In his closing speech just now YB Khairy Jamaluddin called for his Pemuda members to “cakap yang benar biarpun pahit”.
With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to review his policy address which he made this morning. It won’t be a pleasant read for some people but since we are in the spirit of telling the truth and in the spirit of improving ourselves for the better, we shall dissect and make some sense to what he was trying to say.
First off, his speech was entitled “MAQASID DAN MANHAJ PERJUANGAN”.
Why do we have to Arabicize Malay words?
Maqasid means ‘matlamat’ while Manhaj means ‘pendekatan’. Please don’t do an Anwar Ibrahim and try to substitute proper Malay words with Arabic words. It makes you sound phony and trying too hard; just like Anwar Ibrahim.
Somebody told me that instead of dismissing his speech outright, I must give credit to where it’s due. That is fair enough. In all 73 paragraphs of his speech, not all needs to be criticised. Some have good arguments and there are a few that I can relate to. But there are a few paragraphs that I do not agree with and this is where I vent my frustrations towards this Ketua Pemuda of United Malay National Organisation.
Some of these paragraphs are:
As UMNO Youth Leader, I meet many young Malays from all levels of society. When I speak of the NEP and the Malay struggle, they retort: “Pardon me, but what have I ever received from the NEP?” Their incomes are below the poverty line, many of them have migrated to cities where the cost of living rises faster than what they earn. These are Malays, Bumiputeras, but they have never enjoyed the fruits of the NEP. Their perception is that the NEP only enriches a few elite Bumiputeras with strong political links. For these youths, the 30 percent equity target does not mean anything because most of them never have and never will be able to purchase shares. This is yet another example of leakages where the NEP, which was rooted on the notion of prosperity for all, ended up being seen as an elitist policy resulting in many Malays sidelined and not looked after.
I find this very alarming coming from the Ketua Pemuda himself. Is he saying that his understanding of the NEP is limited to the number of shares and equity holding of the Malays? How sad that he cannot rebuke those young Malays that he met using arguments that the NEP had given them access to a lot of opportunities that did not exist before NEP was created?
All the many universities that were built, all the funds that were set up to pull the Malays out from hardcore poverty, all the many schools that was built when not many were built before 1970; all these were part of the NEP that these young Malays are given privilege to enjoy. All these are direct benefits that come from the NEP. These are only a few examples that Khairy could give to them. He could even say that business opportunities are given to them if they work hard. In the days before the NEP an ordinary Malay could not have access to these opportunities even if they had worked hard because no opportunities were given to them. Access was limited.
If Pemuda Umno cannot rebut a simple retort from the simple young Malays he met all these while, then he therefore does not know what NEP is and certainly do not know the history of Umno’s struggle. Yet, he made a highly rhetorical statement in one of his paragraphs:
What is required today is a politics based on thoughts and ideas. The current political sphere is no longer entirely about the struggle for power, but a competiton of minds, a battle of ideas. Like it or not, those who challenge our political ideology must be defeated through the sharpness of our intellect and the superiority of our arguments, not by relying on executive power.
What sharpness of intellect can we really see here when he could not even properly explain to the young people the successes and the benefits NEP had brought to the Malays? Instead, he had used the raw, unprocessed thinking of those young ones (who really should have been educated further by Umno Youth) as the justification to condemn the NEP further.
I am further inclined to believe that Umno Youth is not focusing on the ‘software’ of the youth generation. Instead, they are focusing on the hard figures. Yes, you have gained new members. Yes you got new voters. But what kind of members and new voters do you have? Ones that do not know why, how and what the objectives of Umno are?
Does all the Umno youth members know the history of its ‘matlamat’ and ‘pendekatan’? Even the Ketua Pemuda doesn’t seem to know it. If not, he could have easily swayed the youth not to be too critical of the NEP. You do not have to offer them shares or business contracts just to make them love the NEP mind you.
There is a paragraph that I do not understand due to the underlying contradiction:
The new manhaj must be guided by merit and needs. Merit stresses on staying power and competitiveness. Merit means the Malay who has the ability, talent and high potential will be discovered, assisted along the way and given ample room to succeed. Merit also demands a level playing field so that the most innovative of farmers, the most diligent of traders, the most knowledgeable of professors and the most competent of contractors are provided with all the encouragement necessary without barriers in the form of political interests or the lack political connections. God-willing, with the inculcation of these new values and culture in the manhaj of empowerment for our people, the Malays will be better equipped to compete on the world stage, without the need for ‘crutches’ anymore.
So, a Malay who has the ability and talent will be discovered and helped and encouraged along the way to be successful. That is what he call ‘merit based system’. Isn’t all these ‘help’ and ‘encouragement’ can be termed as ‘crutches’?
Or in other words, one of the many policies in the affirmative actions of the NEP?
I am confused with Khairy’s definition of meritocracy. It contradicts itself. It is certainly not the same with the meritocracy concept which Lim Kit Siang proposes.
Plus, Khairy should be the last person to talk about meritocracy because all the years he has been in politics, he gained prominence through sheer nepotism. If he had not married into Tun Abdullah Badawi’s family, where do you think he could be now? Certainly not as Ketua Pemuda because he could have never won the Deputy Umno Youth Chief unchallenged in 2004. He won it because he was the infamous son in law of the current Umno President at that time.
