Hishamuddin Yahaya says racial sloganeering could become irrelevant if a new government takes over that is better able to promote democracy and socio-economic and cultural justice.
Acute moral decadence plaguing the Malay youths today is reminiscent of what was described of the Malays, a hundred years or so ago: poor, lazy and indolent, habitually waking up late, addicted to opium, caught up with cock fighting, gambling and all other kinds of entertainment.
Flabbergasted Malays condemned the writer as a British stooge, paid to disparage them. Apart from that they did nothing and remained snug in their cocoon.
Outraged, a few Malays of later generations took it as a challenge. Among them was the valiant son, Ungku Omar (Dato’Dr Ungku Omar). He was an assistant District Officer (ADO), a glamorous, well-paid job, a rare attainment for a Malay during the British time. He decided to study science from scratch to enable him to study medicine. He sought permission of his British boss, the District Officer (DO), to study part-time. His bosses’ spontaneous response was to get his head examined!
Ungku Omar pursued. With relentless hard work, he qualified to study medicine and eventually became a medical doctor. He was later employed as a lecturer in one of the American universities, specialising in tropical medicine. Later, he was appointed as head of the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) in Kuala Lumpur.
Ungku Omar died of coronary thrombosis in his early forties. To commemorate this great motivator, Politeknik Ungku Omar in Ipoh was named after him.
Dato’ Dr Ungku Omar negated the people’s negative perception of the Malays. The Malays were not lazy, but given the opportunity, they would excel. But where were the opportunities those days?
Ungku Omar was an exception who possessed the rare qualities that others didn’t. He did not wait for opportunity to unfold before him, but he created and found the opportunity himself — the hallmark of success!!
Malay youths of today
Do the Malays of today have the qualities of the late Ungku Omar? Sadly no. They are simply drunk in perceptive hallucination created by the “Malay saviour” Umno, which somehow has made them feel they are in a “comfort zone” — not because of any exemplary achievement or excellencd in any field, but because they are Malays. This is reminiscent to the Malay epic “Cucu Dato Merah” (the grandson of Dato’ Merah), who felt he was born privileged and arrogantly asked for favour simply because he was the grandson of Dato’ Merah, who had to be respected, although the grandson was not good for anything.
With such a mindset, compounded by a false sense of security, the Malays do not seem to take life seriously and have become more inclined to sensual pleasures.
For example, the Malays are avid entertainment fans. Just look at last New Year’s concert held at Dataran Merdeka. They came in doves as early as six o’clock in the evening and by eight o’clock, we saw a sea of Malays on the padang. Adults, men, women and children stayed until mid-night to enjoy the concert. The same thing happened in all major towns that held the celebration.
Addition to opium (candu) and other crimes
Opium may not be the in-thing today, because all other kinds of drugs are now available. Just to prove that the consumers are Malays, one has to look at all the drug rehabilitation centres all over the country. Almost all the inmates are Malays. Many of the entertainment outlets in major towns are patronised by Malay youths. Mat rempit are exclusively Malays; bohsia and bohjan are mostly Malays. Many Malays are also involved in cases of infanticides and discarding new-borns.
Role of television stations
Television programmes are full of Malay dramas with fewer Chinese and Indian dramas. Certain television stations are training Malay boys and girls as young as 7-years-old to be entertainers; of course under the guise of “discovering talents”. Singers and comedians are honoured and given titles. It almost looks as though not a few Malays are born to entertain and to be entertained, as their ultimate objective in life.
With these multifarious negative images of the Malays, they audaciously talk about “Ketuanan Melayu”. As if these tainted Malay youths are “tuans” in the making. Or are they?
What is Malay supremacy?
What is the Malay supremacy based on, if we may know? Is it constitution based (which we find the constitution does not imply) or ‘son-of-the-soil’ based, like the Red Indians, the Maoris and the Australian natives?
But what’s scarier is what this indoctrination of Ketuanan Melayu entails. Instilling fanatical belief leads to blind faith that takes the mantle of religion. When translated into action, all means will justify the end. We have already experienced the May 13 tragedy, a manifestation of this fanatical belief.
We live by the Constitution and the Rule of Law. We uphold justice and equality of opportunity for all irrespective of race or religion, the bedrock of what we ourselves call “unity in diversity”. Towards this end, we have rightly condemned Biro Tata Negara and we are not inviting Biro Tata Huruhara in its place.
What is entrenched in the Constitution — whether it’s concerning the Malay Rulers and their prerogatives, the special position of the Malays, the Malay language and the Islamic religion, and any other provisions that are deemed Malay-based — are inviolable provisions, which are the basis of the nation’s foundation. They have been agreed to by all races before independence, and therefore they need no renewed claims on the pretext that they have been endangered. These provisions are there to stay, to be observed and respected by all, at all times.
A place in the sun
Political developments may take a turn in the country’s political journey. Not long from now, the Barisan Nasional may be relegated to the Opposition, with Pakatan Rakyat ruling the country. But even in this changed scenario, Pakatan Rakyat is wise enough not to tamper with the sacred document (the Constitution) at the expense of the country’s peace and security. With their having more statesmen then ordinary day-to-day politicians who do not think beyond the tips of their noses, like the BN has, it is safe bet that Pakatan Rakyat would be better able to steer the country into a truly democractic society, where social economic and cultural justice will prevail. It will be a day when every Malaysian is known just as “a Malaysian”, when the word “ethnicity” would be a thing of the past and when everybody will enjoy an equal place in the sun.
So where is the relevancy of Ketuanan Melayu?
Dato’ Hishamuddin Yahaya is a lawyer and former MP for Temerloh.
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