt on their departure. ‘In those days,’ they say, ‘we never walked in the beaten tracks lest the print of our footsteps in the mud should betray us.’”
And of course, the loopholes in religious and cultural dogma that would make enslaving their own, palatable – “The theoretical distinction between debt-slave and actual slave was used by Malay-Muslim rulers and aristocrats to enslave fellow Muslims.”
This is the sickening part, right? There really is a need for a bumiputera agenda, but there really is no need for a Malay agenda. Hey, I could be wrong. It seems to me, if you have policies for a majority community that have not worked, maybe it is time to change those policies. I am glad for Woo’s rejoinder but you can bet your last ringgit that this is not part of the bumiputera agenda.
If it was, it really would be a new Malaysia.

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

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