A Malay political observer friend of mine told me after attending the Malay Dignity Congress that he felt this country was on the verge of collapsing.
“As a political observer, I thought I was used to this kind of extremist rhetoric. But on that Sunday, I had a new understanding of ‘extremism’.
“The entire place was like a hate factory turning non-Malays into enemies, alleging them of blaspheming Islam, insulting the Malay Rulers, manipulating the Malays and belittling our social contract and Constitution…
“And then they claimed this is the Malaysia of the Malays, and threatened to terminate the nation-building social contract and implement single-stream education.
“They wanted all government scholarships for bumi students only and senior government posts reserved for the Malays.
“And our prime minister told everyone this country used to belong to the Malays on the Peninsula, but they were forced to share this country with orang asing, and said the Malays are being oppressed and despised today.
“The louder the speakers’ voices, the more seditious their content got, and the several thousand participants were more excited.
“I felt I wasn’t living in Malaysia any more!”
I quietly listened to his story. Of course, prior to that I already had some idea of what the Malay Dignity Congress was about from media reports, but listening to the words coming out from the mouth of a sensible Malay compatriot talking about his feelings, I felt a pang deep inside me.
New Malaysia is yet to be put up, but the Old Malaysia is already disintegrating.
This shouldn’t have been the country that we knew.
Indeed, this country is not without its share of conflicts, but people from different ethnic backgrounds would never see others as enemies, nor blame their faults on other people.
We the citizens do have different views on many issues, but the thing is, we must respect the right our Constitution has provided to each and every one of us.
We are not a very powerful nation, but for the past six decades this country has belonged to everyone of us, not any particular ethnicity.
We are not a perfect country either, but every citizen who abides by the country’s laws, pays his taxes and never does anything that hurts other people, has been living here with much dignity.
We did hear plenty of extreme remarks in the past, but most of them came out from the mouths of political vagabonds in the likes of Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali or insignificant NGOs such as Isma. Radical as they sounded, there was nevertheless bottomline to their remarks.
In 2008, someone called Chinese Malaysians pendatang, and the then DPM tendered a public apology to the local Chinese community and terminated the party membership of the culprit.
Someone proposed to abolish multi-stream education and he ended up being investigated under the Sedition Act. And then someone told the Chinese to go back to China, and he was sacked and probed.
But today, the Malay Dignity Congress has gone far beyond the red line, but no punitive action from the government, not even verbal warning.
When asked to comment on the speakers’ racist remarks, the PM said he didn’t hear them.
When UM students protested the vice chancellor’s racist remarks at the congress, education minister Maszlee Malik was trying to wash his hands of this whole thing, telling the students instead to talk to the vice chancellor.
Jointly organized by four public universities in this country, their professors and vice chancellors took turns to speak on the stage. It is unbelievable that public universities were allowed to organize such a sensitive event without the green light from the education ministry.
And as the special guest of the congress, it couldn’t have been more obvious that the prime minster was giving the congress his full endorsement. While on the one hand he treated non-Malays as orang asing, he blamed the Malays themselves for creating the disunity, on the other hand. There was only one motive for him to do so: to create an imaginary enemy in a bid to protrude himself as the savior of the Malays.
But did he ever ask himself, who should be held accountable for all the Malays’ problems, having run this country for more than a third of its years after independence and having the most powers in his hands and taking control of the most resources?
Indeed manipulation is the second nature to many politicians, but shaking up the nation’s foundation and creating hatred among the people will only take this country down the road of no return.
We can’t see Mahathir recouping his support among the Malays after the congress. On the contrary, he cooked up the same kind of racist discourse as Umno and PAS do. To many conservative Malays, this only serves to prove one thing, that racism is the right way for them.
PH will not win the hearts of conservative Malays because of the congress, but will find itself alienated by liberal and sober-minded Malays out of frustration.
As for non-Malays, there is only one feeling they get after witnessing this “dignity” farce: total disenchantment.
The one and only country we have, our Malaysian Dream, has been robbed.