The Malay agenda … again?

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Assoc Prof Dr Faisal Hazis of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said last week that the Opposition should focus on “the Malay narrative”, which includes the position of Islam and the special position of Malays. During the last election, he said, the Opposition emphasised “inclusivity” and neglected the more important Malay agenda because they wanted to be “trendy”. He wants Pakatan Harapan to centre more on Malays and Islam from now on.

What nonsense.

The good Dr Faisal must know by now that privileges for Malays have become privileges for UMNO, and that this has destroyed the Malay economic base. Without this baggage, Malays would have become an economic powerhouse by now. Equally, if the position of Islam in this country means that the Government has been able to espouse peaceful and progressive ideas of the religion, we would not have experienced the surge of “Taliban” laws and morality that we face today.

Unfortunately, false ideas about the meaning of the special position of Islam and Malay “privileges” have taken root to the detriment of Malays. It would be a tragedy if Pakatan were to continue with this UMNO/PAS narrative.

UMNO’s racist sentiments, coupled with PAS’s medieval ideas about Islam, have pulled Malays down. To prolong these distorted views of Islam and the special position of Malays will mean political and religious dictatorship. No Malaysian, let alone any Malay, will be better off with such a form of government.

Asking people to be more like UMNO, Perkasa or Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang will mean the spread of more outrageous lies that Malays are “under threat”. It will mean that more people will reject inclusiveness and progressive moderate politics. It will be a sheer waste of time if a Reformasi Government were to keep repeating the same old slogans, perhaps becoming even more vitriolic and extreme than UMNO/PAS.

The Opposition must address the Malay agenda, but it must not repeat the UMNO version. The Pakatan’s Malay agenda must explain how Malays will benefit from the privileges accorded them. People in general and Malays, in particular, are tired of UMNO equating its interests with the Malay agenda as a whole.

People want to hear about practical policies devised by a responsible and good government. They are tired of politicians stoking fear of the DAP and Chinese Malaysians—it’s as if there is no fear other than what the UMNO propagandists say. The Opposition can remove these false fears by putting real substance into the meaning of the special position of Malays.

To do this, the Opposition must say what it will do to help Malays in concrete terms and not merely create more fear. For example, in education, it can announce that underprivileged and rural Malays will get priority in elite, special boarding schools such as the MARA Junior Science Colleges. Poorer Malays must not be allowed to be second-class citizens just because the children of well-connected UMNO families or top civil servants have places reserved for them in the best schools and colleges.

Malays must be assured that the billions of ringgit spent on vocational schools actually go to skill-enhancement courses taught by properly qualified teachers. We must be convinced that there will be no more huge leakages. The Pakatan Harapan must make sure the students and the teachers are engaged in actual learning and not waving party flags and polluting their own minds with politics. Students must have proper jobs after school and university.

The award of Government contracts to Malays and Bumiputera must be based on skill and ability. Government departments must be transparent in their decision-making so that they can help people and not their own friends and families.

This is how we help Malays realise the full meaning of their special position, and this is what Malays want to hear about the Malay Agenda. They don’t want empty slogans from Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Hadi Awang. Telling Malays about practical policy changes is the way the Malay agenda can be a useful election issue.

When it comes to Islam, the official place of this religion in the Federation must not mean more backward policies, which will happen if the Opposition follows in the footsteps of UMNO/PAS. If we keep going down this path, Muslims will reject science, books will be banned, more Muslims will be charged for offences in the Shariah Court, and the ridiculous Taliban morality will spread even further into our mosques and madrasahs.

Protecting Islam does not mean protecting PAS and UMNO. It does not mean protecting JAKIM, JAIS, JAWI or any of the other organisations and individuals who tell us “Islam is being insulted” whenever anyone criticises them.

To honour and protect Islam is to help the thousands of Malay youths who are now heavy drug users. We need to spend on religious teachers who will teach the young the positive values of religion and not merely put more fear into everyone’s lives. We need to help marginalised people participate in social activities and learn to live with other communities. It means helping Muslim students to read and to understand our social conditions so that they can deal with the problems better. To honour Islam is to make sure that religious schools help Muslims understand the world they live in, instead of hankering after a world that preachers have designed for them.

