Friday Jottings: The Tale of Many Tan Sris and One Tun

IF the DAP still cannot fathom the extent of disaffection felt by the majority Malays, negative reactions to Lim Kit Siang being awarded the Tan Sri-ship should provide further insight.

While DAP and Pakatan Harapan supporters chose to dismiss the opposing Malays as being racist, it is probably far from the truth.

After all, as many have pointed out, there had been other non-Malays, Chinese included, who had been awarded such honours and even the Tun-ship which is much higher by any measures compared with the Tan Sri-ship.

There were never much criticisms and even if there were, they were not loud nor caustic.

As such, it cannot just be because Lim is Chinese.  It is more likely because Lim is from the DAP.

So, to box such criticisms of Lim getting the honours as racist reactions is a simplistic attempt to ignore or side-step more possible, deep-rooted reasons that had stuck to the Malay psyche over the decades.

And these strong sentiments could probably be traced back to the days of the PAP, and that the DAP is an offshoot of the former, and the negative perceptions, justified or otherwise, towards the party in relation to the race riot of 1969.

Apart from that, the subscription of the PAP and then the DAP towards the concept of Malaysian Malaysia entrenched the negativity deeper.

It has been argued that Gerakan was probably the more strident in the election campaign leading the 1969 polls and the subsequent riots, compared with the DAP.

But what changed the Malay perception towards Gerakan was that it chose to cooperate with the then greater Alliance, the Barisan Nasional, while the DAP opted to stay out and remain as an opposition.

There have been attempts by some writers, including a former DAP man to pin the 1969 riots on Umno’s internal game of thrones.

Much as some bought it, but to other Malays, the images of insults spewed by non-Malay opposition supporters in a parade that led to the riots continue to disturb the Malay minds.

Rightly or wrongly, the DAP is lumped together with abusive non-Malay opposition supporters and that had continued to be brought up by opposition to the DAP throughout Malaysia’s political journey.

Subsequent years proved that Gerakan, like the MCA and MIC, became acceptable by the more dominant Malay population represented through Umno.

Since the 1969 tragedy, the BN formula worked, in part because the Malay accepted the non-Malay partners and the non-Malays accepted the Malay leadership of Umno.

Though the Pakatan Rakyat and its successor Pakatan Harapan performed very well since the 2008 polls, it is doubtful the larger body of Malays had truly embraced the opposition coalition and if they did, it was because of the presence of PAS, earlier and Bersatu later.

It is in fact indirectly acknowledged by the DAP before the 2018 polls that to win the election, the coalition needed to be led by a Malay party and a Malay leader.

Hence its preparedness for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to form Bersatu, lead the PH and offering him as the Prime Minister candidate if the coalition won.

And PH did win, and handsomely too. They brought Umno and BN, with their over six decades of rule, to their knees, and they have not recovered since.

In the last polls, without Bersatu or any Malay-based party, despite solid support from the non-Malays, the Malay votes for PH in total only amounted to just over 10 percent, hence its inability to secure even a simple majority to form the Government.

But Umno too had then become a spent force, no more trusted as representing the Malay interest and their leaders’ excesses and self-serving nature supplanted their claim of struggling for the Malays and Islam.

That led to the rise of Perikatan Nasional – Bersatu and PAS.

Now that Umno had decided to be together with PH and are direct allies to the DAP, their fortunes with the Malays may sink even deeper.

While the DAP does not seem to have been affected in terms of its support base following its alliance with Umno, Umno leaders, on the other hand seem to struggle with the alliance with the DAP, unholy to most of the Malays, if not to the Umno base itself.

Yet again, it cannot just be because Umno and the rest of the Malays are racist for rejecting the DAP as the DAP is, in its make-up, is less Chinese or Indian for that matter, compared with the MCA and MIC respectively.

Then obviously the rejection is for what it stands, the philosophy of its struggle and what it represents, perceived or otherwise.

If the DAP is not perceived to be more Chinese than the other existing race-based parties, which seemed to be embraced by the Malays quite readily, then the perception that it is anti-Malay may be of the essence.

The years of its battle against Umno and what it stood for had reinforced the perception. For the DAP, it may rationalise its battle with Umno as being up against another political party but to the rest of the Malays, Umno is theirs and their last bastion of survival.

The recent attempt by DAP’s RSN Rayer to be a “royalist” in urging the Government to strip Dr Mahathir of his Tun-ship adds to perception of the party’s anti-Malay stand.

To all intents and purposes, no Malay would buy that Rayer is more concerned about the well-being of the Malay Rulers than Dr Mahathir. At worst, Rayer’s remarks are perceived as an attempt to pit a Malay leader against the Malay Rulers.

Despite Dr Mahathir’s critical assertions of the institution, he was there alongside other Malays who stood up against the Malayan Union which sought to strip Malay Rulers of their pride and dignity.

Rayer was not born yet so he wouldn’t be able to feel, let alone understand, the struggle of Dr Mahathir or that of other Malays then.

Given the kind of intellect he displays, it is doubtful he understands it even now.  –Pic by BERNAMA

  • Shamsul Akmar is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve.