By Zaid Ibrahim
A recent article written by Ahmad Naim Tahir, “Bersediakah Melayu terus berkorban”, in an online news portal is typical of many articles written of late lamenting about the fate of the Malays.
The script goes like this: The Malays are slowly but surely being pushed out of “an island” (Penang presumably); the Malays are divided; the Malays have sacrificed for peace, for stability and for the country and got nothing in return.
Yet the non-Malays are still egging and challenging them and pushing them out. They even dare talk of the Federal Constitution which theoretically permit a non-Malay/Muslim as premier.
According to him, even the gays and the lesbians are challenging the Muslims via “Seksualiti Merdeka”. He did not mention the incidents where Christians purportedly were trying to convert the Muslims but I am sure in his mind this would be part of the plan of the non-Muslims.
This is typical of the reaction of the Malay political writers to the woes ( real or imagined) faced by the Malays.
They exaggerate the problem of the Malays and Muslims. The common theme found in their articles clearly shows that these political writers like to whine and complain about everything except looking for the answers to the so-called problems.
In the first place, more Malays are in the urban areas now than ever before. They are in fact “pushing in” and not being pushed out.
Umno maybe “corrupt and inefficient” but they have helped the Malays gained strong economic foothold. If some are leaving Penang for the mainland, maybe they got good money for their properties.
What’s wrong with that since they can then develop other areas and sell them again for good profit?
Let’s start with unity of the Malays. Since when were the Malays united? The fact that we had multiple Malay sultanates even before the British were here suggest that the Malays were content to have many sultans (for a small country) rather than be united under a supreme Ruler.
If they want unity they would have chosen one of the sultans to conquer the other states and unite the Malays.
They did not do that. They are happy with nine Rulers. And don’t blame the British for this situation.
Now the Malays are with Umno and PAS; and other smaller parties. That’s what they want – many parties to choose from.
Today they may be fighting but when faced with national catastrophe, they will be united. Not just the Malays but all Malaysians.
For example, if, say, bankruptcy catches us like Greece we will have a unity government. So don’t worry and be obsessed about Malay unity. We should be more worried about Malaysian unity.
Before independence, Malaya then had many Chinese and Indians. To get our independence we had an agreement. No point complaining about the terms of the agreement. No point complaining that even a non-Malay can be prime minister if chosen by the majority.
We should instead honour this agreement as Malays are honourable people. This is what we should teach the people; instead of complaining and whining.
Anyway, the Malays will be the majority people by a big margin for a long time, so why worry about hypothetical situation?
About the Chinese pushing the Malays out to the inner areas: well, even if true, that’s part of life when you do not work hard, or save your money, or have an education system that does not prepare you for this modern world.
There is no government in the world can save any particular community for ever. That community must want to survive. That community must want to work hard; must want to succeed in this world.
In the first place, I think the Malays are doing well now despite getting shoddy education and having to compete with the rich and the powerful.
Still, if the fear is that we may be pushed out, then we need to make the Malays stronger and more competitive.
If, however, we continue to keep the Malays in ignorance, and keep them busy about saving the world, and spending every Saturday worrying about gays, Christians and Chinese, then we maybe pushed out.
And about the Chinese: they help build this country to what it is today. They probably pay more taxes than others. So why can’t these Malay writers accept this reality?
Will the Chinese give you an inch? No.
Will they go all out to help the Malays? No.
But it’s no point complaining. Do the Malays want to be as successful as the Chinese? That’s the question.
On this point I am not convinced that all the Malays want to conquer this world; they rather focus on the hereafter.
So these political writers should not assume they know what the Malays want. If the Malays want something else, then don’t exaggerate their “failures” as those shortcomings are relevant only if measured against what the Chinese want.
But if indeed the Malays want to succeed in this world, then they have to emulate the Jews and the Chinese. They have to choose. It requires different education, different habits and lifestyle.
What is clear is this. These Malay writers must stop whining and complaining. You must accept reality. The reality is that Tanah Melayu has become something else; it’s called Malaysia.
No point blaming the British, the immigrants. No point talking about the so-called accommodation and sacrifice given to the non-Malays.
The Malays must take this world as it is. It would be more positive if the Malays can change their attitude.
Go beat the Chinese in school, in business, in music, in football, in maths and science.
In politics, the Malays will be better off by joining a more progressive party suitable for the Malays of the 21st century; instead of the present Malay parties who obviously have failed them.
Zaid Ibrahim, a former Umno law minister, is the president of Kita.