Time for a Malay Counter-Movement?

By Suflan Shamsuddin | The Malaysian Insider

FEB 21 – With the ever-increasing profile of racially divisive rhetoric spun to purportedly protect the interest of Malays, shouldn’t the alternative point of view be made equally forcefully, by way of an effective and organised Malay counter-movement?

Although right-wing Malay NGOs would like you to believe that Malays are united behind the notion of Ketuanan Melayu, there are actually a very large number of us who view this ideology as being immoral and unIslamic, and therefore unacceptable.

We also believe that it actually serves to weaken our community because it prevents many from developing a sense of personal accountability, it impedes the development of the capacity for critical and informed analysis, and it promotes short cuts and patronage.

In addition, this approach discourages playing by the book, it prevents an understanding of the value of diversity and inclusiveness, and it creates an excuse to avoid becoming competitive and achievement orientated.

Today many Malays share a concern with other Malaysians that even though time-limited means tested affirmative action programmes have value, perpetual handouts and special privileges are like drugs.

This is because it creates an addiction to receiving from the “hand that feeds”, that which poisons them and affects the growth and well-being of the beneficiaries. With this comes elitism and cronyism, encouraged and supported by those who need, or offer, such protection and patronage.

With resources quickly drying up, there is a real fear of a rude and potentially violent awakening when this habit can no longer be maintained.

So, the idea for this Malay counter-movement has begun to germinate. If this movement were to materialise, it would look to advance a Malay culture and mindset, which rejects Ketuanan Melayu, and that is instead built on Islamic and universally held values, virtues and ideals, which include integrity, self-motivation, self-determination, a quest for knowledge, a desire for self-improvement, tolerance and respect.

It would operate on an independent and non-partisan basis so that it can stay true to a morally robust set of principles by which to pursue the cause of improving the welfare and condition of the Malays.

It would study and promote an understanding of the concerns that could impede the progress of the Malays. It would also seek to inform policy through consultation with all stakeholders such as the Government, political parties, and civil society.

It would look to help develop new ideas to address the concerns relating to why the Malays, in general, have not been as successful and self-actualised as they ought to have been, given the opportunities they have been afforded over the last fifty years.

Finally, it would look to make and market a convincing case to the Malays, as to what is it for them to gain, in life and in the hereafter, were they to lead their life by the values and principles espoused.

For this movement to be impactful, it must be structured as being wholly Malay, and its membership must be fairly representative of the community whether by reference to gender, age or background. This is because its ultimate aim is to win the hearts and minds of the Malays themselves.

This, of course, might hinder the participation of those who do not feel it right to associate themselves with a wholly Malay-only movement, although there will be some who will see its value in countering the rhetoric of the hardliners in right-wing Malay organisations.

Nevertheless, it might appeal to others who feel it crucial, and might want to help, to work together to promote meaningful change in their own community as an end in itself, and as a means to a better Malaysia.

Ideally, “towering” non-partisan Malays who are universally respected by all Malaysians should play an active role in the movement. These individuals would have achieved success in their own fields without the ill effects of Ketuanan Melayu, and should ensure that the movement has credibility, maintains its independence and moral compass, and remains unsoiled by the vested interests of any individual or political party.

Even though non-partisan, the movement should also attract members of all Malay-centric political parties who share the same ideals for their community. They might wish to support this movement because they all share a desire to get rid of an antiquated and bankrupt Malay political paradigm built on religious and racial intolerance, patronage and insecurity.

They would be united in wanting to replace it with one that builds the confidence and capacity of the Malays to compete and contribute fairly and successfully.

However, in order to maintain the credibility and independence of the movement, leaders and active members of such political parties should accept the need to confine their participation to a supporting role, and not expect to lead or influence its decision-making.

It should follow that Malay leaders of all parties who desire a united and workable Malaysia ought to fully support the creation of this movement, since the greater is the movement’s support from the Malay community, the less will they need to pander to the sentiments of extremists and racists inside and outside of their party.

Finally, such a movement should not be seen as serving to perpetuate an “us versus them” mentality, separating Malays from non-Malays. It must not become in anyway a threat to an inclusive Malaysia.

