“The latest brouhaha over a book cover that apparently depicts a parody of the national emblem (jatanegara) is an example of this naked exercise of ethno-religious power,” political scientist Azmil Tayeb wrote yesterday in an Aliran editorial.
“It is doubtful that the authorities and the public would have unleashed similar opprobrium had the editor been a Malay person and the book written in the national language instead,” opined Azmil who is the co-editor of the newsletter produced by Aliran, a blatantly pro-Harapan NGO based in Penang.
(Note: The editor of the controversial book Rebirth is Chinese, as is its publisher. Half of Rebirth’s authors contributing their ‘Born Again’ essays are also Chinese.)
Azmil also highlighted other heated episodes which he filed in the Umno-PAS ethno-religious folder such as the street protests against the ratification of Icerd, outcry against the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, riot at Seafield temple and ”reactions to drunk driving accidents”.
(Note: On the night of June 19 last month, a fifty-something female motorist knocked into two Malay teenagers riding their motorcycles in front of a mosque in Tasek Gelugor, Penang. The kampung folks set fire to her car suspecting she was a drunk driver — an unfounded suspicion as it turns out because she tested negative for alcohol. All the media reports studiously avoided mentioning the driver’s race but it’s really not too difficult to guess at the woman’s ethnicity.)
BELOW: Torched and totaled — Kia Spectra belonging to 56-year-old vegetable seller who swerved into opposite lane to avoid hitting a stray animal crossing the road
A Malay Harapan supporter’s point of view
To sum up, Azmil Tayeb believes he is now witnessing the regression of democracy in Malaysia and this tide must be stemmed.
His “Salam perjuangan!“ resistance editorial penned yesterday was a “clarion call to action“ urging Harapan to confront the return of “the oppressive iron-fisted character of the old BN-Umno regime”.
Azmil called upon the people on his side of the political divide to “snatch Malaysia back from the clutches of authoritarianism” and to “turn the tables and resist these authoritarian interlopers”.
He described Harapan’s political opponents as belonging to the
- “authoritarian regime”
- “kleptocratic Barisan Nasional-Umno regime”
as well as purveyors of
- ”illiberal policies, unchecked populism”, and the
- “naked exercise of ethno-religious power“
Azmil’s views on the power dynamics of our two-party system is to characterize one side – let’s call them TEAM A – as anti-democrats who peddle ethno-religious grievances to blunt the other side TEAM B’s 2018 hard-won “political ascendancy of the non-Malays”.
He further cited incidents (like setting ablaze the Kia Spectra pictured above) together along with the anti-Icerd, anti Rome Statute protests as meaning “to project Malay supremacy over minority groups and put them in their proper stations”.
BELOW: Blast from the past … Mahathir as DPM believed that the proper station of Vietnamese refugees was in their boats floating on international waters
A Chinese BN supporter’s point of view
I voted BN in the 2013 and 2018 elections.
This is what I would say to Azmil’s points above. I could say plenty actually but never mind, I’m willing to discipline myself in working only within his argumentative framework.
To sum up, DAP for me is the racist vocal minority always bullying the silent majority.
(1) Prof. Teo Kok Seong had joined the chorus condemning the Rebirth book cover. It is doubtful that the Dapsters would have unleashed their opprobrium heaped on Prof. Teo had he been Malay instead of a singular Chinese voice on the matter. They cursed the UKM professor for siding with the establishment as if his defence of the jatanegara made him a race traitor.
(2) I agree that the car arson in Tasek Gelugor is an ethno-religious issue although I will again necessarily note that the driver is innocent.
Every Muslim (and hence every Malaysian Malay) is prohibited from drinking. This means the majority of our population is either outright against the sale of alcohol or at the very least would want to see control over its sale tightened. Translated into action, Muslims have in recent years suppressed beers festivals such as Oktoberfest. This is the will of the majority. The minority who do drink have, however, fought bitterly against this will of the majority — check out the comments they’ve made against the Islamic authorities. The ‘action’ (anti-alcohol protests) admittedly carries an ethno-religious tint; the ‘reaction’ is similarly ethno-religious coming from Chinese and Christians. Conclusion: Both sides are ethno-religious.
BELOW: Supporters of Oktobefest from DAP
(3) The Harapan regime was oppressive. Anecdotally speaking, certain political operatives felt emboldened to harass me during the 22-month interregnum in the full confidence that they had their men in the Multimedia Ministry.
(4) The Harapan regime was authoritarian. Exhibit A: Tun Mahathir. The degree of his one-man authority surpassed even the single-minded wielding of power by China empress dowager Wu Zetian.
