Finance Twitter on the Malay Dignity Congress and Mahathir purposely barking up the wrong tree.
Mahathir was a master strategist. He was also a brilliant strategist at toying peoples’ emotion, especially his fellow Malay community. But it appears he is still stuck in the 1980s mentality, not being able to play other cards except racial and religious extremism. It’s also true that he no longer has the advantage of using newspapers and TV to spin and twist his (old UMNO) political propaganda.
In 1988, Mahathir killed the original old UMNO and formed a “new” UMNO (Baru) after the Malay nationalist party was declared as an illegal and unlawful organization. After the May 2018 General Election, where he stunningly defeated his protégé-turned-nemesis Najib Razak, UMNO’s assets have been frozen due to massive money laundering allegations.
At least 150 of UMNO’s 191 divisions are considered illegal today. Thus, the Mahathir government can actually tell the Registrar of Societies (RoS) to deregister UMNO like what happened 30 years ago in the 1988 crisis. But the 94-year-old premier refuses to, for now. He wanted to loot UMNO’s assets, including its precious Member of Parliaments, before terminating the party.
His party – PPBM (Bersatu) – won only 13 out of 222 parliamentary seats in the May 2018 General Election. But the Malay-based party doubled its number from 13 to 26 – through defections of UMNO MPs. UMNO, once the dominant ruling government, is now left with only 37 MPs due to multiple betrayals, down from 54 MPs it initially grabbed in the 14th General Election.
Unfortunately to Mahathir, the crossing over of UMNO “frogs” have since stopped. Warlord Hishammuddin Hussein, the UMNO traitor supposedly to leave the sinking ship with 30 MPs to join Mahathir, has somehow failed in his mission. Playing safe, UMNO MPs have chosen to sit on the fence instead. Frustrated, Mahathir had openly invited all Malays to join his party. But very few take up his offer.
While opposition parties UMNO and PAS (Islamist party) consistently play up 3R cards (religion, racial and royalty), Mahathir cannot play the royalty card because he had offended most of the sultanates. That forces the PPBM supremo to play the racial card even more. He figures that instead of fixing the economy, it’s quicker to capture Malay votes via racial and religious extremism.
Ergo, PPBM arranged with four public universities to gather Malay community at the ‘Malay Dignity Congress’ on Oct 6. In reality, the gathering was a follow-up to the UMNO-PAS Muslim Unity move in September. Understandably, PPBM was under tremendous pressure to make the gathering more successful – more Malay than UMNO and more Islam than PAS.
The Malay Dignity Congress was supposed to win over massive Malay voters for Mahathir without inflicting huge damage on non-Muslim voters, who had voted in droves for Pakatan Harapan coalition last year. To create the narrative that it was the ultimate Malay unity gathering, leaders from opposition UMNO and PAS were even invited to share the stage. But it has backfired spectacularly.
Not only was the gathering and participants were labelled of being racist, Mahathir himself suffers the same accusation. If today is 1980s or 1990s, the premier couldn’t care less what the non-Malays think of him. The authoritarian leader would instruct the mainstream news media to simply “blackout” the minorities’ outburst of protest and magnify the success of the gathering.
It speaks volumes about Mahathir’s frustration (and the failure of the gathering) when he was reduced to posting on his personal blog on Friday (Oct 25) about Malays being accused of being racist for attending the so-called “dignity congress”. He said he attended the gathering because he is a Malay. Hence, he was surprised when he was advised not to attend the gathering.
He had argued that while other ethnic groups, presumably Chinese and Indian, were free to hold gatherings to discuss their affairs, and Malays were being accused of being racist when they hold a similar gathering. He was absolutely correct to say he has the right to attend the congress. But he was wrong to say other minority communities had held a similar gathering consisting of racial bashing and whacking.
Perhaps Mahathir can provide proof of past ‘Chinese Dignity Congress’ or ‘Indian Dignity Congress’ where Malays were bashed. In the last 62 years, the minorities probably had whined, moaned and bitched about being ignored or discriminated by the government, but they had never dared to insult Malays at the same scale demonstrated during the Malay Dignity Congress.
The minorities Chinese and Indians would be immediately reported, slammed, arrested, investigated, interrogated and detained without trial under the previous draconian laws such as the ISA (Internal Security Act) to silence and punish critics. ISA was the favourite tool of “dictator” Mahathir during his authoritarian rule from 1981 to 2003.
