UMNO’s colonization of the Malay polity

June 11, 2016

UMNO’s colonization of the Malay polity 

by S. Thayaparan.

Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”

– Margaret Mead

COMMENT: I seem to be writing many articles on Islam of late. Some readers have emailed me asking if this was because of my rejection of the policies of PAS, while others have accused me of being anti-Islam.

First, I am not writing about Islam but rather Islam as defined by the UMNO establishment and the opposition, both of which I reject. There is a diversity of thought in Islam the world over and although sinister forces would impose their dogma on the faith, there is still a vibrant discourse ignored by the mainstream press in search for easy heroes or villains in the faith.


UMNO’s preordained leaders–Who’s Kidding

Second, I am not anti-Islam, I think that a strong case could be made that I am anti-organised religion, but I am the most Muslim-friendly commenter around. I believe that a Muslim should be free to define his or her religion in any way they see fit, with no interference from the state as long as that definition does not trespass on the rights of anyone else, including other Muslims.

The UMNO myth of preordained leadership “bears some resemblance to the (neo) conservative Straussian (Leo Strauss)principle of the creation of ‘myths’ as a form of societal cohesiveness and the political relevance of Barisan Nasiona. is much like the African National Congress of South Africa, which for years was coasting on its own myths but presently riddled with corruption and is on perilous ground where discriminate voters are concerned,” I rambled on some time ago, is something that the opposition seems to enable since coming so close to federal power.

The Penang Chief Minister’s announcement of “an RM15 million expansion plan for a small Islamic school in Teluk Kumbar, the Al-Itqan Education Centre, which houses primary and secondary school students,” is problematic for various reasons. This has been one of my main gripes of non-Malay power structures pandering to the UMNO colonization of the Malay polity.

“The moves are seen as Lim trying to appease the Muslim community after being criticised and labelled anti-Islam following the DAP’s uncompromising views on PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang’s hudud bill,” wrote  Malaysiakini’s Susan Loone, but I think it goes deeper than that.

Of course, PAS has been insisting “that the (Penang) state government had deliberately stopped funding religious schools owned by PAS members” in the mainstream press. This after the falling out with PAS over various issues but as a few PAS insiders have related to me, the crippling of the professional class of PAS with the creation of Amanah.

I have argued that the non-Malay power structures are contributing to the indoctrination process by supporting UMNO-enabled institutions thereby setting back any kind of progressive movement in the Malay community. Furthermore, I have been critical of opposition parties that have been reluctant to redefine and propagate ideas that are the exact opposite of the UMNO narrative of what it means to be Malay and Muslim.

Indeed, this has not been the first time I have been critical of the Penang government in the way it deals with the so-called “needs” of the Malay Muslim community. The last time I wrote about this issue, I wrote this (which didn’t go down well with DAP supporters):

“What the DAP is doing is merely enabling their Islamic counterparts to carry on this sub rosa process in lieu of UMNO. The DAP’s upping of the religious affairs coffers from RM12.5 million in 2008 to RM64 million in 2012, as evidence of how the Malay community is not marginalised, is extremely shallow thinking but not surprising in the quest for the Malay/Muslim vote.

“Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng rants on how ‘the Malays are not angry we give money to Chinese vernacular schools, and the Chinese are not angry that the Muslim affairs council are getting money for their activities’. So let me get this straight. The Chinese get money for education and the Malays get money for their ‘Islamic affairs’.”

A battle on two fronts

In February of this year, after admitting that our tax money funds ‘Muslim’ groups such as Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), Deputy Minister Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said they are “given to almost all Islamic NGOs, whether it is Abim, Ikram, Isma, ulama association and so on – whether in the form of annual grants or programmes.”

Any kind of Muslim organisation, whatever their objectives, is the connective tissue between the UMNO state and the Muslim Malay polity. The problem here is that UMNO is fighting a battle on two fronts. The first, is the propaganda that Malays needs to be defended against the intrusion of the other communities here in Malaysia and the second is the very real threat of global Islamic extremism that threatens UMNO’s hegemony and relevance.