(5) The populism of Mahathir 2.0 was not at all able to be checked by DAP. Back in the day, Mahathir 1.0 was still able to be checked – somewhat – by MCA.
At the tail end of Mahathirism 1.0 era, MCA had 29 MPs in the BN government (see year 1999 bar chart below). In the Mahathirism 2.0 era, DAP had 42 MPs in the Harapan government after having obliterated the MCA (see year 2018 bar chart) but the evangelical party could only bend the knee to Mahathir’s populist race baiting.
During Mahathir 1.0, the MCA’s strength in relation to Umno was 29 Chinese MPs to 78 Malay MPs — see 1999 red vs green bars in graph below. During Mahathir 2.0, the DAP’s parliamentary strength in relation to the PM’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu was 42 to 13.
Was DAP’s abject crawling on its knees because the party was comprised mostly of Chinese eunuchs? How else could Power-13 so easily overcome Power-42? Or was it because Party-13 was led by an uber authoritarian?
I can answer the question easily. Today Mahathir is reduced to Partyless-5. Yet DAP with all its 42 MPs intact is still kneeling and toe kissing.
(6) Lastly, allow me to touch on the two items labeled “Malay supremacy” and “political ascendancy of the non Malays”.
The table below shows voter ethnic composition in five parliament seats where our ‘supreme’ Malays are either the majority or the plurality.
Yet all five of the constituencies are represented by Chinese MPs either from DAP or PKR. I cannot imagine the situation in reverse happening today where a Chinese-majority seat can ever be won by a Malay Umno candidate.
Muhyiddin’s Perikatan government is comprised of 96 percent Malay Bumiputera MPs.
Two days ago, the PM invited to his pow-wow table (picture below) the following non-Muslim party presidents — S. Vigneswaran MIC, Wee Ka Siong MCA, Sim Kui Hian SUPP, Tiong King Sing PDP, Joseph Kurup PBRS and Jeffrey Kitingan STAR.
On the other side of the aisle, Harapan’s three parties DAP, PKR and Amanah have 91 MPs of whom only 37 percent are Malay Bumiputera. Even counting Mahathir’s lot which includes Warisan, the Chinese and Indians make up more than half of the Pakatan-Plus MPs.
Now compare Muhyiddin and Mahathir’s consultative style. Muhyiddin with his 96 percent Malay Bumiputera legislative assembly is more ethnically inclusive than Mahathir with his minority Malay Bumiputera MPs.
Although the non Muslims in MCA, MIC, SUPP, PDP, PBRS and STAR contribute negligible parliament seats to Perikatan, they’ve still been invited to Muhyiddin’s discussion table.
In Harapan although the non Muslims non Malays make up the majority of their elected legislators, chairman Mahathir (pre Sheraton Move) more often than not presented the coalition presidential council with his Pribumi-determined fait accompli to swallow … and swallow the DAP most obediently did.
In fact, Mahathir’s totalitarian bent is still evident today when he presented the DAP-PKR-Amanah trio with his fait accompli of Shafie Apdal as PM nominee without any consultation.
BELOW: Malay First PM Muhyiddin placed the MCA president as his Right Hand Man No.4 (occupying chair rank No.5) which is not too bad for an all-Chinese party with only two MPs in a Malay government
DAP is the worst kind of bully
On the final point of my counter argument to Azmil Tayeb, pertaining to the “political ascendancy of the non Malays“.
The brief Harapan nightmare stretching from May 2018 to March 2020 was a political ascendancy of the Cina DAP specifically who annihilated Cina MCA in GE14. It was, in tandem, the political ascendancy of the DAP’s evangelical Christians who are their party spearhead.
Azmil saw a rise in the prominence of “ethno-religious grievances” during Harapan rule but he blamed the Umno-PAS “idea of Malay supremacy” solely for it.
Twelve Malaysian Indians had been detained for alleged terrorist links to the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). It was not Umno-PAS who were to be faulted for the distress caused the Hindu community. The arrests took place under Mahathir’s watch!
DAP’s political ascendancy was one step forward for evangelistas but two steps backwards for Buddhists and three steps backwards for Hindus distressed by the thuggery inflicted on Seafield temple coupled with the sheer bizarreness of the LTTE charges.
DAP is Mahathir’s running dog. For a bone thrown from the master’s table, DAP sits and heels promptly at his command. With the majority of Malaysians, however, the DAP attack dog barks and bites like a Rottweiler afflicted with rabies.
This comparison is unfair and unflattering to canines who are good, loyal creatures. I’m sorry that DAP backstabbers give dogs a bad name. God bless our planet and its four-legged, furry animals.