An honest opinion on YB Khairy’s speech

In his closing speech just now YB Khairy Jamaluddin called for his Pemuda members to “cakap yang benar biarpun pahit”.

With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to review his policy address which he made this morning. It won’t be a pleasant read for some people but since we are in the spirit of telling the truth and in the spirit of improving ourselves for the better, we shall dissect and make some sense to what he was trying to say.

First off, his speech was entitled “MAQASID DAN MANHAJ PERJUANGAN”.

Why do we have to Arabicize Malay words?

Maqasid means ‘matlamat’ while Manhaj means ‘pendekatan’. Please don’t do an Anwar Ibrahim and try to substitute proper Malay words with Arabic words. It makes you sound phony and trying too hard; just like Anwar Ibrahim.

Somebody told me that instead of dismissing his speech outright, I must give credit to where it’s due. That is fair enough. In all 73 paragraphs of his speech, not all needs to be criticised. Some have good arguments and there are a few that I can relate to. But there are a few paragraphs that I do not agree with and this is where I vent my frustrations towards this Ketua Pemuda of United Malay National Organisation.

Some of these paragraphs are:

As UMNO Youth Leader, I meet many young Malays from all levels of society. When I speak of the NEP and the Malay struggle, they retort: “Pardon me, but what have I ever received from the NEP?” Their incomes are below the poverty line, many of them have migrated to cities where the cost of living rises faster than what they earn. These are Malays, Bumiputeras, but they have never enjoyed the fruits of the NEP. Their perception is that the NEP only enriches a few elite Bumiputeras with strong political links. For these youths, the 30 percent equity target does not mean anything because most of them never have and never will be able to purchase shares. This is yet another example of leakages where the NEP, which was rooted on the notion of prosperity for all, ended up being seen as an elitist policy resulting in many Malays sidelined and not looked after.

I find this very alarming coming from the Ketua Pemuda himself. Is he saying that his understanding of the NEP is limited to the number of shares and equity holding of the Malays? How sad that he cannot rebuke those young Malays that he met using arguments that the NEP had given them access to a lot of opportunities that did not exist before NEP was created?

All the many universities that were built, all the funds that were set up to  pull the Malays out from hardcore poverty, all the many schools that was built when not many were built before 1970; all these were part of the NEP that these young Malays are given privilege to enjoy. All these are direct benefits that come from the NEP. These are only a few examples that Khairy could give to them. He could even say that business opportunities are given to them if they work hard. In the days before the NEP an ordinary Malay could not have access to these opportunities even if they had worked hard because no opportunities were given to them. Access was limited.

If Pemuda Umno cannot rebut a simple retort from the simple young Malays he met all these while, then he therefore does not know what NEP is and certainly do not know the history of Umno’s struggle. Yet, he made a highly rhetorical statement in one of his paragraphs:

What is required today is a politics based on thoughts and ideas. The current political sphere is no longer entirely about the struggle for power, but a competiton of minds, a battle of ideas. Like it or not, those who challenge our political ideology must be defeated through the sharpness of our intellect and the superiority of our arguments, not by relying on executive power.

What sharpness of intellect can we really see here when he could not even properly explain to the young people the successes and the benefits NEP had brought to the Malays? Instead, he had used the raw, unprocessed thinking of those young ones (who really should have been educated further by Umno Youth) as the justification to condemn the NEP further.

I am further inclined to believe that Umno Youth is not focusing on the ‘software’ of the youth generation. Instead, they are focusing on the hard figures. Yes, you have gained new members. Yes you got new voters. But what kind of members and new voters do you have? Ones that do not know why, how and what the objectives of Umno are?

Does all the Umno youth members know the history of its ‘matlamat’ and ‘pendekatan’? Even the Ketua Pemuda doesn’t seem to know it. If not, he could have easily swayed the youth not to be too critical of the NEP. You do not have to offer them shares or business contracts  just to make them love the NEP mind you.