Note to A Malaysian Obama

by M. Bakri Musa

On Tuesday November 4th, 2008, America became, in the words of comedian Jon Stewart, more of a “show” nation and less of a “tell” one. In electing Barack Obama, America shows the world that it is now closer to being that “more perfect Union,” to quote the preamble to its constitution. Nations are like people; it matters not where you have been, more important is where you are headed.

In his victory speech Obama cited 106-year old Ann Dixon Cooper from the South who recalls only too well the time when women and blacks were not allowed to vote. The fate of blacks was worse. In his stirring speech Obama challenged Americans to imagine their nation a century hence; what his young daughters would experience should they be lucky enough to live as long as Ms. Cooper. Would they too see comparable progress as that witnessed by her?

Obama’s victory captured the world’s imagination, especially in Kenya where his father was born, and also in Malaysia, but for a far different reason. I had intimation of this when on meeting Malaysian students in New York the weekend before the elections I was asked whether Malaysia is ready for her own Barack Obama. Before replying, I countered with a question of my own: Is there a Malaysian Obama, or more specifically, is Malaysia capable of producing one?

Labeling Barack Obama

Obama is the product of a white mother and a black father. To be sure, they were no ordinary parents; both had PhDs, with his father’s from Harvard. Obama however was brought up for the most part by his maternal grandparents, a solid Middle America couple from Kansas.

In achievements, Barack followed the trajectory more typical of an ambitious white middle class family: exclusive “prep” school and an Ivy League education. While Obama could throw a mean basketball hoop, his climb to the top was through academics, not athletics or music. Stated differently, Obama’s path to success hews closer to a Kennedy than a Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Obama adopted the faith of his mother and grandparents, not of his Muslim father or stepfather, which is a minority albeit a fast-growing faith in America.

In his speeches, from the imageries and metaphors he uses down to his accent and delivery, Obama is more Jack Kennedy than Jesse Jackson, more Cambridge, Massachusetts than Southside Chicago. Obama’s favorite expression is, “My fellow Americans!” not, “Yo! Brother!” Obama favors conservative dark suits and well trimmed look, not brash-colored Afro suits and daring hairdo.

Culturally at least, Obama is more white than black. Indeed, during the early part of his political campaign, he had to fight hard the widely-held perception in the black community that he “ain’t black enough.”

Yet to the dominant American society, Obama is labeled black, not white. The reason is obvious; he carries the physical features of a black, including or especially his skin color. During the intense campaign there were concerted efforts to paint him as being “not one of us.” This would have happened even if he were a conservative with a waspish name like Alan Lee Keyes and not a foreign one like Barack Hussein Obama.

In particular, Obama had to constantly deny that he was a Muslim. It is doubtful that Obama would have secured his party’s nomination, let alone the election, had he been a Muslim. This does not mean that America is anti-Muslim rather that it is not quite yet ready to accept someone from a minority faith to be in the White House. A generation ago America had difficulty digesting the fact that a Catholic would be president. This recent election season also saw during the Republican primaries misgivings about Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.

The path to “a more perfect Union,” while steady, is slow.

Contrast that to Malaysia. There are many children of Malay-Caucasian as well as Malay-Chinese and Malay-Indian marriages exhibiting very “un-Malay” features. Yet Malay culture has been very welcoming of them, unhesitatingly embracing them as Malays. This is not a recent phenomenon. I had many childhood friends and classmates who had distinctly Chinese or Indian appearances because of adoption or mixed marriages, yet they were all considered and treated as Malays.

Why the children of mixed marriages between a member of the majority and a minority are not regarded as the majority in America, but they are in Malaysia, is an observation worth pondering. I am certain this is related to an underlying obsession with “racial purity.”

On this point, as a Malay I am heartened that my culture is very welcoming of those who are adopted, from mixed marriages, and do not look like us, whatever that presumed “Malay appearance” might be. We are, thankfully, not consumed with maintaining our “purity.”

My view is that Malaysia already has her Barack Obama in the person of Mahathir Muhamad. We do not recognize him as such because unlike in America where its Obama is considered a member of the minority, Malaysia’s majority Malays warmly and quickly embrace their Obama as one of their own. Nor is Mahathir alone; earlier leaders like Datuk Onn and Tunku Abdul Rahman also had mixed ancestry.

