Monday, April 14, 2008

UMNO's Raison d'etre

No mention of "Ketuanan Melayu" was heard during the period leading to 8th March. Maybe then, it was necessary not to frighten off the already frightened non-Malay voters.

But in the last few days from the Kelantan Prince to UMNO leaders the loud wailing of a perceived threat to "Ketuanan Melayu" is repeated. Threat to the Malay agenda. Malays to remain the privileged community into perpertuity. UMNO the protector of the Malay hegemony and the ones to ensure Malays dominate the political and administrative sphere of the country.

But Malays, all Malays, should remember, the Ketuanan Melayu emotion is one that can only be usurped and sensed in an environment where non-Malays also exist making a claim to the very space Malays exist in. Fair enough, Malays find themselves having to "share their space" with those who don't look like Malays. The obvious ones here will of course be the Chinese and the Indians.

But really, is it this sharing of space with others the real bone of contention?

I don't think so. Malays have been "sharing " with the Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and the English for several hundred years already. Despite that it is only the religion that was brought over by the Indians that they let themselves to be consumed by. And that religion, Islam, now in fact defines for the Malay, their race even.

"Ketuanan Melayu" as the words conjure is not something that was even thought of in its present context, when we achieved Merdeka. Sure there was the privilege accorded by the constitution to the Malay race. But from a strict reading of it, it would be seen that it suggests that the privileges were something that was bargained for, then enforced upon. It was privileges that the MIC and MCA representatives felt necessary to accede to and grant as a need may have been identified and acknowledged. The privileges were not something that were imposed upon as any attempts to have them imposed upon may have led to delays in gaining independence. I cannot somehow see where in those times "Ketuanan Melayu" was usurped or in operation in gaining for the Malays their special privileges.

Perceived Threat Necessary to Sustain Pointless Leadership

One has to wonder, why then "Ketuanan Melayu" is being propagated and now being showered on the Malays?

"Ketuanan Melayu" as a concept means nothing to the ordinary Malay living within a Malay society. If it was a homogeneous race living as a society that governs itself "Ketuanan Melayu' or any attitude of "Ketuanan Melayu" would be redundant. That would also be the case even if from within them there were two politically opposed parties vying for their support.

But if it is possible to show that there are threats to the Malay from those not of the same race, there may now be a purpose for uniting the Malays.

UMNO party vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in calling for Premier Abdullah Badawi to vacate his position immediately attributes it to " it can eventually lead to disaster for the Malays and Umno,” . Yes UMNO maybe, but how so, the Malays? Wonder how the Malays survived hundreds of years before UMNO came to being in 1946! Muhiddin is certainly rubbishing all the Malays and their leadership before 1946.

"Muhyiddin said the election results showed the domination of Malay politics through Umno which was long regarded as beyond challenge had become a myth"

But why the need for domination? Why on earth should the Malays dominate the political landscape in Malaysia? Cannot they trust fellow Malaysians to do the necessary to ensure all Malaysians benefit and have equal opportunities under the Malaysian sun? Why is there the need for UMNO to continue spreading the religion of suspicion and hate of the other races? Why does UMNO operate on the premise that its constituents need protection? Protection from whom?

Has there not been enough evidence to show that the Malays indeed need protection? But the protection they need is from UMNO and its leaders themselves more than anyone else. But very cleverly they have bluffed the Malays into believing that the Chinese and the other non-Malays who are out to dominate them and, therefore, UMNO is best equipped to protect them.

They use words like betrayal and traitors to label any Malay who may not jive with their cause. So that voting for DAP was equated by many as eating pork. But this failed this time around. The bluff is obviously not working. Many Malays, both urban and rural have called the UMNO bluff of the non-Malay demon.

In trying to resuscitate UMNO and gaining back the Malay support Mingguan Melayu and other Malay presses are going to town with the "Ketuanan Melayu" reminder. As Raja Petra put it, amongst the royalty there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of them. All you need is one bad apple from amongst them to once again talk of Ketuanan Melayu and the Malay presses and the MSM will make it sound like as if the entire royalty is asking for it.

Next will, I suppose, be Islam that will be brought into the fray when "Ketuanan Melayu" stops being effective.

Yes "Ketuanan Melayu" is needed. UMNO needs it desperately. The Malays don't. Take away "Ketuanan Melayu" and UMNO finds itself, by their very admission, redundant. There will be no role to play for them.

The GE 2008 has not robbed the Malays of anything. But it certainly has robbed off many rent seekers amongst the UMNOPutras their gravy train. The Malays at large have no access to this gravy train. Obviously all who have tasted the wonders of the gravy train want it continued for the benefit of their generation and the next. Well, at least that is what they say, when what they mean is themselves and their families.