As Ruhanas Harun writing for The Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) elaborated, “Irrespective of their goals, organisational structure and the extent of networking, the activities of Islamic political party, politically-engaged Islamic NGOs, Jemaah and militant groups are of great concern to the Malaysian authority in case they cause political instability, disrupt racial harmony, hamper economic development, endanger regime survival and threaten national security.”

Furthermore, she adds, “In the words of former Minister of Home Affairs, Tun Musa Hitam, Malaysia’s comprehensive strategy for combating extremism consists of a ‘complex process of accommodation (when this is fully justified), co-optation (when this is required) and confrontation (when it is necessary)’.”

Whether this is, an effective strategy remains to be seen but the problem has always been that extremist forces have used UMNO’s Islamic propaganda for their own agenda and the UMNO has always been best in combating Islamic extremism with a strong leader who used Islam but ensured that it would not be used against UMNO. Not prizes in guessing who did this best.

In my opinion, the political process has been about accommodation for far too long. UMNO and opposition establishments are invested in the status quo for differing reasons but the results are the same. A Muslim polity where the majority are narcotized by religious dogma.

Tun Dr. Mahathir–The man who said Malaysia is an Islamic State

And really so-called Islamic schools have always been a problem for UMNO hegemony and the stability of the country. In 2002 former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad thundered “Of course [we will interfere] if they deviate from the real purpose of education, when they use the premises to inculcate our young with their ideologies and aims [sic] to topple the government.”

Also let us not forget that so-called Islamic education has proven to be ineffective in “elevating” the Muslim community especially the sekolah agama rakyat which suffered a blow because the federal government decided to cut funding and transfer students and teachers in 2003 “due to dismal academic performance and anti-government activities”.

All of this is, of course, not to impugn the reputation of the Al-Itqan Education Centre, where it is a requirement to speak Bahasa Arab if I am not mistaken. However, it is no point arguing about the mindset of the ‘Malays’, when nobody is doing anything to change it but instead carrying on agendas in the hope of political profit.

20 thoughts on “UMNO’s colonization of the Malay polity

  1. Just like the Cmde, I am of the camp who believes in An-Naim’s understanding. Yet, as such, shouldn’t we agree that Wahabhism and Hudud is also a legitimate understanding? If so, why shouldn’t we allow PAS do what they need to do so that they could lead their life in conaistent to their belief, as long as the decision to Hudud or not could still be decided democratically by the voters of each state. If UMNO does support Hudud, we should really ask our Prime Minister on his take on what should the Hudud ruling be on her son’s bad example at a club in Singapore. Should there be a public caning for the offense made to be set as an example?
    UMNO and PAS must stop playing politics with Islam and carefully supervise teaching of Islam and other faiths in our schools. BTN must be disbanded since it is propagating Malay nationalism in extremis. Otherwise we will have situation like Pakistan.–Din Merican

  2. SAK47, had blogged about this way back in 2011, but from another perspective. Is he Malay or a DAP running dog?

    Even as i speak, the decoupling of the national economy by race and religion, is progressing and accelerating in tandem with the rise of shrill rhetoric and polemics from the PASUMNOb nexus. Folks like me, have no wish that this happens, but being pragmatic, is there another way?

    The statement ‘Tak akan Melayu hilang di-dunia’ is actually a reflection of the Existential Crisis that the Malay polity had faced for several hundred years.

    The inability or rather, the pigheadedness of neo-feudalistic and theocratic-fascism as a divisive political tool, applies. I guess deep down inside, we are all self-serving and racist. It’s how we recognize, accept and try to get above it that counts.

    My wise Malay buddy Semper Fi could give better examples than SAK, but who would listen? After all he is a better Malay, because his identity cannot been stolen or besmirched by the goons. He has tried to help, cajole and educate in whatever way he could, and i respect him and Din tremendously for their efforts.

    Btw katasayang, you seem to be experiencing an existential crisis of your own? Can we help? Take some paracetemol – it helps. Xanax too.. Cheers.

