Are Umno leaders fit to wear the badge of ketuanan?


A 139-year old letter cannot express better the predicament that we are in, writes Choo Sing Chye.


Umno’s convention in November 2014 gave us a brief interlude, a small window to peek into the inner sanctum of Umno.

Instead of an innovative leap into the arena of fine and intelligent debate, we saw a parade of Umno’s so-called future leaders and silly-intellectuals promoting their wares thoughtlessly without any sense of etiquette or nobleness.

Unquestionably, this deep-seated demeanour has become a customary dictate of every Umno convention and it has spawned into a huge centre-stage for these unthinking characters and unintelligent debates.

They scream, disrupt, scold, threaten and bully their way through an argument which would finally end up as future policies which you and I have to follow.

In fact, all this scorn is never a showcase of a ketuanan in the Malay sense.

The true concept of the Malay ketuanan leans more to the side of sovereignty and eminence rather than to the racial supremacist scheme of the fascist. In short, a Malay gentleman.

Ironically, without doubt, it is common knowledge that every Umno leader aspires to be a ‘tuan’ to all races like the British. But seemingly, one of the most important aspect of a tuan which often slips from their minds and actions is etiquette.

In so saying, the legitimacy of the ketuanan Malays rests on the pillars of strength, humility, conscientiousness, nobleness, justice, responsibility, and lastly, the most important, etiquette.

All these mean that they must not treat one half of the governed with justice and the other half with scorn.

Without all these senses, it is hard for the ketuanan Umno leaders to convince citizens from other races that they are not just another bully or kepala samseng where bullying becomes the central core of their creed and doctrine.

Umno leaders should not look at their neighbour’s cake and complain that it shouldn’t be bigger than theirs. They have unlimited access to the country’s wealth, and it shouldn’t be difficult for them to purchase a super large oven and employ the best chefs to bake a super large cake. If they wish so, no non Malay can stand in the way. I do not know why Umno leaders are not doing so? Instead, they torment their neighbour until the day he/she bakes a smaller cake.

Today most of the Umno Malay tuans have forgotten how to act and talk like a gentleman tuan.

Isabella Bird, in her book, The Golden Chersonese (1883), wrote about the relationship between Hugh Low, the ketuanan British Resident, and the Malays: