UMNO Malay Agenda: Enhanced Cronyism and Corruption

September 1, 2016

UMNO Malay Agenda: Enhanced Cronyism and Corruption

by Cmdr(rtd) S Thayaparan

Image result for Najib Le Crook

UMNO is corrupt and morally bankrupt

In Malaysia, everybody knows that Malays are the masters of this land. We rule this country as provided for in the Federal Constitution. Anyone who touches upon Malay affairs or criticises Malays is [offending] our sensitivities.”

– Former Umno Youth information chief Azmi Daim

So at this recent forum about where the “Malays are at”, various political operatives who claim to represent the “Malays” did a whole lot of chinwagging about the state of the Malay union. See what I did there? Never mind.

Anyway, the UMNO representative Razlan Rafii made two banal observations which best define Malay supremacy which was (1) “This is our struggle, we should press on without stopping. When do we stop? When the New Economic Policy (NEP) achieves 30 percent (equity for Malays)” and (2) “This is our country, if we want to talk about the struggle for Malays, then the special privileges should not be questioned and it should be granted to Malays indefinitely.”

Image result for Najib Le Crook

The Le Crook and his Super Le Crook

I have read the Malaysian constitution a few times and nowhere does it state that “Malays” are masters of the land and only they should rule it. But why bother even pointing this little fact out? As the UMNO representative has made it clear with his two contradictory statements, the NEP defines the ‘ketuanan’ concept and should be enforced indefinitely even though its supposed targets have been achieved.

Thirty percent equity for Malays is UMNO dogma brandished by party’s high priests as the means to encourage the perception that there are somewhat noble underpinnings to overtly racists’ policies and rhetoric. It is not as if this orthodoxy has not been challenged before.

Image result for Lim Teck Ghee

  Malaysia’s Leading Public Intellectual Dr Lim Teck Ghee

Malaysia’s leading public intellectual and academic Dr Lim Teck Ghee challenged this years ago when he resigned from the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) after Asli withdrew a report that claimed that “that bumiputera ownership of corporate equity in the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange had exceeded the 30 percent target.”

The Asli report is not the only research that made this claim. A university research paper by Universiti Malaya academician Dr M Fazilah Abdul Samad claimed that “30 percent bumiputera equity ownership as targeted under the government’s New Economic Policy had been achieved about a decade ago.”

Whenever orthodoxy is challenged, the cottage industry of aggrieved UMNO/Malay supplicants respond, attempting to outdo one another with proclamations of bruised sensitivities. While the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi regime attempted to present the findings as flawed because of suspect methodology, there was no rebuttal in the form of methodologies used by UMNO which determined that the magic number had not been achieved.

However, as Lim eloquently put it, “It is understandable why Perkasa and similar parasitic groups are raging away at the corporate equity issue. The ultra-nationalist movement badly needs issues that can burnish its credentials as the protector of Malay interests and derail the structural reforms the country needs to flourish.”

Is fear the main motivation?

PKR’s Siti Aishah Shaik Ismail, meanwhile, claimed at the forum, “There are many things that were used to frighten the Malays. Malays are sensitive when it comes to issues of race and honour but certain people use this to gain votes.” Which begs the question, how have parties who claim that they want an egalitarian system dispelled these so-called fears of the ‘Malays’?

To wit, if something is holding you back, if you realise that your fears are a barrier from reaching your true potential, then surely steps should be taken to address the root cause of these fears. What are those fears? That the ‘Malays’ will lose control? That Islam will be supplanted as the religion of the federation. Is fear the main motivation of ‘Malay’ supremacy?

Image result for Academic James Chin

Academic James Chin

As the ever reliable James Chin argued last year in The New York Times – “Promoting Malay supremacy not only undermines government accountability; it makes for unsound economics. Take Proton, the national car project that was started in 1983. For years, a slew of tariff and non tariff barriers have been applied to foreign cars in order to keep the made-in-Malaysia Proton comparatively cheap.

“But Proton, the car, is of poor quality and its production has yet to reach an economy of scale. And Proton, the company, has asked the Malaysian government for some $700 million in subsidies. Yet Mr. Mahathir, now the chairperson of Proton, argues that the state must continue to protect it because it buys parts mostly from Malay vendors and employs almost only Malays.”

If the so-called oppositional Malay leadership, aided and abetted by mendacious non-Malay power brokers, continue to shovel the same horse manure to the people who have not benefited from these so-called privileges, then I would argue that Malay supremacy is not really about the oppression of the non-Malays but rather the continued oppression of the Malays. As I said and will keep saying, “I would argue (and have) that there is not really a sense of ‘ketuanan Melayu’ in the general Malay community but rather a ‘ketuanan UMNO’ that has been the dominant expression of ‘Malay’ nationalism.”

In addition, it is not as if UMNO has not realised that the system could go into a cascade effect which would be bad for everyone, especially the base that sustains the UMNO behemoth. Over the years, various UMNO potentates have attempted or at least mooted various recalibrations to the system to ensure the country’s survival and UMNO’s continued dominance.