Instead it should be seen as doing the exact converse, i.e. helping to prepare the Malays to take the first and important steps to embrace the creation of the illusive Bangsa Malaysia, over the longer term.

Today, this movement is nothing but an idea. If you are interested in its development, please sign up as a member of the Facebook group Tabung Idea Mengukuhkan Martabat Melayu, which I have only just set up, to log ideas and comments about this proposal.

  1. #1 by ekompute on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 11:34 am

    Well, to me, the biggest losers of Ketuanan Melayu are the ordinary Malays themselves because they lend their names to help enriched an elite few who now live in multi-million ringgit mansions, while the majority are still ekeing out a living. Just imagine how many Malay billionaires Ketuanan Melayu has created, and all these have to be hidden from the light of day for obvious reasons. If these billions and millions are distributed among the ordinary Malays, the fruits of the NEP would have reached the ordinary Malays long ago. As it is, it seems that only a small percentage trickles to them while the bulk of it gets stuck in the hands of the very few. In short, the wakil rakyats are getting obese, while the rakyat are still as skinny as ever.

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 12:06 pm

    Agreed, 4 this nation 2 move on, d Malays n native East Malaysians r d key players 2 decide 2 continue with d bunch of self-enriching Umnoputras n their cronies or 2 kick them out
    D first test will b here very soon – Sarawak state election
    Are PR/PRM READY 4 d coming state election?
    It seems DAP guys there r killing each other! How come?

  3. #3 by limkamput on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 12:21 pm

    I do not know what further evidence is needed to prove that affirmative actions as practised by UMNO have not worked. The economic position of some Malays has improved no doubt, but to what extent this is sustainable is yet to be seen. Easy money comes, easy money goes. Surely many Malays were given lots of wealth through the largesse of the government, but for them to hold on to it and to manage it on a sustainable basis has remained elusive. That is why so many NEP programmes have become endless conduits that transfer “goodies” to them like drugs given to addicts.

    The NEP and the stranglehold of Malays having the monopoly of political power is a big drawback. There are simply too many incompetent people in the helm whose appointments were solely based on race and nothing else. Incompetent people can’t create wealth and better living standard for others. In fact, incompetent people holding important positions are actually destroying wealth. Just look at key ministries, government departments, important statutory bodies, and GLCS – these are essentially staffed by people from one single race who capability are very much in doubt. It is that simple; if indeed they are that capable and qualified why do they need continuous NEP protection. If indeed they are that good, why do they need stipulation that only Malays can hold those positions? Are we saying that important positions are actually titular heads – it does not matter persons holding those positions are capable or qualified so long as they are of a particular race and religion. In fact, if we observe closely, there are simply too many titular heads at various levels of the administration who practically do nothing other than destroy value. How can our economy ever move forward when those destroying value are more than those creating value. GLCs are supposed to operate more on commercial basis. Can someone name me one head of GLC that is appointed not based on political, racial or parochial consideration? Also, can the PM name me one important minister whose appointment is not based on political, racial and religious consideration?

    All these talks about 1Malaysia, about UMNO serving all races, about inclusivity, about sharing wealth, prosperity and responsibility are baloney when the basis tenet of letting more capable people to man the resources is not adhered to. Why talk so eloquently the grandiose stuff when the reality is staring right at us. How hypocrite can we get?

  4. #4 by ekompute on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 12:29 pm

    When Malaya gained independence in 1957, UMNO claimed that the Malays need special rights because they are economically disadvantaged. 50 years, they claimed that they deserve special rights because of Ketuanan Melayu. Head also they say, tail also they say. Where does the virtue of honesty stand in the Malay value system?

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 12:41 pm

    The key to reassuring the Malays that they will never be marginalised is simply to argue that its impossible already. Demographically the bumiputra population as a percentage can only grow bigger. The population of Chinese in particular will shrink no matter who is ruling this country due to decreasing birth rate and migration in a globalised world. Between decreasing birth rate and a globalised world that opportunities in a bigger world, the Chinese population who are largely urbanised and hence globalised is doomed to shrink in this country.

