Where has Malay Nationalism gone to?


It is moving away from immovable UMNO.

The doleful and almost pleading wish of UMNO people generally is for all the nightmares affecting their political future will go away. As a self-reassuring measure, they tell themselves, things will be all right. The people will come back to UMNO because UMNO fights for Malays. So, UMNO leaders everywhere say, things will be ok. Zahid Hamidi says, UMNO will win back the Malay ground and it will do so overwhelmingly.

Where is UMNO’s main appeal? It appeals to the Malay ground that adopts the cruder form of Malay nationalism, the sledgehammer variety so enthusiastically expounded by organizations like Perkasa. But that variety of base and crude nationalism is dying. The new generation of Malay voters adopt different values and have different expectations.

You can see what form of nationalism they subscribed to- making out the case that Bersih march for example was masterminded by Malaysian Indians out to topple the Malay government. They thought that would turn the Malay ground xenophobic until they discovered the majority of the marchers were Malays.  You get disappointed that you can no longer reduce the issue to a simple Malay- non Malay clash.

What’s the other important thing to the Malays? Their religion- comes the answer. So UMNO leaders came out accusing homely Ambiga as a threat to Islam. Still no go as that would assume the Malay faith in their religion is so fragile that even the appearance of Ambiga who is probably remotely interested in another person’s religious denomination, is sufficient to shake the religious fiber of the Malay ground. Still no one buys that argument as it died out as quickly as it was raised.  

Hmm, let’s try communism, that godless creed. The Malay’s hatred for communism seemed to be a possible source to limit empathy from the Malay ground. So pictures of Shamsiah Fakeh a member of the Malay communist regiment of the 1940s were resurrected and given prominence. The idea was to say that Bersih marchers were communism inspired.

The feeble attempt was non impactful because the attempted association with communism goes against mainstream logic; no one country in the world is sticking around communism. Even China has gone free market. Why would a band of marchers, marched in the cause of communism?

Face it. UMNO can’t appeal any longer to the cruder form of xenophobic nationalism or group pride.

Let’s ask calmly, where has Malay nationalism migrated to? The answer to me is it hasn’t migrated anywhere. But Malay nationalism has mutated into the finer form of nationalism which finds expression in variegated forms of universal causes. Example. The abhorrence for corruption is one reconstituted form of the previously crude form of nationalism. Revulsion towards other races has tuned to a more universal revulsion for corruption for example. Because corruption cuts across and affects the interest no longer of distinct groups, but the whole country. It undermines the moral fiber of the whole nation.

Wasn’t the principal idea of the original nationalism was to inculcate one’s love for the country and one’s love for the country finds expression in a more universal desire to protect the country’s interest as a whole? The crude form of nationalism which is essentially irrational chauvinism exist as an insignificant subset to the wider and more universal nationalism. It exists among the inhabitants of the lunatic underworld.