Malaysia would be a better place without Umno


Who is responsible for destroying racial unity in this country? Which forked-tongue party with the tacit support of their soul mate – a xenophobic NGO – is using race and religion to divide the people?

It is palpably not the Opposition. The Opposition on their part are seriously working with the marginalized minorities as well as the majority race in instilling peace and unity in the society.

Ethnic diversity is no doubt a distinctive feature of Malaysia but the Barisan Nasional (BN) ruling parties – led by the ‘Big Brother’, UMNO – opt to promote individual self-serving racial schema all in the name of promoting the interests of their own ethnic group against the other. This has led to a divisive kind of politics in the coalition since the country’s independence and it has caused grave disunity among the people of various races and religions.

The only party in the country that often uses race, religion and ethnic ‘rights’ to stay relevant in politics is UMNO. For this reason, UMNO does not deserve to talk about racial unity.

Constitution was carved in good faith

Article 153 visibly states that it is the King’s responsibility “to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article”. Sadly, some racial zealots are using this Article as a weapon of aggression just to score some brownie points in politics. This symptom is not boding well for the country. Malaysians in general have never questioned the special position of the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak. The minorities among them only demand that their positions too be acknowledged by the majority race.

Notably, the Constitution was carved with good faith to create a united Malaysian race. It explicitly covers the special ‘position’ of the indigenous and unreservedly recognizes the ‘rights’ of all Malaysians. The Constitution is not deliberately tilted towards any single group of citizens to favour them more then the others. The lexis ‘rights’ and ‘position’ are semantically disparate, though. Unfortunately, some UMNO politicians and their soul mates care more to argue on the deeper structure of the terminology.

A Malay lawmaker has this to say: “When politicians talk of the special ‘rights’ of only one group of people, it smacks of unfairness, as the Constitution also implicitly prescribes for the ‘rights’ of other Malaysians.”

There is a harmonious gamut to the positions of all races in the country in the Constitution, which some politicians prefer to ignore. They are immaturely trying to practise divisive politics by toying with the issue of ‘a chosen people’ versus ‘ the marginal group’ and this has perceptibly caused covert but marked disunity among people of different races and religions in the country.

As commented by the Malay lawmaker, “No one disputes the Constitution and no minority groups are for civil strife just by asking the majority to be fair to them as the rightful citizens of the country.”

UMNO and some deep-seated NGO leaders are too quick to demean those who bring to facade the above notion – erroneously implying that any attempt to honestly decipher the semantic of the Constitution is to question UMNO and undermine what they term as ‘the unity foundations they have long built’. Too many political observers, this is too opinionated in temperament.

The lawmaker added: “The Constitution belongs to all Malaysians and not any political party per se. Some politicians are actually destroying racial unity in manipulating the neat foundation of the Constitution when they insinuate that the minorities must accept themselves as second-class citizens.”

To reject a government

More often than not, the word ‘unity’ becomes a hallowed formulate expansively used by UMNO just before elections to win support. The word disappears from their political repository just after an election. Unity rhetoric is only for UMNO’s political expedient. In truth, national unity has virtually been shattered by the UMNO government.

Unity in its truest sense can only be seen if the rights of all Malaysians are taken care of. For that matter, safeguarding the indigenous rights does not come at the expense of the legitimate interests of the minorities. It is a fundamental human right that the minorities in any nation are treated fairly. When the minorities come to realize that they are neglected in all societal sectors they are bound to have animosity against the majority. They, therefore, deserve the right to reject a government that advocates injustice and unfairness.

A sociologist has this to say, “A social contract bounds the rights of all citizens. Nothing absolute pertaining to race is actually sealed in a social contract. The deprived in the society need to be helped. Poverty eradication involves people from all ethnic groups – not just confined to a single race. The poor among all races have to be factored in. Racial unity prevails when a government is sincere in narrowing this gap.”

Promoting racial unity for UMNO is like playing a hide and seek game. To the sociologists, the framework for racial unity has to be based on the true aspirants of the people – the majority and the minority. UMNO’s mode of silencing the parties representing the minority ethnic groups in the BN coalition with a ‘Big Brother’ mentality – on the issue of rights and special position of the indigenous has not helped promote good racial relations in the country. UMNO cannot call for unity and yet with the same breath spew out racist remarks against the non-Malays. Neither is it right for UMNO to rancorously create an imaginary Christian onslaught on Islam, as this has given rise to a widening gulf of misapprehension between the Muslims and the Christians in the country.

Cycle of poverty

It is an accepted reality that not all Malaysians are ready to totally shed their racial identity and call themselves Malaysians. For this ideal to morph into reality it may take another few generations. But UMNO does not seem to have the formula for this quandary. First, the poor and marginalized Malays, Indians, Chinese and the Indigenous are those that need to be helped to pull them into a level playing ground. As practised by UMNO, enriching a selected few among their cronies is not the solution to national unity.

Over 70 percent of the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak are still poor after many years of independence. Over 65 percent of the Malays are still in the poor category despite the long years of NEP. The marginalised Indians constitute 58 percent of the poor within this community. The Chinese too are not spared by poverty. 35 percent are still under the poor category within this community. Building richness solely within a single racial group is not going to bring unity or harmony to the society.

Many bigots, opportunists and self-serving leaders in UMNO prefer to ignore the fact that there are also many deprived people from among the minorities who need help in many ways. Unity does not mean that UMNO and their BN parties should come together to help themselves with the nation’s wealth, with UMNO taking the biggest share. Racial unity also becomes a mockery if all opportunities are given to a single race with crumbs thrown to the minorities. Practising tokenism for the minorities will only demoralize the marginalized more.

A local economist has this to say: “Preferential treatment of a single race may not augur well for the nation when there are many who are equally deprived in the society. In a need-based economic approach to nation building would see a better Malaysia for all. UMNO does not need to enrich the rich but empower the poor from among all the races to drag them out of the cycle of poverty and into the level playing ground. This will help promote racial unity in the long run.”