Dec 11, 2013
Malaysia’s most exciting political party of the old, United Malays National Organisation (Umno) just had its general assembly. A ritual of the political blood transfusion and the annual health check and administration of medications and treatments of a body politics ageing and grumbling. Too much good food and good life. Too sedentary of a life after its early years of “winning the war of independence” through a victory presented essentially and arguably, on a silver platter.
With the advent of mega-issues such as the most hegemonic and imperialistic US-imposed proposal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the rise of fascist and hate-mongering groups, the disillusionment about our education system, run amuck and latah behaviors displayed in our Parliament, massive growth of the underclass amongst the overpopulated nation on immigrants shipped en masse to build the country to such giddy heights, a daily rise of cases of mindless crimes, a slackening and weakening school system that is criticised for not preparing the next generation for a competitive economy requiring the cultivation of brainpower, resilience, and a sense of economic republicanism with a heart of social-democraticism, the clamour for a sense of unity reminiscent of the 70s – with all these and more, why are the speeches in this party assembly out of focus?
Here are my questions to the Umno delegates:
Why can’t your speeches be about:
•Coming up with strategies to create a better understanding between the races, since we’ve been together for centuries?
•Designing our education system to be inclusive of all Malaysians with each race treated on equal terms,
•Helping any group progress, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, since we are all lawful citizens and we are not going back to “where we belong”,
•Stopping this nonsense called ‘1Malay’ as a greeting since 1Malaysia is already enough as a meaningless slogan and even 1Mandela would be better,
•Dismantling all systems that will perpetuate hatred amongst us and redesign our lives around celebrating our strength in diversity,
•Find ways to unify all races as one dignified race of Malaysians united against any threats from outside (if there are any real or imagined),
•Coming together as Malaysians to redesign our education system that will truly enhance children’s understanding of concepts, skills, attitude to become good learners, global and transcultural in outlook, and will grow up to see each other as a human race with a common humane destiny, rather than see more divisions and destructions,
•Collaborating with all races to see how best we can help those who are marginalized regardless of race and religion, and how best we can design an economic system that will promote cooperation, collaboration, and the enculturalisation of conscience and conscientiousness amongst us, rather that perpetually create competitions that lead to hatred and warmongering,
•Mediating the differences between Muslims of different interpretive practices, schools of thoughts, ways of leading their ‘Islamic life’ rather than create bogeymen and bogey-women for the purpose of witch-hunting and persecuting each other of the things we cannot fully understand,
•Stopping the total closing of the Malay mind by constantly instilling fear of themselves since time immemorial, since feudal times, so that the Malays can be spared of being called stupid, weak, lazy, and dependent on Umno as savior – all these a perfect model of a Master-Slave Narrative.
We need new speeches, Umno, saner ones.
You are a political party more intelligent than this.
Umno is a party my beloved grandfather, a good ol’ Johorean, was proud of back in the days of its early struggle, back in Johor Baru where it all started. That was one grandfather whom I saw cried profusely in a corner by his old Sanyo radiogram, the day Abdul Razak Hussein died.
Behave now like an adult, Umno, you are almost 60!
Or – are your days numbered, and better dismantled altogether or reduced to an NGO?
Message to the prime minister
Mr Malaysian prime minister, here is my plea – help all Malaysians not just Malays. We’re all bumiputras now. We’ve toiled for the soil. And you’re prime minister for all.
Poverty now cuts across racial lines, with an increasing number of those in the middle class now falling below the poverty line. There is no strong rationale any more, after more than 50 years of independence, to continue policies that are based on racial lines. Doing this will guarantee another 50 years of race and class antagonism.
In education especially, scholarships need to be give based on merit, talent, and needs, not because one is a bumiputra or a Malay or because of the birthright of one’s race. Many of those in privileged boarding schools such as MRSM are not from families who are poor or who could not afford good and quality education. Many are from wealthy families.
There are deserving children from all races that must be given all the opportunities to excel, just like how the Malays from even the abject poor were given the chance back in the early 1970s when the MRSM system first started its first three schools.
Mr prime minister, you must be fair to all races. Open up the privileged MRSMs and other well-funded schools to more children of all races. It will be better for the nation.
Look at the plight other Malaysians. Promising a billion or so Ringgit in educational, entrepreneurial, and economic aid to only one race defined by one-dimensional construct is a wrong political act done with ill intentions. Be wise, in the remaining political time you and your party is given. Reverse the trend of apartheid-isation of education – for the sake of the future of our children.
The New Economic Policy has been replaced with the New Economic Agenda which promises fairness for all, not just the Malays and bumiputras. Honour that. There is enough to go around for everybody’s needs and not just to feed the few’s greed.
Aren’t most of your speeches filled with misplaced and uninformed hatred?
DR AZLY RAHMAN, born in Singapore and grew up in Johor Baru, holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in International Education Development and Masters degrees in four areas: Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication. He has taught more than 40 courses in six different departments and has written more than 350 analyses on Malaysia. His teaching experience in Malaysia and the United States spans over a wide range of subjects, from elementary to graduate education. He has edited and authored four books; Multiethnic Malaysia: Past, Present, Future (2009), Thesis on Cyberjaya: Hegemony and Utopianism in a Southeast Asian State (2012), The Allah Controversy and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity (2013), and the latest Dark Spring: Ideological Roots of Malaysia’s GE-13 (2013). He currently resides in the United States. Twitter,