The only way Pakatan Rakyat can win over the Malays is if it offers them Umno's 'Ketuanan Melayu' philosophy.
Will the Malays relinquish political power that has made it possible for them to have absolute power, access to wealth, status, unparalleled opportunities in commerce, education and employment? All this, the Malays have been led to believe is their birthrights since Merdeka.
Umno is the embodiment of that political power, not the source of it. Make no mistake about it – Umno’s political power comes from the Malays.
To continue to have that power, Umno will have to go back to the Malays from time to time and convince the Malays that they are deserving of it. And the 13th general election is such a time.
In the past 12 general elections the Malays have had no problems in allowing Umno to hold that power on their behalf. All was good.
Absolute executive power in government was in the hands of the Malays.
Wealth, to all intents and purposes was in the hands of the Malays albeit kept amongst the political elites. The banks, insurance companies, Petronas and all the major corporations seem to be in the hands of the Malays.
Military might and the the police too were within the purview of the Malays.
Education was positively skewered towards educating the Malays. There was nothing in Malaysia that the Malays were not in control of and what they could not directly control, they could influence, manage and manipulate to their hearts content.
So why would the Malays want to relinquish political power and lose all that is already theirs from birth?
Pakatan Rakyat has to convince the Malays that Pakatan, not Umno, should now hold in trust political power in the name of the Malays.
Umno is certainly not the only Malay political organization. So is PAS and to all intents and purposes, so too is PKR.
Therefore within the Pakatan coalition the Malays can still have effective representation should they decide that Umno is no longer worthy of representing them.
But for the Malays will political power in the hands of Pakatan necessarily equate to Ketuanan Melayu?
What will Pakatan promise to do for the Malays in lieu of Ketuanan Melayu?
Here lies the dilemma that beset Pakatan.
How does its need for political expedience to secure the Malay votes and win the general election deal with its avowed intention to implement 1Malaysia that directly rejects Ketuanan Melayu?
Pakatan must hope that the Malays have evolved to understand that what Pakatan offers to the Malays is entry into the 21st century – a new begining that may be difficult for the Malays to adjust to but adjust they must if the Malays are to progress.
Race is an issue
But are the Malays up to the challenge? All indications tell us that they are not!
Pakatan can say that Umno is no longer good for the Malays and a new democratic Malaysia is better for all, but pray tell me how do you tell a Malay that having a non Malay minister incharge of agriculture, education or finance is good for them?
This is not about race. This is how Umno intends to win the 13th general election and the sooner we deal with it the better.
Umno tells the Malays that their survival depends on having Umno in Putrajaya. It depends on having a Malay as PM, as DPM and having Malays as the majority in cabinet and in Parliament.
Only with political power can the Malays retain their place as the first amongst equal in this nation. And that political power must rest with Umno as Umno’s commitment to Ketuanan Melayu is total!
Race is an issue and Pakatan must deal with it. And you deal with it by understanding that the Malays will not relinquish political power to anyone – least of all to the non-Malays.
Understand this and you will understand why Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh are silent on this fundamental issues or race and religion.
Silent to the point of ignoring that these issues must be dealt with now if Pakatan is not to descend into chaos should they find themselves in Putrajaya.
They do a disservice to the people of this nation by presuming that we are unable to understand the need to appease the Malays while safe-guarding the rights of the non-Malays.
Give Malays what they want
So for the Malays who see political power as being essential to their survival as the air that they breath, Pakatan must assure them that Pakatan can be an able and responsible holder of Malay political power instead of Umno.
Do so and the Malay votes will be won. All else will come in the fullness of time.
Once the Malays willingly cede their political power to Pakatan, the process of change will begin in earnest and the Malays will enter the 21st century secure in the knowledge that what was promised but never delivered to them by Umno for 53 years will now be done by Pakatan.
This then is the promise Pakatan must make and then fulfill to the Malays.
It will be Ketuanan Melayu as promised by Umno to the Malays but it will be Ketuanan Melayu that must be implemented with the common good of all Malaysians as its ultimate goal.
Give the Malays what Umno has promised them but do so without waste and ensure that the other races have their fair share of what is their due. Then together, the Malays and non-Malays will grow.
CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.