Umno in the fierce light of day

Rama Ramanathan
The Malaysian Insider
Dec 08, 2011

DEC 8 — I am restless. I slipped into this condition when I started observing the Umno general assembly last week.

The word which best describes the theme, tone and thrust of the assembly is racism (of the Malay superiority variety).

I shudder when I think of Umno leaders: Prime Minister Najib, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin, Home Minister Hishammuddin, de facto Law Minister Nazri. They spew racism. They speak as if Malay means Umno. They methodically attack other Malay parties, PKR and PAS, saying the latter will sell their racial privileges. Meritocracy. Many years ago I believed fear of meritocracy was the primary engine of Umno’s racism.

In “The Malay Dilemma”, probably the most racist book I’ve read, our former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir even suggested Malays are dim due to inbreeding! Mahathir, of course, has been proved wrong. Malays now dominate the civil service, the judiciary, the armed forces and the majority of large Malaysian public companies. You don’t dominate by being dim. You dominate by using power and threats.

Egotism. Prior to the Umno assembly, I thought the primary engine of Umno’s racism was egotism, i.e. a grand sense of self-importance, with boastfulness. What did they boast about? They boasted about remaining entrenched, sustaining the “special position” of the Malays, maintaining “national security” and retaining Islam as the official religion (as if it was ever under threat); boasts which are more implied than spelt out. The venue, dress, food, cars, etc helped reinforce the wealth of Umno leaders.

They mainly demeaned “the opposition” — many of whom were elected by citizens despite the whole machinery of the state being directed against them: the media is flooded with stories of phantom voters and the trading of citizenships for votes. They ignored the good news from Selangor and Penang: freedom of information Acts, transparency in awarding contracts and few prosecutions for corruption despite the outpouring of police investigation resources against small-time “crimes”.

Unlike Mahathir, I have never believed Malays are dumb and lazy. Whenever I encounter anti-Malay rhetoric, I recite the names of the best people I have worked with: many of them are Malays. Some Malays have reformed long-broken institutions: some government departments now provide great service.

I also point to the leaders of Umno: just look at their success. Look at their cars, clothes, jewellery, mansions, weddings, etc. Umno can boast of enriching many! What is the primary engine of Umno’s racism? Is it fear of meritocracy? Is it egotism? Or is it something else? Terror. I think it’s terror. Terror of being found out.

Consider this: in Perak and Selangor, when BN lost the majority, they destroyed evidence before departing: files went missing. Soon after “the opposition” took office, many misdeeds became public. Umno even protects those who put their hands in the kitties of charities. Do you remember the misappropriation allegations against the Umno -BN wives who were the charity organisation Balkis? Do you wonder why Khir Toyo remains free to stir up distress? It’s because many more Khirs will be flushed out if the ship sinks!

I think the root of my restlessness is this knowledge: desperados will do desperate things. They’ve created restrictions on the Freedom of Assembly Bill. They are taking oaths in the name of Allah. They are terrified; therefore things will get worse before they get better. I am restless. Some say it’s because I’m not sufficiently kind-hearted; I’m too focused on the wrongs; I should think more about the good Umno has done, the stability we have.

I disagree with them because I am driven by another engine. The black South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu described the white English parish priest Trevor Huddleston as the greatest influence in his life. Huddleston wrote of why he refused to see good in the bad, and why he opposed every race-based thing: “It is always possible, I suppose, even in the most vicious enactments of the most vicious governments to see elements of potential good. But Wilberforce would never have succeeded in abolishing slavery if he had listened to the arguments of kind-hearted but wrong-headed slave owners. No advance can be made against prejudice and fear unless these things are seen as irrational and brought out into the fierce light of day. There is no room for compromise or fence-sitting over a question such as racial ideology when it so dominates the thought of a whole country.” [Trevor Huddleston, “Naught for Your Comfort” (Glasgow: Collins, 1956), 17.]

I too will oppose everything that is race-based. I will name and shame all racists. I am not free of anxiety, impatience and restlessness. But I am confident I am on the winning side. It’s just a question of endurance. (Incidentally, I do not believe Umno has a monopoly on racism.)

