December 20, 2011, 12:12 am
Filed under: Malaysian politics, Pakatan Rakyat, UMNO | Tags: , , ,

I re-produced Nur Jazlan’s article previously.

I am doing the same for Azam Aris, a senior editor with the Edge Malaysia, a weekly Malaysian financial paper that has a following amongst people interested in Malaysia’s economic development.

It only points to the fact that the evolution of the Malay race ….. or any race for the matter …… cannot be determined by a political entity that is desperate to maintain its hopeless hegemony over its people and country through the instillation of FEAR.

Today’s technology and the flow of information do not allow that to happen anyway ………

So read on as to Azam Aris’ take on the current Malaysian political situation (note: pictures inserted by me) …….


By Azam Aris

Two weeks ago, I had dinner with a few Malay friends. As usual, we discussed various matters, ranging from family to politics. And as it often happens, we ended up talking football, among other things, about when Wayne Rooney would score again in the Barclays Premier League (he did so on Dec 10 when Manchester United overpowered Wolves 4-1 at Old Trafford) or if Liverpool will win the BPL again (it has been for 21 years and counting).

Before the dinner ended, I casually asked: “As a Malay, do you feel under threat? Or have a siege mentality …. you know, a state of mind where one feels insecure and fears losing the political power that the community holds or that the position of Islam will be undermine?”

The short and simple answer I got was “no”. As Malay professionals, we feel comfortable – about ourselves, being who we are in our own fields of expertise and the fact that the fate of the Malays lies very much in their own hands.

Later, over the weekend, I went to the housewarming kenduri of another Malay friend who had just moved into his spanking new RM1.5 million house in USJ, Subang Jaya. Restrees, a guarded and gated residential project that was developed on leasehold wakaf land, is predominantly owned by Malays. I observed that the upper middle-class Malays here mixed well with their Chinese neighbours and that those who attended were a confident lot who believed in themselves and their ability to compete in the real world.

At our table, we talked, among other things, our children’s education, the impending weddings of sons and daughters and escalating property prices. There was a smattering of politics but the subject of the Malays losing power and the position of Islam being relegated to a lower status did not arise.

This is not to say that confident and self-assured Malays are confined to the professional and upper middle class. There are many others out there among the middle class and low-income group who whork hard to earn their living and compete well against the non-Malays. Their minds and souls are not held hostage by the notion that the political position of the Malays and Islam could be in jeopardy if Umno – the dominant party in the Barisan Nasional coalition – were to lose power.

Why then do we hear the topic being brought up over and over again by the ruling political parties and the mainstream media that belongs to them? Is it real? Or is it just a political charade to convince the majority of the Malays or those who do not actually believe this premise that we are actually in that position?

Logically, the Malays would not be in that precarious position because the reasons that favour them numerically and politically are intact. In the Malaysian context, it will not be possible for the Malays to lose power as long as the Malays/Muslim bloc forms the largest segment of the population. It is as straight-forward as that.

If the Malays could assume political dominance during independence in 1957 when their numbers were just slightly above 50% and they had much less control over the economy, then they will not lose power today or at any other time in the future. The Malay/Muslim population now stands at 61.4% and this is conservatively expected to increase to 64.5% by 2030, according to Pew Research Centre’s report titled The Future of the Global Muslim population: Projection 2010-2030. With the higher birthrate among Muslims in the country, some estimates even put the figure at 70% by 2030.

In addition, the gerrymandering carried out by the incumbent party for the last 54 years has resulted in a higher number of Malay/Muslim seats. Thus, there is no possibility that a general election will result in a non-Malay/Muslim party getting the most number of parliamentary seats at the federal level.

Based on the same numerical superiority in terms of population and parliamentary seats, the position of Islam as the official religion and the powers it confers, along with the special place of the Malay royalty, should also remain intact.

By virtue of this and the power of the majority, the position of the prime minister should remain in the hands of the Malay/Muslim leadership – a point well understood by non-Malay political parties.

Malay/Muslim political dominance is further strengthened by various articles in the Federal Constitution, notably those that make Islam the official religion of the country and Bahasa Malaysia the national language, and provisions preserving the sovereignty, prerogatives and powers of the Malay rulers and the status of Malay reservations.

On top of this, Article 153 has specific clauses that protect the rights and interests of the Malays/bumiputera community in the administrative and economic fields.

But the Constitution is not lopsided to only favour the Malays/Muslims. In the words of the late Lord President Tun Mohamed Suffian Hashim, in his book An Introduction to the Constitution of Malaysia, “each one of these agreements in favour of the Malays was balanced by liberal provisions in favour of the non-Malays” – for example, their religious, language and economic rights are equally protected.

For some Malays, the fear campaign has been effective and to them, the fear is real. An elderly uncle of mine gave what seems to be a popular argument among some Malays, citing Penang (which fell to the opposition in the 2008 general election) as an example where the Malays have lost political power and leadership and everything that goes with it, including economic entitlements.

Never mind the fact that Penang has not been in the hands of the Malay/Muslim leadership since Francis Light connivingly convinced the Sultan of Kedah to cede the island to the British in 1786. Since Merdeka, all the chief ministers of the state have been Chinese and the state administration has been under Chinese leadership – unless Umno wants to give the impression that the MCA and Gerakan chief ministers are actually “Malay” leadership in another form.

At a time when the issues that should be raised are fighting corruption, high food prices and cost of living and low wages, and increasing productivity and ensuring the goals of the nation’s Economic Transformation Programme are met, instilling this fear of Malays losing power is irresponsible and counter productive.

Yes, you might win some votes but for what purpose? Disrupting the country’s long-terms stability and harmony for short-term gain? Umno, which has been in power for the last 54 years, should ask this question: Has it done enough for the Malays to ensure that it will continue to get majority support? Why then is there a lot of discontent among the Malays with regard to its leadership? How about the disenchantment of the non-Malays?

And how does one transform a nation when the dominant party sends the wrong signals by instilling fear of what may happen if it loses power? How does one transform the nation when the dominant party has not transformed its way of thinking?

The party whose leaderhsip had a big problem in seeing that the National Feedlot Corporation fiasco was indeed a problem should take a hard look at itself before it continues to propagate the idea that without it, the Malay/Muslim population risks losing a lot.


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