By biological heritage, Obama has equal claim to being black or white. Yet because of his unalterable physical characteristics Obama is labeled black. Even if Obama were to resort to the miracles of plastic surgery, skin-whitening cream, and hair coloring and straightening a la Michael Jackson, which Obama does not, he would still be labeled black.

For contrast, examine the group portrait of UMNO Supreme Council members. If they were to dispense with their songkok and Baju Melayu and instead put on modern attire, some of them could easily be mistaken as delegates from MCA or MIC, that is, until they open their big mouth and chant their chauvinistic slogan of Ketuanan Melayu!

Malaysian Obama Wannabe

Malaysians do not recognize their Obamas because they have adopted and are comfortable with the cultural values of the majority; they consider themselves and are being treated as a member of that majority.

Our Malaysian Obamas are comfortable with and have successfully adopted the dominant culture. They are fluent in Malay, not the language of their forefathers, just like Obama cannot speak a word of Swahili, or whatever language his late father used in Kenya.

The heroes Obama invokes are Jefferson and Lincoln, not some Mau Mau chief or Zulu King. Likewise, a Malaysian Obama wannabe must invoke local heroes, not Churchill, Nehru, or Mao. Similarly, just as Obama has a fondness for conservative business suits and not colorful Kenyan robes, his Malaysian wannabe must not only be comfortable in songkok and batik, but must also look good in them. You will not endear yourself to the majority (which is the first step to earning their votes) if you balk at wearing the songkok when in the palace to pay homage to the King or Sultan, or entering their place of worship wearing a short skirt and dispensing with a headscarf.

Clearly Malaysia is not only ready for a Barack Obama, it has already produced many. However, if we dispense with the racial label and ask the more substantive question of whether Malaysia could produce a future leader the caliber and transforming character of Barack Obama, then the answer is more complex and problematic.

Obama captures the imagination of Americans with his brilliance, eloquence, and charisma. He appeals to their finer instincts; he brings Americans together, transcending class, region, and most of all, race.

Despite all that it is well to be reminded that Obama would not have secured his party’s nomination if the Democratic Party had adopted the procedures of the Republican Party, with its winner-takes-all rules. Had the Democrats done that, Hilary Clinton would have been their nominee, not Obama.

For another, Obama owes his meteoric rise in the Democratic Party to many senior party leaders, in particular his fellow senator and himself a former presidential candidate, John Kerry. It was Kerry who spotlighted Obama by giving him a slot to address the Democratic National Convention in 2004 that catapulted Obama to the national scene. Obama followed that with his stirring all-American success story in his bestselling autobiographies, Dreams of My Father and The Audacity of Hope.

I am certain that Allah in His justness has also blessed Malaysia with individuals with the leadership talent and charisma of Obama. Whether they would be nurtured by our institutions would be the biggest challenge. Our schools and universities would more than likely stunt their development.

Even if such individuals were lucky enough to escape the local system by attending international schools in Malaysia and then proceeding to great universities abroad, there is little reason to expect that they would be welcome back home. More than likely such scarce talents would have been seduced by the more lucrative and challenging opportunities abroad. Even if they were to return home they would have been tempted by the more rewarding careers in the private sector.

This problem is not unique to Malaysia but also plagues the developing world. It also afflicts economically “First World” but culturally and politically “Third World” countries like Singapore.

Even if our brilliant young Malaysian Obama could fend off those temptations and opt for a career in politics, his path would not be fast or clear. For one, he would have difficulty being accepted by the local party branch as those insecure village leaders would be wary of new challengers. Even if he were to be accepted, there would not be a Kerry-like senior figure to grease the path. Malaysian leaders promote only their kith and kind, not some unknown talent no matter how promising.

Lastly, the political structure and hierarchy in Malaysia do not lend themselves to such rapid renewals of leadership. The pattern is akin to the landing slots at major airports, with the third or fourth tier leaders all dutifully lining up taking their turns. If perchance one proves later to be a dud, it matters not; his or her turn is coming up anyway.

There is indeed a Malaysian Obama out there, but nobody cares or would bother to find or nurture him. That unfortunately is a loss for him, but more so for the nation.

  1. #1 by DaveTheMan on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 7:48 am

    Dr M Bakri Musa & Uncle Lim,

    Nice one, very thought-provoking article!

    U the MAN!