  3. Dato Din, of course. But, the Cmdr suggested something like what Mubarak has done and failed. The fact that Nurul could not take a more prominent role is because of our worry of a similar experience that took place in Pakistan.
    Given what has already happened in 1MDB, the rest of the world would definitely treat Malaysia like many other Islamic nations, i.e. propping up one who could be controlled. Prof An Naim’s Islamic State has never been experienced by any Muslims. It is a bet. If God is willing, let it happen in Malaysia. ISIS, AlQuaeda and Taliban thrives in so many of existing Islamic nations. Why not, when so many youth in these places experience an alienation that they could not express in any other ways.

    Put it in another form, unless Malaysia does something different, why wouldn’t we expect Malaysia be in any ways different from the fate of many other Islamic nations.

    Prof An Naim’s world has never existed. It doesn’t mean it could not take place. Let Malaysia to be the first nation to make it happen.

    I spoke too much. I should be reminded that I am no Malay.

  4. In a more pragmatic manner, the nation would only know and appreciate Prof An Naim’s suggestion when more Malays got to thumb through a hard to read text. That is what I learnt from Dr Bakri Musa.

  5. The history of Turkey is a case in point. The efforts to create a ‘secular state’ in the end had to give way to the ‘will of the people’.

  6. The Commander has the right of it. Nobody wants to change the System because it is easier to keep the majority of the Malay polity the way they are. It’s a class struggle using religion as the dialectic.

    The theme of the piece is vested interests.

    “I guess deep down inside, we are all self-serving and racist. It’s how we recognize, accept and try to get above it that counts. ”

    Curious. Do you really believe this ? Not the second part but the first. I get the concept that certain behaviours may be hardwired but I can’t help feeling that a lot of it has to do with apathy and yes maybe even disdain for the way how the country works which is unfortunately transferred to the way how Non Malays view their Malay brethren.

    Someone – a foreigner – once told me, that Malaysians hate what they created not what was created for them. Behind some of the Oppo rhetoric esp amongst the younger generation I get a strong whiff of projection and self loathing.

  7. The author expects DAP-led govt to change the Malay Muslim.polity against UMNO AND PAS??? Is he out of his freaking mind???

    Islamic polity is a well developed structure and systems for the purpose of hegemony and defensive that took CENTURIES. No one is going to change it unless they themselves want to.

    The Malays who have imbued more and more Islamic polity with obvious desire for tendency for hegemonistic and defensive likewise will not change if they do not want it.

    Is DAP enabling their dysfunctionalities by compromising? Of course they are. They have no choice.

  8. @CLF existential crisis.. xanax. Sure 😉. Iris Chang kills herself after writing rape of nanking. I am far from being her, in terms of achievement and attachment on those issues. But, our own May 13 incident is not in anyways less sensational, and we are nowhere close to be addressing nor forgetting the issue. In many ways, I am glad I am no Malay. SAK47 is probably fortunate in his ability to verbalize his frustration and live out his frustration in concrete manner.

    Xanax would probably help me. Thanks, I will try it out 😅. But, real existential threat … useless. The society is sick, from the Sultans to most recent illegal immigrant being trafficked into sex and drugs.. we are sick.

  9. “Do you really believe this ?”

    In a way, yes my friend. I thought about it hard and long, and came to that conclusion after being unable to answer honestly and to my own satisfaction – what ‘Being Malaysian’ means. It has nothing to do with politics per se, but in terms of anthropological awareness.

    My ancestors were not economic immigrants nor railroaded into coming to these torpid shores. They were persecuted for their religion at the time of the Boxer rebellion. My paternal side were Hakka, but my maternal side was Hokkien. My granddad was a Chinese Nationalist who returned to China to fight the Japs during WWII and I have no love for PRC as it is.

    I was brought up in central KL – privileged insofar as i spent my childhood with friends of all races and creeds. It was not exactly egalitarian, but all of us suffered from 0513 onward. What happened next over the years was traumatic for some of my childhood friends – the Malays falling prey to drugs and inability to rise to the challenges, the Indians mired in the poverty trap and some of my Chinese friends caught in a web of crime, while others had to migrate to pursue their education. It hardened my resolve and somewhat colored my ideas of social justice.

