Friday Jottings: No proclamation required to expose intellectual denseness

AN article written by Sharifah Munirah Alatas recently on the need for a Malaysian proclamation to expose dishonest politicians needs to be addressed.

Her short bio stated that she is an academic but the lack of wit or intellect in the article is a denier of her credentials.

Regardless, the article needs to be addressed because it is also a dishonest representation of what is going on.

It stated that there is a sense of calm in the country since the November polls and a greater sense of hope now under Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government “despite the hard hits to our economy”.

A nation cannot be calm when it suffers hard hits to its economy and especially when it not only involved flight of investors from the stock exchange but includes the struggle of the common folks in making ends meet.

Complaints of how tough life is among the lower and middle-income are becoming shriller by the minute, so much so it should be able to reach the ears of even those staying in comfort of their upper-class enclaves.

Another point is that while it is acceptable for the ordinary folks to regurgitate the term unity government when referring to the current government and for those disputing it can be accused of splitting hairs, but for an academic, such terms are beyond semantics.

The current government is a post-electoral coalition government cobbled together because there was no party or coalition with a clear majority and a unity government could not be formed because a major bloc chooses to be in the opposition.

But that too isn’t the crux of the matter for this article, merely pointing out that some things that are taken for granted becomes the truth after being repeated numerous times and when academics did not know better or choose to be a regurgitator.

What is more of essence is the flippant accusation of desperate politicians who persist in bigotry and racism and the contorted opinion of attempts to twist history to discredit the current government, in particular that Anwar is so oppressive that he is worse than the British colonials.

The writer argued that such statement lacks historical depths and that it had a “boomerang effect” which triggered people to remember that Anwar wrote The Asian Renaissance and not The Malay Dilemma.

She then went on to almost wax lyrical of Anwar and the Asian Renaissance and vilified The Malay Dilemma though to the very end not mentioning the author of the latter who is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

She also went on to vilify the Malay Proclamation as pandering the political objectives of certain attendees and propose a Malaysian Proclamation instead intended to expose the dishonesty of these politicians, ex-leaders and other opportunists.

The article went on to question why not focus on the indigenous peoples who had been marginalised and oppressed for decades.

First, the accusation of Anwar being more oppressive than the British colonials. For an academic and not being able to sieve between what is stated and what is implied is quite disappointing.

Surely, the comparison is intended to imply that how can Anwar, being a Malay himself and who, for most of his years in Umno and almost reaching the pinnacle of power by riding on a party that breathed The Malay Dilemma, could turn his back on a Malay gathering.

If it was the British, it would have been expected. It is in that context the comparison was uttered and any person with some grasp of history and a bit of intellect would have seen it first time and not made such an infantile summation.

Then there is the comparison between The Asian Renaissance and The Malay Dilemma, of how the former promotes the nurturing of civilised values inherent among Asians.

The Asian Renaissance. In many other books which are declared inspiring, readers do not really judge the writers because they are just, writers.

However, in the case of Anwar, he is also now the Prime Minister and he is judged by his actions and what he wrote.

Surely recent criticisms by civil societies questioning Anwar’s commitment to reforms following his appointments of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Azam Baki, Nurul Izzah Anwar and not to forget the appointments of the Finance Minister and Khazanah chairman had come to the attention of the article writer Sharifah Munirah.

Their criticisms centred on issues of corruption or rather the tolerance towards it, the double standards, nepotism, cronyism and actions which are opposed directly to the values promoted in The Asian Renaissance.

And at this time of writing, a backdoor government is being pursued in Malacca to replace a government that came from the front door and it is manoeuvred by Umno, recently disinfected for propping up Anwar.

On the other hand, Sharifah Munirah had concluded that The Malay Dilemma is an emotional book about the inherent laziness of the Malays.

Others reading The Malay Dilemma would argue that there was nothing emotional about it. Rather, it is written by a passionate nationalist and expose an ugly side of race-relations which others swept under the carpet so that the notion of renaissance isn’t still born.

Wanting to improve the Malay lot in this nation they called theirs, is something that Dr Mahathir had fought for consistently before he was in the Government, when he was in it and now when he is out again.

The Malay proclamation is indeed testimony to that and something noticed by the likes of Khairy Jamaluddin, a young potential leader but discarded by Umno in pursuit of working with Anwar.

And to equate Dr Mahathir’s lamentation of the laziness of the Malays to the colonial mindset which is exploitative and oppressive is as dishonest as the conclusion on Dr Mahathir’s comparison of Anwar’s oppression to that of the British.

Finally, on the Malaysian Proclamation proposed by Sharifah Munirah. The question is whether those pursuing the Malay Proclamation are opposed to anyone wanting to pursue the Malaysian Proclamation to expose dishonest politicians or a proclamation to expose intellectual dishonesty.

Neither does the Malay Proclamation group oppose to any Chinese groups which want to meet and discuss the setting up of new guilds or whatever the community thinks of essence, no different than the Malays wanting to meet over the Malay Proclamation.

And if Sharifah Munirah had read the Malay Proclamation, she would find it to be self-recriminating as it laments on corrupt leaders and Malay-led Governments which had betrayed the community and that all that ails the Malays are caused by their leaders.

Not a single finger was pointed at the other races and all it wanted was for the Malays to unite and to work together for their betterment.

It is quite amazing that an academic can accuse the Malay Proclamation of bigotry and racialism. Unless she is one of the Malay apologists who feels that she can only be accepted by others if she spews vitriols on any efforts to improve their lot.

No proclamation is however required to expose these lot.

  • Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.