The title of this article will probably does not make any sense to some people. Before I elaborate it further, I have to give a background story on this subject. So please bear with me.
In this country, whenever somebody calls the other person as racist, the implication of such remark is very damaging to both sides. There must be a reason for such acts and its main rationale would be provocation on something that is sensitive among the races of our country.
There are three areas of sensitivity that every Malaysian in this country should be aware of. In fact, this awareness should have been deeply infused in our culture that after 50 years of independence, it no longer deemed as a tedious or an alien thing to do. It is the one of the pillars of tolerance in the context of multi cultural Malaysia.
These areas are; the sanctity of Islam as the federal religion of Malaysia (Islam agama persekutuan), special position of the Malays and Malay language as well as position of Malay Raja Raja.
Ever since 1957, moderation is crucial in our interaction with one another. With the Malaysian Constitution in the background, our forefathers had this to say regarding the multi cultural Malaysia;
Speech by MIC President, Tun V.T. Sambanthan in the Parliament on 1 June 1965:
“Now, in 1955 we won the elections with a great majority. Then we obtained freedom in two years time. During this period, we had to discuss citizenship and various other things. Now what did the Malays do – since we are speaking on racial lines – what did the Malay leadership do? They had 88 percent of the electorate still with them. What did they do with citizenship.
If we look around in Asia and East Asia, particularly, you will find that my race the Indian race, is not welcomed in Ceylon, is not welcomed in Burma. Look at my brother Chinese race, it is not welcomed in Thailand, in Vietnam, in Cambodia, in all the other areas. What help do they get for citizenship in all these territories? In Burma, as we know, Indian have been send packing, in Ceylon they refused them citizenship and in Burma it is likewise. I know it, you know it. And yet in Malaya what happened? Here we found that the Malay leadership said, “We shall take them unto ourselves as brothers, we shall give them full opportunity to live in this country, we shall give them every opportunity to become citizens.” And so, in 1957, for the whole year, we waived language qualifications, and tens of thousand of Indians, Chinese, Ceylonese and others became citizens.
As I said, it has been my great good fortune to have born in this country. Where else can you find a more charitable, a more polite, a more decent race than Malay race? Where else can you get such politically decent treatment for any immigrant race? Where else in the history of the world? I ask you. These are the facts. Who are you to safeguards us? I am 10 percent minority race here. But I am happy here.”
(Note that his speech was delivered to chastise the PAP leaders who were harping on the Malaysian Malaysia concept)
MCA President, Tun Tan Siew Sin, in an article in a local paper entitled – “Tun Tan Answers Critics on Special Privileges” on 30 April 1969, said:
“The Malays, through UMNO, were generous enough to relax the citizenship laws of this country to such extent that within 12 months of independence, 90 percent who were still non-citizens after nearly 100 years of colonial rule in the Malay States, obtained their citizenship. In return for this major concession, the MCA and the MIC agreed to continue the policy of preserving the special position of the Malays while at the same time upholding the legitimate interest of other communities.”
(note that his speech was delivered prior to the 1969 general elections which was tainted with racial extremism that questioned the Article 153 of the Constitution perpetuated by the DAP and Gerakan)
As the voice of moderation among the disgruntled Malays in 1970, the late Tun Dr Ismail had this to say on the ‘Special Position’ just after the NEP was established:
“This proved a less intractable problem because the leaders of the Alliance realised the practical necessity of giving the Malays a handicap if they were to compete on equal terms with the other races. The only point of controversy was the duration of the ‘special position’ — should there be a time limit or should it be permanent? I made a suggestion which was accepted, that the question be left to the Malays themselves, because I felt that as more and more Malays became educated and gained self-confidence, they themselves would do away with this ‘special position’ because in itself this ‘special position’ is a slur on the ability of the Malays and only to be tolerated because it is necessary as a temporary measure to ensure their survival in the modern competitive world: a world to which only those in the urban areas had been exposed.”
As the result, the NEP was given 20 years and the objective of achieving 30% of wealth is set for the Malays, inclusive the other Bumiputras.
I have to make a special mention on a very touchy subject of the race riots of 13th May 1969.
Many have come forth with several analyses pertaining that sad day. A more recent view of the incident reveals that it was merely a political coup d’etat of Umno stalwarts led by Tun Abdul Razak over Tunku Abdul Rahman. This is one such narrow interpretation of the riot. Most of the references cited for this analysis came from documents obtained in London which in turn, were written by the British Intelligence aka the western observers of the riot.
Note that the Westerners, ever since the day of our independence had been nothing but doomsayers. They predicted, upon gaining our independence, that The Federation of Malaya will not last long because of our own diverse culture and multi ethnicity.
