Mariam Mokhtar on the Moderate Malay Being a Mythical Creature

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Speaker Azhar Harun shatters the myth about the moderate Malay. So, should we give him a second chance? If not, why not?

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” Pablo Picasso

The new Speaker, Azhar Azizan Harun, who was affectionately known as Art Harun, may not realise that his actions over the past few days, have done great harm to our fragile society.

First. My non-Malay friends said, “I am beginning to lose faith in the Malays,” or “I will find it difficult to trust another Malay, again”.

Similarly, my Malay friends said, “How will others see us? Those of us whom we thought had integrity, have failed us.”

Second. The moderate Malay who speaks out is just a myth. They do not exist. Well, if they did, they soon disappeared in a puff of smoke. Or like the early morning dew, evaporated, in the heat of the sun.

Third. The problem does not lie in the kampungs, but in Putrajaya and where power resides. The elite Malays and the well-connected Malays, who by and large are the western educated, English speaking, well-travelled Malays are the main beneficiaries of Ketuanan Melayu. Why would they want to give up any of this? Like most Bumiputras, they probably do not want to lose any of the perks afforded to well-connected Bumiputras. It is all about self-interest. It is as simple as that.

On Monday, many of Azhar’s friends were disappointed by his performance during his first day in parliament, but a few of his die-hard friends said, “I will allow him the benefit of the doubt and give him another chance.”

The one-time outspoken social activist and lawyer, and host of a video podcast, called “The Art of the Matter” resigned as Chairman of the Election Commission (EC) to become the new Speaker.

The move was controversial, but Azhar denies this.

Azhar’s brother, the new Attorney-General, Idrus Harun, has also courted controversy with the judgements on Najib Abdul Razak’s stepson, Riza Aziz and the more contentious decision to acquit Musa Aman, the former Sabah Chief Minister. Perhaps, this is sibling rivalry to see who can underperform the other.

On his first day at work, the reaction to Azhar’s appointment was hostile. A smug Muhyiddin Yassin sat observing the pandemonium, knowing that he was the architect of this circus. Azhar was thrown to the dogs.

The Opposition didn’t give Azhar a chance to make his inaugural speech, because they were angry at his unelected appointment. Why was the former Speaker removed without rhyme or reason? PN bends the laws to suit their own agenda.

The Opposition protested in the only way they could, by making a spectacle of themselves. They took their cue from the Umno-Baru administration.

One does not need a degree in law, or experience as a Speaker, or barrister to know when sexist and racist remarks have been made. Azhar failed to censure the Umno-Baru MP for Baling, Abdul Azeez Abdul Raheem. This is more disappointing than his failure to maintain order in parliament.

Only after the public reacted with outrage did Azhar demand an apology from Abdul Azeez. This was the next day, after he had seen the Hansard and acknowledged that the remarks were offensive. What does this say about Azhar?

How can Malaysians trust a Speaker who is not up to standard and not on the ball? He missed the racist, sexist insults. We need a Speaker with a sharp mind, who is quick on the uptake.

On his fourth day as Speaker, we were told that a letter had been sent to the Court, to allow Najib to attend parliament. Why is the Speaker interfering in the workings of the judiciary?

Two weeks earlier, the rakyat had already reacted with fury, when judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah ordered a postponement of Najib’s corruption trial so that Najib could take part in the fun-fair at the Chini by-election.

On 15 July, Najib’s lawyer asked for him to be excused early to attend parliament. Does Najib think that the trial is a side-show? Judge Collin rejected Najib’s request, but the following day, a letter from the Speaker over-ruled the judge’s decision. This only added our contempt for Azhar.

Does Azhar realise that his actions feel like a kick in the teeth for the rakyat? What message does this send to the young? To other politicians? To the rest of the world?

Azhar is not the first who has abused our trust. The rakyat feels that it has stepped through the looking glass with Alice.

The rakyat have been let down and are feeling helpless, but we cannot give up now. Malay supremacy is firmly entrenched in the system, but we must continue the fight.

Each of us has to become a perpetual activist, to continue to fight injustice and shout louder for our voices to be heard, so that we can demand meaningful change.

We can achieve so much if we work together. Do not allow others to judge us by race. Grab a friend to do much more for the nation.

Don’t depend on the moderate Malay. He is a mythical creature. Azhar was a moderate Malay but has become a stooge of Muhyiddin. – Rebuilding Malaysia