Ketuanan Melayu: A risky experiment

Mariam Mokhtar | Dec 6, 10

I was born Malay and was hardly conscious of my race, either at school or at home. Race hardly cropped up in conversation except when we had form-filling to do – like applying for an identity card. Religion was something sacred and the only time we’d be aware of our racial and religious differences was deciding what to wear for a wedding or whose open house to visit, during the various festivities.

Thus, the recent clamour for “ketuanan Melayu” is destructive and damaging – not just for Malaysia but more so for the Malays, the very people that the “ketuanan Melayu” concept is supposed to protect. It is wrong because “ketuanan Melayu” is a dangerous experiment in social engineering.

Our neighbours were both Chinese and Indian. As children, we studied and played with each other, even hitched lifts to school when necessary, whilst the adults shared garden produce, swopped certain special dishes for the various ‘open houses’ and practiced their own version of ‘neighbourhood watch’.

Today, the Wongs are living out their twilight years away from their children, who have now settled overseas. Their children were willing to pay for them to live in a gated community, but they refused. In gated communities, they said, people hardly know one another and lives are conducted behind high walls and electric fences. The Wongs are unwilling to trade their relative freedom for living in secure isolation.

Mrs Pillai is now a widow, living on her own. Both her son and daughter have emigrated and she is loathe to leave Malaysia. She tells me, her children saw no opportunities in Malaysia. Her daughter is particularly bitter at having to leave her mother and especially angry that she was denied a place at a local college, and denied help by a local political organisation who refused to recommend her for a study loan.

Several thousand non-Malays have left, but many Malays have also gone. Families are torn apart or wrecked by a false belief in so-called superiority. Our country has not benefited from the wasted talent.

Where’s the sense of equality and justice?

When will Malays understand that the call for “ketuanan Melayu” creates antagonism at best, and violence at worst? There is open hatred toward non-Malays. The Malays have become arrogant; and non-Malays have been forced to be compliant. But for how long? Perhaps, it is the Malay who has more need of change. Where is their sense of equality and justice?

If “ketuanan Melayu” is supposed to benefit the Malays, why are the majority of Malays poor? If politicians had genuinely wanted to help Malays, the majority of Malays would now be wealthy, after 53 years of Umno rule. But this is not the case. The majority of Malays are poor.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned that the Malays will “lose their power” if Pakatan Rakyat were to come to power. He labeled Pakatan leaders as a bunch of self-serving and racist politicians.

What “power” is he referring to? Is he referring to Umno’s potential loss? Will the loss mean no more abuse of power and enrichment of family, friends and cronies? Is he lamenting the lack of control over the media, police, judiciary and the parliamentary rights and privileges committee? Did he also mean the inability to detain those who dare speak out against injustices?

Malay extremists claim that Pakatan’s alternative call for “ketuanan rakyat” goes against the Malay rulers. However, no one objected when Mahathir clipped the wings of the royals.

Mahathir and Najib Abdul Razak have sought to suggest that Umno/BN is a caring party, but despite 1Malaysia, Malaysians probably feel less united today.

Perhaps, the Malay extremist politicians promoting “ketuanan Melayu” can rightly be called “Children of Mahathir”.

Why will the extremists not deal with the social ills that beset the Malay youth – drug abuse, abandoned babies, under-achievement, and Mat Rempit? They have been fed propaganda and expect instant rewards but soon become disillusioned. They then fall further into the trap that ‘non-Malays are robbing them of their rights’. Is it any wonder they are bitter and have little aspiration?

The same group of extremists expects other faiths to respect Islam – but they fail to reciprocate this. It is alleged that in some mosques, the sermons preach unbridled hatred.

Many loopholes and obstacles

Last Saturday, a 14-year-old girl and a 23-year-old teacher were married at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, after a religious syariah court approved the union. The teenager said, “It has been hard trying to juggle two rôles – as a student and a wife – but I am taking it in my stride.”