Even UMNO under President Najib Abdul Razak made a go of it before descending into the 1MDB rabbit hole. From the same article by Chin, “When Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak came to power in 2009, he convened a group of economists to devise a new economic plan. The panel recommended replacing the existing racial preferences with need-based policies that would help any Malaysian, regardless of ethnicity, at the bottom 40 percent of the population in terms of household income. After encountering strong opposition from within UMNO, Mr Najib dropped the idea and instead established yet another agency, Teraju, to encourage bumiputera participation in the economy.”

It would not surprise one bit if the strong opposition not only came from UMNO but also from various quarters of the Malay opposition, who saw it as an opportunity to bolster their Malay credentials and from non-Malay opposition operatives who saw it as just another opportunity to question the sincerity of Umno and engage in a little bit of pragmatism.

Image result for syed saddiq syed abdul rahman

This brings me to Bersatu’s Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman (above) who said that there needed to be a revival of ‘Malay’ identity. I take this to mean besides the stereotype of the Malay as a rent-seeking Islamic bigot, that the Malay community needs to stop parading about in Arab drag and reclaim those cultural practices that are deemed anathema to UMNO/Malay culture.

The question is what kind of new political environment does Saddiq envision? As far as I can tell, the goal of removing Najib seems to be paramount instead of actually sparking off a Malay reformation.

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


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11 thoughts on “UMNO Malay Agenda: Enhanced Cronyism and Corruption

  1. Stealing, corruption, abuse of power, wrecking of not just institutions but really any semblance of a sustainable system of governance is “the struggle”. Then struggle has lost its purpose..

  2. There’s also abuse of the term from political science “The Social Contract” in
    1Malaysia. The actual meaning is – sovereignty comes from the people and if there is gross misrule by the regime in power, the people have a right to remove the regime from holding power, and replace it with another.

    Here in 1Malaysia, it has been twisted to mean that in return for granting non-Malays citizenship in 1957, the Malays (meaning UMNO) will dominate the polity forever.

  3. Who is scarier, Razlan Rafii that lumps criminality with “the struggle” or Rahman Dahlan who admits to MO1 but argues its OK despite the fact MO1 broke our laws but not punished? Answer, they are all the same group or more accurately RACKETEERS or organized criminals..

  4. A well written piece by the good Commander.
    It seems to me that the very definition of ‘Malay’ is at the root of ‘Melayu’ angst.

    The ethnogenesis of ‘Malay’ is fraught with myths, legends, denial and a large dose of unwarranted entitlement. To this day, the Malays themselves have difficulty defining themselves – whether constitutional or otherwise.

    The only communality that they insist on, is the religion of Islam – and that too, is being debated no end. Anyone perceived to be outside the ‘Norm’ becomes a heretic’. Their tradition and culture is an amalgam of Animist-Hindu-Buddhist-Islamic-Arabic tenets. Yet their Austronesian genes are infused with a polyglot of ‘Others’.

    They have a whole host of ancestral tribal roots – from Achenese, Bajau, Cham, Suluk, Javanese, Minangkabau, Riau, Bugis to Mamak – each with glaring differences in cultural and traditional mores. Even the sireh leaf will wilt and the slaked lime curdle.. The only constant is the betel nut, which nobody chews nowadays.

    Then they divide themselves into ‘State-hoods’, like Johorean, Kedahan, Kelantanese, ad infinitum.., in accordance to their perceived loyalties and royalties.

    Equality for the typical kampong Malay is a function of political division over an irrigation ditch. The society is strictly stratified into ‘Who you know and not what you know.’, with the UMNOb dedakers at the pinnacle of the Totem Pole. Their Feudal world is defined by overt materialism, post-nominal Awards and Titles. Anyone of ‘Means’ must have a minimum honorific, which accounts for the thousands upon thousands of Dato’s/Datuks.

    Is it a wonder, why they need to be told who and what they are, by authoritative figures? They need Overlords.

    Unless they sort themselves out, all this talk about egalitarianism, progress and inclusiveness is just hot air. Only when they discover self-reflection, self-worth and confidence can they release their grip on False Pride and perpetual Handouts. Easier said than done, eh?

  5. Where are the voices and actions of Malays?
    It is now a Malay-Malaysians struggle and challenge.

    The other Malaysians had already done their jobs-exposing, rendering MCA and MIC irrelevancy in the context of serving the people,for a better and progressive Malaysia.

  6. Cronyism and corruption are now in the genes of UMNOputras. So if you want to steer clear of that trait make sure you don’t get attached to anything UMNO to keep your gene pool clean.

  7. The Malays used the Quran to justify the guilty acts and absurdity of their continued rhetoric… a powerful tool that has ingrained and indoctrinated the minds of extremist groups like Al-qaedah, Al-shabab, Boko-haram, Daesh, Taliban, Mujahideen, Hamas etc…

  8. Wrongways, UMNO Malay achieved notorious corruption! Check the facts, some here:
    Where’s the fact, its just news about MACC investigating the Chairman of Bank Rakyat and the Managing Director of the Bank. There was noever any mentioned that they are UMNO Malay. The Chairman is a retired General.
    There is a difference between Facts and Allegations. Be very careful about allegations presented as facts.

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