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Friday, May 30, 2008

In Defence Of Bangsa Malaysia

In Defence Of Bangsa Malaysia

For many, the date “March 8” will continue to resonate far into the future in as evocative a manner as “May 13”. It was the day that Malaysians reclaimed Malaysia. For the first time in a very long time, they voted on issues. And in ignoring the Barisan Nasional and its artificial divisions, Malaysians ignored race.

Just as May 13 was a display of a vicious racism, March 8 was a concrete display of unity.

We planted a seed that day and that seed has germinated. Discussions about, and more importantly the very public rejoicing in, the pluralism and multi-culturalism that underlie a truly Malaysian national identity are quickly becoming the norm rather than the exception. It would seem that Bangsa Malaysia has come in from the cold and is digging its heels in, strongly intent on staying the course.

Those who lead the way must be congratulated, it does not matter which side they are on or whether they are aligned in any particular way. They lay the foundation for the Malaysia that all of us want to call our home. United, we can start giving thought to what we have been kept from before this: how to harness our collective spirit and passion, our undoubted talent and skill and our unique worldview to take on the world.

At the risk of sounding naïve, I am excited. Very excited.

Which is why I am troubled by what is going on with UMNO. The results of the General Election shocked UMNO into a realization that it needed to reassess itself and its value to Malaysia if it were to remain relevant. And as much as the public posturing of the party could be said to suggest the contrary, subtle and not so subtle indications of a subtle point to a deeper understanding of a need for reform, both internally and as well as externally.

Whatever the motivation, the potential gains for the nation are tremendous. While I remain skeptical about whether the promised reforms will actually happen in the way they should, the traction gained from just a recognition of the need for such as well as what made things go wrong in the first place are invaluable. This recognition underscores the truth that a race based system of politics and its concomitants can only result in declining standards and potential ruin.

UMNO cannot be consigned to irrelevance. The nation needs a strong two-party system for the crucial counter-balance that it ensures and the guarantee it provides that no political party or coalition will take a stranglehold of the nation again. Though prior to March 8th, UMNO hegemony made the prospect remote, the changed political landscape since has brought it within grasp. The mere existence of a strengthened opposition presence in Parliament is not all that is required. For UMNO and the Barisan Nasional to play this very crucial role, reforms must be embraced just as universalism has to be.

The dogfight that is happening within UMNO is however threatening to derail UMNO. While the question of who leads UMNO is an internal matter, the national impact the maneuvering of those concerned makes it a matter of concern for all of us. This is more so where tactical plays involve the inciting of racial and religious sentiments that threaten not only national stability but also Bangsa Malaysia and the promise it holds.

For while to those involved in this macabre political dance, race and religion are merely tools at disposal, the injuries that they could inflict in being misapplied are potentially so serious that the nation may succumb.

Though I am loath to say it, Tun Dr Mahathir has crossed the line. I recognize that he is fully entitled to act in the interests of UMNO. However his invoking of race and his equally dangerous incitement of racial fears directly threaten our existence and our future. His assertion that the Malays will suffer for the fact of non-Malays gaining political power is both unsubstantiated and dangerously misleading. No non-Malay politicians are challenging the status of the Malays. The Federal Constitution guarantees their protected status and there is a glaring absence of any discussion of an amendment to the Constitution. In the same vein, the call for a more equitable method of affirmative action can only be beneficial to the Malay community, a community that, despite the many years of the NEP and its successor policies, many of those under the stewardship of Tun Dr Mahathir himself, is still afflicted by poverty. This sad state of affairs is indisputable and has even prompted calls for reassessment by Malay opinion leaders.

And it goes without saying that a more transparent, accountable and competent government founded on national unity rather than race divisions can only be to the benefit of all. This is what we fought for on March 8th, not just for ourselves but also for our children and their children. It is what we must continue to rally to.

(Malay Mail, 27th May 2008)


Alias Mohd Yusof said...

Tentu tidak dapat kita bayangkan kesukaran yang mungkin kita hadapi kalau setiap negeri di dalam Malaysia merupakan Negara-negara yang merdeka dengan pemerintahan sendiri.

Kesukaran yang amat ketara ialah kita kena berhenti disetiap sempadan negeri untuk proses memeriksa dan mencop passport kita setiap kali kita keluar masuk antara satu negeri ke negeri yang lain. Dan mungkin kita perlukan memohon visa jika ingin tinggal lebih lama di negeri lain.

Beratur panjang untuk membayar tol lebuh raya pun kita sudah berasa rimas apatah lagi terpaksa beratur untuk berdepan dengan kerenah imegresyen dan kastam.

Katakan kita tinggal di Johor, dan kita ada urusan atau ingin melancung dengan menaiki kereta ke Pulau pinang, ini bermakna kita terpaksa berhenti untuk pemeriksaan imegresyen di enam sempadan negeri iaitu di sempadan Negeri Melaka, di sempadan Negeri Sembilan, di sempadan Negeri Selangor, di sempadan Negeri Perak, di sempadan Negeri Kedah dan akhir sekali di sempadan Negeri Pulau Pinang.