  1. #1 by dagen on Thursday, 8 December 2011 - 9:48 am

    Tell me one thing. Is it law that we must hang up pictures of the PM and her husband in business premises? Remove them. Take them down. Do so before the next GE.

  2. #2 by Loh on Thursday, 8 December 2011 - 5:10 pm

    What Muhyiddin said in Australia.

    ///DEPUTY Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin shared Malaysia’s experience in managing a multiethnic and multireligious society in his public lecture at a university in Canberra yesterday.
    Muhyiddin said the country’s success had always been on how the government delivered to its people.///– Muhyiddin

    Muhyiddin now confirms that the government of UMNO buys its way to power. UMNO does it to show that Malays have to depend on the government so that UMNO would remain relevant. It culminates 54 years later to Najib telling Malays that they would be in trouble if UMNO is no longer in power. All those years with Malays votes assured, and non-Malay eunuchs threatened racism could be worse otherwise, the government power-that-be was able to help themselves to national coffers and making national resources their own wealth. Now as corruptions become public knowledge and Malays are no longer contented with being proud seeing people similarly classified do the community proud by becoming rich just like “Cattlegate” affords, Najib had to persuade Malays to give him support. Threatening Malays about losing the right to crumbs while others feast on government funds was his last resort.

    ///”Political legitimacy in Malaysia has never been solely based on who won more votes in the polls, but more on who could deliver in a way that satisfies the multiethnic and multireligious communities.///–Muhyiddin

    Does Muhyiddin suggest that come the next election when UMNO loses the votes and majority in parliament, it needs not give up the seat of government? Who then decides who could deliver in a way that satisfies the multiethnic and multireligious communities? Would it be decided by the armed forces? Would it be decided by civil servants and the police? If Malaysia practises parliamentary democracy how could political legitimacy be based on anything other than the results of general elections conducted by the Election Commission?

    ///”It is about the welding together of different races, religions and localities into one cohesive nation. Fifty-four years down the road, this is still a work in progress.”///–Muhyiddin

    Muhyiddin should tell us what the finished product is when the country now is called a work in progress. There is no standard to measure what a cohesive nation is, and in the world over, governments are concerned about peace and security for the citizens. Citizens are expected to answer the call to defend the nation in peace and in war. No country would say that because it is not a cohesive nation that it would not defend itself. Muhyiddin advanced the nebulous ideas to justify institutionalized racial discrimination in the country.

    ///Drawing parallels, Muhyiddin said Australia and Malaysia shared a common colonial past, but it was fundamentally different in many ways.
    One key difference, he said, was on the day Malaysia was formed. At that time, the country was ethnically and religiously polarised.

    He said this was a condition, “to a large extent”, inherited from two centuries of British rule.///–Muhyiddin

    Muhyiddn might be young at the time of Independence in 1957, but he was in his teens not to know that the people of different races were living in peace and they did not hate one another out of fear or jealousy. If he was younger then he was only relating a second-hand story. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the disgraced former PM should be able to tell the world that, even as late as the 1960s when AAB was a student in the University of Malaya, halal and non-halal meals were served in the residential colleges of the University of Malaya. Students sat across one another having halal and non-halal meals in the same dining hall. Today 40 years after May 13, only halal meals are served in residential colleges in universities. Today students in universities choose to mix with people of the same ethnic classification if they have a choice. Polarization began with NEP and it is more so now than at the time of independence.

    Muhyiddin should check his story from the correct sources. An Education Minister knows not the fact about the past and yet he demands a pass in history as compulsory for students in public examination.

    ///Muhyiddin said the birth of the New Economic Policy (NEP) was a “bold attempt” to eradicate poverty, restructure society and eliminate the identification of race with economic function.///–Muhyiddin

    Najib in his speech to the UMNO general assembly concluded on 6th December 2011 said that May 13 was caused by victory parades mounted by opposition parties celebrating the results of the general election in 1969. So Najib admitted that May 13 was not a spontaneous riot by Malays jealous of and angry at the economic success of non-Malays.