Can no one else see that this is wrong? How does the state protect children from paedophilia? Has the child’s health and maturity been considered? What about her mental and maternal health, when she undergoes repeated childbearing at a young age? What about her education?

Muslim men can remarry easily. So who will support her should her marriage fail? Or if her husband leaves her for a younger woman or fails to support her when he remarries? Our syariah law and welfare system has many loopholes and obstacles. Some women claim it works against them.

Look at how Malay men perceive of their women. Despite equality in Islam, women are given short shrift. Nurul Izzah Anwar’s request for a debate with Ibrahim Ali was rejected. He called her ‘small fry’ and told her to contact the head of Wiranita, the Perkasa women’s organisation, instead. This demeaning attitude towards women is replicated in many Malay households.

When will the champions of “ketuanan Melayu” talk about success, progress, innovation, creativity, harmony, sharing and excellence instead of alluding to the “only my rights matter” mentality?

We Malays must face up to our insecurities so we can live at peace with ourselves. The non-Malay is a convenient scapegoat for our failures. We need to admit we have problems and face up to them.

Our religious leaders must make a clear stand against polygamy, paedophilia, child-snatching and intolerance of other faiths. Our Malay leaders must learn to respect other non-Malay Malaysians and treat them as equals. Only then do we have the right to ask others to respect us. We must stop the hypocrisy and madness that is called “ketuanan Melayu”.

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.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 4:31 pm

    Haiya, only a few juta ringgit saje. Don’t be so kiamsiap lah, after all that is what ketuanan me-layu is all about. If mca can grab billions from PKFZ, then what’s a few juta for me?

  2. #2 by monsterball on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 4:46 pm

    Mariam Mokhtar is a true Malaysian.
    Than goodness..we have thousand more Muslims.. like her which some I am lucky to know as friends…think exactly like her.
    Read the message carefully…and then you can see how cruel Mahathir is…to Muslims.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 4:54 pm

    If I am not mistaken….Mariam Mokhtar is a lawyer…joined KuLi to fight UMNO B and retired when Semagat 45 lost terribly.
    Rias Yatim and KuLi should retire….but decided join the arch enemy…Mahathir..for personal benefits. That shows how much these two cares for Rakyat.
    Mariam should join one of PR party and be active again in politics for the sake of the people and country.
    Whether she is chosen to stand for 13th GE…does not matter.
    She is a powerful speaker and writer too.
    I hope she writes more.

  4. #4 by tak tahan on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 5:02 pm

    Get rid of the’children of mahathir’ by voting them out.Then most malays will open up their eyes under the realm of PR governance.Mamak’tetek is like ketam mengajar anaknya berjalan bengkang bengkok.The father of all evil.

  5. #5 by born in Malaya on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 5:03 pm

    Mariam Mokhtar is one of those who use their brains, she is correct that the real evils are UMNOs and the Malays in Malaysia has been cheated by UMNOs.
    She also mention a very logical and simple truth of UMNOs about Islam and what they preach: “The same group of extremists expects other faiths to respect Islam – but they fail to reciprocate this. It is alleged that in some mosques, the sermons preach unbridled hatred.”.
    Hopefully, there are more Malays like Mariam, who knows the damages of a Racist government policies will cost Malaysia.
    The longer BN is in power, the more damages it would leave behind for Malaysia.

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 5:29 pm

    Unless otherwise mitigated by knowledge, wisdom, compassion and empathy of nature displayed by Mariam Mokhtar in her discourse, there is generally a primordial tendency of most humans to identify themselves in racial and religious groupings as against significant others outside who are discriminated against as scapegoats.
    This looking for scapegoats offers several psychological satisfactions:-

    a. it is convenient to have a convenient scapegoat against whom one could project all fears onto.

    b. when picking on a scapegoat, one’s feelings of inadequacies are ameliorated because no matter how inadequate we feel about ourselves, there’s always somebody of another group worse off, making us thereby feel superior or better off. And if it is based on religious demarcation, then it further lends psychological certainty that our own religion, laws and way of life as reinforced to be comparatively superior and beyond question as compared to significant others outside. It inevitably makes one not re-examine and question the faults of one’s own group’s attitude and negative aspects of cultural influences. It also stops one from looking how such a racial system is detrimental to the well being of the society & country as a whole.

    c. Possession of power by the “superior entitled race” protected by institution and laws to act against “inferior races” without effective defense or redress also gives a sense of comfort.