In the recent congress, not only the chief organiser, Prof Emeritus Zainal Kling, had mistaken Malays civilization with Chinese’ 5,000 years of civilization, he had also warned and threatened non-Malay that their citizenship could be suspended if they break the “non-existent” social contract agreement. He also said that Malaysia belongs to the Malays.
Mahathir, either ignorant or pretended to be gullible, didn’t see anything wrong with the racist remarks spewed by Zainal and other speakers. Actually, there was nothing wrong with Malays attending the congress. What was incredibly wrong was for the congress to be used as a platform to bash, mock, insult and threaten minority communities just for the purpose of rallying Malay voters.
It’s mind-boggling that at his current advanced age, Mahathir continues to show his insincerity and dishonesty writing a half-truth piece – “It hurts me to think in their own country the indigenous people are not supposed to have their own gatherings without being accused of being racist.” He deliberately left out the part where Kling blackmailed other races.
Perhaps in his desperation to defend the indefensible racists like half-baked professor Zainal Kling, Mahathir has forgotten that the ethnic Malay is not the majority race in East Malaysia (also known as the Malaysia Borneo). Did the prime minister realise that Sarawak has more than 40 sub-ethnic groups, and Malays are just the minority in the state?
Did he also realise that there are an estimated 42 ethnic groups with over 200 sub-ethnic groups with their own language, culture and beliefs in Sabah alone? And the three largest indigenous groups in Sabah are the Kadazan-Dusun, Bajau and Murut. Nope, Malay isn’t the largest indigenous race in Sabah. Can the largest indigenous people in Sabah and Sarawak propose to cancel the citizenship of Malays?
In the same breath, the indigenous people of Malaysia are not the Malays, but ‘Orang Asli’, who happens to be the most marginalised and malnourished community, as argued by human rights activists Kua Kia Soong. Perhaps Mahathir wants to challenge Kua’s statement and rewrite the Federal Constitution to erase the recognition of Orang Asli as the indigenous people.
What is Mahathir’s definition of indigenous people, anyway? If he wishes to use ethnicity as a measurement, then he himself is not pure Malay but his ancestors originated from Kerala, India. His paternal grandfather had come from South India and married a Malay woman. At most he’s the third generation of Indian Muslim – a ‘Mamak’ (obviously not indigenous people).
If he wishes to use years of residency as a measurement, then Tian Chua, a minority ethnic Chinese subjected to discrimination and bullying, is more than qualified to be categorised as indigenous people. Tian Chua’s ancestors arrived in Malacca in the 1500s. In comparison, the ancestors of Raja Petra Kamarudin, whose uncle was the Selangor Sultan, came to Selangor only in the 1700s.
The prime minister should explain why a Java-immigrant like former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is considered an indigenous people, but not someone like Tian Chua, whose ancestry is more than 500 years old. More importantly, why can’t indigenous people from Sabah and Sarawak become a prime minister of the country?
Mahathir also wrote that unlike Malaysia, other multiracial countries saw non-indigenous people adopt the language and culture of the indigenous people, even to the extent of changing their names. Clearly, he was referring to ethnic minority Chinese in Indonesia. Perhaps that explains why he still considers Dong Zong as racist for going against his Vision School.
Still, the 94-year-old premier’s justification was hilariously flawed. Despite giving up their language and culture and even their Chinese name, the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia were the primary victim in the 1998 Indonesia riots that saw at least 10,000 people killed and at least 168 cases of rape. Properties owned by Chinese Indonesians were looted, plundered and burned down.
Mahathir’s chest-thumping statement continued with his declaration that one million of the non-indigenous people were given citizenship even though they were not qualified. He appears to suggest that since the non-indigenous people were accepted as citizens, they should be grateful and keep quiet, even when bashed by Malay racists and extremists who attended the Malay Dignity Congress.
Again, the prime minister conveniently and deliberately left out the most important part – it was a fair and square exchange of the country’s independence with citizenship to the minorities Chinese and Indians. Well, the Malays had the choice to disagree, but that would mean the British will refuse to grant independence to Malaya and continue to rule until today.
Had the Malay Dignity Congress used to brainstorm the community on how to restore their dignity, such as overhauling of the education system and make them more valuable and employable (for example), there would be zero accusations that the congress and Mahathir were engaged in a gathering to create racial hatred. Mahathir was – purposely – barking up the wrong tree. – Finance Twitter