Malaysians must conduct a national soul-searching as to what has gone wrong with over five decades of nation-building that there was a Red Shirts Malay rally replete with racial slurs and provocations on Malaysia Day itself and with government approval.
Police estimated that some 35,000 Malays from all over the country converged in Kuala Lumpur – a few not knowing why they were being brought to the Federal capital – to uphold Malay dignity on the ground allegedly that Malay rights were under threat.
UMNO veteran and stalwart, Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah rightly said today that he did not know where the perceived threats to Malays were coming from.
He said: “You have got the government that is headed by a Malay, state governments headed by Malays with the exception of one in Penang. The civil service is mostly made up of Malays.
“The army are mostly Malays and we also have Malay rulers. I don’t know where the threats are coming from.”
Even the fourth and longest-serving Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said that he was clueless about the objectives of the Red Shirts Malay rally, although it was meant to be a counter-demonstration against the allegedly Chinese-dominated and DAP-masterminded (completely untrue and baseless allegations) Bersih 4 overnight rally on August 29 and 30.
Mahathir had yesterday rubbished the allegation that Bersih 4 rally was racist, when he said:
“Bersih 4 was not racist, all races were there. They (red shirts) want Bersih to be racist so they can defend the Malays.
“(But) they are not defending the Malays. There is no need (for the Red Shirts rally).”
Mahathir has struck the nail on the head.
It is clear that one primary objective of the Red Shirts Malay rally in Kuala Lumpur today is to provoke and launch a vicious cycle of racial animosity, distrust and hatred in the country which would provide the raison d’etre for the “unseen hands” who had organised the Red Shirts Malay rally to continue their agenda of mischief.
Malaysians of all races should not fall into the trap of the “unseen hands” who organised the Red Shirts Malay Rally on Malaysia Day today, and although there are racial slurs, insults and provocations, based on lies and falsehoods, in today’s rally, they should not react or respond in any racial fashion but from a Malaysian national perspective to treat the Red Shirts Malay Rally as proof that Malaysia, despite over five decades of nation-building, is stricken with a serious sickness which must be recognised, addressed and healed.
The spokesperson for the Group of Eminent Malays (G25) and former diplomat Noor Farida Ariffin rightly warned at a forum that Malaysia could become a failed state if politicians do not stop the unhealthy practice of threatening other or inciting racial polarisation.
She said that there must be mutual tolerance with one another in order for the country to remain prosperous and warned that it was the politicians who were destroying the country.
Even the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Idris Jala said in the same forum that there was no racial polarisation when he worked in Shell, but he noticed that Peninsular Malaysia is much more polarised than in Sarawak.
As patriots, let us respond to the racially-charged and provocative Red Shirts Malay Rally as Malaysians, and not as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans.
I believe the majority of right-thinking Malays, like Tun Mahathir, Tengku Razaleigh and Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, are also horrified not only as Malays but also as Malaysians by the holding of a Red Shirts Malay rally in Kuala Lumpur on Malaysia Day.
The Malaysian Chinese, who are the target of baseless slurs, insults and provocations in the Red Shirts Malay Rally in Kuala Lumpur, should also respond not only as Chinese but as Malaysians – as the primary question is not why tens of thousands of Malays in various parts of the country could be bused to KL for a rally purportedly to protect Malay dignity and rights, but what has gone wrong with over half a century of nation-building that such reckless and irresponsible race-baiting could still be used with some effect when those who pose the greatest threats to the dignity and rights of ordinary Malays are the UMNO-putras themselves.
This is why there is a need for Malaysians, regardless of race, to conduct a national soul-searching as to what has gone wrong with over five decades of nation-building that a Red Shirts Malay rally replete with racial slurs and provocations could be held, and on Malaysia Day itself, and with government approval.
But the future for Malaysia is not all bleak, black and dark.
While there was a sea of red in Kuala Lumpur, there was a sea of orange in Shah Alam this morning at the launching of Parti Amanah Negara where thousands of Muslims from all over the country congregated to celebrate the birth of an open-minded, progressive, inclusive and caring Islamist political party – showing the way for a common future for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age or gender.
It may be a blessing in disguise that the Red Shirts Malay rally is held on Malaysia Day today, for it hightlights the gravity of the failure of Malaysian nation-building and the urgent need to inculcate in all Malaysians, sehati sejiwa, with the commitment that they are not just Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans or Orang Asli but most important of all, they are Malaysians!
There are at three lessons we must draw from the blemish of a Red Shirts Malay rally on Malaysia Day today:
Firstly, the need to end race-based political parties, a concept which UMNO founder Onn Jaffar had advocated 64 years ago in 1951 when he suggested that UMNO openn its doors to non-Malays and change its name from United Malays National Organisation to United Malayans National Organisation. All the presently race-based parties, whether UMNO, MCA or MIC should be required to open their doors to all Malaysians in a major stride forward in Malaysian nation-building.
Secondly, the need to inculcate in all Malaysians the concept that although we remain and are proud of being respectively Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans or Orang Aslis, we are above all Malaysians. If such a message had been successfully inculcated, there would not have been a Red Shirts Malay rally in Kuala Lumpur today, and the Bersih 4 rally, participated by Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region, age, gender or politics would be the model of all public assemblies – no racial slurs, insults or provocations; no worry about racial clashes or conflicts, as all had come together with a common national objective transcending race, to demand as in the case of Bersih 4, good governance and free, fair elections.
If there are political leaders, whether in UMNO, MCA, MIC, whether in government or opposition, who are not prepared to accept such a Malaysian message transcending race, then we must go over the heads of the political leaderships concerned to reach their ordinary membership who are more rational and Malaysian-minded than their leaders.
Thirdly, the need for a national movement to raise the constitutional literacy of Malaysians so that all Malaysian regardless of race understand the fundamental features and provisions of the Malaysian constitution as well as their constitutional rights and limitations.
If we can learn these three lessons from the Red Shirts Malay rally in Kuala Lumpur today, then all is not in vain and there is more than light at the end of the tunnel for Malaysia!
(Speech at the Sandakan DAP Dinner to celebrate 52nd Malaysia Day in Sandakan on Wedneday 16th September 2015 at 10 pm)