BERSATU’S RACISM IS MAHATHIR’S RACISM: THE ENEMY IS WITHIN PAKATAN – HOW POTENT THE DANGER WILL DEPEND ON DEC 8 RALLY

“That is straight up playing the racial card, there’s no other way to see it. And I’m against it totally.”

– Shahril Hamdan, Umno Youth leader

I hope people understand that when the Pakatan Harapan grand poobah Dr Mahathir Mohamad acknowledges that Bersatu is a racist party, he is essentially saying that every member of Bersatu is a racist. The party and its members are not mutually exclusive. It really is not important that Bersatu, although racist, is not against the other “not race-based” parties, but rather that these multiracial parties are willing to work with racists.

I am neither surprised when Mahathir flouts his racist credentials nor surprised that there has never been any pushback from the non-Malay power structures which supported him when he led BN and now Pakatan Harapan. BN Redux is the realisation that assuming federal power means ditching the Kool-Aid but still expecting the non-Malay base to behave as if hooked on it.

As I said six years ago about the realpolitik of Mahathir – “He never hid behind any politically correct justifications for his policies, making the social and economic inequalities faced by the community he claimed to represent as something beyond their ability to overcome and exacerbated by the presence of ‘foreigners’ who took advantage of their hospitality. This, of course, is pure rubbish but it is the narrative in which he chose to frame the racial discourse.”

I have no idea if it is tragic or funny, that the majority of the voting Malay demographic did not vote for Bersatu but instead voted for Umno and PAS. So while Umno political operatives are busy considering whether to jump ship to Bersatu if Umno cannot capitalise on the race and religion card, non-Malay power structures are getting nervous of the possible power Bersatu could acquire, which is why we hear rumblings about anti-party hopping laws.

Those in Umno, like the young operative whose quote begins this piece, have to grapple with the new reality – that a BN Redux means that they have become the far right. Umno has to hitch their wagon to PAS, who are embroiled in their own little power plays between the various factions which the non-Malay urban demographic have no idea exist, but would determine the nature of the alliance between Umno and PAS.

While I may be hypercritical of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, at least he had the cojones to attempt a multiracial alternative. The drawback – politically – is he has to make all these pro-Malay statements because his bumiputera bone fides has always been in question. Not to mention the internal power struggles in PKR which Malay political operatives in Umno, PAS and Bersatu are meddling in, which gives the impression – sometimes unfairly – that PKR is the clear and present danger to Harapan hegemony. It is not.

I once wrote that if you set yourself as a champion of your community, sooner or later, your credentials will be challenged. The problem with Mahathir’s babbling on about his racism and that of his political party, is that he will always have to answer to Umno and PAS when it comes to those issues that are sacred to the Malay community.

Mind you, those issues have nothing to do with development or standards of living, but rather issues that diminish the “rights” of the non-Malays in this country or hamper the economic development of a multiracial country in favour of the kind of “Malayism” that mainstream Malay politics want to impose on all of us, which is a balance between racial and religious supremacy.

This is reflected in the propagandising of issues like the injury of firefighter Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim (photo) in the recent temple riot. Numerous potentates have made pilgrimages to his hospital bed, while non-Malay elites and the vox populi have made sympathetic statements and started charity drives.

Kindly remember that someone like veteran journalist and now Bersatu member A Kadir Jasin in 2013 wondered out – “As has always been the case, when we send our policemen and soldiers into battle and are killed or injured, the chances are they are Melayus and Bumiputeras. Perhaps there is wisdom in getting more Chinese and Indians to join the armed forces so that they too can die for one Malaysia” – in ‘I wish to remain a Malay’.

We are talking about a system of beliefs here no matter how the Bangsa Malaysia types attempt to stick their heads in the sand, which ironically is not what the political operatives they voted for are doing.

A big anti-Icerd turnout?

When Ibrahim Ali says that there are too many Indians in the cabinet, he is just attacking a low-hanging fruit. Indian minsters are a target of opportunity because the Chinese community or at least, the Chinese minsters have to be handled in a different way. Claiming that Harapan is giving away power to a minority in betrayal of its defence of race and religion is the kind of trap, that Harapan always falls for because they are too scared to lose federal power instead of wielding it.

What are the themes of this narrative? They are all ahistorical. The reality is that Malay power structures have very little interest in raising the standard of living of the rural Malays because to do so would cost them votes. Look at what happens in urban centres. All this is important to remember when considering the real danger of the Icerd rally.

Why is Umno and PAS determined to hold this anti-Icerd rally? They have already won this battle, so what would be the point of holding this rally?

If you think the Harapan establishment is worried about this rally, you should talk to some PAS political operatives and activists, like I have. They are extremely worried that the turnout will be low. They desperately want a massive turnout. If there is a low turnout, this would demonstrate that PAS is weak and is unable to carry out the threats of Malay/Islamic dissatisfaction that they believe will contain the Harapan regime.

For political operatives in Umno who do not want to work with PAS, it would be a lesson for the old guard that PAS is not a potent religious or racial force post-May 9. A low turnout would be a bummer for the current Umno hardliners because those operatives who were hedging their bets, would now be free to join the racist Bersatu without having to worry that Umno would have any power that could pose a problem.

Mostly though, the powerbrokers behind this rally want to remind Bersatu, which is weak, PKR, which is compromised, and DAP, which is subservient, that although Umno and PAS are not in power, they have considerable influence in the policy direction of this country. This is about demonstrating how the Malay far right is more powerful than the federal government.

See, when Malay political operatives talk about ultra-liberals, not spooking the Malays or any other rejoinders of compromise, all of this demonstrates to the Malay far racial and religious right is that the government is weak. That they do not have the support of the majority community.

While exposing corruption scandals works in the short term when it comes to destabilising Umno, the reality is that there are a younger set of leaders just waiting to assume control of a party which they believe still has the support of the majority of the Malay community. They do not even have to have money to do this because the political infrastructure is there in the civil service, the state security apparatus and the fact that they do not have to compete with an opposing ideology.

If this is dangerous to Malay power structures in Harapan, it is more devastating for the non-Malay power structures. How does the Harapan Malay elite demonstrate their Malayness? The answer is to encroach in the public and private spheres of the urban centres, that rural Malays are told is the existential threat to their culture and religion.

Malay political operatives will always be on the defensive when it comes to their racial and religious credentials. Bersatu’s racism is exacerbated by the enabling of the non-Malay power structures in Harapan.

This is the clear and present danger that Harapan supporters should be aware of. The enemy is within, and the anti-Icerd rally will determine how potent it is.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy

MKINI

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