Forget Malaysian Malaysia if Umno abandons Ketuanan Melayu

DAP’s abandonment of Malaysian Malaysia would be the quid for Umno’s pro quo – dropping Malay dominance.

Terence Netto, FMT

Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has suggested the DAP abandon its “Malaysian Malaysia” concept to ease ties with Umno.

Ties between the two parties, ostensible partners in the unity government of Anwar Ibrahim, are hampered by Malay suspicion of DAP motives.

Apparently, this suspicion is what fuels Malay right wingers’ recurrent spasms of race and religious baiting, a phenomenon that causes tension and unease among the populace.

Tengku Razaleigh, popularly referred to as Ku Li, told FMT it’s a good thing DAP and Umno are on the same side of the present Malaysian political divide, but that their ties could improve if DAP abandons its concept of Malaysian Malaysia.

The DAP has been at pains to argue that this concept is no threat to the special position of the Malays and other bumiputeras; the position of Bahasa Melayu as the national language; and the respect for Islam and the status of Malay rulers in the national configuration.

Apparently, these assurances have cut no ice with the Malays whom Umno champions.

Ku Li has suggested DAP throw the concept of Malaysian Malaysia overboard to break the jam.

DAP could opt for creative acceptance of Ku Li’s suggestion.

It could abandon this concept in return for an Umno admission that its espousal of Malay dominance – Ketuanan Melayu – has been a damaging move, to party and polity.

This country has been built on the premise of Malay political primacy, as distinct to Malay political dominance.

Allusions to the existence of a “social contract” among the races prior to Merdeka foster the notion this understanding posits the Malays as first among equals, a delicate concept a reading of the country’s founding discussions and documents encourages.

Malay right wingers are averse to this notion, but they have only to see the consequences to Malay political unity when the pivot from Malay primacy to hegemony became pronounced during the era of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s 22-year premiership (1981-2003).

From only two political parties, Umno and PAS, vying for the Malay vote, there are now multiple Malay parties – Bersatu, PKR, Pejuang and counting.

This is because the practice of Malay hegemony intensified the contest for position in Umno, fomenting intramural tensions leading to schisms.

The splits led to the formation of splinter parties, fragmenting the Malay vote.

Now Ku Li urges the splinters to return to the Umno fold so that Umno can be the titan it once was in Malaysian politics.

This counsel is easier rendered than realised.

Once the genie is out it is difficult to put it back into the bottle and cork it.

Two complementary acts of renunciation may break the jam in Malaysian politics: DAP’s dropping of Malaysian Malaysia and Umno’s renunciation of Malay hegemony.

Both renunciations can result in singular gain for the Malaysian polity – reduced suspicion between the races and increased amity, the pre-condition for national prosperity.