Hornbill Unleashed

April 28, 2017

Malay quotas an insult for the opposition

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

“It’s discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit.”

– Noël Coward, ‘Blithe Spirit’

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said, “Just as there is a perception of discrimination amongst other communities, we also feel that maybe we are not that good because other communities are saying that, ‘Hey, you are here only because of the quota’.”

A couple of points so that we are all clear on a few issues involving this statement. Firstly, discrimination that the other communities feel is not a “perception”, it is a reality sustained by nebulous concepts such as the “social contract”, distortions of the constitution and of course, the “ketuanan Melayu” ideology, which is the foundation of establishment – Umno and opposition – Malay politics.

Secondly, that “feeling” you get that the other communities are mocking whatever you achieve as “skin qualification” is not a feeling. It is a cold fact. Every time, everywhere a “Malay” achieves anything, there is always comments about how that achievement is based on race and not merit.

Now people may be politically correct and pay homage to concepts like “Bangsa Malaysia” and talk about affirmative action on a needs-based basis, but the reality is that it does not take much for people to express their real feelings about race relations in this country on social media platforms and under the anonymity that online discourse provides.

The youth and sports minister said that he wants Malays to compete on a level-playing field, but the problem with concepts like this and ideas like a “marketplace of ideas” is that they are not conducive to sustaining a hegemon. Mind you, this is not purely a Malaysian tragedy, nearly every country in the world struggles with these concepts but here in Malaysia, systemic inequality and racial supremacy is considered a “national security” issue.

This is why Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali is allowed to promulgate the narrative that Malay privilege and supremacy is a national security issue. Chiding the “Oxford graduate” he claimed, “It will create extremism, terrorism, if they are not treated well. This is what the Oxford graduate does not understand.”

What this merely means is that the ruling hegemon, through the aggrieved cottage industry of Malay “rights” advocates, will create situations where the minorities are reminded of their rightful place in the food chain and “extremism” and “terrorism” will be redefined as “the struggle” to retain and maintain Umno/Malay’s rightful place in Malaysia.

This whole idea of Malay rights is not a question of policy but rather ideology that at least one Umno minister has claimed should go on forever. So Khairy may never see the day when everyone competes on a level-playing field because certainly not Umno, and ironically the opposition, wants to change this.

When Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh asks rather naively, “Is there an invisible hand preventing the poor from getting help, unless it is help authorised by Umno-BN?”, the answer to that is that there are no invisible hands but an overt policy to maintain ignorance and a handout culture so that the Malay polity will always be mindful of the hand that feeds them.

‘Honest’ Malay agenda?

The big question is, what is the opposition doing to change that. The answer to that question is found in the statement by PKR Youth deputy chief Dr Afif Bahardin who when disagreeing with Khairy claimed, “A honest Malay agenda is an agenda that uplifts the Malays to be on par with the others.”

What exactly is an honest “Malay” agenda? Can a race-based agenda which favours the majority ever be “honest”? I could make an argument for minority rights and certain affirmative action policies for minorities and I would still encounter formidable counter arguments in favour of certain other policies that bypass the issue of race.

Furthermore, this is not only an Umno DNA problem that apparently afflicts oppositional Malay parties. This is an issue that DAP and other non-Malay politicians are intimately connected with. Non-Malays oppositional powerbrokers sustain this ideology which they claim to despise by funding, advocating and championing issues that supposedly serve the Malay community but which in reality has only served the Umno hegemon to retain power.

I mean seriously, if you read, something like this – “I stress that uplifting the Malays, particularly the needy, is not an insult but a necessity in maintaining and developing the country” – would you not mistake it as something that emanates every single day from Putrajaya?

Would you not rail against this as something that was wrong with this country? Would you not make the claim that the reasons why the Malay community was “ignorant” and dependent on the Umno state was because of thinking like this? Would you not accuse the MCA and MIC of being “running dogs” to Umno because they directly or indirectly support rhetoric and policies like this? Would not this be the “apartheid” that oppositional types like to bandy about in lieu of nuanced arguments?

Just a couple of days ago I wrote – “However, the ‘truth’ of the statement is that neither Umno nor the opposition is really interested in developing the Malay community into a developed progressive polity. If politicians were interested in developing the Malay community, they would abandon policies that estrange the Malay community from their fellow citizens.”

Now I know that when Khairy says something like this, he does it from a position of privilege. He has much to gain from saying something like this but nothing to lose. He gets to appeal to moderate establishment supporters and also gets bonus points for making the “extreme” elements of his political party look aggrieved and thus the illusion or charade of a multitude of voices in Umno/BN.

Umno (and I am sure Khairy knows this) has no real intention of halting the gravy train but this close to elections, he gets to take the middle ground and spin the discourse of the possibility of change within Umno.

Coupled with the usual “sweets” thrown at the Indian community and the “deals” made with Chinese plutocrats to appeal to the Chinese community, it is business as usual for the establishment. The game goes on and since Umno is better at their game than anyone else, the results could be predicted.

The fact that Khairy cynically stirred up this idea and the opposition could not do anything but parrot the Umno line, shows just how much of an insult the idea of Malay quotas is to the opposition and everyone who supports them.

Remember when Gerakan’s Andy Yong broached the idea that maybe the Malays did not need the Article 153 crutch any more and the resulting blowback – “When Yong claims – ‘That is to say even if Pakatan Harapan or Bersatu were to lead the federal government, discriminatory policies will remain under the so-called compromise of Article 153” – he is acknowledging that the system is built on discrimination and nobody, certainly not BN or the opposition, is willing to change that.”

Someone once told me, “Without the 1MDB scandal, the opposition has nothing.”

One day people will use those crutches to destroy the country and it will not be a glorious moment of change but the birth of a true Islamic state.


S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
Source : @ Malaysiakini


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