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Monday, April 30, 2018

Non-Malays need no representation in Umno gov’t


If they say that ‘We are second-class citizens’, don't talk s**t like that. You see, don't talk s**t. I repeat, don't talk s**t - three times! We the Malays have forgiven [sic] a lot for these people. We have sacrificed a lot of [our] interests...”
- Ibrahim Ali interview with Al-Jazeera
So, caretaker prime minister Najib Razak has reminded everyone, especially Chinese voters, that it would be a sad day that if there was no Chinese representation in government. But would it though? I mean forget about Chinese representation, would it mean anything if there was no non-Malay representation in the new government if Umno wins?
What exactly has representation in government got the non-Malays? Sure, you could talk about the long complex history of non-Malay immigrants and how they built this country but what exactly has representation in this system got them? Concessions, benefits, and those cultural and racial preoccupations that non-Malay political power structures consider important for representation are in essence tools of/for appeasement.
I am not knocking those things. As far as I am concerned, MCA has done a far better job than the MIC ever did for their community. I do not really think it is solely an MCA victory though, but this is not what this article is about.
This is an article about why there is any need for non-Malay representation in an Umno government, or any government for that matter.
I do not really care about the opposition when it comes to this question. When it comes to racial politics, they say one thing and then do the exact same thing that BN does. No, my question to MCA and MIC is, so what happens if there is no non-Malay representation in the new government if Umno wins and the non-Malays communities do not support MCA and MIC?
This is not some kind of propagandist question. I sure as hell am not asking in any way that buttresses anything the opposition says it would do for the non-Malays. Maybe I am asking in a pre-emptive way, in case we find ourselves with a new Pakatan Harapan government, which will not be in a post-racial Malaysia. Something to think about, I suppose.
Five years ago, in ‘MCA’s long journey into night’, I wrote – “Issues such as corruption, systemic discrimination, the erosion of religious freedoms and the dysfunction of public institutions have become important issues, which cut across class lines, but more importantly, acts as common ground for a certain section of the voting public looking for an alternative - any alternative - to Umno/BN.”
So, there’s that. I am not knocking the MCA. Indeed, I wrote about how this stupid war between the MCA and DAP does nothing but further anti-Chinese narratives in this country.
The title of this piece says non-Malays, but I keep talking about MCA. Why is that?
MIC can hardly look after their own community, so that is why I am not even bothering to address this question to them in a serious way. I know what it would be like if the Indian community does not have representation in the new government because it would be like how it is when we do have representation in the current government. It means bupkes.
Voices of balance?
When encouraging the rakyat to vote wisely, the MCA president said this – “It’s commonly understood that MCA is the voice of the Chinese. The reality is that MCA is the voice of balance, that is, the balance between the many races, cultures, languages and religions in this melting pot we call Malaysia.”
That is a great sentiment and most probably grounded in reality. I get it, I really do, but what exactly has this balance achieved?
Forget about the rancid comments by opposition supporters on social media, I think for rational non-Malay Malaysians who do not hate BN but want a change of political parties like in any other functional democracy - that is the question that is on their mind. What exactly has all these voices of balance within BN achieved? Non-Malay communities are always threatened but the reality is that if they go down, even the majority suffers.
What happens if the non-Malays do not support BN? Not what happens to MCA and MIC, I mean what happens to the non-Malays, when it comes to how this government looks at issues facing these communities. What does representation in an Umno government get the non-Malays? I know what it gets the political operatives, but what exactly is the benefit for non-Malays of having representation in the cabinet?
The prime minister says that Chinese need strong representation in government and if the MCA is eliminated or diminished even further, there would be no representation. What would happen to the Indian community? What would happen to all the other minority communities? Would the government stop aiding these communities? There is a difference between social programmes funded by taxpayer ringgit and political positions within a government.
Is this the only thing making it possible for the non-Malays to survive in this country - political representation in government? Well, if we look at the Indians for all people say and write about us, we are still coping - with the brilliant representation we got all these years from the MIC. The same could be said of the Chinese community.
Which again brings me back to the question of what happens if there is no non-Malay representation in government. After MCA had its crippling showdown in the last election, the Chinese community, or at least the voting Chinese community, made it clear that they were comfortable having no representation in the government. Did the government marginalise the Chinese community? Did the government marginalise any of the minority communities?
I mean sure, in the systemic, institutional discrimination way, whole swathes of Malaysians are discriminated against along racial, religious and class lines but what I am saying is, did Umno punish the Chinese community in any overt way for not voting for BN? I guess they could have punished the MCA but that is not the same thing, is it?
Here is the god-honest truth. The only people who need representation in government is the Malay community because the rest of us know that our voices really means nothing when it comes to the politics of ‘ketuanan’.

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

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