This is what Muslims want to hear about the Islamic narrative. They don’t want to keep hearing that DAP will somehow dismantle Islam and that Christians will take over the country.

There will always be stupid Malays and Muslims who will be happy with the fear-mongering of UMNO/PAS. They believe that without PAS, Islam will be gone. They believe that without the corrupt UMNO, Malays will be finished. They do not realise that they are already finished. Pakatan should not worry about this class of voters.

If people want more fear, they can get that from UMNO and PAS, but it will be a tragic mistake if Pakatan were to succumb to this fascist narrative. Pakatan must believe that Malays and Muslims thrive not on fear but on hope and the desire to change their lives for the better. Being inclusive and working towards positive change is the way forward, and this is the only real fruit that the special position can give Malays.

Pakatan must discard fear and draw a new roadmap for the country. We must stop trying to fool Malays as if they don’t understand. UMNO and PAS will be rejected wholly this time around—we just need the confidence to tell Malays about the many opportunities that await them. To do this, Pakatan leaders must get into specifics and overhaul this corrupt system once and for all.

This is not being trendy. This is the real change that people want.

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  • Joe

    Generations of Malay grew up to believe the myths of NEP and even knowing Malay “rights” and “position” are based on myths, will not give it up unless forced to. Look around, no matter what the facts are, there is no desperation of the truth just knowledgeable expectations.

    These kinds of talk are driven partly by refusal to give up the myth but also by fact that the consensus is PH is not on track to win GE which is too near.

    Kleptocracy does not appear enough even added with star power of Mahathir and other ex-UMNO leader. Especially not when Hadi’s PAS and its Islam label is not on its side.

    The first failure is really PH has failed to make Kleptocracy about Islam and second, with Hadi’s betrayal, it’s unable to push upfront the Reformist Islam as the leader to replace Hadi’s Islam. All 3 Malay led party has failed to step up to the challenge of re-writing the new Islamic narrative, in fact keep showing their lack of confidence, dependency on old narrative, lacking in ideas and leadership leaving the task to enjoyable but uninspiring Mat Sabu and an ex-lawyer that does not have sound or look that can make mass dream and inspiration of alternative Islam.

    • hashthetrash

      The malay education have to start from infancy stage in fact have to start with the parents. Good manners hard work value money integrity, need to be taught. Teachers of high quality and commitment need to be produced. It has to increase the number of non bumi teachers. Then we will produce good malay suatainable malays. In other words, the malays need a complete overhaul on attitudes, manners, hard work, organizational skills, values and integrity

  • Marge Pinot

    “There will always be stupid Malays and Muslims who will be happy with the fear-mongering of UMNO/PAS. They believe that without PAS, Islam will be gone. They believe that without the corrupt UMNO, Malays will be finished. They do not realise that they are already finished. Pakatan should not worry about this class of voters.”

    Unfortunately this class of voters are the “king makers” in any GE. They form the majority in the critical majority of seats. What they do not realise is that UMNO has already sold the country to China and that 20 years from now, we will be just an economically colonised outpost of China. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way. And the Malays are going to have it very hard indeed.

    • hattori9cp

      And then cue the routine fear-stoking and racial-bashing brainwashing that the Chinese had secretly usurped Malaysia’s economic power. Reality is that their leaders sold the country.

  • Alfred Chuah

    If even a so-called liberal like you still hold on tightly to race and religion instead of fully embracing equality and diversity….. hopeLESS.

  • Saiya Hakim

    Again, another malay and islam stuff, why assume all malay are muslims? we could just pretend to be muslim out of fear.

  • Saiya Hakim

    What rights? I find it funny everytime they use the word ‘rights’ what rights!? malay special position long ago, no more and Ketuanan Melayu is about the Sultan and Agong. While thousands ordinary malays live in poverty, what kind of rights they are talking about? The other days Ibrahim Ali was saying about this ‘rights’ when he defended preacher Zakir Naik, but as a malay myself I hate Zakir Naik. Malaysia gives him free PR just because he is a muslim preacher.

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