A troubling development

On 28 July 2018, there was the “Himpunan Kebangkitan Ummah” rally which attracted about 1000 people. Participants called for the upholding of the rights of the Malays, Islam and the preservation of Bahasa Malaysia.

A report on 7 August quoted Patriot President about 2 videos showing two Umno politicians, Tan Sri Annuar Musa and Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, making speeches during the Sg Kandis by-election. The videos smacked of racism, hatred and incitement against one race that could cause public disorder, racial disharmony and above all, threaten national peace and security.

”Patriot takes a serious view at the speeches made by those two Umno politicians and urges them to refrain from making such speeches in the future that can result in disastrous consequence to racial harmony and the peace and security of our country,” Patriot president Brig Jen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji said in a statement today.

A “Melayu Bangkit” rally was held at Pasir Salak on 2 September, drawing thousands of Malays.

Organiser and Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman claimed there were 10,000 attendees who came from all over the country, not just Perak, adding that they included non-party members.

The Pasir Salak MP said the gathering was held to show that Malays will unite when their rights, Islam and Malay institutions are under threat or disrespected.

This week there is growing evidence that an electoral pact between UMNO and PAS will be an official reality.

UMNO invites PAS to general assembly on Sept 29 and 30, and will also grace PAS’s muktamar with its entire leadership.

In his speech at a PAS ceramah for the Seri Setia by-election campaign, which was also attended by the MIC deputy president and a MCA central committee member, Zahid said,

“The Malay rulers must be respected, Malay privileges must be respected, Bahasa Malaysia as the national language must be respected and Islam as the religion of the federation cannot be questioned.”

In his speech at the PAS event, Zahid accused the Pakatan Harapan government of undermining Malay interests, saying that “the principles in the federal constitution cannot change.”

In one sense it is an inevitable development. After all, Pakatan Harapan consists of parties which were ideologically very different and in the case of PPBM, with key personalities who were enemies. They came together with the uniting purpose to defeat BN, which is seen to be corrupt.

Why not two traditional enemies coming together to defend Malay and Islamic interests?

The real question is why MCA and MIC continue to hang on. Whose interests are they representing and defending by their association with UMNO and PAS?

At the most cynical level, an UMNO-PAS pact to defend Malay and Islamic interests would probably be the quickest way back to power. Both parties wield enormous influence over the Malay electorate and the Malay electorate wield enormous influence over election results.

GE14 is not “mission accomplished” with respect to the ills of our society. Instead it is an opportunity to free up the national conversation, away from Malay and Islamic rhetoric, to consider the merits of inclusiveness and unity.

Unfortunately that space is taken up by some civil society advocates, emboldened by the change in the political climate, to speak their mind with complete disregard to the sensitivities of others. Islamic practice is characterised as pedophilia, barbaric (to cane women publicly), the civil service is characterised as bloated, backward, and feudal, and the Malays are unthinking, lazy and dependent on handouts.

Such careless characterisations, that demonstrates disregard for the dignity of the Malay and the muslim, are no different from the likes of Tajuddin, Annuar and Zahid and their rhetoric that demonstrates disregard for non-Malays and non-muslims. One says “I am right and you are stupid”, while the other says “I am great and you are insignificant”.

It doesn’t help one bit to have critics shout that the PH government is bending its own principles (Mazlee), abusing power (Guan Eng’s acquittal) and reneging on its promises (that blasted manifesto). Every small thing is amplified to be everything.

To me, if I were a Malay muslim, it would not be difficult to think that once the problem of corruption has been dealt with, I would like to go back to the way things were where my interests are taken care of and let other people bark from the sidelines. After all, even in their eyes the PH government is failing.

But that would be tragic as we return to being divided along racial and religious lines and the cloud that has been lifted by GE14 returns and the country misses its chance to move forward.

My plea is for everyone to work towards unity and speak with respect about each other, even when we disagree. And my prayer is that God will shield us from our own foolishness.

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