When Malay silence is not golden

Mariam Mokhtar | Apr 9, 2012

The average human brain weighs about 3 lbs and is 80 percent water. When Einstein’s brain was set aside for research, people were surprised that it was not unusually large. Perhaps, we have to remind ourselves that it is not size that matters, but what we do with our brain that really counts.

If there was an opportunity to dissect Malay brains, and separate the brains of extremist Malay/Muslims from the moderate Malays, would we find any differences in the pathological specimens?

Would the extremist brains be abnormally heavy because they were weighted down by the condition known as Ketuanan Melayu? Would the moderate brains show lesions on the lobes which govern speech?

It is a simple question, but no one has been able to answer it: where are the moderate, smart Malays who should speak up about issues which affect all Malaysians?

I pose the question because extremist Malays appear to dominate the affairs of Malaysia. Are the moderates consumed by apathy? Are they afraid of drawing attention? A few may think they are not articulate, or that their views do not matter. Perhaps, the moderates are content to carry on as we have done for the past 54 years; hence their silence.

If they are as disgruntled as the rest of the nation, they must speak out now because their opinions would send a clear message to Umno, that enough is enough.

Last week, Perkasa Youth announced that Muslims should boycott the Bersih 3.0 rally for clean and fair elections on April 28. This extremist NGO insulted Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan and called her the “anti-Christ for Muslims” and a “traitor” to the nation. They continued their diatribe by ridiculing the national laureate A Samad Said.

The divisive war-cry ‘untuk agama, bangsa dan negara’ often used by Umno and their support groups do not seem to perturb the moderate Malays.

Umno will never accept that they do not represent all Malays. Umno fears Malays with a mind of their own. The sedition law, the Internal Security Act and police reports are used against the very few Malays who dare criticise the government. Not because they are “a threat to national security” but because Umno’s existence is threatened.

Using stealth tactics, the Malay is told that his education and the democracy he lives in, are the “best in the world”. Which Malay wants to be accused of besmirching national pride?

Without Malay support, Umno is nothing. Without Umno, MCA and MIC are doomed. Their collective effort has to be to convince the Malay, that Umno is best, even if it means cheating at the 13th general election to continue the BN dictatorship.

Why so timid?

If it were possible to praise Umno, then it is for their brainwashing. Apart from our Malay minds, Umno also controls the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and makes it act in its interests.

Muslim men will recall that in the 1970s, the Friday khutbah (sermons) were apolitical and covered moral issues reminding the congregation of their religious obligations and community duty.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, when the premier, changed all that. Mosques have since lost their independence and sermons rarely cover immediate community issues. Nowadays, Friday sermons have to be sanctioned by the religious authority and are a euphemism for Umno political speeches.

Will anyone dare walk out in protest? No. If they did, their Friday prayers are deemed ‘incomplete’. There is little point praying at a different mosque because all mosques will have a similar political message. If this was Indonesia, the congregation would have walked out and sought out other mosques. Why are Malays in Malaysia so timid?

azlanIf Malays are so proud to wear their religion on their sleeve, why do they not demand that the sermons cover corruption issues?

When a Florida preacher threatened to burn the Quran we demanded retribution. When we dragged the head of a cow through the streets or confiscated several thousand copies of the Bible before defacing them, we weren’t even aware of the hypocrisy.

To encourage conversion to Islam, several thousand ringgit are rewarded to the religious person who can convert and marry an Orang Asli woman. He is also given perks like a 4WD and housing. Yet, we are outraged when Malays dine with non-Malays and discuss charitable works. Umno feels insecure when Muslims socialise with non-Muslims.

Last Friday, a police study on rape in Sarawak found that over half the victims were school students. Over 70 percent of the rape victims were Malay and over 40 percent of the rapists were Malay.

The Muslims have seen a rise in religious teaching and strict adherence to faith in their day-to-day living. Foreign music groups and dance troupes face strict religious guidelines. If the results of the police study on rape are anything to go by, increased religion has not made the slightest impact on the Malay psyche.

It is alleged that in Peninsular Malaysia, the highest incidence of incest, underage sex, unmarried mothers, abandoned wives and abandoned babies are from the Malay community. Why are the moderates not questioning this?

When a Malay man takes on a trophy wife as his second, third or fourth acquisition, he quashes any criticism of his actions by saying that it is his right under Islam. He ignores the conditions imposed for polygamy, one of them being that he must have sufficient income to support all his wives equally.

