Friday Jottings: The day the rhetoric stops

AS expected, the minute Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) announced that he was joining the Parti Putra Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), chauvinists and anti-Malay rights parties immediately embarked on a media blitz to denounce the former Prime Minister.

Stumbling over each other to accuse Dr Mahathir of ramping up race rhetoric and him being a racist could be observed at how their comments flooded the social media and online portals.

For someone who was declared by these very same people of being irrelevant and senile, the concerted attacks on Dr Mahathir are actually surprising as it represented the exact opposite of what they had declared him to be.

Unless all their remarks are to be taken as mere political sound bites as a means to deflect volte-face and broken promises as popularised by Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s deputy president Rafizi Ramli.

Notwithstanding all that, the matter of concern is that why is it, every time a Malay leader, Dr Mahathir in particular, raises concerns about the plight of the Malays in the country, he is attacked as being racist and that these Malay issues are rhetoric.

Such an attitude had irked Malays who are concerned with the survival of the Malays on a land they call theirs.

Their concerns are not misplaced.

After all, these concerns are directly related to provisions in the Constitution. These constitutional provisions had been challenged in the past but indirectly, camouflaged under the pursuits of multi-racialism, meritocracy and anti-discrimination.

Unfortunately, no one, not even the aggrieved Malays had pointed out that those who insisted that they were merely fighting for multi-racialism and equal opportunities are actually anti-national as they are surreptitiously undermining the Constitution.

They should be asked if any of the Malay political parties and Dr Mahathir had asked, demanded or fought for anything for the Malays that is beyond the constitutional provisions.

If anything, when they questioned the pursuits of non-Malays, it is centred on whether they were within the ambit of the Constitution and it they were found to be within its confines, the issues are dropped.

In fact, even in the pursuit of ensuring an equity in the nation, the Malay leaders were asking for a fair distribution and not for an equal share.

The New Economic Policy, an affirmative action programme, which is boxed by chauvinists and anti-Malay/Bumiputera as racist and discriminatory, was pursuing for a fair share and not for an equal distribution, in which if that was the case, it would have meant that instead of the 30 percent, the target would have been double that.

As such, it was not an attempt to impose the supremacy of a race over another but rather an appeal to the others to realise that the Malay/Bumiputera, due to numerous reasons including due to faults of their own, are lagging and not getting a fair share in a nation that is primarily theirs.

In other words, these Malay/Bumiputera parties and leaders are merely finding ways and means that are provided for in the Constitution to come up with strategies and policies to better their lot which is lagging from the rest of the communities, real and perceived.

While these parties and leaders have to deal with the relentless attacks from the anti-nationals and chauvinists, equally challenging for them is to deal with the Malay apologists.

The apologists argued that the Malays are lagging behind the other communities due to the doings of their Malay/Bumiputera leaders who had been ruling the nation but had been untrustworthy, corrupt and greedy.

Because of that, these apologists felt that there was no need for Malay/Bumiputera leaders and parties to peddle themselves as the community’s champion so as to gain political support.

While the apologists spurned the Malay/Bumiputera leaders and political parties, they had raised their concern because they knew the issue highlighted by these leaders still have currency among the Malay/Bumiputera voters.

Simply put, if the community did not feel they were lagging and that they needed the Malay/Bumiputera leaders and parties to lead them, then the apologists would have a much wider appeal than those they criticised.

In fact, these successful apologists who had now “crossed the bridge”, surely many through the NEP and other affirmative action policies, are now prepared to burn the bridges just because some leaders and political parties had proven to be corrupt and had usurped the affirmative action for personal gains.

But they had ignored that the leaders who were corrupt and had stolen from the national kitty had been condemned and pushed out of office not only by the political players and parties but also by the voters.

If the apologists expect the non-Malay to uphold and pursue the affirmative action they are surely misguided as even when the political powers were in the hands of the Malay/Bumiputera, the affirmative actions are being questioned and decried.

But such apologists are not new to the community. Before 1957, there were narratives of how some Malay apologists then, when asked to support the move to demand for independence from the British, had haughtily retorted that “the Malays can’t even produce needles, what would they do with independence.”

The apologists of yore must have been very full of themselves when they said it. And the contemporary apologists inherited the smug. – pic TMR File

  • Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.