Mahathir set Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Hegemonic) Agenda

July 18, 2016

Mahathir set Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Hegemonic) Agenda

 by Dr. P Ramasamy

Mahathir might have sowed the seeds of racism and religious bigotry during his term in office and some non-Malay leaders want to distance themselves, but why did they not do so while he was in power?

It is only natural for a dutiful daughter like Marina Mahathir to defend her father Mahathir Mohamad from attacks coming from the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC). There was no necessity for the President of the MIC to say that if Mahathir formed a political party then his contributions and achievements would be erased from the country’s political history.

Whatever you say about Mahathir, a segment of the population, composed of Malays and non-Malays, will always remember his contributions to the nation. In fact, given the disastrous politics of Najib Razak, Mahathir seems quite popular even at his present age.

In the history of this country, he is the only former President of UMNO and Prime minister who took umbrage with the policies and actions of UMNO leaders who came after him. He could have gracefully retired from politics with the attendant perks given by the government.However, he refused to do that simply because of the rebellious spirit in him.

During his term in office, I don’t think he showered favours on his children or groomed them to succeed him.

I might agree with the criticisms, not necessarily coming from the MIC, that Mahathir might have sowed the seeds of racism and religious bigotry during his term in office. Some of the non-Malay component leaders want to distance themselves from Mahathir, but the question is why they did not do this while he was in power.

For instance, Samy Vellu who was a long-time President of the MIC used to praise Mahathir saying that he was a “gift” to the Indian community. However, when Mahathir resigned from his post, and following the Hindraf movement, it was the same Samy Vellu who said that Mahathir was the source of the problem of the Indians.

But why did MIC, MCA, Gerakan and other component parties in the BN not take a stand against Mahathir’s polices and programmes? Why did they allow themselves to be “bullied” to follow the dictates of Mahathir? Even the opposition that stemmed from Umno factions was unable to remove Mahathir and many paid “heavily” for alienating Mahathir, including Anwar Ibrahim who was convicted for sodomy and jailed.

Mahathir could be hardly described as a democrat or a person who cherished and pursued accommodative politics. Yes, he was instrumental in setting the path for Umno to pursue Malay hegemonic politics to the point where non-Malays became marginalised with the passage of time.

He might not have enriched himself or his family, but he was generous enough to allow his cronies and friends to benefit handsomely from projects under the guise of “helping” bumiputeras.

It is true that it was under Mahathir that non-Malays became marginalised politically, economically and socially. Yes, some of the worst racist polices were introduced in the name of the New Economic Policy. But at the same time the rich and well-connected non-Malay businessmen and entrepreneurs became extremely rich and powerful. However, whether this acquirement of wealth translated in terms of real benefits to the non-Malays is another sad story.

The Japanese and Koreans loved Mahathir. His Look East Policy was a hit with the Japanese. He was adored by the Japanese leaders on his many visits to Japan. Given the over-emphasis on democracy and transparency in Japanese culture, many, especially the right-wing, preferred leaders like Mahathir who did not care much about democracy.

Mahathir could be totally insensitive to the Chinese in Malaysia. Once he said that Japanese need not apologise for its war misdeeds to Malaysians.

Mahathir might have been a strong and powerful leader. He certainly knew what he had to do even though some of his polices were not in the best interests of the country. Racial relations took a powerful battering from his overwhelming focus on sheltering and assisting the Malay community to the fundamental neglect of the non-Malays.

The problem was not so much him, but his racial methodology in political governance. Because of his Indian ancestry and being ethnically Malay, he had to “over prove” his Malayness by coming out with pro-Malay and pro-Islamic policies.

However, he never allowed himself to be swayed by extremist elements within the Malay society. He used to criticise Malays for not being grateful to UMNO. It is the same UMNO that Mahathir is critiquing for abandoning the Malay community.

P Ramasamy is Deputy National Chairman of the DAP and Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.

Note: Basically, I share the sentiments expressed in Dr. Ramasamy’s article (above). This is what I wrote about Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in June, 2008. I also wrote a commentary on the former Prime Minister in Tom Plate’s book, Conversations with Mahathir Mohamad.

I personally reserve my judgment. I am too close to be completely objective since I was part of his Administration and he was once my boss. I had also the benefit of learning good business management skills from working for him in the 1970s.

History will be a better judge of his achievements and policy failures. But there is no doubt in my own mind that Tun Dr. Mahathir is a superb politician and an intellectual with strong work ethics. Some of us may not like his politics because of his Machiavellian streak. But we must at least acknowledge that it was the Tun who put our country on the world map.