    The existence of other unique conditions in a society may further exacerbate the above sentiments towards racism:-

    • The first is the prevalence of greed for excess in atitude and the perception of scarcity, in land and resources, in short, wealth and a human tendency to prioritize “our people” for such resources, to cut off “competition” at least by the other groups.

    • The fact that in a society there is separate, definable and recognizable different “races” of different culture and religion help easy and convenient identification and demarcation of one group from the other along race culture and religious line.

    • Using arguments of racial religious and cultural superiority to justify appropriating resources is based in part on either fear of scarcity or genuine felt need for more, but more often than not, also a pandering of the human tendency of greed for the excess.

    • The fact that politics is or has been institutionalized on communal and racial lines makes it even better and easier to justify members of a group considering themselves definitive people (in sense of being a place and establishing a political organization there earlier) to take the racial approach in satisfaction of the above primordial psychological as well as material needs.

    • Politicians are also happy with that state of affairs if they could get perpetual support based on pandering these primordial racial feelings of a vote bank as distraction from their shortcomings and other abuses in the course of governance.

  7. #7 by Bigjoe on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 5:39 pm

    Risky experiment? Its not an experiment. Ketuanan Melayu is racial protectionism – its not affirmative action. The evidence is clear for nearly a hundred years – protectionist policy don’t work and ultimately destroy. Protectionism and enabling is two very different thing. Enabling is about removing barriers – protectionism is about ignoring problems and issues. It may look very similar but in the end its not.

    They can’t understand it the same way the communist could not figure out how something like free market prices can make such a big difference in outcome over time.

    Ketuanan Melayu are ideas of simple infantile emotional minds – not that of serious responsible men and women. If you believe in Ketuanan Melayu – you might as well ask your pre-pubescene children to run your house and your lives.

  8. #8 by Thor on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 6:08 pm

    You are not considered a malay even if you’re borned a malay.
    And if you’re not a borned malay, you may qualify as a malay if you’re in Umno.
    If you’re a mamak, you’ll better qualify automatically to be one as well.
    That’s UmnoB’s policy and rule!
    As MahaDevil once said, “Melayu mudah lupa”.
    That’s why those malays who support UmnoB are the “nyanyuk” ones who can’t differentiate between who is real and who is fake.
    They might even think that their original ancestor originates from Kerala as well.
    That’s why you tend to see many of them calling the old devil “ayahanda”.
    If all of us non-malays are to leave this country one day, Malaysia will then be renamed as “Mamaksia” and those pure malays as well as the “nyanyuk” ones will then be treated as second class just like in the Hindu caste system.
    I might be imagining things but anything can happen here in UmnoB’s “Bolehland”.

  9. #9 by yhsiew on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 6:33 pm

    Wouldn’t the country fall apart if the Chinese reciprocate with “Chinese supremacy” and the Indians with “Indian supremacy”?

    Racial supremacy is incompatible with modern democracy. Why must one race kowtow to another in a free country?

  10. #10 by tunglang on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 7:25 pm

    The Great Malaysian Experiment: A Quick Brief Analysis

    Title: Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy)

    Objective: Malaysian social engineering towards one race supremacy

    Time Period: 53 years and overdue

    Experiment Species: Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians

    Toxic Catalyst: NEP, religion and racial discrimination policies

    Effects of Experiment:
    1) More racial disunity and mistrust among Malaysians today
    2) Emigration of talented and rich Malaysians to greener oversea pastures
    3) Uncompetitive Malays relying on ‘crutches’, preferential treatments and government jobs and contracts
    4) Opportunity cost to national human resource competitiveness, nation building and unity in diversity
    5) Unfavorable impressions of racist Malaysia and its racist policies among potential foreign investors
    6) More disapproval among Rakyat of all races due to negative effects on the nation
    7) Malaysia downsliding in almost all fields of competitiveness, stagnation of real income and languishing in middle income trap

    Achievement: Failed experiment

    Recomendation: Should not have been carried out in the first place.