  2. #2 by taiking on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 8:40 am

    What can I say. Mahathir had already obamaed malaysia before obama himself appeared in american political scene. This is my observation based on an extension of Bakri’s analogy.

    But Obama relates with the black american community. More importantly he regards himself as black and paid no regard to the white segment of the dna within him. That is why he had the solid support of the black community.

    I dont think Mahathir ever related with his indian community. He never mentions it. Instead he spoke of malay, malayness and malay supremacy. The impression I have of him is he had abandoned his indian ancestry and became (by choice) an adopted malay.

    We would have our obama when guan eng or ong tee keat or karpal singh or Manoharan became PM of malaysia.

    Of course, that is possible. Mahathir himself said so. More relevantly, he pointed out that our constitution does not limit prime ministership to malays only.

  3. #3 by pulau_sibu on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 8:44 am

    I think the blacks in USA will be disappointed before the end of five years when they found out that the conditions of black population has not been improved. They placed too much hopes on Obama, whereas Obama will not be strong and capable enough to bring a rapid change. Obama should please more the non-black population compared to just the black minority. He is a politician, thus he knows what to do in order to maximise his chance of being reelected five years later.

    One thing that bothered me is he did not talk about his association with Islam. How can a son of a muslim father, and also lived in Indonesia as a child, could possibly have nothing associated with Islam? He can admit that he knows more about Islam than any common Americans. I think he just wanted to be part of the Christian world so that he can be a politician and president.

    40+% of the white voted for Obama. I don’t think there is no racial barrier, but they have to get rid of the most horrible Bush. Incidentally, I found Mahathir’s analysis quite reasonable, and I posted a comment:-

    When I read your article, it reminded me of your previous writings about why people voted for Pakatan Rakyat, simply because they disliked Abdullah. It is not that people liked Anwar, but they disliked Abdullah more than Anwar, so they voted for Anwar.

    Pakatan Rakyat=Democrats

    I think it is most important for Obama to act. It will not be good if his speeches are good, but cannot respond to the people highest ever expectation on him because of lousy Bush.

  4. #4 by draken001 on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 8:48 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Obama phenomenon if I may call it that. It would be much easier for Malaysians of different creeds to accept each other if religion does not come into the equation. Religion is the bane of all troubles and woes that confronts us, not only in this country but in others, too.

  5. #5 by bennylohstocks on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 8:50 am

  6. #6 by monsterball on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 9:00 am

    Yes …we have many young Malaysians like Barrack Obama…but Malaysian politics are dominated by race and religion UMNO politics……which is out-dated..some 30 years ago…yet amplified..and emphasized how important it none other than Mahathir…who had the opportunity to unite all races as Malaysians. He is a racialist…corrupted devil.
    For 22 years…he did not do the right things……..and look what are the results.
    Our government mentalities are far far below US govt…due to the obvious low class educations…and weird ways to present themselves…with false titles..and stolen money.
    The only smart thing about our UMNO politicians…is mastering the art of lying…twisting…and without shame…try to teach other countries…how to be righteous.
    Will we ever get a Malaysian Obama?
    Sure we can. First we must vote for change of government…then give few terms for new one…to change the 50 year old evil doctrines…to wash away the sins…make the people whole and not living with fear and no confidence…to depending on a political party…to survive.
    Easy to say than done……as many things are involved…. if new government is serious and are ..uncorrupted lot…then..nothing is impossible.
    Anyone can be a PM…as long as it is from a majority party winner.
    So will…..Parkatan Rakyat….pick the best..regardless race to be PM….after Anwar and few more??
    Well….right now….Anwar can easily feel smart and sincere…if he picks Lim Kit Siang as DPM…if they election.
    But will that old man accept it?
    I doubt…as Lim is smart enough..not to force changes of mentalities…by narrow minded Malaysians…with a crash program.
    I am speaking with a positive attitude..that change of government is a must…and sure thing.
    But if next election….UMNO still win…then lets talk about our country illnesses…and sick brains…leaving those smart countries out completely.

  7. #7 by melurian on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 9:56 am

    america finally conquered by kenya without a single soldier. …..

  8. #8 by Jeffrey on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:01 am

    Mahathir is no Obama.

    Because here we’re not comparing man and man both of mixed parentage with father of minority ancestry .

    We’re comparing what a man symbolises. In this respect they are opposite!