The Malay woman is afraid of complaining because she fears being replaced. Her role as a wife has been reduced to a throw-away commodity. The Malay men who frown on polygamy remain silent on such issues.

new economic policy nepWhen the NEP was first introduced, many Malay lives were transformed. This is no longer true. The new middle-class Malays keep quiet about the abuse of the NEP. They are trapped in their own secure world, fearing they might lose it. They are too selfish to help poorer Malays and the other non-Malays.

The backward Malay mind should stop blaming the non-Malays and other faiths of undermining their existence. If corruption was controlled and cronyism was eliminated, there would be more money for everyone.

Lives would be enhanced. Infrastructure would be improved. Education, medical and community services would be available for all. What is so difficult for the Malay mind to see that and voice it out loud, now? Before it is too late.

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 richiee on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 - 8:38 am

    It is a pity so few moderate malays like mariam will ever have the guts to speak out. If the moderates do not wake up and speak up NOW in one generation they will see that their rights as Malays in this country will be trampled over by the new ‘malays’. By then it will be too late for the Malays to speak up.

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 - 9:37 am

    One must look as history. Malays who were here earlier (in sense of establishing a political polity in Malacca Sultanate) than (so to speak) the other races dubbed derogatorily as “pendatangs”. This explains the sense of birth right and entitlement. At independence being primarily in agricultural sector, there’s al;so a sense of being unable to partake in the wealth/progress of the country that was swinging the way of money economy since the non malays (esp Chinese were already in tin mines and commercial enterprises) and had a head start both by occupation as well as industrious immigrant culture/work ethos. This explains the sense of insecurity. As people were not united as one – there was no fight for independence, the Colonial Brits handed over independence on a platter – the political elites decided on communal structure of politics with race based parties like UMNO MCA & MIC under Alliance. Malay political elites in UMNO decided to tap the feeling of birth right and insecurity, and religion/royal institutions to unite as well as galvanise the support of their constituency. Hence “the divisive war-cry ‘untuk agama, bangsa dan negara’, hand in hand with the Specialprivileges, then the NEP/NDP.

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 - 9:37 am

    Things have of course changed over ½ century but a cadre group of elites having vested interests in the supremacist ideology have evolved and expanded and entrenched themselves in power. It is natural they don’t want things to change and are strident in demanding the existing system/race/religion based ideology/norms continue, if possible to eternity whatever it’s debilitating and adverse effects on the nation as a whole or even Malays as a community. They are fortified by complicity of authorities interpreting laws in support of term. Naturally their voices are louder, no matter relative to the changes, and in context of present realities, their rhetoric/positions are viewed as outdated and extreme.

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 - 9:37 am

    Moderates (not confined only to Malay moderates) anywhere tend to be comparatively silent and surrender the discourse arena to more extremist voices. This is because those who take the more “extreme” position express these views in strong and firm inflexible fixed black vs white terms without doubt and cannot be moved by rational persuasion. Often they advocate provocative and confrontational methods in a conflict that moderates by definition of being moderate are prepared to deploy. Besides media mainstream or alternative tend to give extreme voices more coverage as they are more “sensational” in terms of attracting readership, never mind how disgusted the readers may be. In such a way extremists are more successful to advance their agenda in terms of bringing to bear a disproportionate influence on political decision makers canvassing for votes from their constituency.

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 - 9:39 am

    Sorry error in preceding post (under current moderation) – “…Often they advocate provocative and confrontational methods in a conflict that moderates by definition of being moderate are NOT prepared to deploy…”

  6. #6 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 - 10:13 am

    If the 1trillion ringgit which umno removed from the country (my guess alright) had remained in the country, believe me, even the roadside nasi lemak vendor would experience much better business. The effect would trickle all the way down to them as well.

    Of course now the 1trillion is benefiting nationals of the country in which the money was transferred to.

  7. #7 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 - 5:51 pm

    The non Malays knows full well it is useless trying to counter any of those extremist comments. It will just provide the excuse for extremists such as Perkasa to foam more at the mouth and scream more unsubstantiated racist charges at the non Malays.

    Already just asking for the basic right to be treated equally and fairly in religious practices and livelihood have invited comments even from the highest levels not to question their practices or unfounded allegations. In other words just shut up and swallow any rubbish thrown at you by the likes of Perkasa. And this stand has the support at the highest levels in speech and in the lack of action taken against Perkasa for their incendiary actions and speeches.

    The moderate Malays has to speak up. The non Malays will only make the situation worse if they try to push any harder.

  8. #8 by sotong on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 - 5:40 pm

    If you don’t stand your ground firmly, the bullies will continue to bully you.

    You don’t compromise on fairness and equality.

  9. #9 by sotong on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 - 5:46 pm

    The extremists are brave, in real life cowards, because they know they could get away with it and the majority of Malays, being silence, are viewed as approving and supporting them.

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