  11. #11 by Loh on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 7:49 pm

    ///Perhaps, the Malay extremist politicians promoting “ketuanan Melayu” can rightly be called “Children of Mahathir”.///–Mariam Mokhtar

    Yes. In other word Mamakthir is the father of Malay extremist politicians. He was called an extremist by LKY ages ago.

  12. #12 by Loh on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 8:26 pm

    They wouldn’t be call for ketuanan meleyu if not for NEP.

    There would not be NEP if not for May 13.

    There wouldn’t be May 13 if Razak told Harun to disperse the crowds at the official residence of Harun Idris, the then caretaker MB of Selangor as soon as he knew of the gathering. Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad said that Razak told Harun half an hour too late to avert May 13; Razak called after having received phone calls from David Tan Chee khoon and Dr Lim Chong Eu confirming that Alliance could form the state government.

    Harun had the crowd gathered at his residence because he was not sure of his position as MB.

    So May 13 was the results of political play, a threat materialised into action.

    Tun Razak was appointed by Tunku as Director of national operation council and he was to report to Tunku, the prime minister. Razak appeared on TV two days later to announce that as Director of NOC he reported to the King, directly. So Tunku was PM in name and Razak PM in deed. Was that a coup d’etat? That is a matter of interpretation. Ankasapura should have the tapes on those TV news.

    Tun Razak instead of arresting Harun Idris for causing the May 13 disturbance chose to blame non-Malays for being economically more successful than Malays. So the real perpetrator(s) got off the hook. The victims pay. NEP is subsequently the answer to stop another May 13. UMNO leaders at the UMNO general assembly threatened to enact another May 13 if they do not get what they wanted. Of course it is what they want in the name of Malays. Razak had successfully directed the blame of the riots and created hatred towards non-Malays with NEP. May 13 became a justified human movement!

    Razak did not live long enough, he died young. Would Razak honour the promise to have NEP ended after 20 years? He did not live to prove whether he could keep his words. Najib did not even dare to visit the promise made by his father. If it is like father like son, or like son like father Razak cannot be expected to keep his promise.

    Good deeds have good recompense; bad has bad recompense. Has the recompense already taken place at the family level? Or was it just at personal level?

  13. #13 by HJ Angus on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 8:30 pm

    A risky experiment?
    For some it has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams…
    See how the CEO of SYABAS can earn RM400+k per month. Not only that but hundreds of thousands are still brain-washed into believing that only a BN government can be good for Malaysia.

  14. #14 by limkamput on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 8:42 pm

    Generally well articulated. However, the issues highlighted are well recognised and familiar to most people. When we have Seditious Act and many issues considered as sensitive and out of bound for reasoned discussion, things can become very dicey. Bigots, racists and male chauvinists bent on holding on to their views or way of life will seek protection under these provisions. When reasoned counter arguments are being highlighted, this group will not hesitate to use constitutional provisions, relevant laws, and even certain institutions of government to threaten, bully and rile others into submission. This is particularly so when views from the non-Malays are being articulated. For the long term survival of this nation and of the Malays as a dynamic race, more enlightened Malay leaders must come forward. They must be willing to confront and debate issues that many know have gone astray simply because of parochial interests, narrow mindedness and corruption.

  15. #15 by wanderer on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 8:47 pm

    How do we define a Malay race? In a first instance, is there a malay race?
    Mamak India also called himself a malay, an Indo medicine seller, a Paki muslim, an Arab trader, soon, even a Black African will be accepted into the club…of course, not forgetting the “economic refugees” from the Southern Philippines …how interesting, a cauldron multi-mixed opportunists and parasites
    Are these the sama sama Ketuanan Melayu UMNO is so proud of?

