By Mariam Mokhtar | Malaysiakini
If some of you think that this nation is in a mess, then blame the Malays because they are the problem. Malays know that Malaysia is not the land of gold and honey any longer.
In these difficult times, they have become more aware of their surroundings; but one other person has noticed this sea-change in the Malays.
He is former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He knows that a thinking and independent Malay is detrimental to his legacy, his creation – Umno-Baru – and to the well-being of his family’s fortunes. Today’s self-aware Malay is Mahathir’s downfall.
Malays are in positions of power in government and the civil service. They dictate policies and run the wheels of government; but Malays are also the nation’s worst hypocrites.
They are greedy. They are happy with short-term solutions. They do not think of the consequences. They are happy to hide behind the cloak of race and religion if it will bring them some material benefit or status. The day they lose everything is probably the day they will regain their humility, values and self-respect.
With the downturn in the economy, Malays have noticed that jobs are hard to come by, that only the chosen Malays receive government tenders, and that the cost of living is increasing. Scholarships for the poor Malay child are snapped up by children of Umno Baru politicians and cronies, leaving only a few places for the needy.
Crime is rife and foreigners are a common sight in every community, schools and hospitals. The Malay market-trader has to compete with a foreigner, who is willing to work harder for less money. Children in the rural areas are disillusioned and difficult to motivate. Many drift to the cities looking for jobs, then find that there are no jobs, so they add to the Mat Rempit menace.
The most privileged section of the community also has the highest proportion of drug users. Why are Malays more prone to drug addiction? Are they trying to escape reality? People who volunteer in charitable organisations allege that Malays have the highest incidence of problems, ranging from domestic violence to sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual problems such as rape, incest and illegitimate children.
Corruption is killing the country, but Malays are quite happy with the RM50 or RM500 offered by Umno Baru. The muftis order ridiculous fatwas and Friday sermons are politicised, but few Malays voice their objections. If this were Indonesia, the Indonesians would have walked out of the mosques, in protest.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation. If Indonesian women were subjected to acts of humiliation, many Indonesian women and men would have picketed to protest and demand that stern action be taken. Malay women would rather watch the latest TV soap.
Malays are aware that government tenders above a certain value involve bribery but will they lodge complaints? Perhaps, they are aware that nothing will be done. The people who head these anti-graft bodies are Malay.
Malays know that cheating was rife in GE13 and in the by-election in Kuala Besut on July 24. It appears that Malays were more concerned about getting in the queue for their “travel allowance”, than stopping corruption.
The hundreds of millions of ringgit should instead have been pumped into schemes to benefit the community. The scoundrels are the Election Commission (EC) chairperson and his deputy; both Malays. Men who lack principle and dignity are championed by Umno-Baru.
Umno Baru seems to be promoting the Malays, whereas Pakatan Rakyat appears to be inclusive of all Malaysians, but the irony is that the only way for Malays to prosper is to vote against Umno-Baru and ensure that Pakatan forms the next government.
Mahathir knows which buttons to push. He is good at making you react, he excels at getting your attention and is pleased when you become all worked up – his expertise is that of a master manipulator. Mahathir would have made a better psychiatrist than a general practitioner.
Those who claim that Mahathir’s policies “help” the Malays, are wrong. What he does under the pretext of helping Malays is designed to have the opposite effect. He is exacting his own vengeance on the Malays. Sadly, the Malays are too blind or stupid to notice.
When Mahathir was a child, which traumatic episode in particular made him turn against the Malays? He appears to be torn between pleasing the Malays, so that he is accepted by them, but at the same time is driven by feelings of guilt, to redeem himself for being cast as an outsider.
Was he teased in the school playground and called derogatory names pertaining to his background? Was he ashamed of being registered as an Indian at medical school in Singapore? Despite having a Malay mother, did elite Malays, royalty and the community treat Mahathir as an outsider? Did an incident deprive Mahathir of a deep emotional connection with the Malay community, which fostered a deep seated envy of the Malays?
This week, Mahathir has again tried to pit Malays against Chinese, and vice-versa; he queried whether the Chinese wanted to share, or to seize power, in Malaysia.
The non-Malay colleagues or beneficiaries of Mahathir’s largesse are silent. If they are angry with Mahathir, none would dare voice their objections publicly. Mahathir knows that patronage has its advantages, and its limits.
Today, we are a nation divided along racial and religious lines and all of us are to blame. From the beginning, Mahathir had a racist agenda. The Malays were mesmerised by Mahathir’s spin but then, the non-Malays are not entirely innocent.
In the WikiLeaks cables released in April 2013, it was revealed that the US embassy expressed surprise that Mahathir had been appointed deputy PM in 1976, but they were probably more amazed by the lack of opposition from the non-Malays despite Mahathir’s “Malay chauvinism”.
Francis T Underhill Jr, the ambassador at the time noted that “… the small, predominantly Chinese Democratic Action Party (DAP) has expressed some concern over Mahathir’s past record but has not openly opposed his selection. Other Chinese parties or politicians have either not commented or have welcomed Mahathir’s appointment in a pro forma manner”.
Malaysia does not have a Malay or a Chinese dilemma. Our only dilemma is Mahathir. His latest outburst about the Chinese seizing power is merely a side-show. He wants to deflect attention from the greatest show in Malaysia, the Umno Baru general assembly.
Behind the scenes, the Malays in Umno-Baru are positioning themselves, like pieces on a chess board. The rakyat’s problem is that we have poor quality Malay Umno Baru leaders, who only want to maintain their vested interests.
Malays are the problem of this country but they could also be the solution. Right now, any aspiring Malay who wants to be leader must listen to the needs of the lower-income groups and families with aspiration. He must address concerns of the rakyat like illegal immigration, corruption, education and rising crime.
Nothing gives Mahathir a greater sense of schadenfreude than seeing the Malays suffer, despite the Ketuanan Melayu and Umno Baru.
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.