    I was wooed avidly by the Establishment political parties in my youth, but saw them for what they were. I was never enamored by the Oppo either, except that they were anti everything – sometimes even themselves. In a way, i was always anti-Establishment, even as i was part of the Establishment, albeit apolitical.

    At my present station in life, i’m wiser and see things as they are. We, as Malaysians need a new narrative. There isn’t One.

    The National Identity has to change from one of exclusivity and creeping apartheid, to one of inclusiveness and social justice. For that, we must overcome our personal demons. It won’t happen in my lifetime.

    It may be time admit that it may be too late to stop the Rot.

    James Otis said before the American Revolution: “Taxation without representation is tyranny”. The ‘Nons’ are hard-pressed to define what ‘representation’ means nowadays, with the malapprotionment and gerrymandering. It’s devolved into the simplistic Us vs Them, that has been drilled into the core of our very existence – in the name of Political expediency.

    The Chinese diaspora in SE Asia has always been intact as a viable and most important socio-economic force. I have advised our local ‘Nons’ to engage with them more fervently, as our economy tanks – leaving the ‘Sons’ to engage amongst themselves. Sort of Low Yat 2 in reverse. That is what is meant by decoupling. Apartheid works both ways for the feeling is mutual. There is no hatred, only resignation.

    So yes, i’m racist in the practical sense of the word.

  10. “The author expects DAP-led govt to change the Malay Muslim.polity against UMNO AND PAS??? Is he out of his freaking mind???”

    Hold on a second. Isn’t the DAP kool aid about how everyone is Bangsa Malaysia ? Aren’t they always claiming to be an inclusive party, always recruiting Malays in attempt to place the party as a centrist Malaysian power structure ? Always talking about what a “true” Muslim is ? When they were simpatico with PAS holding sit in in mosques. Always saying what a piss poor job MCA is doing by pandering to UMNO created sensibilities.

    Always offering up change instead of status quo ? Are you really implying that the DAP is just another Chinese based power structure which has no choice but to play the same game the MCA has been playing only with new spin and Evangelism as a sub text ?

    Are you really saying that they have no choice but to pander to UMNO created sensibilities ?


  11. I don’t understand what Thayaparan means when he says he is not anti Islam and is the most Muslim friendly commentator here. Islam is the religion and Muslims are the followers. Being Muslim friendly, how is that? What if the Muslim is the hardcore type and does not accept any other religion or laws other that Shariah law and only Islam can be practiced in Malaysia? Will you still be pro Islam?

  12. ‘Being Muslim friendly, how is that?’ O.M

    Yup OM, i was stymied by that statement too.
    I can’t see how the superior ‘ubermensch ragheads’ can do the needful, especially when it comes to enforcement.

    That ‘filioque’-like clause: ‘.. with no interference from the state as long as that definition does not trespass on the rights of anyone else, including other Muslims.’ is oxymoronic at best. Once Immutable God’s Law is enforced – we shall all end up lame, blind, mute and deaf – except the ‘bewildered’ enforcers or jurists.

    Even as we speak, the Kelantan mufti is yodeling that ‘Nons’ must ‘respect’ the Ramadhan by covering their ‘aurat’ and refrain from ‘eating’. Kedah has banned ‘all places of entertainment’ and caused massive economic losses for the ‘Nons’. Why is that? Has ‘fasting’ being idolized or at the very least ‘Branded’? Or is why breaking fast have become such ostentatious displays of faith, that restaurants and hotels make megabucks pandering to cryptic gluttony?

    It is said: Everyone wants to see moderation, but no one understands what ignorance means.

  13. orang Malaya,

    “Being Muslim friendly, how is that?”

    Here is the key, “I believe that a Muslim should be free to define his or her religion in any way they see fit, with no interference from the state as long as that definition does not trespass on the rights of anyone else, including other Muslims.”

    The Commander is drawing a distinction between the faith Islam and its Believers, Muslims. In other words he believes that an individual Muslim is capable of defining his or her own faith.