    The reason : Obama’s victory captured the world’s imagination because (in spite of being assimilated into white society in all other respects) he symbolizes, by his “unalterable physical characteristics” (dark skin) that a person identified to a minority group marginalized for decades for skin colour could transcend that barrier to lead a country of white majority.

    Whereas Mahathir is a symbol of the OPPOSITE – where by his physical characteristics of being light skinned and adopting wholesale the culture of the majority, he could dissociate completely from the minority group marginalized from which he has paternal lineage and pretends wholly and completely that he is a person of the majority group in power (as subtly distinct from portraying minority parentage but assimilationg majority culture), championing the majority rights as against the rest.

    Mahathir is therefore no Obama at all. The latter does nothing to deny/camouflage and hide his racial difference from that of the white majority and therefore stands as symbol for equal opportunity for all, and Merit/Content of Character rather than Colour of Skin determines who should be leader for all in a heterogenous society.

  9. #9 by Jeffrey on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:03 am

    More important Obama stands as a symbol of political change whereas Mahathir, a continuance of his legacy of Mahathirism.

  10. #10 by megaman on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:06 am

    USA took more than 2 centuries of continuous progress in its legislation and education to improve its racial integration to reach where it is today.

    The road is very tough to the legendary champions like Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln etc, all that paid dearly with their lives.

    Malaysia has only a short 50 years of independence and progress in racial integration and true nation-building has been stunted and even made a U-turn in some cases.

    In such situations, how long do you think it would take Malaysia ?

    The darkness before the dawn is always the thickness.

    Malaysians will have to endure more terrible hardships and heartaches before we finally realize our follies and we need to do.

  11. #11 by Jeffrey on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:08 am

    And the leagacy of Mahathirism is diametrically opposite to equal opportunity not held back by race : Mahathirisim is a symbol of Communal politics (NEP/NDP and mnurturing of Ketuanan) the relevance of which even today as an ordinary citizen he espouses.

    What is important is what man symbolises. In this respect, Mahathir symbolises everything diametrically opposed to what Obama symbolises!

  12. #12 by melurian on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:15 am

    can’t compare america and malaysia. in america (or even japan where korean descent is minority), the majority is progressing race and developed nation and have pride to be proud of. we looked up to americans and japanese coz they have result that we would impressed. whereas the majority in malaysia, other than being religious, corrupt and relying crutches in many sectors and for > 20 years (and demand for another 20 years), why would minority want to emulate their way and culture when the majority din even respect themselves. just like s africa, do you think the white will follow majority’s culture, like renaming themselves, change their religion when post apartheid condition is worse? if the majority performs like developed nation, no doubt the minority will follow suit and proud to opt their culture if the majority is not what we have majority today and appear frontnews for wrong reason…

  13. #13 by Mr Smith on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:16 am

    Malaysia will only be able to do an Obama when UMNO is no more in the political scene. Which means it should not even be in the Opposition as it will cause havoc with its racist Malay Supremacy ideology and whip up ‘terrorist’ sentiments among its followers.

  14. #14 by k1980 on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:40 am

    Had Barak Hussein Obama not gone to Hawaii but remained in his father’s Kenya, he would most likely become a Kikuyu cowherd. And he would had been chopped up in the Kenyan riots caused by Kibaki’s rigging of votes. This is the reality of Third World politics. So don’t talk about any malaysian Obama.

  15. #15 by frankyapp on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 12:52 pm

    TDM says it’s ok for any malaysian to be PM as long as he/she enjoys the majority,you guys said. Ok. pretty fair to me. In the not too long future,it will come true,I can sense it.But what’s worrying me is,is it acceptable by the Agong. Perak state assemby DAP/KeadilanPAS in DAP has the majority but was not accepted by the state’s sultan.So what majority you guys are talking about in the federal level? Will it be another nightmare ?

  16. #16 by taiking on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 1:36 pm

    Non-umnoputras leading the country? No problem. In fact it could be a good thing. We have a population of 26 million of which a good 25 million are non-umnoputras and a good 8-9 million are chinese, indians etc.

    Selecting a leader from a small group of umnoputras means one thing. We are limiting outselves. But that is umnoputrs’s style – a style they insist had worked wonderfully for them (never mind the country).

    Its obvious to all of us that what is good for umnoputras only is almost certainly not good for the country. Of course, I appreciate the fact that after 5 decades of comfort, they became numb to things outside the umno inner circle. Watch the BBC leader’s conduct to appreciate the full extent of their arrogance and ignorance towards the bubbling realities beyond that inner cicle.