And they had almost gotten it right when May 13th exploded in our country. They were actually congratulating themselves for predicting that very thing and would not stop telling us ‘We told you so!’.
Almost all of the reports at that time were biased and non objective. Much like all the criticisms Malaysia had gotten when we implemented capital controls in 1998. We still remember the heckling we got from the international community. These days, what Malaysia did had proven to be correct and many western countries particularly the US even used remedies similar like our own in the time of crisis.
Anyway, those ill conceived reports, were what used by the analysts in their own perception of May 13th 1969. Furthermore, these analyses did not take into account on what had happened prior to 13th May. It downplayed the role made by extremist groups among the Chinese in instigating the Malay sentiment. Since 1964, racial tension had been escalating due to the calls of PAP on ‘Malaysian Malaysia’ concept.
With the loss of many seats by the Alliance in the 1969 general election, tensed emotions between races finally snapped after the victory parades by the opposition DAP and Gerakan on the 11th and 12th of May had ridiculed the Malays in the predominantly Malay areas of Kampung Baru. Insensitive banners and slogans and rowdy demonstrators jeered at the kampung folks in Kampung Baru.
Meanwhile, as a show of strength, a similar parade was also being organized by Umno to answer the challenge by the opposition on the 13th of May. However, on that day a Malay army officer was murdered by Chinese hooligans as he and his spouse were coming out from a movie theater in the predominantly chinese area of Bukit Bintang. The angry Malay protestors swiftly wrecked havoc and revenge by killing two passing Chinese motorcyclists.
That was the trigger of a whole scale riot on that fateful day. One can still remember Datuk Harun Idris, in his capacity as the Umno Youth leader, standing on top of a bus in Kampung Baru, urging the Malays to defend their dignity and honour. Some say he was the perpetrator of the riot. But many others see him as the saviour of the Malays’ pride. The weakened Prime Minister at that time did not have enough political power to restore stability and harmony between the warring political opponents.
In order to ascertain the real story on what had happened that fateful day, the National Operations Council prepared an official report to brief the people on what had happened. This report were initially criticised by certain quarters over its accuracy. But this was expunged by Tun Haniff Omar in his article last year.
Nevertheless, the White Paper presented in Parliament in October 1969 clearly indicated elements of extremism from both sides, namely the Sino-Malay relationship in Malaysia:
‘The eruption of violence on May 13 was the result of an interplay of forces. These include a generation gap and differences in interpretation of the constitutional structure by the different races in the country; the incitement, intemperate statements and provocative behaviours of certain racialist party members and supporters during the recent General Election; the part played by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) and secret societies in inciting racial feelings and suspicion; and the anxious, and later desperate, mood of the Malays with a background of Sino-Malay distrust, and recently, just after the General Elections, as a result of racial insults and threat to their future survival in their own country’
Therefore, in the light of the circumstances above, we may have to agree that extremism is dangerous in the multi racial climate of Malaysia.
There is also a small minority in Malaysia that think the independence we gained was fought by the chinese and not the Malays. They believed that the Malays had it easy whereas it was the chinese who fought the Japanese and the British via guerilla warfare and tactics.
They failed to see that the Malays had fought for the liberation of the land even longer than that via the rebellion of Datuk Maharajalela, Panglima Dol Naning and Datuk Bahaman, to name a few. Sir Frank Swettenham, in his letters, revealed that the Malay population in Selangor was decimated in the struggle between the British and the Malays to control the Selangor tin mines.
Now come to the gist of this article.
After 51 years of administration, the BN government is currently being accused by the opposition members as a racist government. This is then echoed by their supporters and then further repeated by the ordinary citizens that were taken in by the oppositions’ cries in criticising the government.
Anwar would always say that he brings more equitable and just system whereby the poor people of Malaysia will not be lagged behind. He added that the current BN policies only favour the Malays. He would say this ad nauseam so that most of Malaysians will believe this.
Eventually, the media will take this up and it does not take a genius to see that since most Malaysians are idealists, what he brings to the table is viewed upon as the coming of a new age of fair justice and impartial policy.
But, the big blunder the people could not see was, whatever Anwar is preaching, is exactly what the BN government had done all this while. The system that had been put in place such as the NEP (since 1970) and Dasar Pembangunan Negara (since 1990) were not intended to be a racist policy. There is a HUGE difference between a racist policy and a selective discrimination policy popularly known as the affirmative action. Many countries worldwide including the US are practising it.
In my previous articles, I have stated the reason on why the affirmative action is important in Malaysia. But this very article is not about the importance of the affirmative action but actually it’s about the approach of certain extremism in the Pakatan Rakyat that is tearing the very fabric of social harmony Malaysians had painfully sowed since the aftermath of 1969.
This statement of mine may appear ridiculous to some as it was the members of Pakatan Rakyat and their loyal subjects who had initially accused the BN government as being racist. Permit me to dissect their approach.
