In 1993 it was Umno which mobilised the whole nation into a frenzy demanding to do a King Philip and Marie Antoinette thing on the Malay monarchy.
But this is not what Umno wants. Umno wants unfettered concentration of power so that it can do as it pleases – plunder and pillage and bully the people.
The Nizar Jamaluddin (former Perak menteri besar) episode has served to widen the rift between the people and Umno.
Three years ago when Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak pompously proclaimed that the age of big government was over, he was only doing a publicity stunt.
That was said only to get absolute support from the people by making them believe that his government believes in liberalism.
But what Najib actually wanted was the concentration of power promoted under the disguise of liberal principles.
Najib is a prodigy of Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Neither believe in the organic growth or the intrinsic dynamism of free people.
Najib’s method has always been collectivism, concentration of power and government does know best.
He is continuing with the Mahathirist policies of absolutism and economic cronyism.
Did the youths in Johor who assembled before the Istana suddenly discover a long lost affection for the Malay monarch?
The gathering was orchestrated by Johor Umno – which has an axe to grind – and supported by its Chinese and Indian running dogs.
Because of the action of this group, we now know that Umno is using the rehabilitation of narrow patriotism in its last desperate attempt to save its cause and even its existence.
Umno reviled Malay monarchy
What has Umno not used? Intimidation, bullying, religion, racial relations and now the ancient covenant which no one really cares about.
Fact is Umno has had a bad track record for reviling the Malay monarchs and of shaming them.
If you recall, in 1993, it was Umno which mobilised the whole nation into a frenzy demanding to do a King Philip and Marie Antoinette thing on the Malay monarchy.
Umno cannot now claim to be sanctimonious when what it attempted to do to the Malay monarchy in 1993 was clearly worse and more disloyal than Nizar’s twitter about his discomfort regarding the money spent to acquire a car number plate.
But which part of the Malay custom and etiquette and relationship with the Malay ruler did Nizar contravene?
For that we need to explore a code of conduct expressed in the avowal Pantang Melayu Derhaka.
We turn to the venerable Sejarah Melayu or Malay Annals to search for the origins of this avowal. It is there that this covenant which was to form the basis to measure the Malay’s cultural affinity and ethnic oneness originated.
The ancient king was represented by Seri Teri Buana (STB) and the people figure by Deman Lebar Daun (DLD).
STB is one of the three mythical figures that appeared at Bukit Siguntang Mahameru.
He was made king when DLD, the incumbent ruler of Palembang, abdicated from his throne in favour of STB because of the mythical origins of the latter.
The tale tells us that the ancient king took 39 ladies as his brides but as soon as each union was consummated, the bride contracted Chloasma, a skin disease that left the face discoloured or blackened.
The king was resigned to spending life as a roving bachelor when fate intervened and he was informed that his Man Friday, DLD, had a beautiful daughter, Wan Sundari.
Whereupon he summoned his faithful former king, now turned sidekick, and expressed his desire of wanting the daughter of DLD.
Fearful that his only daughter may be stricken with the same affliction, DLD asked for a covenant with the king for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Since then, only the second part of the ancient covenant has been stressed over and over again.
This part reads: “That your descendants shall never for the rest of the time be disloyal to my descendants, even if my descendants oppress them and behave evilly. And DLD said, ‘very well your highness, but if your descendant depart from the terms of the pact, then so will mine.’”
But what was the part of the people’s bargain?
“Your highness, the descendants of your humble servant shall be the subjects of your Majesty’s throne, but they must be well treated by your descendants. If they offend, they shall not, however grave be their offence, be disgraced or reviled with evil words: if their offence is grave, let them be put to death if that is in accordance syariah law’.”
Clearly then, there are two sides of the Malay customs and etiquette which are in question. Not only does the first part need adherence to, the observance of the second part is also demanded.
But in the hands of the manipulative Umno, the primordial code of conduct is now being used as the measure of one’s Malayness, loyalty and patriotism all at once.
The Malay who appears as straying from the measure is to be taken as someone who has violated the meaning of being Malay.
In Umno’s twisted political lexicon, unconditional loyalty to the institution of the Malay monarch forms an indispensable and mandatory cultural DNA.
Without which, one ceases to be Malay enough deserving of support and communion with fellow Malays.
The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman but joined DAP earlier this year. He is a FMT columnist.