Friday, November 7, 2008

Zaid Ibrahim called a traitor for criticizing UMNO

BALING (Kedah): Former defacto law minister Zaid Ibrahim has come under withering criticism from Umno politicians for saying that the concept of 'Ketuanan Melayu' or Malay supremacy championed by the party has led to failed policies. Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar led the charge, saying Mr Zaid was a traitor to his own race and should apologise for his remarks. [The Straits Times Singapore, 4/11/08]

On October 31, ex-Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim (image) took a swipe at UMNO, saying the party's ideology of "ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy)" was a failure and had deviated from addressing the real issues plaguing the country. He said this during the 21st LawAsia Conference 2008 which he expressed in his speech that the government should practise a more transparent form of democracy to accommodate the rights of all Malaysians.

Zaid who resigned as Law Minister in September following his disapproval of the government's errant use of the Internal Security Act on three citizens, said that the concept of ketuanan Melayu had resulted the country's current depressing state of affair where racial harmony is at its most fragile.

“It is time for us all to practise a more transparent and egalitarian form of democracy and to recognise and respect the rights and dignity of all the citizens of this country. Bandied about by Umno ideologues, the social contract took on a different, more racialist tone."

"Affirmative action and special status became a matter of privilege by reference to race rather than of need, and questioning of this new status quo was not to be tolerated. Since Malays were effectively represented in government, there was no way the interest of the Malays could be taken away other than through their own weakness and folly," he said. [The Star, 1/11/08]

Despite being an UMNO member himself, Zaid also commented that unless policies like the ketuanan Melayu is done with, it will be impossible to reconcile the principles of equality and civil rights of all citizens.

That being said, Zaid Ibrahim has turned himself as UMNO's prodigal, notably in the eyes of the Home Minister who seemed to have an opinion on everything patterning to anything. This time around, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar branded Zaid as a 'traitor to his own race' and demanded that he apologise for his remarks.
"There should be no attempt to deny or tarnish the history of the struggle by the Malays. If you say that the concept of Malay supremacy has failed, then Zaid will not be what he is today. He is fortunate he was born a Malay,"he said. [The NST, 4/11/08]
Indeed, Zaid Ibrahim was fortunate he was born a Malay; as one who recognizes the corrupt, racist ideologies of the Barisan Nasional ruling party. As for Syed Hamid, it was rather unfortunate for the Malay community to have someone as ignorant as Syed Hamid that rheotically claims to be their worthy defender.

In a similar fashion, UMNO supreme council member Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim echoed Syed Hamid's thoughts and said that the ex-Law Minister's comments on the ketuanan Melayu had gone too far.
"Unless Zaid repents, he must be expelled from the Malay race. He should have the Malay spirit for it was not wise for him to openly challenge and criticize the ketuanan Melayu policy. As a Malay, he must therefore apologise," he said in a gathering at Kangar. [Malaysiakini, 2/11/08]
Despite stern reactions rippling across the UMNO hegemony, Zaid refused to apologise for his criticism on the ketuanan Melayu concept. In return, he warned the Malay community to be wary of leaders who manipulate the name of the Malays in order to further their selfish political agendas. He also said it was because he loved his Malay race that he recommended open competition be allowed to ensure the race could compete with others in a globalised age.

Though he explained he was not challenging Article 153 of the Federal Constitution that ensures the special positions of the Malays, he believed that a new approach was needed to ensure young Malays closed ranks and cooperated not only with other races in the country but also foreigners.

Zaid Ibrahim may be called the harshest of names by his fellow party members but it was nothing short of an exemplary act for a man to go against the tide of his party whenever ethics and the spirit of Malaysia are compromised. A 'traitor' he may be, but at least he did not sell his soul to the devil of ignorance and racist delusions.