Reliving the servility of a feudal past

graphic by MZUKRI

ANTAGONISTS, in particular the Malay-Muslims, of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government are taunting proponents on its racial and religious agenda since that was the “mantra” used against the former Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

Such taunting is common in any political divide — as are attacking the opponent on what was promised, reversing a criticism or returning the ball to the other’s court.

However, when it involves race and religion, such commonality should never be allowed to be generalised, let alone trivialised.

Prior to the coup that led to the change of government, opponents of PH kept harping on the coalition’s lack of commitment to Islamic and Malay causes, accusing it of dancing to the tune of non-Malays led in particular by the DAP, a substantial partner in PH by the number of seats.

Any Malay from PH who attempts to debunk the accusations that the coalition was being controlled by the DAP would be accused of being a traitor to the Malay/Muslim cause, a sell-out or a “macai” to the DAP — “macai” being a local, colloquial derogatory term of being servile, an equivalent to the American’s Uncle Tom.

Such labelling is actually effective, as far as political narratives are concerned, as it brushes aside any attempt of intellectual debate or discussion.

They feed on perceptions and most times those who “shout the loudest” rule the arena.

And in an era when the political agenda is widely influenced by the sway of social media, dominating and flooding these platforms with preferred comments are pursued; creating artificial and misrepresentation of support obtained and favourable views.

Such is the game that some political players with deep pockets are unashamedly prepared to pay individuals and groups to create numerous accounts to create the impression that they command thousands of supporters and backers on these platforms.

That, however, is an issue for another day.

The more pressing issue is probably the fact that in using the race and religion cards, a near feudal mental siege seemed to have taken hold over some of these Malay Muslims.

Having been taken up by the narratives that the nation was being dominated by the non-Muslims, they need to ensure that a government that is Malay dominated and uncompromising to the racial and religious causes must be established at whatever cost.

Hence, when the PN government was established, which was criticised for not respecting the mandate of voters in the 2018 polls, these backers dismissed such objections of being inconsequential as the establishment of the Malay/Muslim government is paramount.

Any attempt to raise issues of integrity, good governance or sound democratic practices would be summarily dismissed.

In short, it does not matter if the political leader is corrupt and unrepentant for that matter, inclined to abuse his power or position, for as long as he is a Malay/Muslim and not associated with the DAP, in particular, it is better him than the other.

To shore up such sentiments, opinions are put forth to justify them by saying that is what Islam enjoined — that Muslims must support a Muslim leader above a non-Muslim, even if the Muslim leader has inherent character flaws or criminal tendencies.

Even though the justification should not apply in the context of PH, as its leader is a Muslim and his replacement is affirmed to be a Muslim, its detractors found it sufficient that tagging the coalition to DAP’s substantial influence sufficient to trigger the rejection as the “macai” label is a powerful enough negative branding.

With that, the nation is now in the realm of a Malay-Muslim-dominated government and hence not a “macai” to any non-Malay.

While the advocates of the “Malay-Muslim-dominated government no matter what” got their wishes, there are other Malays who fear the return of the kleptocrats and scoundrels who had led the nation to the pits due to their shenanigans.

And these kleptocrats and scoundrels seemed to be coming out of the woodwork, obviously aware that they are enjoying the feudal-like servility from their Malay-Muslim supporters.

Such is their confidence in this servility and preparedness to look the other way to waywardness; these politicians are game for a snap election and confident of regaining the government.

They are actually now in a better position than when they were in the government pre-2018, as they are enjoying all the trappings of power and dictates, while not actually having to be truly responsible.

After all, this was not the government elected by the people. They are not bound by any manifesto and neither is the prime minister (PM) from their midst and yet, they had all the power to drag a sitting PM out of office and securing the power on their own after. It may come to that soon enough.

Meanwhile, the smirk of the ego of days past is rekindled in the new lease of political relevance.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.