    One Tan Sri Ahmad Abdullah, a one-time deputy Minister who was with Tun Razak, Najib’s father on the afternoon of Malay 13 1969, said that the phone call Tun Razak made to Harun Idris, the then care-taker Chief Minister of Selangor state, was half an hour too late for Harun to call off the activity which ended up as May 13 1969.

    Assuming that Tun Razak did not directly orchestrate May 13, he did not uphold rule of law. Tan Sri Ahmad Abdullah said that Razak told Harun Idris to send his ‘boys’ home, but Harun called back to report that they had started their activities, and killing as well as arsons had already taken place. Razak might be as guilty as Harun for the May 13 riots. Since Razak did not order a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the event, he chose to attribute the violence to actions by Malays as a community. The best excuse he considered necessary to cover up the event was to blame the Malays for jealousy and that they ran amok out of hatred. NEP was prescribed as a means to end Malays jealousy on the success of other races. Miraculously, Malays accepted the blame in return for easy money.

    NEP was a bold attempt at discriminating against non-Malays and subsequently more than a million Malaysians chose to emigrate since 1971. The émigrés were among the best in trained human resources.

    ///”It is not a crude means to merely transfer wealth from one party to another. And that is why detractors of the NEP have been unable to explain why the period following its introduction is marked by economic growth rather than disaster, as they have predicted.”///–Muhyiddin

    The AP system whereby only those with the Approved Permit (AP) could import motor vehicles was said to be, in pursuance of NEP, to make Malays involved in motor vehicles trading. The AP was turned into a commodity sought after by importers, of all races. People who have political connection, and the sons of the powerful, such as the children of Mamakthir, were given hundreds if not thousands of APs to trade on. APs were worth tens of thousands ringgit, and they could be a source of government revenue. That is a clear example of crude means of transfer of money from the government to selected Malays.

    The document promulgating NEP had a memorandum note stating that Malays should achieved 30% participation rate in trade and commerce in one generation of 20 years. The Economic Planning Unit took this target to equate 30% of equity share capital of the corporate sector. The government then passed a regulation that all companies applying for listing at KLSE should allocate 30% of its equity capital to Malays, at par value. Clearly only those companies which have good track records of earnings and their market value of equity higher than par value did apply for listing. It is like betting with the cards open, and profit on resale was assured. The government might pretend that they wanted Malays to keep their shares but they did nothing to stop the resale as soon as they had purchased it. Every listed public company had issued 30% of their shares to Malays, and the share capital of companies listed after 1971 should have reached 90% of the total market capital of KLSE. Yet the government statistics still show after 40 years that 30% target had not been achieved when the free transfer alone accounted for 27%, assuming Malay entrepreneurs did nothing over the past 40 years. The statistics given by the government misrepresent facts. Najib gave the explanation that out of 51 billion ringgit worth of share allotted to Malays almost 50 billion of them had been sold. The fact that Malays made profits in the transactions and that money could have been turned to other assets was not mentioned. Najib merely used that statistics to prove that the target had not been achieved, and that the government had no responsibility on that eventuality. Yet non-Malays have to continue smarting against NEP, with all other perverted policies such as non-Malays paying 7% more to buy houses so that Malays could get the 7% discount. Najib recently declared that non-Malays did not suffer from NEP. If that is so why should Najib object to ending NEP? Surely non-Malays would like to have role reversal with Malays in NEP implementation.

    The harm of NEP to the country is for all to see, and all the ills in the country starting with civil services associated with Malays is the results of NEP. Corruption in the civil services has become rampant since civil service is likened to the extension of UMNO. As UMNO members, and just like any gang or secret societies, they are expected to cover up for one another in wrong doings, and when wrong doings can be perpetrated with impunity, corruption would only grow.

    Official documents such as travel documents or Mycard are on sale. More than two million illegal workers are currently in the country, and 99 per cent of them did not swim to arrive at Malaysian shores. How could 2 million persons coming into the country through immigration check points, and overstayed their permit go undetected? Malaysian government uses computers too. Can they not know who had overstayed? The police with their high employment rate are everywhere, and they know who the illegal immigrants are. Indeed they know, and they keep the illegal workers their source of pocket money.