He then spoke at length on the Malay unity. When the Deputy President last night touched on the importance of Malay unity, Khairy seemed to think that there is nothing we can do about in unifying the Malays for the sake of greater good. He even resigned to state that:
“saya juga sedar bahawa telah terpahat dalam sejarah yang Melayu itu jarang sekali bersatu. Dalam lipatan sejarah moden, kecuali dalam penentangan terhadap Malayan Union dan perjuangan kemerdekaan, orang Melayu acap berpecah terutama dalam pemahaman dan ideologi politik.”
Although he did not reject the possibility of Malay unity, he stated that:
We must accept the reality that today the Malay vote is split. There is no Malay party – be it UMNO or PAS – that can secure a hundred percent of Malay votes. In many areas, the Malay political split is such that 50 percent are on one side and 50 percent on the other. This means that any side wanting to win, must win with the support of all Malaysians, regardless of race and religion. If we hope to rely on the Malay vote alone, we should be mindful that there are only 73 Parliamentary seats with a dominant Malay majority of 70 percent and above. Such is the reality.
We must learn from the results of the last General Elections where we almost relinquished power due to the loss of support from non-Malays. If we still subscribe to the illusion that we can win without their support, then 50 seats currently held by BN are in grave danger. If there is no concerted effort to practise an inclusive and moderate leadership, UMNO’s Malay leadership will disappear come the next election.
Most assuredly the main responsibility of winning over support from non-Malays lies on the shoulders of certain component parties. Whatever weaknesses they have must be overcome immediately and the responsibilities entrusted upon them must be vigorously carried out. But in the current state of politics – moreoever with the concept of 1Malaysia being our collective compass – Malaysians want to see a BN that can practise the values of camaraderie, justice and fairness.
Those are the words that kept niggling in my conscience. I stated in my previous article that Umno must understand their role in Barisan Nasional. Umno must be at the forefront of the Malay struggle. Obviously when Umno is fighting for Malay empowerment and rights, it doesn’t contradict the Constitution. So there is nothing to be afraid of.
Barisan Nasional is the multiracial party that governs the government.
Umno, MCA, MIC and a dozen of other component parties must perform their roles for each of their community or groups of the same political idealogy.
If MCA and MIC have not been inclusive in their own party conventions, and have not shown us the values of camaraderie, justice and fairness, why should Umno subrogate the roles of those two parties in wooing their voters?
Isn’t it easier to be find ways to unify the Malays in Umno and Pas rather than Umno putting on multiple caps just to please others?
Unification of the Malays will make make the Malays even stronger. Is this not the ‘matlamat’ of Umno Youth?
I have said many times, the easiest way for the component parties to win any voters is to stick to the Constitution. All BN parties must ‘perjuangkan Perlembagaan Malaysia’. The spirit of the Constitution must be upheld. No parties will feel left out if everyone of them stick to what our founding fathers had laid out for us. We are all guided by it.
And for everything that is holy in the universe, Barisan Nasional lost support in General Elections 2008 was not solely because Umno lost support of the non-malays. People of all races did not vote Barisan Nasional because the leadership at that time was corrupt, arrogant, too flamboyant and did not manage the economy well. If you identified wrongly the causes of the losses, you will administer the wrong prescriptions to the problem. Hence, the wrong diagnosis and prognosis of the Ketua Pemuda in the paragraphs mentioned above.
Therefore, I am disappointed with the way Pemuda Umno is going.
I was further left disappointed when he said this:
When we fail to understand and appreciate the feelings of other races, the barriers that separate us become higher and thicker. Young Malaysians live within the confines of their own ethnic communities. The young Malay who attends religious school, a Middle Eastern university and watches Malay programs on Astro Ria is alien to the young Chinese attending a vernacular school, a Taiwanese university and entertained by Wah Lai Toi. Each perpetuates mutual prejudices because of these barriers that exist.
Stopping short of calling for a single stream education for Malaysia, he recognised the barriers but dared not say any viable solution for these problems. Instead he added on:
The 1Malaysia concept needs to be held as a shared aspiration amongst all races. Community life in a multi-ethnic country certainly demands much patience and courtesy from everyone. We should not hastily pointing fingers at each other in the face of any issue, big or small. We need to understand the feelings of other people if we want them to understand ours. We all need to imagine ourselves in each other’s shoes, assume we swap places, switch fortunes, only then can we appreciate the universal truth that our shared humanity unites us more than it divides. Malaysians need to give and take between one another and this by no means entails one side only taking and the other only giving. Let the fate and future of this country, whether we fail or succeed, be determined together by us all.
Please tell us how all those above can be achieved after the paragraph before it had exposed the huge problem of our society? How can Malaysians understand the feelings of one another if they live in a segregated society? It easy for him to say rhetorical things like this but coming way short on the substance. The solution is staring straight in our face yet the Ketua Pemuda, the one who tried to be inclusive and propagating collective interest of the nation seemed to be too timid to even mention this.
Those above are the things that irritate me the most during his speech this morning. I also do not agree when he said something about the May 13, 1969 incident. But the sharp among us can see the shortcomings of that particular paragraph without me elaborating it further.
Other than the things I mentioned above, the speech was commendable. I apologise if this is a bitter pill to swallow. But I must for the sake of Agama, Bangsa and Negara. Thank you.