    Opening the PM position up would automatically and immediately open up our skies and our capabilities and competitiveness. Look at umnoputras’ attempt to improve our universities ranking by changing the umnoputra higher education ministers. Four from the same inner circle came and went. Yet nothing worked. It didnt work and it wont work.

    Still they refuse to acknowledge the fact that they just have to look beyond the inner circle for a better and more capable person. If they bothered to do so, I am sure there are indeed such better and more capable person. I even dare to venture as far as to say that we could catch up with Taiwan, HK, Singapore and Korea, both economically and technologically.

    But of course, those umnoputras have a different opinion. They somehow still thought that we could catch up by peddling backwards. The earth is round. So their logic actually makes some sense. Be that as it may, I must state at once that it is an opinion I do not share and do not respect.

    Jeffery is right to observe that we as a nation is buried by mahathirism. And dare I add that our grave is more than 6 feet deep for obama – the president elect of america and hence the most powerful man on earth – would be plain obama if he was a malaysian living and working in malaysia.

  17. #17 by yellow on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 2:24 pm

    Mahathir is more Hitler than Obama.

  18. #18 by AhPek on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 3:32 pm

    Bakri Musa, you got to be a real clown to have made the suggestion there is already a Malaysian Obama in Mahathir for this person Mahathir is no more a mamak trying to be more Malay than you simply for the express purpose of gaining political power so that both he and cronies can take the country to the cleaners.

  19. #19 by hadi on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 3:36 pm

    God willing, it will happen in Malaysia provided some changes need to take place and you can’t leave it to BN to start the ball rolling.
    The article provided such a true picture and if it manages to capture our politicians to have a dream then it will happen one day.
    YB Kit, it will not take place during our live time but Pakatan Rakyat should continue to work for it if you really believe in it and understand the issue at hands.
    This article should be widely read and be given the exposure for public discussion as a way to look for the future. Over to you YB Kit.

  20. #20 by MOJO JOJO on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 4:43 pm

    To rekindle the semangat of muhibbah, the right thing to do is to get rid of the NEP & bumiputra race segregation and then only we talk about social intergration. As mentioned b4, TDM singled handedly destroyed the spirit of being true Malaysians which supposed to unite everyone else. The segregation has created resentment, hatred and psychological imbalance where one race is perceived of taking advantage of the others which otherwise we wouldn’t have seen some bozo chiefs calling the others as immigrants.

  21. #21 by monsterball on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 5:07 pm

    It is strange that Barrack Obama…admired by the whole world…..and it needs some low class muslim idiots to compare him with Mahathir.
    What are they comparing with?
    I said..we have many same calibre as Obama in Malaysia….thinking only.. of smart loyal.. innocent young Malaysians…that can be moulded to be great politicians.
    How can one compare a corrupt dictator for 22 years…with Obama??
    What type of brains..these pro Mahathir have??

  22. #22 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 5:13 pm

    Just to share this piece from Malaysiakini, which I thought says it all…

    If Obama had done his magic here …
    A Disappointed Member | Nov 14, 08 4:20pm

    It is nice to know that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi thinks anyone can become PM in Malaysia. He must think we are stupid and blind to the realities of being ethnic minorities in Malaysia.

    If Barack Obama was unfortunate enough to have been born in Malaysia, he couldn’t even become the general manager of PKNS, never mind, president of the US, the most powerful country in the world.

    If he became a born-again Christian in his teenage years, keeping in view his father was African Muslim, Jakin would have hauled him off to a religious rehabilitation detention centre in Malaysia, and his kids would have been taken away from him.

    Michelle Obama would then have been advised by our racist religious authorities to divorce him.

    Just for not being Malay, Umno would have overlooked his obvious talents and intelligence, and they would have denied him permanent residence or a citizenship and he can forget about any potential scholarships, job promotions or a place in a public university.

    Like Vijay Singh, world champion golfer, he would have been forced to emigrate to live elsewhere.

    If Barack Obama had advocated equal opportunity and equal rights in Malaysia, he would have been demonised by Utusan Malaysia as being anti-Malay and anti-Islam and taken into custody under the ISA just like what happened to Teresa Kok, and he would have had Molotov cocktails chucked into his parent’s house, and had curly daggers waved at him.

