Malaysia a Divided Nation

February 29, 2016

UMNO in Crisis and Pakatan Harapan paralyzed and Malaysia a Divided Nation

by Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan

“Ideology knows the answer before the question has been asked. Principles are something different: a set of values that have to be adapted to circumstances, but not compromised away.”

– George Packer

COMMENT: One of the first topics I wrote on was the fracturing of the “Malay” polity into various schisms based on “ethnicity”, religion and political power. I believe and still do that the consequences of this would be dire.

Not only will there be sectarian violence within the Malay community, but most probably – as has been documented in various parts of the Muslim world – the nature of the conflict would be religious based.

If we are lucky, it would be between two extremes; but the reality will probably be that non-Malays will either have to leave this country, or latch on to whichever side that offers the least subservient role.

The least subservient role is the only option available in lieu of any firm policies put forward by the opposition since its remarkable gains in previous elections.

There are, of course, many factors which handicap the opposition in its goal of political dominance – electoral malfeasances, the vote banks of Sabah and Sarawak, political infighting and dubious political alliances.

However, the underlying dissonance is the reality that by paying lip service to egalitarianism and equality, no systemic alternative has so far been offered in a serious political game changing manner.

Malay “unity” as propagated by UMNO and, by all indications, in a sub rosa manner by the opposition, is based on race, religion and political hegemony.

Pakatan Harapan (A band of Crap Politicians sans Anwar)

The honourable gentleman from Gelang Patah, MP Lim Kit Siang, recently reiterated: “I have said enough since last year about a ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign which transcends race, religion, region, political parties, and individuals and our efforts to see this goal come to fruition.”

The irony is that Pakatan Harapan was supposed to be a coalition of disparate political forces that put aside their political, religious and racial differences, in an effort to assume the leadership role of this country. Look how well that turned out.

The ejection of former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin from the UMNO gravy train and his subsequent ersatz reformasi-like stance, is indicative not of a changing ideological perspective but rather the tremors felt when a political hegemony turns on its own.

Najib refuseniks have had trouble coalescing into a credible threat – even though led by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – because the “cash is king” ethos which Mahathir previously nurtured has become a monster of its own, and controlled by the current Prime Minister.

The Muhyiddin Bull Talk


The Ousted Deputy Prime Minister

“What has happened to the value system in UMNO? Have values such as honesty, sincerity, courage to state the truth and oppose what is wrong disappeared? Has the fighting spirit in UMNO leaders melted away? Is the desire for power that is fraught with deception the only thing that triumphs?”–This Bull Talk

Muhyiddin lamented, “What has happened to the value system in UMNO? Have values such as honesty, sincerity, courage to state the truth and oppose what is wrong disappeared? Has the fighting spirit in UMNO leaders melted away? Is the desire for power that is fraught with deception the only thing that triumphs?”

What fighting spirit is he talking about? Until recently, UMNO has never had to fight for anything. An ineffective opposition, electoral sleights of hand and the reality that UMNO buys its way out of every problem, has made UMNO a cartel answerable only to itself.

Muhyiddin warned that Najib is turning into a dictator, yet that is the underlying politics of this country. Najib is not turning into a dictator because anyone who leads UMNO is already a dictator since post-1969 and the subsequent Mahathir years. This is an example of bull talk. Recall, the former Deputy Prime Minister was a  No.2 in the UMNO kleptocracy. UMNO and its Presidents have only dictated policies without regard to any kind of democratic institutions or principles.

Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli yesterday proclaimed that, “for the first time, we may just reach the critical point where a majority of our society, irrespective of their background, understand why we cannot delay reforms any more”.

The choice of words is unfortunate – or telling, depending on how cynical one is. Malay alternative power structures have always struggled with the Malay vote. The reality is that decades of brainwashing with racial and religious propaganda have narcotised the Malay community into believing that UMNO is their salvation.

This is especially true in the rural heartlands, where political dependency means sustaining one’s family.

Shift in voting patterns?

In other words, the “critical point” and “the majority of society” actually refers to the Malay polity and the hope that the Najib refuseniks could shift voting patterns in the Malay community to the benefit of Pakatan Harapan.

