Umno is bereft of conviction and hampered by weak leaders and their only course of action is to remind us of the possibility of another May 13.
Utusan Malaysia’s headline, ‘Malaysia Negara Kristian?’ (Malaysia a Christian state?), was a subtle Umno plot to warn us, that the consequences of voting for the Opposition might trigger another ‘May 13’.
The Utusan article bears all the tell-tale signs– sowing the seeds of discord and exaggerating our fears. Ever since the May 13 riots of 1969, Umno has relied on scaremongering and threats, to make Malaysians prisoners of irrational fear.
It is in Umno’s character to employ cynical tactics because it faces defeat in the 13th General Election. The opposition has captivated the electorate as seen by its successes in Sarawak and to make matters worse, PAS has rejected Umno’s overtures. Umno has run out of ideas and vision. It lacks momentum and motivation. It has reached the end of the road.
In June 1969, the young Mahathir Mohamad cut his political teeth by penning a letter urging Tunku Abdul Rahman to resign as Prime Minister and Umno chief. Mahathir blamed Tunku, for the Alliance’s general election losses and May 13.
The Umno council expelled Mahathir from Umno in September 1969 but two years later, he was welcomed back into the party. By 1973, he was appointed senator. The year after, Mahathir became the Minister of Education. Bizarrely, Mahathir became prime minister twelve years after May 13 and his expulsion from Umno.
Extremist Malays probably considered May 13 a Ketuanan Melayu triumph. In addition, the 70s saw the age of ascension of the new Malay capitalists who sought to undermine the aristocratic Malays, of which the Tunku belonged.
The arrogance of Mahathir can be illustrated in how he boasted during campaigning in 1969, that he could retain his parliamentary seat without any need for support from the Chinese electorate.
The NEP was borne out of the May 13 riots. Umno was given carte blanche to implement their agenda for political and economic dominance through the NEP.
Umno’s masterplan at work
In a further horrific move, all the institutions which were left us by the British were slowly and systematically dismantled to assist Umno in its masterplan for complete domination of our mind, body and soul.
Our judiciary, the police, the military, our civil service and the education system, were some of the region’s best, but which have all been exploited by Umno.
Malaysians are not convinced by the Umno ‘experiment’. What have we to show for the past 54 years of Umno domination? So what if we have twin towers of concrete, steel and glass that reach out to the sky when our morals have sunk to terrible depths?
What use have we of an astronaut who ventures into space when the poor Penan can’t even send his daughter to school without the risk of being raped? What is the point of mono-culture when you deprive the Iban or Orang Asli of his ancestral land or of the general populace of much needed acreage for the cultivation of food crops?
Umno’s governance has been a wasted opportunity of historic proportions. Why should we believe that Umno was elected fairly when we hear of the various ways Umno is ‘creative’ at election rigging?
Umno was well-placed to change this country for the better. But its succession of leaders has failed the country.
There were flaws which undermined the project to make Malaysia an economic phenomenon.
First is that we threw money at the Malays without making them understand the true value of how to appreciate it. The second was that we did not include the non-Malays in the restructuring of the country.
The Malays were sold a dream but that dream has turned into a nightmare. Industrialisation meant they moved out of their kampungs to the towns for they were told the streets were paved with gold. The loss of the close family unit and community network plus the inadequate housing, have created its own social problems.
The Ibans too feel the same disappointment and frustrations as the Malay. Whole longhouses are vacated as the Ibans migrate to the urban areas with the loss of their NCR lands. But the longhouses are not empty for they have been colonised by the Indonesians who now work as the cheap labour of the massive plantations in Sarawak.
The non-Malays, like the Indians and Chinese, would like to share in the Malaysian dream but are forbidden from doing so. They are ‘pendatang’ and are treated as second class citizens even though Malaysia is the only place they call home.
Led by weak leaders
When all that is familiar is eradicated, these races feel a sense of loss. Without an identity, how can they possibly build a future together?
Given all this, it is not surprising that the opposition has managed to capture the imagination of the voters to build a nation based on the contributions of each and everyone of us.
The possibility of a united stable Malaysia under the opposition is what scares Umno and so they try one last tactic to influence the Malays.
Umno, via Utusan and its contentious article – tells the Malay that he will be robbed of his faith, possibly even be converted to a Christian, because subversive elements are trying to change the official religion to Christianity.
Umno is bereft of conviction and hampered by weak leaders. Their only course of action is to remind us of the possibility of another May 13. But why should we allow them to make us prisoners of irrational fear?
Mariam Mokhtar is a political observer and an FMT columnist.