I think most Malaysians, if not all, will agree — when they calm down — that we are a multi-cultural society and we need to respect one another’s race, religion and background. However, when one particular race keeps harping that what other races say even on non-racial issues “offends the Malays and their religion”, I wonder what’s the real motive.
Firstly, which Malays are offended? The general public? They don’t seem so. They are carrying on as usual. Then who? The supporters of politicians? These are the trouble-makers who for their votes will make demands on their leaders to become more pro-Malay even at the slightest criticism, re: the banned comic, re: Zakir Naik, re: Tamil Tigers.
In these cases, there was no attempt to belittle the Malays in any way but facts were stated as happened and these got twisted and Zakir and the Tigers got dragged in by these supporters and to pacify them the leaders ramped up their pro-Malay and pro-Islam strategy.
The point is that’s what it is: a political strategy — not the truth. The strategy, it appears, is being used to get more Malay voters, and, particularly, Umno members, to join Bersatu, a component party in the ruling Pakatan Harapan government so that the Malay majority is represented in government. In the process, the non-Malays have been made the scapegoats.
Politicians know exactly what’s going on and they are playing their part in the game so that no one side is seen as letting down their respective race. Whatever your strategy, whatever your justification, this is race politics.
The question is: In the so-called new Malaysia should this politics be used at all?
Leaders need to ask themselves what they really want: the votes or the betterment of the Malay majority? If the former, look what it did to Umno. They used race politics to the hilt and they became corrupt and eventually lost political power. Malays got some money in their pockets but was it real wealth?
If the leaders’ intentions are to raise the standard of living of the Malay majority, will race politics accomplish it or keep the Malays in the illusion of being in power but without real wealth as before?
If the leaders are serious about giving the majority of Malays meaningful representation in government which will translate to a better life, they should stop pandering to and indulging the Malay sensitivity of “being slighted” at even the smallest, silliest thing. Instead, they should start challenging the Malay to stand up to criticisms, hold their own and counter it with thoughtful, fact-based arguments that promote their cause — not resort to puerile, emotional claims of offending Malay sensibilities. When they resort to the latter, it simply entrenches the stereotype that the Malays are so sensitive about who they are, that even the slightest negative comment is construed as an attack when it isn’t. As if any slight offence will make them melt!
Other races take it in their stride. The Malays should be encouraged to do the same. Equals are not afraid of criticisms by their peers, superiors or subordinates. Unequals are. To be an equal, stand up, say your piece based on facts and face the consequences.