    The issue then is one of class. What the Malays must want is a dynamic economy whether the winners and losers are not pre-determined. It need dynamism both in the corporate sector as well as government because the latter determined a significant part of the corporate sector. So no matter who rules, what works for them is just simply change based on merit and equal opportunities. It wants a government that spent more on the best education in the rural areas than in suburban areas. It wants a government, that is less Federally oriented, so that it encourages industries and services to be more distributed to other states than concentrated in KL and Penang. All these are PR and their best hope for the future.

    UMNO/BN which is feudal oriented can not meet their demand because of the unbalanced demands of the elite class which wants and can get disporportionately more. UMNO/BN spends disporportionately way more time and resources on seizing power in Perak, attacking Anwar, Selangor and Penang govt then actually making schools better, making sure industries more efficient, less crime, infrastructure better maintained and built, and the UMNO/BN machinery need less money and better quality candidates through meritocracy. So long as UMNO/BN priorities is changed, so long they will never deliver on their promises

  6. #6 by waterfrontcoolie on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 5:07 pm

    I totally agree with Suflan on the role of the Middle class Malays; they’ve allowed their rightful role to be usurped by characters which I can describe only as the equivalent of Hitler and Stalin, both professing to German and Russian respectively; when neither was. One happened to speak German when the land was part of the Hapburg empire and the other happened to speak Russians when Peter conquered Georgia. They finally screwed up the nations to suffer years of consequential poverty. If the real Malays are not aware of what is happening now, they too will suffer the same after effects. They know that all the propaganda is now controlled via the Strait Times and Utusan and just look at those faces who lead them. The late Ancient Mariner was quite aware of the situation though he seldom spoke openly of it.

  7. #7 by hibou on Sunday, 21 February 2010 - 10:53 pm

    Another Malay based organization to take care of Malay interest?

    When are we going to learn to work together as Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, but based only on priority of the most needy?

    We should also definitely leave religion out of politics.

  8. #8 by undergrad2 on Monday, 22 February 2010 - 1:29 am

    “I do not know what further evidence is needed to prove that affirmative actions as practised by UMNO have not worked. ” limkaput

    Of course it has worked as a racially skewed policy crafted to benefit Malays irrespective if they have the academic credentials. How else could a Malay like limkaput, of mediocre ability and poor grades at SPM enroll himself as a student at a community college at taxpayer expense in the U.S. and then returned to take his position in an UMNO machinery, pushing pen and paper until he retires at the ripe old age of 55, helping UMNO to loot the national coffers with impunity?? A feat he claimed was not easy to achieve and for which he announced on this blog that he was awarded the long service medal.

    Here is somebody who bites the hand that feeds him.

  9. #9 by pwcheng on Monday, 22 February 2010 - 2:34 am

    “perpetual handouts and special privileges are like drugs”.
    You are absolutely right. I have mentioned this before and it is clear that UMNo is using the NEP as a drug for many Malays so that they can get addicted which many are already and one very good example is Ibrahim Ali. UMNo is using the same tactics used by the British in giving opium to the Chinese to make them get addicted and be subservient to them and this lead to the Anglo Chinese war from 1839-1860

  10. #10 by chengho on Monday, 22 February 2010 - 8:02 am

    Malays is malays , whatever you do we can alway find AliBaba mentality either in politic or economic

  11. #11 by dagen on Monday, 22 February 2010 - 12:53 pm

    “… there are actually a very large number of us [i.e. malays] who view this ideology as being immoral and unIslamic, and therefore unacceptable.” the author said.

    In fact, I see the shameless and continuous scream for protection and for special rights and privileges (a) as childish cry; and (b) as a super mega insult upon those malays who are genuinely and wholeheartedly working their backside out to make ends meet and hopefully to succeed one day.

    Of course, umno did not realise that the number of malays out there who yearn for success with their own ability have grown very substantially. They too are of the reality tv show generation and like the rest of us, they want challenges in life, true success and real satisfaction – not privileges, special rights and other soft cushions.

  12. #12 by DCLXVI on Monday, 22 February 2010 - 1:59 pm

    chengho :…whatever you do we can alway find AliBaba mentality either in politic or economic

    If I’m not mistaken, you can also find AliBaba in ‘Ali Baba Bujang Lapok’ on TV2 tonight…

  13. #13 by chengho on Monday, 22 February 2010 - 8:18 pm

    WoW i m impressed old boy , i never watch terrestrial tv , i prefer IPTV.

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