*When Clueless And Desperate, Thump Your Chest For “Malay Unity!”*
M. Bakri Musa
The recent, much-ballyhooed love-fest between the two exclusively Malay political parties PAS and UMNO was not a major realignment of Malaysian politics, as many had interpreted, rather a pitiful demonstration of the despair, dumbness, and most of all the desperation of their respective leaders. They had failed to address the embarrassing backwardness of Malays while they were in power for the past 60 years.
Now dislodged from their lofty perches as a consequence of the 14th General Election, these leaders are left with thumping their collective chests calling for Malay unity. When pressed, as with unity towards what, their vacuous thinking is exposed. They are devoid of answers. What they are really scheming at is to be back in power so they could once again loot the nation with impunity.
The ugly reality and utter shame of continued Malay backwardness remains, made intolerable considering that all the major levers of powers–from the sultans, ministers, and the civil service–have been in almost exclusive Malay hands during those decades.
Instead of facing up to that failure and doing much-needed soul-searching, these leaders and their followers now resort to scapegoating and wallowing in their victimhood status. With the predominantly Chinese Democratic Action Party now in the ruling coalition, it becomes their favorite whipping-boy.
With Mahathir bringing in such sterling talents as new Attorney-General Thomas, those previously powerful and untouchable leaders now face criminal prosecutions that could put them behind bars for the rest of their lives. Instead of lauding this brave move, UMNO and PAS Malays would prefer instead that their favorite and clueless former AG Apandi remain in charge. Malays should be ashamed of him and others of his ilk, not proud of them.
Malays must confront the reality that many of our leaders have been corrupt and incompetent. They have also betrayed the rakyats’ trust in them. Leaders like Najib had been in cahoots with foreign elements, both East and West, to rob Malaysia to satisfy their insatiable greed.
Why did we let them? How did these flawed characters rise so high? Does that reflect on our culture? Where is the Koranic wisdom that Allah would not allow His community be in error? Why have Malays been so wrong in choosing these leaders?
Worst is their lack of shame, much less any sense of remorse or contrition despite the motherlode of foreign currencies stored in used-produce boxes (instead of in banks) found at their residences. Malays still consider these criminals fondly as their bossku (our boss). Look at the perversity of the recent by-elections at Semenyih and Cameron Highlands.
This new Malay alignment was purportedly to defend Islam and Malay interests. The first is laughable if not pathetic. This great faith does not need defenders, least of all from these slimy characters. Islam had withstood the hordes of Moghul invaders and survived powerful Western colonialism. It does not need these lebais with their “Syariah-compliant lies!” What next? Syariah-compliant fornication? Such bida’a!
I would have far greater confidence – and respect – had these leaders articulated their vision beyond such hackneyed calls for Ketuanan Melayu or make Malaysia Tanah Melayu again. What do they have in mind? A pogrom against non-Malays? You would have the Chinese Navy landing on Malaysian shores in no time. The Japanese took only days to overrun Malaysia despite formidable British defenses.
No, you would not need the Chinese Navy. A few amois from the Mainland would distract these corrupt leaders and achieve the same end. Look at what that moon-faced boy from Penang could get away with Najib!
Get real, folks! The sooner these Malay leaders in UMNO and PAS accept the present reality, the easier and faster they could make the adjustments and return to power to lead us forward.
If only these leaders had said they wanted Malay unity towards improving our schools and healthcare, so as to enhance the quality of our human capital, or strengthening our social structures to reduce rampant abandoned babies, underaged marriages, and drug addiction! Go beyond, as with freeing our people from the myopic and crippling interpretation of our faith. Then I and many others would be the first to join forces with them.
Consider Islam in Malaysia. Heavily supported by the state, it has reduced the ummah to the proverbial sheep, not the flock that could freely graze in the lush, green pastures and protected from predators, as gloriously expressed in J S Bach’s cantata “Where Sheep May Freely Graze,” but flocks being led to the slaughterhouse by their greedy, corrupt, and unscrupulous shepherds.
Tradition has it that the prophet was once asked for the signs of the end of time. “When the naked, destitute, and barefooted become your shepherd!” (Approximate rendition).
These are the new Malay leaders, our wira negara dan bangsa – naked of ideas, destitute of imaginative initiatives, and barefooted with their experience or competence.
Jonathan Brown recalled in his book Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices Of Interpreting The Prophet’s Legacy, the advice given by one Mustafa Maraghi, the Grand Mufti of Al Azhar, to his country’s rulers, “Bring me anything that benefits the people, and I’ll show you a basis for it in the Syariah!”
Malay leaders and ulama have it backward. They are busy looking into those ancient texts on how to develop the nation instead of studying the problems and then recruiting the best minds to solve them. These leaders are obsessed only with displaying their ostentatious piety when they should be focusing on formulating sound public policies.
They will continue doing so until we, the rakyat, tell them in no uncertain terms that that is no longer acceptable.
My book excerpt will resume next week.