And Muhyiddin (always portrayed as a soft touch) knows this very well. A couple of years back, I commented that the then DPM’s clarion call for Malaysians – specifically Malay-Muslims – to unite under the BN banner, is problematic for a variety of reasons.

However, he is absolutely right when he reminded non-Malays to be cognisant of the fact that “the future of the nation depended on Malay-Muslim unity”.

On the other hand, at the very least the fallout from the UMNO schisms could result in the usual political backstabbings and sabotage, which could offer gains to the opposition.

The opposition political insiders I talk to are very well aware that the opposition has made the most gains when UMNO is at war with itself.

“It is not just to demand that the PM step down, but to reject a political institution that has failed to fulfil the aspirations of the rakyat,” said the former Deputy Prime Minister.

Is this an acknowledgement that the UMNO institution has to go? Because for the life of me – and I am not downplaying the fact that the current political scandals are perhaps the greatest in Malaysian history – the reality is that the UMNO way of doing things is what created this mess in the first place.

And Muhyiddin was part of it until he got the boot.Is Muhyiddin willing to destroy UMNO to save the country? Is anyone from the ranks of the Najib refuseniks willing to do so?

The only other ex-UMNO insider who managed to shift the ground under the party’s feet is the incarcerated former Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, who did so with shrewd political manoeuvrings, charisma, and an unbelievable ability to make believe that his personal political struggle was a struggle for the soul of a nation.

And even he did not manage to change UMNO the way how his nemesis, Mahathir did, when the latter had declared war on the UMNO old guard and won.

Sceptics wonder if Muhyiddin’s ouster will have any impact on UMNO politics. That’s the wrong question. The real question is what will happen when the cash runs out and the disenfranchised Malay majority wakes up.

When this happens, UMNO will not be spared. Nobody will.

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

13 thoughts on “Malaysia a Divided Nation

  1. Eager to learn from Dr Azmi Sharom, and see how he would respond. I don’t know what others will do. But, I know I will do whatever Dr Azmi Sharom would say. Yes, Melayu, you can do it. It is not that hard. ‘Save’ your land, ‘Save’ your soul. ‘Save’ a few others at the same time.

  2. Again where is the discussion on Hadi’s PAS? Want to be friends with UMNO people but against UMNO? Gobblygook gets a free pass?

    Hadi’s PAS is the most guilty of all. They are a nightmare worst than UMNO waiting to happen.

  3. It is the height of ignorance when one plays the naive card to the nation in applying the very power to selectively promote those who are supposed to weigh the probability and obviously the possibility of the wrong doing on the PM’s part. This applying is supplying gratification. The fact that the former DPM is lamenting that the former AG had shared the vital information to secure a frame of criminal charges, is history and moot. He ought have taken the necessary steps to order the IGP to arrest the PM, which he failed to execute and miserably too. Surely he knew that the ex AG didn’t divulge frivolous information. Instead he took his zeal to the rostrum. What was he thinking?

  4. Nons, get ready according to S. THAYAPARAN the hungry Mats will literally shove the blame for all their Ketuanan induced sufferings down our throats. On the other hand, there is the Johor Sultan who has shafted the Muslim idiocy up the PAS Taliban’s while the Ketuanan shit has been pushed back into UMNO’s. The people cannot vote out the Sultan but the Malays will not vote out UMNO either. However, the Sultans have never spat on the nons in the name of Islam-Malays. Better to have a strong man who looks after our interest rather than a bunch of religious racist bastards who thinks nothing of stomping on the nons.

  5. Tell us something we don’t know.
    It’s like Armageddon and Herpes zoster repeated ad infinitum. Boring..

    March 27th should be interesting, don’t you think? But self interest Rules.
    If only Octo Reforms, but that is like waiting for the Big Crunch.
    Desperation makes for strange alignments – astrologically and musically speaking.
    I think it’ll be held at or near Bamboo River and be called Midnight Special.

  6. bigjoe, Hadi is not a factor in the greater ‘scheme’ of things.. PAS will be fighting with UMNOb (er Jibros et al) for seats next GE (if there is One). A combined PASUMNOb will be trashed in almost all Urban and Semi-urban seats. Factoring the mistrust and ill feeling of UMNOb rebels, Johor, Kedah and possibly Trengganu/Negri will be ‘difficult’ for this hybrid..

