Mariam Mokhtar: Would You Want to Be a Malaysian Politician?

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Most people enter politics because they claim that they want to improve other people’s lives.

That is not true in Malaysia. The only difference that Umno-Baru, PAS, MIC and MCA politicians have made is to improve their own lives and fortunes. The rakyat have seen little change.

Don’t blame the politicians. Blame yourself, for believing Umno-Baru/PAS lies, and for voting Umno-Baru/PAS/BN. Don’t forget the role played by the New Economic Policy (NEP) and Ketuanan Melayu.

You can talk about anything in Malaysia, misogynist attacks, the education, the weather, floods, religion, housing estates, or something as mundane as going to the pasar malam. All roads lead back to the politicians.

Let’s take the pasar ramadan. On the face of it, one would think this has nothing to do with politics, but when one investigates the complaints from stallholders, one realises that politicians are on the take. The fee for a stallholder to secure his lot should be just over one hundred ringgit but advance commissions collected by cronies of politicians to secure the lot, inflate the price to several thousand ringgit.

We could talk about the environment. There is pollution in rivers, air and soil despite strict regulations. If we were to trace the source of the pollutants, we may find that the offending factory has links to a politician. Complaints are dismissed or ignored altogether. Allegations are made about the cosy ties between politicians and factory owners, but few are investigated.

In Sarawak, or Kelantan, the indigenous people are denied their ancestral land rights, but politicians and their cronies grow rich, living off the land belonging to the indigenous people.

Progress is not limited to gleaming skyscrapers, modern roads and piped water. How has Malaysia improved over the last 40 years? Not much. Time might as well have stood still. The old tired faces of those who entered politics in the 70s and 80s as young men are still around. They spew the same rubbish, the same unproductive ideas, but now, they do it with increased religious fervour.

It is bad enough that the Ketuanan Melayu agenda is crippling Malaysia and that Islam in Malaysia is practised like a cult. It is not progress when the majority of the Malay minds are steeped in feudalism. From an easy-going race, the nouveau-riche Malays have been destroyed by their embrace of Wahhabism, in a potent mix of tribalism and cult ideology.


Merdeka has brought little progress. Malays have become ultra-sensitive and demand that other races pay homage to them. ‘Malay supremacy’ did not teach them that respect has to be earned, and at the same time, deprived non-Malay Malaysians of their equal right as citizens.

Don’t blame younger Malaysians for having little desire to enter politics. One wrong step and the aspiring politician could suddenly find his life exposed on video on social media. He might find doctored photos of himself on the internet to discredit him. Or personal details might be spread on social media and his family put in danger from nutters bent on revenge.

The progressive Malay politician, who wants to lift Malaysia into the 21st Century, will be vilified because he wants to make Malays think. The imaginative Malays will undermine the ability of Umno-Baru/PAS to control him.

A few years ago, a Malay politician dared to remind Malaysians, including Malays, that there should be no compulsion in religion. This politician was attacked and wrongly accused of supporting apostasy or encouraging Muslims to renounce Islam.

Other Malay politicians who encourage integration, have been accused of failing the Malay race and told he will be punished in the afterlife.

A non-Malay politician who tries to improve his constituency will be attacked for being Chinese, DAP, or a communist. His critics forget Umno’s ties with the communist PRC.

Malay pitted against Malay

Why do we stand for all this nonsense? Where are the Malay voices to denounce these tactics?

What sort of country have we become, when a politician cannot even complain that the azan in his constituent’s area is too loud and lasts for hours on end? Even if he were Malay, he would not want to risk being called anti-Islam.

So, what has happened to the oft-repeated battle-cry of Umno-Baru and PAS which was, “Only we can protect the Malays. Only we can defend Islam”? Why has this chant stopped?

Ironically, in Muhyiddin Yassin’s Malay-Muslim cabinet, we can see that Malay is pitted against Malay. To be more precise, competent and professional Malays are systematically being replaced by “yes-men” Malays with ‘kabel ke atas’ (connections to the top).

When Muhyiddin wanted to “save” Malaysia, he could have done the right thing and proven that Malays are not afraid of meritocracy. Instead, he has only shown that “cash is king”. Where is the dignity in that?

Will the gullible Malays finally see through the Umno-Baru/PAS smokescreen and realise that it is just political propaganda?

Perhaps, the scare tactics and vilification will not deter some young Malaysians from entering politics, but they may be deterred by the realisation that they will never know if they have any true friends.

The young politician will be surrounded by sycophants and he will not know when he will be ‘shopped’ by them, if the price is right. – Malaysiakini

The views expressed here are strictly those of the writer.