  16. #16 by setu on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 9:22 pm

    Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy).
    yah , nowadays, it includes all of them,
    all the mamak, paki , arab, and especially
    the Indonesian malay ladies who work in the
    front lines, facing the customers, having
    interaction with the customers, and they are very very arrogant, and talk very crudely, in uncivilised ways, and as though they are the bumis of the country as well.. . . that’s the kind of breed. .
    that is being nurtured through all of them . .

  17. #17 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 9:33 pm

    Mariam, thank you for being a human being.

    It’s so sad UMNOputras are less than human. I pray for the day when my heart will forgive them for their blind cruelty and mindless hatred. For the time being I must hate their sin so that I can continue to speak out against their crass stupidity.

    Leaving the untold sorrow aside, Malaysia has suffered untold loss because of the Mahathir legacy of divide and rule. Now this M name is anathema to so many untold millions. May God have mercy on his soul.

    Meanwhile, the minority who have a clear mind and honest thinking like yourself, Mariam, must continue to be vocal or else lesser men and devious ones too will hold the country to ransom.

  18. #18 by vsp on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 10:51 pm

    A risky experiment? Risky yes, but it is not an experiment. It was practiced for centuries analogous to what is referred today as “Ketuanan Melayu”.

    Basically the Ketuanan Melayu idealogy is inimical to the Malay race. Ketuanan Melayu is a master-slave relationship where the elites have absolute power to do whatever they like over the populace. Ketuanan Melayu policy required that the populace must be tightly controlled under a tyrannical police force and other instrument of oppression. It required that the populace must always be thankful to the elites for small mercies amidst severe living conditions. The populace are not supposed to be more knowledgeable and independent of the elites. That’s why for centuries, the populace did not enjoy the fruits of a universal education to equip them to fend for themselves. Even today when education is universal, the Malays are not supposed to be more knowledgeable and independent in their thinking. They were not supposed to learn other languages and be exposed to true knowledge and enquiry. Only the children of the elites were sent to foreign institutions of higher learning to equip them on the art of oppression of the populace. The BTN and the University Act were set up to ensure that the locally educated Malays are attuned to the thought process of the elites. They are not supposed to wonder why but to accept the status quo. Throughout the Ketuanan Melayu era the Malay race had been left to stagnate while the elites went on an orgy of wars and destruction.

    It is a sad commentary on the Ketuanan Melayu ideology that the majority group would be spoonfed and featherbedded in perpetuity at the expense of the minorities. This anomaly is not found elsewhere in the world. This is a unique aspect of Malaysia. After centuries of Ketuanan Melayu rule, there was a deficiency of Malay professional in every areas of human endeavour.

    Mercifully, the situation was set right by the British colonists. The British brought universal education and development to the country. When they left, they gave the country a Constitution that was not Ketuanan Melayu-based but was tailored-made to empower the people in new ways that was not thought possible during the Ketuanan Melayu era. The elites were not automatically restored their age-old grip on power. Now it’s the people who decide on the government they think best and the elites have to assent to the people’s choice. In return the elites was ensured a perpetual pension of easy life and privileges.

    This arrangement was respected during the first decade of the new country’s life until the original UMNO was disbanded. The next four decades was a hall of horrors to the survival of the new country, when Mahathir, the new Maharaja began to chip away the empowerment of the people and spite the dignity of the rulers against what were accorded by the Constitution. In its place, the ruling elites erected up a wall of oppression and needed not have to respect the sanctity of the Constitution. Ministers’ actions and pronouncements were not subject to the constraints of the Constitution. Every institutions in the country were subverted to serve the ruling elites instead of being subservient to the highest body of the people, i.e. the Parliament. Without the people realising it, the country was brought back to the dark period of the Ketuanan Melayu era.

    The Malays will be the greater losers in a Ketuanan Melayu environment as was proven by centuries of neglect by the ruling elites. With more Indonesian, Filipino, Pakistani and Mamak being accorded the birthrights of the Malays, history will repeat itself in an orgy of incessant discord and dissipation. Can the Malays afford such ignominy of being a perpetual basketcase people?