    Muhyiddin said that Malaysia had not met with economic disaster but economic growth. Muhyiddin certainly realizes that high income nations attain that position only when they have trained human resources. Since NEP about 2 million Malaysians have emigrated. Most are adults and persons trained with tertiary education. These migrants who are accepted by the host countries are no doubt contributing to the local economies. Their absence from Malaysia and in that huge number, about 20% of Malaysia’s educated work force, renders Malaysia to become a low income nation. Is that not economic disaster that others predicted?

    ///Muhyiddin said following the global changes to the economic front, it became apparent that Malaysia now had to undergo a transformation, both politically and economically.
    “Malaysia has embarked on an ambitious economic, governmental and even political transformation.///–Muhyiddin

    Political transformation is evident based on the increasing tempo of racial utterances by UMNO leaders including the UMNO President who said that only UMNO would protect Malays, Islamic religion and the Rulers. Surely Malays do not face foreign threat coming to the country for their life. Surely Islam is worshipped by more than one billion followers and Malaysia has only one per cent of the total. Is there another religion talking about endangering Islam? The Rulers have their constitutional role, and since Malaysians accept parliamentary rule, how can the position of the Rulers be endangered?

    Economic transformation in the sense of using oil money to go into gigantic projects so that those who are politically connected are assured of monopolistic control is in the work. There might be urgency to make quick and fat buck for urgent exit.

    ///”We aim to be not merely a high-income nation by the year 2020, but in line with our Vision 2020, a fully developed one.”
    Muhyiddin said for Malaysia, development was the critical strategy to ensure stability and unity.
    He said contrary to many ill-informed news reports of the day, the Economic Transformation Programme was not a scheme to make the rich become richer.
    “The aim is to raise the income of low-earners so they, too, can enjoy the benefits of economic growth.”///– Muhyiddin

    Muhyiddin said recently that non-Malays benefited from NEP from the spillovers. He must now mean that low-income earners would also benefit from the spillovers of the Economic Transformation Programme. The rich and connected get huge multi-billion ringgit projects and they are too big to fail, since government stands ready to bail them out.

    ///To achieve a high-income status, Muhyiddin said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had to adopt new thinking and fresh approaches.
    This, he said, resulted in the commissioning of the New Economic Model (NEM), a major reconsideration of sources and strategies for growth. Launched last year, the NEM has made the pursuit of a high-income nation one of its three goals. The other two goals are inclusiveness and sustainability.///–Muhyiddin

    Najib thought that by pointing the finger to the moon, his finger has already touched the moon. The inclusiveness is to do what Mamakthir did so that he would have funds to play money politics. Najib’s cronies would be included in the projects. When government funds are there to bail out the projects, the sustainability is assured, as long as Petronas did not get into the trouble BP was in at the Gulf of Mexico last year.

    ///”We have to muster and master all our resources if we are to be a high-income nation. The Malaysian economy will have to grow at 6.5 per cent annually for the next eight years if we are to more than double our per capita income to US$15,000 (RM47,000) by 2020.”///– Muhyiddin

    Muhyiddin should have said that by PPP (purchasing power parities) calculation Malaysia has already reached that target now. Maybe Muhyiddin is waiting for 2020, if he is still around, to use that argument.

    ///Muhyiddin’s lecture was part of his four-day working visit here and to Perth.
    Later, at a question-and-answer session, Muhyiddin called on the people to put their trust in the country’s electoral system, namely the Election Commission, as it was set up to manage elections in a fair and responsible manner.
    He said there was never an issue of “manipulation of the votes” as claimed by the opposition.///–Muhyiddin

    Muhyiddin had just contradicted his own words that political legitimacy did not depend on votes, but delivery. Now he said that Election Commission is fair. Election Commission is an independent body, and the ruling government has no problems with the independent body shows that that body is obedient. Is it independent?

  3. #3 by monsterball on Friday, 9 December 2011 - 4:00 am

    Corruptions …double standards are being flushed out..,from every government dept….with dust and dirt..flowing out… with the stinking smell…much greater under Najib’s leadership.
    Najib never kept his word to get rid of corruptions.
    In fact.,,.he openly encourages corruptions as seen in the last few by-elections….bribing voters with no fear.
    He is now venturing to get Malaysians fighting each other.

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