    If he had advocated rule of law like Zaid Ibrahim, they would called him a traitor to the Malay race.

    If he advocated democracy like Anwar Ibrahim, then Umno, the world champions of fitnah would have fixed him for sodomy.

    If like the jailed Hindraf 5 leaders, Barack Obama tells us to ‘hope for change’ and have the ‘audacity of hope’ then it would have been ISA and water cannons for him and his supporters.

    For practicing freedom of religion and conscience, and following the religion of his choice, he would have been charged with apostasy, and don’t forget, some of our Malaysian politicians have advocated death for apostasy, just to prove their religious standing in the eyes of their ethnic voters.

    Abdullah Badawi’s statement that anyone can be PM in Malaysia is a sick joke and a clear attempt to mislead the public, and to assuage the collective privileged guilt of Umno’s wealthy and corrupt warlords who head a party dedicated to race supremacy, religious and racial apartheid, and the worst type of racial and religious politics.

    I am so glad Barack Obama will be the next president of the US. It goes to show that ordinary voters in the most powerful country in the world are prepared to reject the evils of racism, and embrace solidarity with their fellow voters in the context of equal rights and equal citizenship.

    They have shown long-suffering ordinary Malaysians what real muhibbah looks like instead of the dagger-waving displays (Umno AGM), Umno Youth beating up women delegates at peace conferences (Apcet II, KL), and nameless criminals chucking Molotov cocktails into women MPs’ houses – that is, what I would term the Biro Tata Negara brand of nation-building by Umno.

    I doubt if Barack Obama can have any impact on Malaysia’s racist politics but it is good to know that people in America can still make a common stand with their fellow voters across racial lines for the common good.

    I challenge Umno to invite Barack Obama to Malaysia to show him the political and judicial wonders of our Malaysian system.

    I challenge Umno’s gutless politicians to tell Barack Obama, president-elect of the United States of America what opportunities he would have had if he were born in Malaysia.

  23. #23 by Loh on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 8:31 pm

    The Obama presidency created history in USA. A similar history was made in Malaysia in 1981 when the son of an Indian migrant who married a Malay woman in Malaya became Prime Minister of Malaysia. The son of the Indian man from India considered that he had been assimilated as Malay and he claimed himself Malay, whereas Obama is not assimilated and does not claim to be white like his mother. Obama’s election is hailed as proof that Americans transcend races. The son of the Indian migrant converted the party of race-based membership into racist when he took the helm. Forty years after Martin Luther King cried out his dream, Obama fulfills it. Forty years after the son of the Indian migrant wrote his ‘Malay dilemma’, Malaysians are awaiting a Martin Luther King ala Melayu to free the people from racial polarization.

  24. #24 by Loh on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 9:06 pm

    ///Contrast that to Malaysia. There are many children of Malay-Caucasian as well as Malay-Chinese and Malay-Indian marriages exhibiting very “un-Malay” features. Yet Malay culture has been very welcoming of them, unhesitatingly embracing them as Malays. This is not a recent phenomenon. I had many childhood friends and classmates who had distinctly Chinese or Indian appearances because of adoption or mixed marriages, yet they were all considered and treated as Malays.///—Bakri Musa

    The NEWMalays choose to be Malays because of article 153 for a start, and NEP that gives them the excellent opportunity to take advantage of the Bumi Malays. Whether it is Malay culture or voting booth culture is difficult to tell when NEWMalays are welcomed. The 308 election tsunami might have been the results that internet allows Bumi Malays to realize at last that NEP benefited NEWMalays more than Bumi Malays. They must have come to the conclusion that without corruption and leakage under NEP umbrella that enriched UMNOputras and NEWMalays, they would have a better living condition even if all Malaysians are treated equal. They want UMNO removed.

  25. #25 by Loh on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 9:29 pm

    ///On this point, as a Malay I am heartened that my culture is very welcoming of those who are adopted, from mixed marriages, and do not look like us, whatever that presumed “Malay appearance” might be. We are, thankfully, not consumed with maintaining our “purity.”///–Bakri Musa

    If the Malays are truly not consumed with maintaining its purity, it is unfathomable why they should be afraid that the race would disappear from this world. Obviously through the process of mix marriages where even the “Malay appearance” is not considered important, in matter of decades, Malays might look like people attending the United Nations general assembly. When one cannot be sure that the fellow Malays are Malays when met outside the frontiers of Malaysia what would collective ownership of 30 per cent corporate share capita in the country mean to Bumi Malays? Why then should Malays insist that NEP should continue when any well informed Malaysians who are not in denial would agree that our earning level is only one-fifth of Singapore because of NEP, and more specifically the way UMNO government implemented its since TDM’s ascend to the throne.

