What will happen to Malaysia, with the old guards back in control?
If Ismail Sabri Yaakob wants to move Malaysia out of the abyss, he needs to take drastic action such as removing affirmative action policies.
The Malays have grown too lemak (complacent) from overconfidence. They “won” contracts, scholarships and jobs, not because they were good and competent. They acquired all these from Malay patronage. Accepting bribes has also corrupted their morals, in more ways than one.
Ismail Sabri could allow a five-year period for the Malays to prepare for the time when their crutches will be removed. The Malays need competition to bring out the best in them. Why should we lose more talent overseas, never to return? Why should the best non-Malay be overlooked? Why should we promote mediocre Malays, only for them to promote more unsatisfactory and unqualified Malays?
It is time for the Malays to acknowledge the harm they are doing to themselves, to their own community and to Malaysia.
I know that many moderate, middle-class Malays who benefited from patronage and affirmative action policies will baulk at the idea of having their privileges withdrawn. How long can they prop up the system? When all the non-Malays have left, their children will be fighting other Malays, for a smaller slice of the economic pie.
Muhyiddin Yassin failed to perform and it is doubtful if Ismail Sabri will succeed if he follows the same trajectory. If he wants, Ismail Sabri can divide the country along Malaysia I and Malaysia II.
Lump all the Malays in Malaysia I and see how they fare in the economy, business and academic endeavours. Then do the same with the non-Malays in Malaysia II and after six months, compare their performance. Will Malaysia I go the same way as Ismail Sabri’s Low Yat II?
When you see the dreary cabinet line-up comprising the usual worn-out faces of politicians who lack creative solutions, who prefer their own counsel, and refuse to stray from their usual divisive tactics, what do you see? Yes men.
The treasury needs an injection of funds, and the rakyat is desperately trying to fight for its basic freedoms. Despite Ismail Sabri’s reassurances, few people, including many Malays, have any confidence in the majority Malay government. However, they will not say it out loud, and that is their first mistake.
The ultras and the conservatives are emboldened by the lack of public criticism. To be fair, a few individuals like the graphic artist, Fahmi Reza, and some groups have been critical about our ongoing problems. They have faced the wrath of the authorities, but their voices alone, are not enough.
Most Malaysians are very vocal within their own WhatsApp groups, or within the four walls of their homes, or they hide behind a false name. Who is listening, apart from their own peers?
It is alleged that there are around 200 politicians actively exchanging views, in one WhatsApp group. So, do the politicians prefer this platform to a proper, functioning Parliament? Another WhatsApp group contains high-ranking members of the civil service. There are also a few with former senior civil servants. All very vocal and not holding back.
Everyone feels a need to talk, and yet few will say it out loud for the general public and the leaders to hear.
The nation is gripped by fear, largely propelled by an uncertain future. Covid-19 is the invisible enemy, and strict social distancing, quarantine rules and vaccinations, all form part of the solution; but there is no cure for the seen enemy which comprise the three M’s: Malay supremacy, Malay preferential treatment, and Malay intransigence.
The continued reassurances from members of the new cabinet have been met with scepticism. This is from die-hard Malays, who, in 2018, were furious at the Pakatan Harapan government, which they considered to be led by the DAP.
They were ecstatic, (even members of my own family were celebrating) when the “Malay first, Malaysian second” Muhyiddin seized power. They ignored the fact that Muhyiddin had formed an illegitimate government. What mattered was that a Malay was in charge and they knew he would enlist more Malays to rule.
Today, these same Malays have tasted the bitter failure of Muhyiddin’s attempt to put right the economy, tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and unite the nation.
Many don’t trust Ismail Sabri because he has nothing to offer apart from more Ketuanan Melayu nonsense. How successful will the “new” Malay cabinet kickstart the economy? Malay ministers will not stray from their comfort zone. They refuse to learn from other races and cultures, including allowing businesses making non-halal products to operate.
Families face unemployment and many are running out of cash. Businesses have shut down. It is not that foreign companies do not want to return and invest in Malaysia. it is just that they do not trust the increasingly Malay and pro-Islamic government.
Look at the ongoing Malaysia My Second Home debacle. If foreign individuals are treated shabbily, what’s to stop the government from reneging on their promises.
Foreign investors cannot afford to “humour” recalcitrant politicians. Once they pump in hundreds of millions of ringgits in investment, they need a stable political climate to operate. Our experience of Bersatu cum PAS cum Umno-Baru has dented our confidence in these Malay MPs.
WRITER – MARIAM MOKHTAR