Malaysia: Ideological Fragmentation of Malay Polity

August 19, 2016

Malaysia: Ideological Fragmentation of Malay Polity

by Shahril Ahmad

The emergence of Bersatu, with its cadre of disenfranchised UMNO rebels, further muddies the waters of Malay politics.

Muhyiddin Yassin–Interim President, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia

There are still plenty of wishful thinkers in the establishment who cling to the old notion that the Malay vote is monolithic, but the wealth of information we’re getting from the alternative media, especially social media, tells us that there are conservative Malays, moderate Malays, liberal Malays, even anarchic Malays spread across the length and breadth of the country.

Malay society is indeed living, breathing and evolving as it tries to come to terms with the rapidly changing world we live in. One of the effects of these changes, helped by the information explosion, is the rapid expansion of ideologies. Anyone who has his ears close enough to the ground knows that with every young Malay going to the right, there’s probably another going to the left and another to the middle.

With this ideological fragmentation, space has opened up for different parties with different ways of thinking, and this is reflected in the major players in the race for the Malay vote.

PKR, Amanah, PAS, Bersatu, and UMNO all vie for roughly the same electorate, regardless of PKR’s enduring and much appreciated decision to keep membership open to all races.

Amanah is as close to a progressive Malay party as has been seen in decades. PAS appeals to the ultra-conservative elements of Malay society. Bersatu, PKR, and UMNO vie for the vote of those on the fence and around it. UMNO has generally been considered centre-right despite the occasional outburst of extremism, and until recently was more of a palatable option than PAS with its occasional frothy manic behaviour.

There are ideological quirks that separate PKR, Bersatu, and UMNO from each other. PKR has a reformist agenda, UMNO is distinguished by its pro-Bumiputera policies, while Bersatu has a more inclusive definition of Bumiputera.

Bersatu, being newly announced, is still something of an enigma, and so cannot be fully analysed just yet, but it has promised a different way of doing Bumiputera politics.

The Malay identity is just as varied as the parties named above, and so each has its particular audience within the community. It’s hard to predict who will win out in the end although one must give UMNO an edge because it has control over the instruments of state. Bersatu probably still needs time to emerge as a viable contender, and the other opposition parties still have some way to go to repair their battered image, except perhaps Amanah because it too is still new.

Regardless, the ideological fragmentation of Malay society is beginning to be reflected in our politics, and that can only be a good thing in the long run. Ultimately, of course, we should all be working towards a political system that is not race-based.


17 thoughts on “Malaysia: Ideological Fragmentation of Malay Polity

  1. The Malays are in a mess today. They basically do not what they want except money. Being unable to cope with uncertainty they turn to religion and commit acts of perversion with it. A confused people cannot be expected to govern Malaysia. –Din Merican

  2. The mess is like the Arab Springs confused by the so called soft power as rightly said in context link:
    The thinking, mindset and systems are still semi-colonial , no innovation and new creation of Malaysian rigtways of doing and solving problems.
    Those persons were and are powers are corrupt absolutely.
    May i drawn the attention to former Finance Minister Daim case, also a daring in stock and share markets, his son is a declared a bankrupt?
    Link for context:

  3. Malay historical and cultural roots in its modern definition are never well defined but are corrupted by political leaders who degraded their values and hijacked it for personal greed and material gains. That is why it is really messy. They could not come to term with the reality that they like everyone else who live in Malaysia, post Merdeka or Malaysia Day, ” We are Malaysians first”.

  4. Lee Chong Wei beats Lin Dan in badminton quarter finals !
    Congratulations, a true champion.
    And kudos to Lin Dan, who fought for every point in the
    deciding set.

    Politics divides us in 1Malaysia.
    But may sport unite us in other ways in Malaysia !

  5. I beg to differ about Datuk Din about confused Malays. There is no confusion. The majority of Malays have been brainwashed with Malay rights to handouts and imagined threats of minorities taking away such rights and making their lands unholy. That bigotry is more pronounced in Malaysia is state driven. The same bigotry exists globally. The problem in Malaysia is all the constitutional check and balances for a democratic country has ceased to exist and handfed Malays have led to a majority of people who needs such handouts to survive.