    If Malays are that open minded as Bakri Musa says, then the Malays would be happy to see all Malaysians treating one another equally as Malaysians. Yet it is UMNO, and especially the NEWMalay TDM who insisted that Malaysians as a race/nationality is still a long way off, something he would not see in his life time; or he would make sure of that.

    If Bakri Musa is right about the feelings of Bumi Malays, then it is UMNO that is imposing on them in preserving race-based and racist politics in the country.

  26. #26 by zak_hammaad on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:14 pm

    What we will now wait and see if Obama’s heart is black or white. There has never been a US president who has not succumbed to the dictates of Zionism. It is not radical to say that Israel remains firmly in control of American foreign policy and it’s supporters inherently present in American popular culture. Obama’s skin colour is NOT the issue, his policies and vision will be… Black or caucasian, recent history has shown that a leopard never changes it’s spot.

  27. #27 by zak_hammaad on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:28 pm

    Loh, I think your observation is not as clear-cut as you want to make it out to be. Mahathir was born on 10 July 1925, in Alor Star, to a school teacher and a housewife. His father, Mohamad Iskandar, was of half-Indian origin, being the son of a Malayalee Muslim (who migrated from Kerala) and a Malay mother, while Mahathir’s own mother, Wan Tampawan, was Malay.

    So Mahathir’s father was half Indian but his mother (i.e. Mahathir’s grandmother) was a Malay. Mahathir’s own mother was Malay. In many cultures, lineage is recognised through the mother and not the father. Although Islam recognises lineage through the father, I just wanted to make a point that Mahathir is not the “son of an Indian migrant” as you put it, but rather his father was half Indian. Let’s put some context to your misinformation.

    Malaysia will make history if the likes of Lim Kit was to assume premiership :^) This is not an impossibility according to Mahathir apparently. It is only logical and sensible that the most competent of leaders is given such a responsibility.

    Night night…

  28. #28 by cemerlang on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:56 pm

    There are a few points. Like the war in Iraq. Like losing in the past elections due to sexual scandals. It is a transitional change. Barrack Obama is not a pure Black. Neither is he a pure White. He has both of the religious world. Christianity. Islam. It is not a shocking change to the Americans. It is a gradual change. Even for the world. The East can accept him. The West can accept him. But it has to start somewhere and it is now. U.S.A. is different from Malaysia. You can become a Muslim until such time when you think otherwise, then, you can leave Islam. Nobody will come after you. The Islamic centre will not chase after you in the name of Allah and demand that you be punished and stripped of all your privileges. Their democracy is not a half past six democracy. All these are basic important stuff. Our Prime Ministers are not exactly pure Malays. However this does not matter to the Malays because all they want is the leader to be a Muslim. So how should the transitional change for Malaysia be ?

  29. #29 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 14 November 2008 - 10:58 pm

    Obama proudly spoke of his ancestry, whereas Mamak not only shied away but acted with all venom to castrate any link with his father! that is the differece!!

  30. #30 by SilverKris on Saturday, 15 November 2008 - 6:24 am

    If Mahathir is Malaysia’s O’Bama, then, his accomplishment in terms of making Malaysia truely for all Malaysian was mediocre. Malaysia still treats its minority as second class citizens (some would rather treat them as squatters even). This is not a sign of a mature nation. Clearly, Malaysia and USA are heaven and hell when it comes to racial equaility and human rights.

    In my humble opinion, few really believe we have a true O’Bama in Malaysia -one who believes in equally and fairness for all its countrymen (or as Thomsa Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Indepence “All men are created equal”). The O’Bama wanabes in Malaysia may dress like O’Bama, but he does not act like him and is a fake. I hope one days a true O’Bama will appear, but a true political transformation is needed.

  31. #31 by Godfather on Saturday, 15 November 2008 - 10:48 am

    Bakri Musa has gone senile. He’s been too long in the Silicon Valley.