Mungkin lebih mudah kita menggunakan pengangkutan udara tetapi kosnya mungkin lebih mahal dan kita jadi ‘patah kaki’ kerana tidak dapat membawa kenderaan sendiri.

Tetapi syukurlah keadaan seperti di atas tidak berlaku dan saya percaya semua kita tidak mahu perkara seperti itu berlaku pada masa akan datang dan sampai bila-bila pun. Walaupun kita asalnya orang Negeri Sembilan tapi kita bebas bergerak, bekerja dan tinggal di mana-mana sahaja di dalam Malaysia yang kita suka.

Hanya kita rakyat Malaysia sahaja yang dapat merasakan bagaimana nikmatnya dan selesanya kita bebas bergerak ke semua negeri-negeri dalam Malaysia ini. Sekalipun kalau diberi pilihan setiap negeri untuk berpisah dan memerintah sendiri pasti tidak ramai rakyat yang berminat dengan pilihan itu.

Dan saya percaya kalau rakyat Singapura diberikan keistimewaan bergerak bebas untuk keluar masuk ke Malaysia, tanpa perlu kepada pemeriksaan passport dan kastam, mereka bebas untuk tinggal dan bekerja di mana-mana saja mereka suka di Malaysia tanpa permit dan visa seperti rakyat Malaysia lainnya tentulah mereka tidak akan menolak keistimewaan yang diberikan kepada mereka itu.

Selama ini rakyat Singapura yang lebih 4 juta itu tertumpu dan berhimpit dalam satu negara pulau yang kecil. Keinginan rakyatnya untuk keluar masuk ke Malaysia memang tidak boleh dinafikan.

Dari segi sejarahnya, geografinya dan sosial budayanya, Singapura dan Malaysia khasnya Semenanjung memang amat dekat dan rapat. Rakyat dari kedua-dua negara ini kerap keluar masuk bukan sahaja disebabkan untuk membeli belah atau urusan kerja tetapi juga untuk menziarah sanak-saudara mereka. Sebahagian besar rakyat Singapura tidak kira mengira kaum, samada Cina, Melayu atau India mempunyai pertalian darah atau sanak saudara di Semenanjung Malaysia.

Pertalian darah ini bukan sahaja telah berlaku sebelum negara ini merdeka lagi tetapi ia berterusan hingga hari ini kerana wujudnya hubungan yang dekat dari segi geografi, budaya dan bahasa mereka, menyebabkan ramai rakyat Singapura yang berkahwin dengan rakyat Malaysia.

Oleh itu kalau di peringkat rakyat biasa, kita mungkin tidak menghadapi masalah besar untuk mencantumkan kedua-dua negara ini semula, malah mungkin mereka amat mengalu-alukanya. Halangan yang ada mungkin datang dari pemimpin-pemimpin politik yang masing-masing mempunyai kepentingan yang berlainan.

Bagaimanapun perkembangan politik yang menggalakan berlaku di Malaysia baru-baru ini sedikit sebanyak mungkin dapat membuka mata pemimpin-pemimpin politik Singapura untuk menilai semula pilihan untuk bercantum semula dengan Malaysia.

Situasi Singapura dan Malaysia ini tidak banyak berbeza dengan Negara Vietnam di suatu masa dulu yang pernah berpisah sebagai dua negara iaitu Vietnam Utara dan Vietnam Selatan, Negara Jerman yang pernah berpisah sebagai Negara Jerman Barat dan Jerman Timur, Negara Yaman yang pernah berpisah sebagai Negara Yaman Utara dan Yaman Selatan.

Semua Negara-negara yang disebutkan tadi mempunyai rakyat yang sama dari segi ras dan sosial budaya tetapi negara mereka dipecahkan disebabkan perbezaan politik. Apabila keadaan politik kedua-dua negara itu mengizinkan untuk bercantum maka mereka tidak menghadapi masalah besar untuk melaksanakannya.

plebisitz said...

I couldnt agree more with you Sir, that was a hood article I feel. :)

The question now is whether the people in UMNO will realize that there is indeed a need to reform what umno is about, probably not reform as in change completely, but they have tune in what exactly is relevant for the current situation. And another thing is whether the people (the Malays particularly) are willing to accept the change of mindset about this new way of thinking. Yes, indeed might take some time for all to change, but judging from what is happening, we can see things ARE changing, albeit slowly.

And another matter about what you saya about "No non-Malay politicians are challenging the status of the Malays", I don't know whether that is the real truth, but in reality, the racial sentiments we can see among the blog posts, comments and th estreets are otherwise. These people might not be politicians yes, but there are some very serious hatred going on too, particularly (i'm guessing) towards the Malays by non-malays. So there is something wrong going on somehwhere too. But agian, we cannot blame the polticians, the public can be conditioned to have it in them, by society, their peers and also their family.

Anonymous said...

I note you have avoided calling for Tun Dr. Mahathir to be arrested and charged for sedition re his inflammatory comments for that, as you have stated, is the ordinary consequence flowing from his recent speeches. He is a very dangerous man if the past is to afford any yardstick.

