Hornbill Unleashed

April 2, 2013

Are Malays now a wounded civilization?

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

Christopher Fernandez

Malay unity has suffered owing to the NEP and other factors.

Prior to the attainment of Merdeka (Independence) and up to the point and until Tunku Abdul Rahman was the prime minister, Malaysians enjoyed a certain camaraderie till the May 13, 1969 riots caused the shift in power towards Abdul Razak.

When Razak assumed power, he hastily conceived and implemented the New Economic Policy (NEP). He most likely meant well for the Malays and other Bumiputeras, but he failed to gaze into the future to see how the NEP will evolve.

This was the failing of the NEP and Razak, which is to be now blamed as the root causes for the factionalism and strife occurring among the Malays in this country. This is why, since the advent of the NEP till now, the Malays have most likely emerged as a wounded civilization.

Tracing the root causes of the general unhappiness, discontent and strife within the Malay community now is difficult, as this involves the complicated and daunting task of going through seamless and vast decisions that have been made for them since Independence.

But the fact that they are now splintered and disunited is obvious.

While Umno, often labelled as “Uniting Malays Not Over”, got down to work to get the Malays to reconcile their differences and be united with a stronger voice in this country, the reality on the ground is that Umno has failed to do so. The Malays are still as disunited as ever.

What is more worrying is that the Malays have caused the disunity among them to fester for so long, which is why they have now become a wounded civilization.

Ironically, it is the well-meaning NEP, an affirmative-action plan to assist Bumiputeras, that can be singled out as the main cause of misery and disunity among the Malays throughout the 30 years of its tenure.

Perhaps if the Malay leaders back then had stuck to the Tunku’s ideals and practice of meritocracy and decided to play by the rules of the game, the Malays would have fared much better now.

Still a discontented lot

By dangling the NEP carrot to the Malays – instead of dealing with them with a stick – the community now lacks the resilience and true capability to stand on their own especially in a globalised era.

While Malay leaders of the post-May 13, 1969 era should perhaps not be faulted as they needed to quickly address the situation to bring about racial harmony, the failure on their part to deal with the actual causes of the problem in a fair and just manner is to be blamed.

By being the largest number in terms of race, the Malays, through their leaders, ganged up on the other races: they bullied and cowed them into submission, and all the while thinking that the NEP would work wonders for them.

The Malays failed to adhere to the tenets and obligations of social justice and democracy, and instead took the easy solution. This has backfired on them: today they are incapable of rising up, prompting the government to continue to bail them out.

With all the pampering and favouritism showered on them in the hope of improving their lot, the Malays are still a discontented lot. Even the root causes of the 1969 riots have remained unresolved and trouble may flare up again in the future.

Racial harmony and unity does exist in this country. In fact, Malaysia can be a role model for other countries with multi-racial population. But problems arise whenever politics is at play.

Unity among the Malays over the years has begun to crack up and there is even widespread distrust and suspicion among them largely because of unfair practices at work in the socio-economic sphere of Malaysian life.

While it is a commonly held belief that other races are the victims of unfair socio-economic practices, it is really the Malays and other Bumiputeras who bear the brunt of the unfairness. Why? Because the NEP has served specifically to create a minority elite while the other Bumiputeras are not taken into account in the distribution of wealth.

It is precisely for this reason that the political allegiance of the Malays now is divided three-ways among Umno, PAS and PKR.

Beyond the political sphere, the Malays are also further divided by socio-economic and religious factors.

A hollow achievement

For many years the Malay leaders lacked the courage and sincerity to tackle the root cause of the problems. They were merely treating the symptoms afflicting the Malay race and not facing up to the real issues.

Instead of victimising the other innocent races, they should have faced up squarely to their problems and learned to swallow the bitter pill in whatever doses given to them.

The Malay leaders should have identified and diagnosed the actual causes of Malay unhappiness and prescribed a regimen that could heal and help them. This might still be the best approach they need to take.

It is pointless for Malays to complain as they need to face up to the facts of life: spoon-feeding and handouts have not worked; rather such an approach have caused them to regress.

On the surface, Malays and other Bumiputeras may have progressed statistically, but this is really a hollow achievement: they are still dependent on the government.

This kind of symptomatic treatment should stop and no longer be advocated by the government as it had served very little to better the lot of the Malay community; rather it had only served to prolong their agony and stunt their growth.

If the Malays do not clean up their act, if they fail to solve the problems that are the sources of disunity and unhappiness, it will only further fuel animosity and tensions among them.

While in the short run they might suffer from swallowing the bitter pill, in the long run they might stand to gain.

But if they continue to take refuge in their delusions, they face the real threat of being colonised in their own country. This is because with the rapid shifts in political trends, they will no longer be pampered.

By opting for mature and pragmatic solutions, it just might be that the wounds of the Malay civilization may be treated and that the Malays may recover to the level where they once were: a proud race fighting for independence from the British under the rallying call of the Tunku.



  1. In the early 60s and 70s, malays, chinese, indians, and other bumiputras were living peacefully together without any religious, education and racial issues. Suddenly appeal ‘ Bloody Nuisance’ -BN and havoc were created.

    Comment by gagojackman — April 2, 2013 @ 3:50 PM | Reply

  2. By right or by left, Malays here should have better future and a well done position in Malaysia. It is BN and UMNO damage their future for the past 55 years !
    UMNO did not choose right or left, but they choose by back side…That’s why after 55 years majorities Malays still the same. Only UMNO member and those cronies are good. No one else…Sad sad sad….is time to change your own future…

    Comment by Mike-Johor — April 2, 2013 @ 2:29 PM | Reply

  3. After 1511, malays have been ‘bawah jajahan’ politik, the last 55 years being under the jajahan of regim Umno.
    So teh Malay Dilmma is deeply rooted in the psyche of all malays.

    Comment by Qabil — April 2, 2013 @ 11:21 AM | Reply

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