    Thanks for the elaboration CLF. As usual you have given us lots to think about.

  14. All of us must read the article, “How Islam Is Different From Other Religions”, by Shaid Hamid in Time Magazine dated June 13, 2016 to get an understanding on this issue.

  15. Willful ENSLAVEMENT of so-called Malay=Muslim through monetization Islam as away of life-like the glossly excessive budget of Jakim.

  16. @clf thanks for the pearl of wisdom, esp on the need of low yat 2 in reverse thru a sign of resignation. I could not agree more as I have been sharing that with a few.

    But, i doubt it could happen in current structure. Read a short review of a book that explained it well. Middle class is too afraid, as the world economy is in retreat.

    Lim Guan Eng and big shots in Keadilan really need to consider embracing Hindraf to make any change, or come up with their own Hindraf equivalent to help the real nons.

    People of my generation is way too kiasu and kiasi if not outright boneless in their eagerness to sell out to pander to the money and power.

    Oppo has phoney perkasa, 1PM has his gang.

    Hindraf, a class who is genuine in their intention to desire change, Keadilan is too kiasu in their willingness to share power. The so call urban middle class is too comfortable in losing their sensibility to see how the two Hindraf brothers are helping the nation.
    Perhaps, we do deserve the situation we face.
    Amanah is too gentleman.

    The Malay nons has no real leader whom they can look up to.
    Opposition really need to stop pandering to the middle class urban elite, and start working for the nons. This include the PSM, which is way too elite. Neither LGE’s Penang nor Azmin Ali’s phoney 1MDB like sovereign state wealth fund is doing jack.

    In any case, it is interesting that we are thinking out loud of all of these possibilities for opportunists on both sides of the aisle to consider. Melayu tentu akan hilang. Existing vested interest is too kiasi to not become more autocratic, as it has reached the point of no return.

    @clf again, thanks for sharing on your personal story. Will check out xanax for myself. I need to learn some spiritual discipline in prayer and finding solace in the word. This world is not our home, as we look towards the other.

  17. My dear young friend, katasayang, i have no aspirations in politics – only to look forward to a better future for your generation, as the keepers of tradition and yet adaptation. We must be postmodern now, not react to the vagaries of Politics.

    My ideas of economics are untried, yet i perceive a world with less strife and angst needs a radical rethink on where Humanity is heading. My anti-Globalization is about practicality. “Small is Beautiful” (E.F. Schumacher’s Buddhist Economics).

    Read up about the Third Way i.e. Distributism, instead of mere Capitalism or it’s anti-thesis, Socialism. We need a smaller, compact world synchronizing synergistically and environmentally friendlier than the filthy military-industrial complexes, incredibly greedy-polluting-corrupting mega-SOEs and MNCs. Only then can we deal effectively with the gross economic disparity, starvation and poverty we have experienced over the millennium. Economics, trade and business drive politics in a macrohistorical sense, not the other way round. Awareness is the key.

    Another Agrarian Revolution (cf Wendell Berry) is needed to prevent catastrophic famine around the world and the Distributive Logistics must be worked out. Man Made or Natural Disasters must be factored into all our equations.

    Great discipline, honesty and new ideas must be explored if we are to avoid Armageddon, which to me is not a supernatural event – but a humanly inflicted one.

    I am an Amillennialist, who has no time for the minutiae of End-Days. End-Days are every day. So strive to be happy, for joy is is ephemeral. All Religions aid survival of the species, but unfortunately the ‘Message’ get corrupted by Hubris.

    When the push become a shove, we’ll fall back on our Diasporan Roots. We are but wanderers in a Cosmos of Folly. Who cares about Politics that together with Prostitution, remains the Oldest Profession of Fallen Man?

  18. Yes, katasayang, I agree that the little CLF bio was interesting reading indeed.

    I was in awe of his uncle going back to China to fight for the Nationalists. It magnifies the kiasi and kiasu in us even more.

    However, I hope and believe that the little we do by writing in Din’s blog will eventually seep through to a few brave Malaysians who will one day drag Malaysia out of her quagmire.

    Keep up the good work, Din.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.