The question is who amongst the Malays will stand up and put a stop to the reference to "Ketuanan Melayu" and whatever that represents? Anwar Ibrahim has referenced the benefits intended by "Ketuanan Melayu" as extending to the rakyat. Maybe he still finds in "Ketuanan Melayu" an assurance to leadership and power even though he may not be in UMNO.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Should Pakatan Wait? I think Not!

A lot has been said about the possibility of Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament hopping over to Pakatan Rakyat so that there is a change in government. Every argument from a righteous standpoint is indeed valid and the concern that PK needs to work towards consolidating itself before taking on the onerous task of governing the country is just as valid.

Assumptions Assumptions Assumptions

However, there carries with this position an assumption that the BN government will carry on with the task of governance of the country for the next 5 years honourably and in committed citizenry.

Is that a valid assumption, however? This has to be examined further.

So what of the next 5 years? What assumptions would the UMNO led BN have of their future and fortunes at the next GE? I suggest that it is these that will be the driving force of what we can expect of BN in the next 5 years.

I can only imagine that the BN will do everything in its power to gain what they lost. And they must if you were them. And the big question is how it is that they are going to achieve this.

That depends on what they believe to be the most expedient way and a way that is achievable.

Working on Assumptions

Now what is achievable by their reckoning must also be achieved through a track that they believe has to comply with what they believe to be the way Malaysians have been consigned to follow and abide by.

Even now they only seem to talk in terms of UMNO, MCA, MIC and what ever else. How else can a single party provide a place for 14 Presidents/Charimen who through their presidentships/chairmenship assure for themselves or herself, within the corridors of power, a place at the table (read cabinet)?

The only justification for the race based party to exist and to continue to exist is the assumption that each race has its own distinct goal which requires protection and promotion which can only be achieved by members of that same race. That goal unfortunately is dressed in the cloak of culture, language, religion, food, education, vocation, profession, habits and behaviour such that these are taboo areas that can only be visited upon without raising any concern by a member of that same race.

This presupposes that there is this inherent desire by one race to superimpose ones' own values on the other so that it better fits into their view of the other. And, therefore, the need for protection and promotion of self.

The BN has successfully sold this premise for 50 years and has found its model viable. But that model stood on the continued maintenace of the assumptions.

Maintaining Assumptions

Without exactly telling us why, we have only heard loud and clear, "your race needs to be represented", "your race will not be represented", "no one will fight for your rights". Obviously these statements, which unfortunately never got dissected, were valid on the premise that UMNO will reign forever. They represent the majority race, the Malays. UMNO is only concerned for the interests of the Malays. The Malays have no concern for the others. Everything the Indians, Chinese, Kadazans, Ibans have got needed to be fought for, justified and obtained, rather reluctantly from an unwilling UMNO. Or maybe it was traded for.

UMNO needs this scenario. Not because it is generous. But because it has PAS to contend with. And now Parti Keadilan Rakyat as well. Just imagine. If UMNO was the only party representing the interests of the Malays!. There was no PAS. Then of course with the attitude that Ketuanan Melayu tends to nurture, what would have been required of the component parties representing their various communities would have been so much more. But then to spread the loot among the already large number of war lords will of course precipitate a new kind of problem with this "enlarged" UMNO. PAS has actually helped the existing war lords in UMNO get a bigger share of the "loot", so to say.

The present model is convenient for everyone concerned in the BN. It provides for every possible platform any individual can raise. I could never understand the political parties popping up in Sarawak and Sabah ever so often through the breakages of existing parties that are components of the BN and yet everyone remains a BN party. But this has catered for the many war lords and the leaders of various communities. Unfortunately, or should I say, thankfully, no one has arisen in Malaysia thinking that on his own he can be a dictator without the need for any one majority supporting him other than, say,the armed forces.

The present model is useful in satisfying the power hungry within each community and it also has pacified the different people into a sort of submission. Of course the usefulness of employing the threat of chaos, security, stability, development and so on cannot be underscored. However, one has to wonder in what sense the security of the nation will be threatened when only those who love this land participate in the entire electoral process. I always have thought that by threat to security of the nation that we would have political enemies who are not of the country.

Why BN as Presently Constituted Needs to Maintain its Model?

I am not going to elaborate on this. But just want to be a little cheeky about it. Just look at the quality of the leaders of UMNO and its component parties. Now compare them, individually if you must, against the several leaders in the PR. Just compare the credentials of the PR MPs against the MPs of the BN. I feel assured that there are more of them in the PR who can actually contribute towards technical discourses that will most probably leave a majority of the BN MPs lagging behind if not dumb founded. BN MPs and Ministers, several of whom got kicked off, and of course leaving some still around, are very much known for their single word curses only.

That being the case, can you now see why at all cost the BN has to fight to keep its present model? The different parties is just a clearer separation of the different parts. Even if they all decide to merge into a single BN party, you can very well bet that party will be separated into different constituencies. Unfortunately that constituency will naturally veer towards a racist track. Any philosophical kind of constituency will just be beyond the majority of the war lords and they cannot allow this as it would require a language they cannot speak let alone understand.