    One cannot expect a turnaround of the situation, simply because a new political entity has arrived, unless that entity has a superior makeup or competitive edge. Bersatu bring nothing new, it is simply another old sword into the battle. Instead, the situation will deteriorate, simply because the number of players in the field will accelerate the propensity for the corrupt to increase the rate of looting as they see the closing of such windows of opportunities to loot.

    Until such time Malaysia faces a national disaster, or a free fall of the ringgit with massive inflation, no political change can be expected. The country will simply go into a slow decay in productivity and competitiveness, and it will be the masses that suffer because they have never had to be competitive. In the end, the product of NEP will be the opposite of the goal. In the long run, Malays will suffer. The fruits of self preservation and selfishness will always be bitter. That is what faces all the Malay elites, who see it happening, and yet unable or unwilling to steer the disaster that their own cannot see. No outsiders and infidels will or be able to help. The only way out is what Jaaffar Onn envisioned for the country and for that he was ostracized. Nothing has changed.

  6. It’s not ideological fragmentation. It’s ideological failures that leading to fragmentation. In other words, it’s wrong to say for every young Malay that goes to the right, there is one going to the left. It’s more accurate to say for everyone young Malay that goes right and/ or further right of the right, there is one who do not know where to go.

    What young Malay want is everything they imagined and told possible and grew up believing it’s their right but most incapable of getting there themselves, their promised future a lie they know not much less why

  7. There is no ideological fragmentation here. The Malay based parties are all about hanging on to their Ketuanan Melayu-Islam privileges which are paid for with the blood and sweat of the nons.

  8. It is sad for the Malays that they just want money. Its the paper money that they want, without so so much as putting hard work and Effort . Actual or real money comes from hard work like our counter-part like the non-Malays who put in great amount of Effort in our Nation’s gross national product – the term really is PRODUCTIVITY OF TANGIBLE ITEMS , WHICH CONVERTS THE EFFORT INTO ‘ MONEY ‘ . After all Cash money that they want is ‘ paper money ‘ , and paper money can be printed to represent or to reflect the gross national product of tangible goods and items ( from Industries and Enterprises ).

    So, this business of Money Hand=outs by the Govt , yes it does help the Needy, but in overdoing it, Authorities are inculcating the habit of GETTING FREE MONEY. The total Community becomes hooked on this psychology of getting free money (paper money without productivity of tangible goods ) , and future generations become DEPENDENT on it ( the tendency to get hooked on ‘ Drugs ‘ )

    Malay community should be taught from small to embark on hard work in order to convert their Effort into money……not to be hooked or dependent on FREE money.

    ( No apology for my blabbering )

  9. If there is ever a “positive” side to 1MDB, perhaps we can argue that all these sudden open discourses of a hitherto taboo subject typified by the above article would not have happened had it not for 1MDB, by now an international scandal.

    Why is it so?

    Is it because 85.5% of the major players are Malays, representing the whole spectrum of their race in social-community rankings? Or that one of them happens to be the privileged son of a privileged class of parents?

    “Privileges”, Constitutional or otherwise, earned and unearned, legal and illegal, is now brought into the public domain for open discourses, without fear or favor.

    Perhaps because of 1MDB, (publicly exposed to have been involved in financial scandals that make history even in scandal weary America, and by people who have no axe at all to grind about Bumiputra “special rights and privileges”), the national socio-economic hurt of which cuts across all hitherto restricted racial boundaries make such discourses not only cogently acceptable but actually crucial at an arguably a most critical juncture in Malaysia’s national life and its future direction as a viable and hopefully vibrant nation.

    It is also heartening to see that the Malays themselves are leading the discourses, (as it should be for they are the racial majority and therefore having a bigger stake), albeit some of them far from the country’s shores.