    The real ‘fight’ is over in Sabah and Sarawak. Where, PAS will play the role of al-Hantu, over there. Stop being Peninsula-centric.

    While many keep on harping on marginalization and apartheid (which we are), it was obvious from Octo’s GE 10, that the Nons can play a very significant role, despite the gerrymandering. The lap mongrels are already dead now. The swing of angry young voters is a real and present danger to the Mutt-Turbans.

    Having said that, MY and Geng aren’t gonna take the insults lying down. I know the man and he’s meandering – but resolute when it’s comes to Crunch time, like a slow river. Problem is his UMNO-befied mentality of Entitlement. That will disappear, once they kick him out permanently – despite 40 yrs of hung-doggy-ism. That’s why they are hacking him with a slow ‘death of a thousand cuts’. My advice to him is to bite the bullet and go all out instead of sniping here and there. Perth may be nice, but too laid back.. Even snails hibernate there.

    We need to be reminded of Alaungpaya’s (one of the 3 great monarchs of Burma) saying:
    “When fighting for your country, it matters little whether there are few or many. What does matter is that your comrades have true hearts and strong arms.”

  7. /// Frankie Leung February 29, 2016 at 7:23 am
    Divided is bad enough. Now it is dysfunctional. ///

    Dysfunctional is preferable. The big problem is that it is functional – very functional when it comes to donations.

  8. Pakatan Harapan. Pakatan Rakyay. DAP and the rest have tasted power in minor positions in the state administration and are now in dilemma because they do want to let go their powers. There is such a thing as higher loyalty to the state and I hope that they will use their wisdom and address issues rather than fight for positions in the sate.administration.

  9. Good piece Commander.

    Well Octo has left UMNO again.

    Interesting times ahead. I see a new coalition of the willing (sic) on the horizon.

  10. Quote:- “He ought have taken the necessary steps to order the IGP to arrest the PM, which he failed to execute and miserably too”

    No he did not fail. It is UMNO culture to keep aside whatever dirt one has of your enemies or potential enemies for an unexpected rainy day as blackmail fodder should it be needed in the future.

    Political blackmail in certain circumstances may be even better than cash as the latter needs to be acquired, while the former is “free”

    That is why out comes this incriminating piece of information which he kept for 6 months on the very next day of his suspension. Just that Najib beat him to the punch.

    Now that Mahathir has left UMNO, he might leave as well since his suspended Deputy Presidency has no personal or political meaning to him any more. At least he can still seize the high moral ground standing shoulder to shoulder with Mahathir and, if and when Najib gets kicked out, return to UMNO in triumph.

    Mahathir has finally crossed the Rubicon. It’ll be interesting to see how many people follow him. Najib is now in Saudi Arabia, a “planned” coincidence?

  11. This idea that a race or nation (in the anthropological sense) should be “united” behind a particular political party is a mark of an immature polity. It is particularly foolish when this “unity” is held to be the greatest virtue of all. In Malaysia and across the world (including it should be said mainland China), it is frequently advocated by those who seek to monopolise political power for their own selfish ends.

    The Malay (Austronesian) race/nation is already divided, and has always been so. Witness the numerous kingdoms across the Nusantara before the colonial era. Witness the modern political and religious divisions between Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines (plus the ethnic Malay communities living in Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia etc.). It is foolish to imagine that unity is the ideal state for the Malay nation whether in Malaysia or across the Nusantara. Moreover, it breeds an “us versus them” mentality, and unfortunately some Malays in Malaysia then see the non-Malays as “them”.

    You will notice that political parties in mature democracies rarely, if at all, advocate this racial/ethnic unity concept. In these countries, the political division tends to be between what may loosely be categorised as those who see more room for government activism (left) and those who prefer individual autonomy and choice (right). The political division (at least conceptually) cuts across racial/ethnic differences. No doubt certain minorities in a number of democracies do find themselves largely supporting a particular party, that comes about partly because they are more economically disadvantaged and would prefer to see more government action to help their situation and not purely because of a racial motive.

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