It might not be consistent with your liberal views that we should have freedom of speech but surely the risk of chaos and anarchy is too high a price to pay if someone like him is allowed to peddle their filth in an attempt to overthrow the democratically elected Prime Minister of this country. As a matter of fact, what would you do if you were the Home Minister, bearing in mind the ex- PM has in your view, 'crossed the line'?

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar said...

Anonymous at 12.53,

good question. I do not view the Sedition Act and the ISA as being constitutional. I do however agree with the offence of incitement (on racial and religious grounds). I would ask the Attorney General and the IGP to take the necessary steps to investigate into whether there was basis for a prosecution. If so, then charges should be preferred and the matter taken to court. Tun Dr M would have his day in court.

The Home Minister does not have the power to commence prosecutions. That is within the domain of the AG. If he should however choose not to prosecute without good reason, if there was in fact a case, then the AG must be made to answer to cabinet. That is something the Home Minister can call for.

I appreciate that I have described an ideal scenario. Nothing however justifies the invoking of unconstitutional law to stop a wrong. Our fundamental rights cannot be allowed to be shaped by expediency.


Old Fart said...

On Mahathir, it is indeed incitement. And many have faced charges for much less. What is more dangerous is that he has the capacity to actualise the incitement into deeds too whereas most of us who blog or comment will not get our onw siblings to even sit up and take notice of what we might have to say. Well me at least.

Of the Bangsa Malaysia spirit, just today, in the NST, Najib has made reference to it in a positive way. But he only cites it as an ultimate goal that may be far in the distant future.

But that is to be expected from any BN politician. After all, is not BN constituted of people, who to begin with, believe in the premise that this country is made up of different communitites separated in the first instance by race and that they are in competition with one another?

The supposition is that in this competition one's gain is supposedly at the other's loss. Its not just economics, It is social status, structures, opportunities, education, power, authority etc.

UMNO's most urgent message to its members and wider constituents is and has mostly been, the protection and defence of their rights and privileges. Obviously even PAS does nto seem to have issue with this as they too compete with UMNO to be the Malay's number one protector and defender. Whatever that means.

Similarly the other race based parties too screech and shout their most important role, according to them, that they are the ones to take care of our interests and to protect us. I often have to ask, from whom?

They seem to think their relevence to thepolitcal scheme of things as playing the role of protector in a field where lapses in attention might result in grave losses to the race and community.

Indeed I have wondered how a Cape Malay from South Africa or a Sri Lankan Malay from Sri Lanka would view his kinsfolk in Malaysia. His expectation of the Malay in Malaysia, for being the ones who are the majority, the ones in power and the ones with the keys to the resources of the country must surely seem contradictory to the realisty that he might see here.

The Cape Malay after having being subjected to an Apartheid regime and of a minority race and religion would find it strange that the Malaysian Malay seems to need all these extra privileges and protection. He might actually wonder if indeed the Malaysian Malay has not necessarily evolved into the full potential that the rest of us humans have. How else does he explain to himself all these reasons that UMNO cites for as to why it is relevant and why a strong UMNO is needed by the Malays.

The racist politics of the BN assumes the races are in competition with one another and they have to be grouped according to their constituents with the majority laying down the rules for eveyone to follow.

Bangsa Malaysia deconstructs that assumption. Bangsa Malaysia sees us all coming together with a single goal for ourselves. In this setting UMNO finds itself lost. MCA and MIC become redundant.

Really, unlike the stark almost class based different approaches that one might be able to see in the economies of countries like the UK, USA and so on depending on which political party is ruling here in Malaysai, because the focus has always been on satisfying the races, the economy that was set on cruise control by the British before Merdeka, has continued to operate unabated almost all these 50 years.

Of course we have the NEPs and the Felda schemes. Otherwise the self propelled entrepreneurship of individuals have basically been left to their own devices. Thankfully, they have done well despite the lack of out and out backing that businesses in some countries get from their governments.

For our own welfare, politics that assumes a singular race, the Bangsa Malasyia race, has to take over so that focus can shift to the more important areas of economy, infrastructure, society and so on. The racist premise of the BN has ensured we have forgone a lot of opportunities and resources. We just have to see the loss in the economic and other frustrated migrants out of this country.

Radziq said...

i like the idea of bangsa Malaysia, but just couldnt accept the fact that Negara Malaysia with Bahasa Malaysia as the 'bahasa kebangsaan' cannot be spoken by some who want to be called as 'bangsa Malaysia' got bangsa Malaysia maaa? ..we will forever have, orang Melayu and orang Cina-Malaysia..orang India-Malaysia.. huhu

ck said...

I can't speak on behalf of all 'Malaysian Chinese' in Malaysia because i can't read their mind.

Personally i accepted the political reality that the 'Malaysian Malays' being the majority will never lose their political power now or in the near future unless they themselves destroy this country.

Having said that, why should i challenge them. All i am asking as a fellow citizen(born & bred) of this country is to be treated as Malaysian, period! Not to be refer as Malaysian of Chinese descent.

When i travel to Hong Kong and Japan, these foreigners refer to me as Malaysian but back home when i got to fill up forms where there is a column asking for my keturunan.

UMNO politicians or all politicians for that matter don't need to play racial card for their own political survival. Ain't the survival of Malaysians and Malaysia is more paramount.