Umno busied itself with the making of money for its leaders, its friends and cronies – lots of money. I would rather deal with greedy people than with murderous people wielding AK47s. But still sometimes I wish that Umno had been known for the things that they should have done.
Affirmative policies that favour one race is no longer tenable and given the excesses of the past and the greed of its present leaders, there's a dire need for a change in the Umno hierarchy
For the Malays the next few years before the next general election will be a time for reflection. It has been one hell of a ride since Merdeka. May 13, 1969 jolted the Malays out of their malaise.
It was no longer acceptable that they are disadvantaged socially and economically in their own country and Umno took the bull by the horns with the introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971.
It came up with affirmative policies that have since coloured Malaysia’s political, racial, social and economic landscape in the hues of the Malays, the Malays and the Malays!
Education was used, without apologies to the purist, as a means to an end – the same end as envisaged by the NEP. Higher education quotas for non-Malays effectively forced many to go overseas.
Like every other government functionaries under Umno’s control, education was skewered to favour the Malays and this Umno did without fear, for political power was theirs to use for that purpose.
After four decades the Malays have achieved honour and dishonour, fame and infamy, greatness and notoriety in almost everything that they have attempted to do for themselves, with or without Umno.
Today the biggest banks, the largest insurance companies, the most diverse of corporate endeavours, the most successful of business undertakings, the most powerful of political organisation, the most astute of politicians and the most dominant of race are all Malays.
The Malays are also the most arrogant, the most corrupt of civil servants, businessmen and politicians, they have the most horrendous of lost and abused business opportunities, the least honest of leaders, the most adept of practitioners at cronyism, nepotism and money politics.
They are committed to the maxim that the ends justify the means, and their use of race and religion to advance their ethnic interest is legendary – fueled no doubt by the abundance of political power at their disposal.
That is the price the Malays have paid for their dominance of all things Malaysians. For some Malays, that price has been bearable but for some, they think it is too much for any race to bear. So wither the Malays today?
The times we now live in no longer tolerate affirmative policies that favour one race. The NEP is no longer tenable simply because the idea of racial superiority (ketuanan Melayu) went out with Hitler, the Ku Klux Klan and Apartheid.
If Umno does not understand this reality, then the fault lies with its leaders. If the Malays do not accept this reality then four decades of the NEP has failed.
Malay parents in the kampungs did not know then the effect of sending their children to college. Now they do. Their college graduate children no longer want to till the land, fish for a living or live in a house without electricity and running water.
And with the change in their children, the change in their parents’ lives have also started and both parents and siblings have to come to terms with the change and adjust accordingly.
If the parents are not for change then the children will wait for the end of their parents’ generation and make the move to the urban areas anyway. In the meantime trips to and fro from kampung to the urban areas are the order of the day.
Not an Umno problem
Umno finds itself in the same position as the parents of these rural children who have been sent to college. Everything has changed and yet Umno does not. While the parents of these children have a limited life span, Umno does not.
And when those that Umno has changed through the NEP and other attendant legislations ask that Umno change with them, Umno will not! So wither Umno’s direction now?
This is just not Umno’s problem. This is a Malay problem and dare I say it…a Malaysian problem. This is a good time for taking stock of what is happening around us.
Today in Malaysia everyone has one vote each. Mahathir has one vote to cast, Najib one, Anwar one, Hadi one and Kit Siang and Karpal Singh also one. Politically we are equal..are we not? What other manner of political equity do we want or can we have other than one vote each?
There have been no violent revolutions to talk of in Malaysia. No coup, no bloody rampage, no terrorising of one race or religion, no complete economic meltdown – the May 13 racial riot is a school boy fight during recess compared to what Indonesia, Thailand and our neighbours have gone through.
We have been different because Umno leaders are of a different ilk from those of our neighbours. Umno leaders prefer to preside and most times take part in and actively encouraged massive corruption in every facet of government and also indulge in money politics.
Umno itself has experienced strife and is now reeling from the after shock of two general elections where their political dominance was not only challenged but challenged successfully by the opposition. And these Umno leaders have been opened to scrutiny and for the majority of them, the results have been disappointing.
But all things considered, Umno has been a gift for the Malays. Even for me. Without Umno I would not have had the opportunity to do the things I did. Without Umno, the Malays would surely be a race displaced and dishonoured in a country they call their own simply because meritocracy is not something the Malays could have overcome on their own.
We must also not forget the things that Umno did not do. Umno did not do to the non-Malays what Idi Amin did to the Asians in Uganda. Umno did not do to the non-Malays what the Indonesians did to the communists in 1965-1966 following the failed coup of the Sept 30movement.
Even when over 500,000 communist were murdered, Umno did not do what Pol Pot did to his people when over 1.7 to 2.5 million Cambodians out of a total population of eight million were killed in order to take Cambodia back to Year Zero. In Thailand too, there have been periodic coups and blood baths – none of which we have seen in a Malaysian under Umno. No Umno did not do any of those things.
Umno busied itself with the making of money for its leaders, its friends and cronies – lots of money. I would rather deal with greedy people than with murderous people wielding AK47s. But still sometimes I wish that Umno had been known for the things that they should have done. They should have used the NEP for advancing the lot of the Malays.
They should have used the diversity amongst our people to create a nation strong and united in spite of its diversity. Umno should have used the abundance wealth Malaysia has in its natural resources to prepare our nation for the future.
Umno should have used religion to unite and strengthen Muslims against the challenges they face in a world where greed and arrogance abound. Umno should have worked towards taking care of those in need, the ill and the aged and those in the minority.
Umno should have used education to teach our children the need to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses and prepare them for global challenges. Education should have been used to forge national unity among all the races. Umno should have accentuated the positives of race and religion not highlights the differences.
Umno must find the path it is most comfortable with given the excesses of the past and the greed of its present leaders. For many of us there are alternatives to Umno but for others, it is Umno who we want to change because we know the Umno of the past has become the Umno of the present because of the people within Umno. Change the people who now lead Umno and Umno will change.
Change must start now. Let us continue the fight for change.
CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.