  19. #19 by vsp on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 11:02 pm

    Only the children of the elites were sent to foreign institutions … –> Almost automatically the children of the elites were sent to foreign institutions of higher learning at public expense to equip them on the art of continual oppression of the populace.

  20. #20 by tuahpekkong on Monday, 6 December 2010 - 11:37 pm

    There were quite a lot of people who met the same destiny as Mrs Pillai’s daughter in the mid-seventies. I have several friends who, despite creditable MCE results ( Grade 1 with an aggregate in the high teens ) were denied the opportunity to study in Form 6 science stream because they could not meet the required aggregate of 8 in two science and one maths subjects. Yet hordes of other students with much lesser results, many with Grade 3 and having aggregates in the high thirties and without even a credit in either maths or science were admitted. Their bitterness rankles till today. Actually, ketuanan Melayu is promulgated just to perpetuate the benefits being enjoyed mainly by a small group of politicians, their family members and their cronies. Just go to the kampung areas and you can see this fact more clearly.

  21. #21 by cintanegara on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 12:44 am

    Someone eyed a bunch of tantalizing rambutans hanging from a vine growing high from a tree.

    “Those juicy morsel are for me.. “Someone wished silently in his heart.

    Anyhow the rambutan is legally owned by his neighbour.

    As he walked away, he said to himself,” I don’t really want those rambutans. I’m sure they are too sour to eat.”

    Moral : Sometimes when we cannot achieve some thing, we pretend that is not worth having.

  22. #22 by johnnypok on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 12:52 am

    NEP will destroy them and cause them to become extinct.

    Where the money come from?

    Who make all the money?

  23. #23 by monsterball on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 3:31 am

    hi guys…cintanegara are calling all of us..sour grapes…supporting Opposition who is not Governing the country.
    We are a bunch of jealous people….and even jealous of him….being so smart to vote in a successful party to govern.
    What say you…cintanegara have improve his art .insulting all with his smart parable.
    To me he is always an idiot…..for his story is only good for Std One students….
    Anymore stories….cintanegara?

  24. #24 by tunglang on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 8:38 am

    Who is pretending anyway, cintanegara?
    Who is denying the facts, the facts of Malaysian history, the facts of survival as a nation, the facts of ultra-racism, the facts of selective discrimination, the facts of who survive better in spite of being sidelined in all expects of life, the facts of the made-weak race still dependent on preferential treatments, the facts of a race look down by others, the facts of our nation going down the drain due to this one race supremacy fallacy.
    Still pretending the sweetness of whose rambutan in self-denial mode in BolehLand?

  25. #25 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 11:57 am

    Beware, UmnoB n Perkosa will label Mariam as traitor of Malay n demand dat she b ISAed
    They may even demand dat Mariam b evicted fr Perak

  26. #26 by good coolie on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 5:03 pm

    When Dr. M was doing his worst, MCA, Gerakan, and MIC, were solidly behind him. Remember the constitutional amendment,
    Art. 121(1A)? Remember the sequel, the obsequious petition by MCA, and MIC, to the PM; and the slap in the face they received? By right the MCA and MIC should cease to exist.

    We Malaysians made the good doctor powerful, we eunuchs. Will this history repeat itself?

  27. #27 by lee wee tak_ on Tuesday, 7 December 2010 - 10:41 pm

    which is more useful? a tuan in a run down failing nation or a active participant in a progressive, vibrant and fair society?

    as a student of Sejarah Islam when doing my STPM, I do not remember islam teaches muslim to differentiate people by race but by religious leanings and purity of character

  28. #28 by David69 on Sunday, 12 December 2010 - 10:02 am

    One must understand that Malaysia is once a British colonise country. So somehow the ideology of ‘white supremacy’ during the British time have gone into the head of the UMNO people. Having being the servant of British in colonise time, now most of the UMNO wanted to be treated like the British psychologically. UMNO are nuts!

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