steadyaku47 comment: This was forwarded to me. No idea who the writer is but too good a read to not share it with others.
AUG 29 - As the Permatang Pauh by-election fades into the recesses of
our memories, there is talk of it being a turning point in our
country's history. Unfortunately, this talk habitually and routinely
focuses on the possibility of changing the government by Sept 16.
It ignores a simple reality: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has already made
history by being the first Malay politician to ever actually win more
political support through an explicitly non-racial platform. It is
practically impossible to underestimate how Anwar bucked the trend; he
has completely turned our understanding of politics in this country on
History has already made it crystal-clear; Malay politicians who try
to unite the country by appealing to a common sense of Malaysian-ness
inevitably wind up heading into political oblivion. Dato Onn Ja'afar's
political career went up in flames the moment he founded the first
multiracial political party in the country, in spite of it having
every conceivable advantage - it was literally the incumbent party of
the time because of Onn's towering status in Malayan politics. And it,
of course, foundered completely.
Since then nobody has even tried to unite the Malays as Malaysians.
Unite the Malays as Malays, of course; Syed Jaafar Albar famously
proclaimed in the 1960s that he was a Malay first and a Malaysian
second. Syed Hussein Alatas made an admirable attempt to change
Malaysian politics through Gerakan, and we all know how that turned
out. Literally every Malay leader who has tried to be Malaysian first
ever since has risked being branded as a sell-out, a puppet of the non-
Malays and a stooge of Lee Kuan Yew.
The one exception was Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who
experienced some brief success with his Bangsa Malaysia idea. This
only makes sense, considering Dr Mahathir's iron-fisted handling of
anyone who dared to oppose him; it is thus a pity that he never took
this policy beyond mere words. (However Dr.M is threatening the Malays to unite for their survival!
How worse can an ex PM get?)
The moment Dr Mahathir handed over the reins to his successor, Malay
politicians were up in arms criticising Bangsa Malaysia as a
'nebulous' and untenable concept for daring to acknowledge that the
non-Malays have a place in this country too.
So here we are today: 51 years after independence, the easiest way to
tar a Malay politician next to calling him a Jew-lover is to accuse
him of saying this country belongs to the Chinese and Indians too.
That is simply how Malaysian politics works; to win the support of the
Malays, you need to denounce the non-Malays as foreign squatters, who
are only here as a matter of privilege rather than right, a privilege
revocable at any time.
And what a coincidence it is - that is exactly how the Malaysian
government works too. If you're not an Indonesian who can be counted
as a Malay, your application for permanent residency or citizenship
can never hope to see the light of day. If you're not a Malay, you can
expect to hear your fair share of racist remarks in a public national
school - and not from students, mind you, but teachers. As a student
you can expect a syllabus which teaches you about the meaning of
ketuanan Melayu rather than Bangsa Malaysia. As an employee you can
expect a civil service where you're not welcome unless they need you
to fulfil their minuscule quota of non-Malay recruits. As an
entrepreneur you can expect a government - and many government-linked
companies - which will not give you any business unless you are a
Malay. Half a century after independence, and that's what 40% of this
country has to look forward to.
And since this is how the government works, up-and-coming politicians
and political activists realise this is how politics works too. That
is why even though you will never hear the typical Malaysian voicing
such sentiments, political activists will readily denounce the non-
Malays as foreign squatters here at the behest of a social contract
which gives them the privilege, not right, to stay and live here.
Since this is how politics and government have worked since time
immemorial, we owe Anwar an incredible debt for nearly single-handedly
turning all this - everything - completely on its head. For the past
half century, to be a good Malay leader, you have either had to
publicly proclaim your support for ketuanan Melayu - and not the mild
ketuanan as in strong leadership, but ketuanan as in 'blood will run
in the streets if our demands are not met' - or you have had to simply
avoid commenting on the issue and just hope you can be all things to
all people. Anwar ran on a platform, not of vague meaningless nice-
sounding platitudes, but a platform explicitly against everything
ketuanan Melayu stands for.
This is a man, mind you, who celebrated the end of his ban on active
politics by damning ketuanan Melayu and consigning it to the dust heap
of history. This is a man who has publicly and repeatedly proclaimed
that his commitment is to the sovereignty of the people - ketuanan
rakyat - rather than the dominance of the Malays.
This is a man who has never wavered from his stand that the philosophy
of government assistance based on racial origin, rather than economic
status, is fundamentally and morally wrong. This is a man who has
repeatedly, wherever he goes, whoever he speaks to, driven home the
same point, again and again: 'Anak Melayu, anak saya. Anak Cina, anak
saya. Anak India, anak saya.'
And this is a man who has had everything in the traditional playbook
of Malaysian politics thrown at him. He's been labelled a heretic, a
sodomite, a liar, a hypocrite, a traitor willing to sell the Malays
and Malaysians out at a moment's notice BY UMNO. The Opposition has done
everything in their power to make it known far and wide that this is a
man committed to non-racialism; committed to a Malaysia where everyone
Regardless of whether you think he deserves it, or if he was just
lucky, credit is due to Anwar: where so many brave Malay leaders have
fallen and failed, he has won an incredible victory. Onn Ja'afar was
vilified simply for opening up his political party to Malayans of all
creeds and colours; Anwar has gone above and beyond, explicitly
declaring that this is a country for all Malaysians, whoever they
might be. And he has won a resounding victory.
It would be one thing if he scraped through with a majority of less
than 5,000 votes in the recent by-election, but the fact is, it was
not even close - not with a landslide majority of 15,000, larger even
than the majority his wife won before he explicitly condemned ketuanan
Melayu. Anwar has succeeded where everyone else has failed; he has
carved out a broad base of political support, not on a platform of
rights or privileges for one community, but a platform of justice and
equality of opportunity for all communities.
Criticise Anwar all you like for his inconsistent and wishy-washy
stands on other issues. Criticise his coalition for its internal
dissension and strange hypocrisy all you want. You can even say you
have no intention of trusting a man who might just stab you in the
back the moment he gains power.
The fact of the matter is, you do not have a choice between Anwar and
your ideal, committed, consistent, sincere Malaysian leader. Your
choice, in the here and now, is between Anwar and a regime built on
racism, built on stoking the flames of mistrust and hatred. This
regime of hatred has delivered its promise of ketuanan Melayu; why
should we expect things to be any worse under a regime promising
ketuanan rakyat? At the worst, it's the same old shit under a
different government; at best, we might finally have a government and
a political system which works for all Malaysians rather than whoever
yells the loudest and threatens the most blood.
As far as taking power is concerned, this is still a long shot. Anwar
may yet turn out to be a flop on delivering if he ever gets the chance
to govern. But the simple and stark reality is, as far as we who live
in the present are concerned, he is our best and only chance to put a
stop to this insanity.
Anwar is not the perfect vessel for uniting the country, but there is
a reason he scares the powers that be: he is the first real chance we
have ever had to unite the country against the demons of racialism and
parochialism. And for now, he is our only chance. He is the only one
who can cross ethnic barriers to proclaim a commitment to a Malaysia
where Malaysians, not Malays, are sovereign, and actually win more
support than before.
I am no huge fan of Anwar, but I recognise what he has done, and how
far he has come. I support him, not because I like him as a person,
but because I believe in the cause he champions, and because I believe
that if there is any person in this country who can make that dream a
reality, it is Anwar Ibrahim.
RACISM WILL DESTROY ANY COUNTRY