    God has kept Mamakthir alive all these years to allow him to see first hand the mess he has wrought on Bolehland. That’s no Obama – that’s a megalomaniac who needs to face justice for abuse of power.

  32. #32 by chengho on Saturday, 15 November 2008 - 12:35 pm

    Obama practise American life culture speak US national language which is english he doesn’t practise swahili and speak swahili language . he got only 43 % caucasian vote and 90 % african american vote. very interesting to see if he did not drop his middle name HUSSIN can he still win?

  33. #33 by Loh on Saturday, 15 November 2008 - 8:18 pm

    ///His father, Mohamad Iskandar, was of half-Indian origin, being the son of a Malayalee Muslim (who migrated from Kerala) and a Malay mother, while Mahathir’s own mother, Wan Tampawan, was Malay.///–Zak_Hammaad

    This is news, and so TDM did not create history like Obama did. Is there confirmation on this from others?

    Curiously, TDM listed himself as Indian when he studied in Singapore.

    ///In many cultures, lineage is recognised through the mother and not the father. Although Islam recognises lineage through the father,///—Zak

    As Indian muslim, TDM ‘s father had to be recognised as Indian, and again as Indian muslim TDM should be classified as Indian, because Zak could not specify that Malay culture recognises lineage through the mother, and he mentioned many cultures do.

  34. #34 by Loh on Saturday, 15 November 2008 - 8:42 pm

    ///Mahathir was born on 10 July 1925, in Alor Star, the capital of the northern state of Kedah,[8] the youngest of nine children[9] of a schoolteacher and a housewife. His father, Mohamad Iskandar, was of half-Indian origin, being the son of a Malayalee Muslim (who migrated from Kerala) and a Malay mother, while Mahathir’s own mother, Wan Tampawan, was Malay.[10]///–wikipedia

    Zak_hammaad was right that Mahathir was the grandson of an Indian migrant to Malaya. He did not create history like Obama.

  35. #35 by shamshul anuar on Saturday, 15 November 2008 - 9:57 pm

    Dear Monsterball,

    There is nothing embarassing about that. That is what we call law of human nature. Inclination towards on race is not racism. That is love to your own race.

    Inflicting cruelty on other races or denying other races or religion or tribes the right to practice of their faiths or economic activities are indeed racism. I am sure you are aware of KKK in southern states of USA, later immortalized in Gone with the Wind. That is racism.

    THe much maligned UMNO at least has some excellent hallmark. For decades it allowed one rare practice( in fact unheard on the other parts of the world) ; that is allowing non Malay politicians to win in Malay areas.

    So, actually UMNo is not racist. That is why Malays are upset and ( quite amused) when Tan Lian Hoe mocked Malays. If I were to be in her shoes, I would be very worried. Considering that Gerakan has almost non existent support among Chinese, now Tan has insulted the very people who voted her in ( due to alliance with UMNO). Without so called Malay support, it takes no genious to understand that Gerakan would have been wiped out in the last election.

    For SilverKris, why dont you migrate to USA. Then you will see that there is no such thing as Chinese or Tamil School. Diversity is tolerated but do not dream to have separate school and funded by Federal Govt.

  36. #36 by rubenz on Sunday, 16 November 2008 - 3:38 am

    Bakri Musa is wrong, because while Mahathir considered himself a Malay and the leader of the Malay party, Obama does not say “I am white and represent the white people first, then other Americans next.”

    Instead Obama says, “My fellow Americans!”

    Maybe based on Bakri’s arguments, we could compare Mahathir to Michael Jackson.

  37. #37 by Godfather on Sunday, 16 November 2008 - 1:21 pm

    Ooooooo…..zak Hammaad the Mamakthir brown-noser is trying to set the record straight about his hero. Even to the extent of justifying that lineage comes from Mamakthir’s mother and not father.

    That appears to be the same argument that Badawi used to burnish his lineage that his grandfather was an immigrant from China but his grandmother was a Malay, and now the Badawi clan is more Malay than anyone of us.

  38. #38 by Loh on Sunday, 16 November 2008 - 3:33 pm

    ///Diversity is tolerated but do not dream to have separate school and funded by Federal Govt.///

    If there were more than 40% of the population belonging to Chinese and Malays when USA gained independence in 1776, you can be sure that such schools would have been funded by the Federal government, and without question.

  39. #39 by PHUAKL on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 - 10:44 am

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