Friday Jottings: One’s extremist is another’s saviour Part 1

WHILE surprises in the on-going Qatar World Cup relating to once-considered soccer minnows defeating those deemed to be pedigreed footballing nations hogged the limelight, a side issue is fast threatening to diminish the excitement.

It is the burning debate, or rather protests, by mostly participating Western nations that their football captains be allowed to wear the One Love arm band. The One Love arm band symbolises support for inclusiveness and non-discrimination but to most, it actually supports LGBTQIA.

The problem is that it is a crime for same sex liaisons in Qatar and can even be punishable by death, thus the ban of the use of the One Love arm band and to which FIFA, the governing football body concurs, making it possible for captains insisting on wearing them getting the yellow card.

To the Qataris, the law of their land must be respected especially when Islam is the foundation.

But for the Western nations and propagators of One Love it is a fundamental human right that must be accepted, if not imposed, on all and sundry, regardless whether it is a crime or it is against the creed of others.

Malaysia is not directly involved as it is not participating in the World Cup, not from the lack of interest but more because its team is very much wanting.

But the debate on same sex relations and transgender et al, had been simmering within and frequently used as a taunt to any Malay leader deemed to subscribe to the more liberal philosophy which is equated to supporting the LGBTQIA.

Pakatan Harapan leaders are not spared of such taunts and it is widely used by their main opponents – Perikatan Nasional and Barisan Nasional.

Whether such taunts had much impact on PH’s election performance is anybody’s guess and since it has now formed the Government and assumed the Prime Ministership it may be an issue swept under the carpet until the need arises during a political conflict and face-offs.

It is merely one of the factors on the side-lines used by some of PH’s opponents to influence the Malay electorate on the measure or the lack of the coalition’s Malayness and leanings towards Islam.

But the measure of PH’s Malay and Islamic credentials is the overarching consideration in the voting trend among the Malay voters.

According to scholar Bridget Welsh in her comments in Malaysiakini, PH only secured 11 percent of the Malay votes compared with 25 in the 2018 polls while its share of Chinese and Indian voters was 94 and 83 percent respectively.

In terms of MPs, of PH’s 82 seats, 31 were Malays and 51 were non-Malay/non-Muslim Bumiputera.

In other words, in so far as Malay voters, except for those who supported PH, the coalition does not represent them and instead the non-Malays.

Some may find such discussion unfruitful and counter-productive to move forward.

But, to ignore it is doing so at their own peril as suffered by the PH Government in 2018 that saw the Sheraton Move and its downfall less than two years in office.

Yet, for PH this time around, it may have better luck as it had secured Umno/BN in total as part of the unity Government.

On the flip side, it may have brought a monster into its midst and for it to make its work easier from inside out.

Yet again, Umno/BN is no more the Malay representation.

The results of all the competing Malay parties proved just that. The Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad-led Gerakan Tanah Air/Parti Pejuang Tanah Air attempted to be the alternative to Umno which all other parties had successfully cornered it as a party made up of kleptocrats and corrupt leaders.

The success of the campaign is obvious as Umno/BN was reduced to merely 26 (the other 4 from BN components) from 54 (BN’s 25) in 2018.

In many ways than not, the Malays’ disaffection towards Umno since 2018 had continued and they had turned to Perikatan Nasional which had 71 Malay MPs and two non-Malays.

GTA/Pejuang’s attempt to position itself as the alternative to Umno did not work and obviously, its labelling of PN as a party of traitors and turncoats had no appeal to the Malay electorates.

Instead, to the Malays voting for PN, which had PAS as its anchor, did not see the Sheraton Move as an act of betrayal but rather a crucial act to save the Malays from the clutches of PH, the DAP in particular.

While the more articulate and urbane supporters of PH had managed to paint PN as being right wing and Muslim fundamentalists, using the Taliban-tag for good measures for their non-Malay and liberal Malay supporters, the rest of the Malay electorate retreated deeper into their own enclave, determined to support the PN at whatever cause.

With PAS’s efficient and committed machinery, the result saw the green wave sweeping across the Malay states and for the first time in post-independent Malaya and Malaysia’s election history, the Islamists now has the single largest bloc of seats in Parliament.

To the Malay liberals, for the lack of better term, and the non-Malays, it is the awakening of the green monster.

To the rest of the Malays, their saviour and redemption is nigh. 

Note: The next column will address the Ketuanan Melayu, Malay first, the hypocrisy, the irony and other jarring notes of the Malaysian symphony.


Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.

 
 

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