These extremists especially some from the DAP and PKR are actually using the strategy called the 36 stratagems. To be precise, they are mainly using 4 of those strategies to full use. They are;
1) Kill with a borrowed knife
Basically it means, to attack using the strength of another. I can only describe this further with a quote from a DAP member who had said – ‘You have to also be practical. The present corrupt BN with its Malay/Muslim powerbase can only be challenged by a Malay/Muslim politician.’
As one of this blog’s avid commentator (Lekiu) had said – ‘For years Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh tried to end it (affirmative action) and it took another Bumiputra (Anwar) to finish it off. How strange history can be.’
2) Deceive the heavens to cross the ocean
They mask their real intention with a fake goal. In this context, the Pakatan Rakyat masked their real intention in shouting Ketuanan Rakyat slogan that creates a seemingly ‘fairer’ government’. But in actual fact, it is no more than fake cries of ‘Ketuanan Anwar’ and Malaysian Malaysia.
3) Create something out of nothing
Now this is the mother of all their strategies; to tell everyone that the BN government is racist. The idea that the BN government is racist had never been drilled in the minds of Malaysians before. With a progressive economy and stable government since 1970, Malaysia had become an economic tiger all through the 80’s and 90’s.
Furthermore, the BN government, with its good track records, had been elected more than two thirds majority in every general elections. How could a ‘racist’ government be so popular? Surely the lost of two thirds majority this time around should not be the main reason for the sudden rise of anti-racism in the country. A greater underlying factor is at work here. And the goal is to make the BN government unpopular by using racial politics as weapon.
For example, when Najib agreed to approve the licenses of scrap metal business for the Indians in Permatang Pauh, this innocent statement of his was distorted to become something that has a racist connotation to it. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in Pakatan Rakyat were foaming in the mouth claiming Najib was racist and that he had downgraded the Indians to become scrap metal collectors. They did not realise that in the first place, it was the Indian businessmen that had initially applied the licenses and it was only apt for Najib to announce it there in Permatang Pauh. It took the MAICCI to clear the air over this matter. To me, it was the Pakatan Rakyat who was being racist here but people could not see their subtle strategy.
Another example was when Anwar announced this much loved statement – ‘Anak Melayu, anak kita, anak Cina ,anak kita, anak India pun anak kita. Mengapa harus bezakan?’
Is there anything wrong with this statement?
Yes, there is.
The statement itself is based on the assumption that the BN government is racist by nature. Therefore, to permeate this idea to Malaysians, he needs to tell this lie again and again. What is sickening to me was it is Anwar himself who has made racial differences more pronounced. Since we already established earlier that BN government is not practising racist policy, what locus standi Anwar had to even say this? Everyday we are soaked to the bone by Pakatan Rakyat’s accusations that Malaysia is a doomed state because of its racist policy. Thus, Anwar’s statement was in fact, nothing more than a reverse psychology with two pronged attack – making him look good and dissing the BN government at the same time.
Innocent statements by Malay leaders, were often twisted out of context to make it sound as if Umno is racist. One such example was Tun Dr Mahathir’s calls for the Malays to unite and become stronger to face the challenges ahead. Other opposition leaders jumped in the bandwagon and further accused Umno leaders as racist and bigots. On the contrary, it was them who made the first strike.
As the extremists in Pakatan Rakyat make racial differences becoming more and more pronounced, and Anwar ibrahim – the ‘borrowed knife’, keep on harping this racial issues, no wonder the political turbulence between the races in Malaysia had been the highest since 1969. He forget that as a ‘borrowed knife’, he kills the racial harmony that had been built since then.
4) Loot a burning house
I don’t think I need to explain this self explanatory strategy.
On another note, it irks me to no end that the Umno leaders as well as the BN leaders as a whole do not know how to defend their own policy and resorted to become a mere apologist of the cause. It does not help that right now, we have a terribly weak Prime Minister at the helm. And so, without a clear and guided instructions from the PM, the Umno and BN leaders do what comes naturally. Fight fire with fire.
This precipitates the quagmire we are in right now.
‘The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye: The more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract’. So did Oliver Wendell Holmes say.
Extremism, in whatever form, is dangerous in this country of ours. And in the absence of strong government, coupled with a fragmented majority, even the minority can dictate their extremist policy and bring forward their own agenda. Hindraf, with its racist memorandum is one such example.
It is ironic that as a committee member of the National Operations Council in 1969, Pak Lah could not even find solutions to this current problem. Has he not learn from his superiors back then? Was he sleeping during the many rounds of NOC meetings?
So, on the eve of the Permatang Pauh by election, I bid all Malaysians, good night and sleep well with clear conscience in the following days ahead.