Mahathir returns to perjuangan ketuanan Melayu

K. Parkaran, Free Malaysia Today

A recent video clip of Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaking after his party Pejuang was registered has caused much consternation. He said he was thankful that Pejuang was finally registered, but he went on to say:

“Our party is a Malay party. Unlike others, we openly admit that we are a Malay and Bumiputera party. We formed a Malay party because the country is originally a Malay nation.

“We shared the nation with others, but this sharing should not be until we (Malays) are the poorest, in the lowest strata and insulted in our own country. Today, we can see Malays split until we have lost power.

“Why? Because of greed. Each and everyone wants position and power, not to serve the race, religion and country but want lucrative returns. Malays form parties not to serve the nation but to seek high positions. There are those who want to be prime ministers, ministers and deputy ministers. That is their objective.”

I am not sure how convincing he was to the Malay crowd with this blatant appeal on racial grounds.

It is not true that the Malays have lost power. They never did.

Mahathir’s statement caused much hurt and anger among those who view him as being somewhat responsible for the current state of the country. It is indeed difficult to know what he wanted to convey or why he chose to make this statement at a time when the people are hurting from the impact of Covid-19 and struggling to keep afloat. It sounded a wee bit desperate to me.

Rewind to 1970, shortly after the May 13 racial riots, when Mahathir made a similar argument in his book, The Malay Dilemma, and in a letter to Tunku Abdul Rahman, then prime minister and Umno president.

The book’s publication came a year after Mahathir had lost his parliamentary seat in Kota Setar, Kedah, and after he was expelled from Umno over the strongly-worded letter accusing the Tunku of making too many concessions to the Chinese.

He made the following stand:

  • The Malay race are the indigenous people (Bumiputeras) of Malaysia;
  • The sole national language is the Malay Language and all other races are to learn it;
  • The tolerant and non-confrontational nature of the Malays has allowed them to be subjugated in their own land by the other races with the collusion of the British and
  • A programme of affirmative action is required to correct Malaysian Chinese hegemony in business.

Mahathir was readmitted into Umno in 1972 after the Tunku resigned and the new PM, Abdul Razak Hussein, made him education minister in 1974. And 11 years after The Malay Dilemma, he became prime minister. The most interesting thing is he got all that he had asked for.

Besides being in the thick of things when the New Economic Policy (NEP) was introduced in 1971, he was the powerful prime minister of Malaysia for a total of 22 years.

During his watch, all top positions in the Cabinet, government departments and agencies, the police and armed forces were helmed by Malays. The civil service became 95% Bumiputera with most of the heads of all agencies coming from the community.

No one can also deny that the awards of government scholarships, places in critical courses in universities and other top perks were mainly reserved for the Bumiputera community.

There were murmurs and at times noisy expressions of frustrations from the non-Bumiputeras but it became a norm and continued unabated. Life for most went on as usual.

And if Mahathir now claims that the Bumiputeras are the “poorest, in the lowest strata” and are being disrespected after 50 years of affirmative action with him being in the driver’s seat for half of the time, he has a lot to answer.

All Malaysians have been impacted by Covid-19, with the most affected coming from the B40 and M40 groups. And by virtue of the population demography, the number is very high among the Bumiputeras.

Obviously, it’s the parties which have been claiming to be defending them all this while who should take the blame. Why blame others for this state of affairs?

If he is still using the race card by saying Pejuang is an all-Malay party unlike others and champions the Malay cause, he should admit that he has obviously failed in his years of helming the all-Malay/Bumiputera party of Umno which had been in the political driving seat for 60 years.

To suddenly pull the race card out of his hat and wave it to Malaysians saying “it’s our land and we just chose to share with you” is resorting to blatant racism which is unbecoming of a statesman of his standing and age. Not at a time when all Malaysians irrespective of race and religion have contributed to building the nation.

Incidentally, he seems to be on the same page with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang who of late has been constantly and consistently reminding the Malays not to make the “same mistake” by voting for Pakatan Harapan which he claimed had challenged the position of Islam, Malays and the Rulers.

These are claims with nothing to substantiate them. As far as we know, the Bumiputeras did not lose anything in the 22 months of PH rule which incidentally was also under the watch of Mahathir.

Mahathir and Hadi must be made to realise that Malaysians are really tired of this race-baiting. If only they read social media comments or listen to the viral clips hitting out at their pathetic statements.

They might be in for a shock: the condemnation comes from across the board.

The Malays and others want nothing but racial and religious harmony to move the country forward together. I think Malaysians have had enough of these diversions from the core issue of today – survival. Mahathir’s video clip was absolutely unnecessary at this time.