    Just as the People’s Republic of China wants to erase forever the label of “Sick Man of Asia”, surely the Malays too would want to erase forever whatever generalized negative perceptions other races and nations have of them?

    Nothing improves oneself more than self-criticism.

  10. /// james August 19, 2016 at 9:38 pm
    Until such time Malaysia faces a national disaster, or a free fall of the ringgit with massive inflation, no political change can be expected. ///

    The time will come when the oil fields run dry……..

  11. Rotting fish heads? Balderdash..! Down with such asinine quotes!

    Anyone who knows basic ‘biology’ or corporate-organizational psychology will dispute that age-old aphorism. Because it’s neither factual nor true. All putrefaction starts from the alimentary tract. That is the virtue of ‘Dedak’ (chickenfeed). What is usually observed are flies and maggots settling on the head, but does nothing to reveal where the putrescence actually starts.. Plain wrong!

    Firstly, it assumes that the Leader’s will is all determining. However, decay, rot, spoilage and corruption etc in corporations and indeed political parties, start when ordinary members to office bearers, big and small, comply with the tyrannical aims, venality and the toxicity of their superiors for their own self interests.

    Secondly, for a political leader to disrupt and destroy the ideological basis of the party, they need corrupt enablers – who do it out of fear, favor, malice or having the identical views and approach So much for BTN and our quality education that breeds contempt towards a holistic moral-ethical conscience.

    Thirdly, there must be an organizational structure to enable such toxicity. Accountability, transparency and competency that are essential ‘immunological’ tools are hindered and neutered, instead of being encouraged so that the keel can be set even again.

    Fourthly, all senescence, decay, morbidity, ossification etc requires time, mutual agreement or at least passive acquiescence to reach a Critical stage when it becomes a Criminal Enterprise instead. When that happens, Engineers call it ‘A Cascading Failure’.

    Why am i blabbering about this when it comes to Malay political fragmentation? Because very few Malays are well versed in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, law, math, engineering and almost any other existential subject of importance. They are only ‘good’ in politics of rent-seeking and entitlement or buying religious indulgences for their afterlife and with that, cashing in.

    Now, I am waiting for curses to rain down on my doggy head. Any takers?

  12. Exactly as you say in you last penultimate paragraph CLF ……..nobody seems to realize that being the politikus, the tikus keep gnawing for free food in the garbage bins, in the sewage and filthy drains for maggots, slugs and viruses for daily sustenance – the only difference is the fact that these creatures do not bodily breakdown, they have evolved for million of years , AND got into their system the total immune system for perpetuating their species for millenium….. humans do not have such Body Immune system, and will as easily croak…..

    So what’s great about the ‘human’ creature ?

  13. Quote:- “Now, I am waiting for curses to rain down on my doggy head. Any takers?”

    Not me. I am off to sign up for course in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, law, math, engineering and almost any other existential subject of importance.

    Funny that you did not mention home economics as I need to balance my tight budget to pay for all those courses of existential importance.

  14. Wrong Wayne. The fight among the Malays over the 1MDB issue is all about greed. All the Malays care about is their share of the loot as promised by their special privileges.

  15. We are so concerned with our health, well being and the wealth to take care of our seven generations. But all this has nothing to do with our morality. No mater how healthy and wealthy you are, how powerful you are your morality in the hands of factors unknown to us. Just like Corporation that declare strong financial positions they can collapse because of factors beyond the control of the CEO. Saying that all is fine and you need not see a doctor is not a better option than saying that you have a problem and see a doctor immediately to correct the problem. In all that man tries to do discipline is the most important quality that should guide us.
    TL Man,

    I am touched by your comments. Discipline maketh a man. If I may add, humility defines him. Money is just purchasing power. For a 77 year old like me, it is no longer about dollars and cents. It is payback time to society. Unfortunately, I cannot make any contribution to the country of my birth, after trying for nearly 8 decades.

    Here in Cambodia, I am appreciated for my work at the University. It is a great feeling to be working with young Cambodians, and sharing my knowledge and experience with them. I feel good every day.–Din Merican

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