Lim Kit Siang’s seditious daydream of a non-Malay PM

Dennis Ignatius

In a nation where even displaying the words “Merry Christmas” is seen as a danger to the established order, I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised that daydreaming about a non-Malay becoming PM can come to be viewed as something of an existential threat.

It matters not, apparently, that the whole brouhaha about the issue is actually quite idiotic because we all know that hell would have to freeze over before it can happen. But that even the faintest expression of hope that someday a non-Malay might become PM through the democratic process would be considered so unacceptable and so threatening that it must be immediately repudiated, discredited and investigated should also tell us how deep into the pit of bigotry and pettiness we have now sunk.

In a bid to kill off the very idea, the Ketuanan crowd hysterically invoked all sorts of essentially irrelevant narratives including the so-called “unwritten consensus.” Others tell themselves that it can’t happen because of higher Malay birth rates or fuss about whether non-Malays are patriotic and loyal enough to lead the nation. In their mind, all Malays are inherently patriotic while non-Malays are not.

Where was Najib’s patriotism when he robbed the nation of billions? Were all those BN and PN leaders who denied, excused and covered up Najib’s criminal enterprise loyal to the Constitution? And where was the patriotism of all those politicians, senior civil servants and corporate chiefs who mismanaged or stole billions from Bumiputera agencies and government procurement projects?

In the end, the only thing that really matters as far as this issue is concerned is the Federal Constitution, and that document allows us to dream of a nation where anyone irrespective of race or religion can be PM. But maybe not for long because some are demanding that the Constitution be amended to make it illegal to dream of such things.

All those people who are working themselves into a frenzy over this are hypocrites really; they insist that everyone must respect the Federal Constitution but they themselves are unwilling to honour it when it involves non-Malay rights. They cherry-pick constitutional provisions that favour them and find ways to run around provisions that enshrine non-Malay rights. They are always looking for some justification to exclude non-Malays from senior positions and to minimise or disregard their constitutional rights. Each day our nation becomes more and more like an apartheid state.

It is astonishing too that that the leaders of an ethnic majority which overwhelmingly controls all the levers of state power, which has an unassailable hold on political power and which now dominates the economy can be so paranoid and fearful of a shrinking and already disenfranchised ethnic minority. And this after more than half a century of so-called Bumiputera “empowerment”.

In any case, it’s not like all the previous PMs have been so outstanding, visionary and trustworthy that very few could fill their shoes. The truth is that a number of our PMs have been so mediocre and so corrupt to boot that almost anyone from any race could have done a better job.

It is instructive that many Malay parents are now enrolling their kids in Chinese-medium schools because they have given up on our deteriorating public school system. In the same manner, perhaps someday the Malays themselves might abandon their own leaders given their dismal performance.

But I also wonder why Lim Kit Siang keeps on rattling the cage of the Ketuanan crowd and teasing non-Malays with such issues when his own party – having abandoned much of the ideals it once stood for – is now a willing enabler of the Ketuanan construct.

A plurality of Malaysians, I suspect, are weary and wary of all these politicians who only know how to exploit racial and religious issues; all voters want is a responsible, honest and efficient government that would respect the rights of all Malaysians. As Deng Xiaoping was wont to say, “Black cat white cat doesn’t matter so long as it catches the rat”.