Obviously this is an assumption on my part. But over and above this, what can be evidenced is the model as we see it now provides for the few who with a touch of audacity reap in the harvest of the loot before them. If they had to play in a pool that is made up of all the members of the component parties, they all might just get lost in the crowd and they may have to contend with the likes of Samy Velu and his boys. Some how, I cannot see half the UMNO and MCA leaders having tea with this lot.

As it is they all have their own separate pools to swim in and there is more than enough in their respective pools to keep them happy. There is a perceived coalition of sorts but this is just so that they can defend their own pools very comfortably.

Bangsa Malaysia just does not fit!

The PR is anathema to say the least. The PR parties come together not so much on race as much as BN would like them to be categorised as. There is a distinct subscription to philosophies or ideals, I would like to think, that transcend race. Even PAS' Islamic leaning credentials cuts through race when seen for what it really has to mean. Clarity of these philosophies and respecting each of these philosophies should be more easily achieved than one that requires you to "abandon" your race to embrace another, or work with another. The only qualification is PKR which can trace its origins to the ouster of its leaders out of UMNO . That and reformasi characterised Keadilan. If I am not mistaken when reformasi was the clarion call of Anwar and his supporters, it had more to do with the reformation of UMNO rather than the BN model. Please do correct me if I am wrong.

However, if over the next 5 years Pakatan Rakyat survives, unlike Barisan Alternative of 1999, this time the PR has the opportunity to show that it too can rule. Its survival alone, let alone success could mean the end of BN as we see it today. We all recognise that it had to be a collective effort on the part of all Malaysians that saw the outcome of the GE 2008. We should all, hopefully be drunk with this model that sees us all as Malaysians. Not Malay, Chinese, Indians and others.

Options for BN

Become honest politicians for the betterment of the country. They do not see politics in the BN model as an avenue for wealth and riches and the acquisition of power and arrogance.

But that will mean great sacrifices. No more Zakaria Deros. No more APs. No more cronies and psycophants. That will be like taking off a limb. What will you do to keep that limb of yours? If PR lives up to its promise for just 5 years, this is what will be expected of BN to deliver for them to be considered even.

If we all agree, that this is one position that the UMNO led BN will never allow to take, then they got only one option. To destroy PR at all cost. To destroy anything that might add to their credentials or to show that they too can lead and rule and govern. That, for those who find their comforts in "Just wait and see" in the expectation that PR will tumble, anything less than PR making total fools of themselves will just be not acceptable.

Country's Immediate Future

When it is more important that PR will fail than even a rescue and reformation of UMNO or the BN, the country's interest will have to take a back seat. Badawi, with his proven weak, if not no leadership, will only result in Intifida like assaults of the kind delivered by Azalina, the new Tourism Minister. Opportunities will surely be lost.

If Mahathir's wishes are realised and Badawi is dumped, and UMNO is lucky enough to get a resourceful and vibrant leader, the leadership will have to ensure the propagation of the model that has delivered so much for the UMNOPutras. That will be his agenda.

However, if for whatever reason, fate intervenes, and they realise that it is a lost cause, and that the loss of the governance of the country to PR is seen to be inevitable, and they got 5 years to still continue, rape and plunder is what I expect to see.

What ever option that is open for consideration on the BN table, the result as I see it is just the same. The country and its people will lose.

Pakatan's Responsibility Now!

The PR supporters, writers and opinionated do gooders who want to only see the righteous ways of doing things see no option but for PR to wait till the next GE. They are to play the effective and good opposition party in parliament and to rule justly and equitably in the states they now rule. According to them accpeting frogggies, jumpers, or party hoppers to effect a take over of the government is just not on. Haris Ibrahim of People's Parliament would only allow for party hoppers if they first go back to their voters. Yes call them all in a town hall session and seek their permission. Others say, they ought to resign and go for a re-election.

Let me make it clear. The country needs to be rescued from the BN right now. Its just like when someone holds a loved one for ransom, I will not wait for protocols to make the rescue if I was given the one opportunity to do it right now.

Looking For Reason. Looking For Opportunity

What we need to do now,is to look for the reasons and to look for why it might become necessary for all of us to support party hopping to effect a change over of the government even if it means going against our own principles. What is enough and when would it be right before you would be convinced that it is time for BN to go? Are we going to wait for things to begin to fall apart before we act?

Or are we waiting to comfort ourselves that we can trust Anwar Ibrahim enough to see him taking over the Premiership of the country?

Maybe some of us are not looking at all these points that might lead us to be convinced that it is time for BN to go. But surely Anwar is. But then again Anwar may not even be bothered to look for these things to justify a move,he is just looking for the opportunity to move for just the sake of taking over the government. I just hope that he too will be looking for a justifiable reason that we can all bank on the BN and UMNO to deliver. Just hope that it is soon.