There is always a better way to begin a conference. There is no necessity to engage in hate speech.
There is no need to threaten the non-Malays of dire consequences.
This is precisely what was done by academician Zainal Kling in his opening speech at the Malay Dignity Congress in Shah Alam today.
This congress was organised by a group of Umno leaders and those who might have joined PPBM under the cover of four public universities.
The universities were brought in to get students to attend the congress or to fill up the space.
As the chief of the secretariat, Zainal could have given a respectable introduction to the congress.
There was no necessity to engage in race baiting.
There was no rhyme or reason to scold others, meaning non-Malays, for not respecting the social contract with Malays.
Without a balanced notion of the social contract, Zainal lambasted those who did not respect the social contract with Malays, taking advantage of the generosity of Malays, and threatened the non-Malays that the social contract might be abrogated.
I am not sure why Zainal, as an academician, would want to engage in this kind of unwarranted speech as though Malays are facing an imminent threat from non-Malays.
Zainal must give details as to how non-Malays have acted contrary to the social contract, in what ways the Malay generosity is being challenged, and how non-Malays have questioned the Malay institutions and customs.
In an ethnic and religion-sensitive society like Malaysia, we don’t need the likes of Zainal to bring up matters meant to raise his ethnic or Malay profile in the crowd.
Racial extremism, if left unchecked, might be transformed into something that we might not be able to control.
The congress on Malay dignity is not a forum to disparage or belittle the non-Malays
Such a venture will depict the congress as being an insensitive and racial one.
Malay dignity should be raised by looking into the historical and contemporary factors that have impeded economic development of the Malays over the decades.
Race and religion are significant identity markers of Malays, but engagement in extremism might be a hindrance to Malays.
It is wrong to think that the non-Malays are hindering Malay progress, far from it.
The pernicious race to the bottom with race and religion must be stopped.
It would be quite ahistorical to assume everything is fine with Malay society.
Some Malay leaders, to hide their own incompetence and irresponsibility, have sought to blame the ordinary Malays for being left behind.
And what is more, they have put the blame on non-Malays for their incompetence and the non-development of the Malays.
Malaysians must escape the dangerous entrapment of race and religion.
These identification markers might be seductive and easily invoked to explain things. They can be populist in terms of attracting crowds but offer no long-term solution to society.
I am not sure whether Zainal is aware of the pitfalls of ethnic nationalism as history is replete with examples of how the relentless drive towards ethnic nationalism or jingoism might end up in fascism.
Fascism, despite its initial popularity in countries like Germany and Italy, lost to democracy in the end.
Zainal, who once shockingly argued that Peninsular Malaysia was never colonised by the British, had to swallow his own words upon realising that Malaya obtained its independence in 1957.
Maybe, on a lighter note, there could be a feeling on the part of Zainal that he wants to be popular and the only way to do this is get himself involved in the Malay congress so that he can take an extreme line.
But why, for your own selfishness, is there is a need to pit Malays against non-Malays!
P Ramasamy is deputy chief minister II of Penang.
The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.