Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Playing the race card: Old habits die hard

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 - Malay right-wing group Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa today threatened that it would react to the actions of those who chose to question Malay supremacy. [The Malaysian Insider]

They say old habits die hard. And in Malaysia, die hard they do. On March 22, a Malay right-wing group known as Perkasa threatened it would react to those who constantly challenge the supremacy of the Malays. The latter is one notion Malaysians are familiar with, though it sounds awfully similar to UMNO's mantra.

Its president, Datuk Ibrahim Ali (image) who is also an independent MP of Pasir Mas, said he was willing to risk being detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for the sake of "country, race and religion." He further reiterates to suggest that those questioning the supremacy of the Malays do not act in the name of justice. I sure hope he does not mean having another May 13 would be one.

"If they are polite, we will be polite. But if they are not, neither will we. If they are kurang ajar (ill-mannered), we too can be kurang ajar. The truth is that justice has not yet come to Bumiputeras who have spent centuries being oppressed by colonial masters. We will not tolerate Bumiputeras losing face or our honour. Especially Malays and Islam, do not ever try to play around with these," he said. [The Malaysian Insider, 22/3/09]
Speaking at the group's function was former Prime Minister Tun Dr, Mahathir Mohamad who believes the Malay community was under threat by 'various parties' and suggest it was unfair to label Malay nationalists as racists as they are merely fighting to protect the rights of their community.

The trend of rising racial tensions in Malaysia has been at its peak as more non-Malay Malaysians are beginning to voice their concerns after decades of pro-Malay policies. But the main worry lies when politicians cry wolf of threats that may not exist after all. In the case of Perkasa, its president is urging the Malay masses to fight a threat that is non-existent. What he fails to prove is this so-called 'threat to Malay supremacy' of his.

There is a distinction between the term 'special position of the Malays' and 'the supremacy of the Malays'. The latter is a philosophy engineered by UMNO, like Ibrahim Ali, to elevate one race above the others; i.e racial supremacy. The term 'special position of the Malays', however, is a Constitutional provision to guarantee the position of the Malays as the natives of the land. I believe many non-Malays have no problem agreeing to this. But the problem starts when politicians begin to equate the constitutional provision with the UMNO-designed racist belief.

But who is denying the constitutional provision of the Malay community? Just who is calling for the Malays to leave the country? If none, then what 'threat' is Ibrahim Ali to claiming about?

(To read why racial supremacy of any kind is dangerous to the country's future, click here)

Ibrahim Ali had last year also called on other races to adapt to the local culture of Malays as they have already been given many rights and freedoms in this country. But would that solve the problem? There is no guarantee that the elusive 'threat' of Ibrahim Ali's would dissipate if all non-Malays adopt the Malay culture. No surprise if terminologies are invented to differentiate the 'native Malays' with the 'adopted Malays'. After all, they already had no problems separating Malaysians into Bumiputeras and non-Bumiputeras despite having the term "Malaysian" stamped on every national identity card.

Unless fear-mongering politicians stop playing the racial card, the future of a Malaysian Malaysia seems bleaker than ever before. People who heed the call of one race's supremacy over the others do not realise that as Malaysians, all races are in this together albeit a tough act to pull. We can no longer afford to just be selfishly concerned with our individual community-be it Malay, Chinese or Indian if we truly believe in the concept of Bangsa Malaysia.

In truth, the real danger is the prospect of a disunited, racist Malaysia.


  1. Anonymous said...

    I have read an article some where years go. It stated that M is not originated from here. They came from Indonesia if I am not mistaken. The real bumiputra are those indigenous tribes from Sabah, Sarawak. Basically, M, C and I are the same. There was another article saying that Hang Tuah and those pahlawan-s are C. Thats the reason all the novels about those pahlawan is no longer being taught in school. It is pretty funny, just because M reach here earlier than other races, it makes them special?? HILARIOUS..

  2. K L said...

    This is what you call the lousy and poor quality of our Malaysian politicians. They never ever learn ! Race is more important than nation to them ! What is the point of having the smartest race like Jews in Israel, but not having a peaceful and prosperous country ?

  3. Anonymous said...

    Why am i not surprise, because it happens everyday in Malaysia. If the leaders believe that a great Malaysia will be formed by a single race, he/she is very wrong indeed. I am a Malaysian of chinese origin and i am ready to fight for a more prosperous and peaceful Malaysia. No race should be discriminated in this process. With the current crisis, what is the point of wasting time in your office thinking about the next racial remark you are going to make on the front page.