Opinion

No such thing as ‘Malay unity’

MARCH 19 — Currently, some people are calling for unity among one race in Malaysia — the Malay race. And this call is being heeded by political and non-political factions; this includes Perkasa, Umno and, of course, some people in PAS who still believe in the concept of racial unity contrary to their so-called conservative Islamic beliefs. Some leaders have spoken out against it being a reality and one of them is my much-admired once-bankrupted former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin.

Now let me ask a question. How many prime ministers are really, truly, Malaysian Malay? Meaning that their parents, grandparents and perhaps even two generations beforehand were all from Malaysia?

Look back some 60 years, if not further.

Tunku Abdul Rahman was partially Thai, the Onn family line were partially Turkish or at least Eurasian as I recall, and Tun Mahathir Mohamad himself isn’t purely local either. Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is also partly Arabic and heck, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is in fact partly of Indonesian descent. And I haven’t even begun to go into the history lessons we had in Form 3 on the royal families yet.

Let us consider what to look at when you look at the Malays. Historically, the Malays were given the role of administrators by the British, but only the elites. The rest of the Malays toiled in the kampungs, focusing on agriculture while the Chinese focused on industry and manufacturing and the Indians were coolies. I am not being disrespectful, I am stating facts. Not all Indians came off a boat from Chennai and straight away became lawyers in good ol’ Malaya.

And then came 1969 when the Malays apparently had a clash with the Chinese because someone apparently took the wrong route in a victory parade that led to killings and the burning of buildings which could be seen by Tunku Abdul Rahman himself as he stood on his balcony. 

But after that, everyone thought the Malays should unite, and the Chinese should do the same, which was why Gerakan and PAS both decided to join in the emergency government set up after that under Tun Abdul Razak. PAS would never have united under Tunku Abdul Rahman because the guy loved his horses and whiskey too much.

If these people want to unite the race, let me just ask this question. Under what banner? Do you want to unite under Perkasa, Umno or PAS?

Just pick one of the three and you would see that there, right there, is where the shit hits the fan. Personally on my side, I think all three are similar. The only difference is that one of them talks shit, the other is shit and the third thinks the nation is shit and needs to be saved so it is worthy of Allah’s grace. And if anyone has an objection, take it up with Shahnon Ahmad.

The Malays can’t unite because we believe in different things. Some believe that everyone should convert to Islam. Others think we should put race ahead of nation and religion. Well, fine by me. Go tell that to the Indonesians here. Let’s go ahead and join them, why don’t we? After all, they’re Malay too.

And, of course, there are some who think that if you’re constitutionally Malay, you’re good enough to get benefits that make Groupon weep. Just bring an IC that says “‘Melayu” and they will love you long time. As long as you vote for them, at least. That seems to be the message coming from Umno. If you want a good drainage system, electricity, water and even bailouts for wrongly budgeting jet fuel, just vote Umno in the general election and they will lend you a helping hand afterwards. They’re at least consistent with that, even if they’re not really all Malay.

The thing is Malays will not be united because we all have different causes, all right?

Some want to preach their beliefs, some want to help their own people and then there are others who want and will always be racist loudmouths. Then there’s the younger generation who think people should just shut up and live their lives without bothering anybody else; live and let live.

And personally, I am proud to be a Muslim, to be a Malay, to be gay and out, living my life but most of all for being Malaysian. And this is coming from yours truly, who is Indonesian, Chinese, Indian and Perak Malay by descent, who now resides in libertarian conservative Shah Alam. If you want to get me to unite with you, it won’t be on race, or religion, or politics because I am either too liberal or in some instances, too conservative.

It would only be on straight out nation building for our collective future. And that is where every Malaysian should heed the call to unity. Everything else is just a farce.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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