I have of late been critical, especially his performance at the Lingam Tape hearings but overall, I am an admirer of the man’s intellect, guts and strong convictions. There is no one from his generation who has done more for our country than this illustrious Malaysian son from Kedah.

I am now a strident critic [ ], but I still admire the man for his tenacity and almost boundless energy, when  younger men have chosen to stand back and timidly watch the systematic destruction of Malaysia by the present Prime Minister Najib Razak. –Din Merican


9 thoughts on “Mahathir set Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Hegemonic) Agenda

  1. Agree with you Dato’ regarding Mahathir’s fanatical desire to ensure the Malays to achieve economic leadership but he failed to understand that integration of a nation must come first, and the economic development of a country and is inversely related to the level of corruption.

    Will he strive now to bring a new Malaysia for everyone, or he strives to strengthen Ketuanan? Will he make the Malays understand that Malaysia’s future is based on all Malaysians working together to bring competitiveness and prosperity for all, not just for people of certain religion? I believe he now knows that history will judge him for that, and he may be pursuing what Jaffar Onn failed half a century ago; a multi- racial party. But as a skilled politician he knows he cannot alienate the Malay masses nor the minorities who are more than inclined to support him if he opens that golden door. How that would be accomplished is what intrigues me.

  2. Attacking Mahathir for his past policies over the current issue is REPEATING the same mistake that allowed Mahathir’s mistakes and abuses. Mahathir may be the seed of what happening today but that tree and animal is all grown up and has to take full responsibility..Mahathir stole money, lost money so what? Does that mean Najib and Rosmah and the current bunch get to? What is progress then? What is justification of “special” and NEP then? That it never goes away, that it never ends?

    Furthermore the issue no longer is about theft and corruption. Its about destruction of sound system and fundamental of governance. There is no rule or law, judicial or enforcement system. It is whatever the whims and fancy of the most powerful decides. Order is only because there is money spread around, not reason, not moral authority. Authority by sheer brute power and money is UNSUSTAINABLE. For the powerful, over-entitlement is in the territory of IMMORAL – all supported by a historical theocratic party means the moral compass of the nation, the Malays is DEAD. What is the point of criticizing Mahathir for that?

  3. We can only hope that what he is doing now and in the time he has left is a genuine atonement.

    No one is perfect of course, and so we should not expect it in any man, woman or politician.

  4. Even worst than just attacking Mahathir, no component party including MIC is attacking Hadi’s PAS for pushing Hudud bill..Not really because they know Najib need Hadi and they are working together..If they attack too hard, then both Hadi’s PAS and the Islamist in UMNO would be up in arms and it UMNO-PAS axis would break apart..

  5. Nothing to refute in the balance and retrospect dr m worked with a vision and mission. They were larger than himself albeit malay polity driven. The others who supported it and display some competence were elevated. The challenge is now najib serves himself and others who support this agenda. So m had nation at hand even if birfurcated va najib and friends. But we need something more that these bliquored view for malaysia to survive. Yes btw the two dr m is the better choice

  6. Leaders come and go..
    ….and in a country where leaders are literally drowned in political mud,

    Notwithstanding his past and assuming Mahathir had ousted Najib,
    the Rakyat would want to know what really does he wants for the country and its people’s future:

    A Malaysian Malaysia?
    A Malay Malaysia?
    A Mahathirism* Malaysia?
    An Islamic Malaysia?

    *a culture of MACCP deeply embedded in Umno Baru leaderships.

  7. A wise man once said that an intelligent man can also be a dangerous man capable of causing untold damage. TM is the Malaysian Dr. Frankenstein who with Machiavellian intent, created a monter. Clearly, he is the root cause of all the ills that are now crippling Malaysia – cronyism, emasculation of the judiciary and civil service, politicisation of Islam, social engineering by affirmative action and money politics. To be fair, TM also brought about the massive development of the nation but at a heavy price.
    Almighty God has allowed him to live long enough to let him see the damage his policies have caused and hopefully longer, to allow him to undo the damage. If he can achieve that to heal and bring about the recovery of our beloved nation – perhaps then, his legacy will be untarnished and history will judge him favourably.

  8. Conclusion is, you cannot make everyone happy. I don’t believe at all that Tun promoted Malay and Islamic policies just to prove that he is more Malay than the other guy. He fervently believed there was good reason to do so. If you read his writings such as ‘The Challenge’ and his speeches, his justifications had intellectual depth to it rather than mere superficiality. He recognizes how secularism would inevitably lead to moral relativity and the potential loss of spirituality would lead to materialistic values. He promoted the Malay agenda because there were structural barriers that could not be overcome if there wasn’t any state intervention. Of course when the notion of target a group to help already implies that some others would not receive that help.

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