When Bersatu leaders endorse Malay Proclamation

Mustafa K. Anuar

The writer says Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Malay Proclamation is political, as the former PM blamed the existence of poverty among the Malays on the purported negligence of past Malay political leaders. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 10, 2023.

Commentary by Mustafa K. Anuar

BERSATU leaders eventually gave their support to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s initiative to unite Malays through the so-called Malay Proclamation launched recently.

Together with Bersatu deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu and supreme council member Iskandar Dzulkarnain Abdul Khalid, the party’s information chief Senator Razali Idris signed the documents because, he said, Bersatu is in full support of any effort to unite the Malays.

He added that the Malay Proclamation was an apolitical effort, which is far from the truth.

For starters, the 12-point proclamation is Dr Mahathir’s ideological platform to mobilise Malays, particularly political parties bent on chanting the mantra of race and religion.

The less charitable would insist this proclamation was Dr Mahathir’s desperate attempt to revive his political fortunes.

The proclamation expresses the fear of “the Malays” losing political and economic power to those outside the majority community, presumably the non-Malays.

Hence, the need to unite to protect the interests and rights of the supposedly besieged Malay community, with the advocates of the proclamation expected to be its self-appointed saviours.

This endeavour makes for good optics in Malay constituencies prior to the state elections in Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Negri Sembilan.

This explains why the former prime minister was able to recruit his nemesis PAS, which he vigorously criticised, if not ridiculed, in the past.

In his attempt to consolidate his political base, the two-time prime minister appealed to Malaysians to be unafraid of the “green wave”, referring to PAS of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) opposition that seems to be gaining popularity in the peninsula after the last general election.

To justify his appeal, the former Langkawi MP said Malaysians should not feel uncomfortable with PN as Malaysia has always been governed by a Malay-majority administration for over 60 years, and there has been rapid development during that time.

This rationale begs the question as to why PN is promoted when the sitting unity government is a Malay-majority one. Shouldn’t the current administration be given the chance to prove itself until the end of its term? Isn’t this proclamation purely political?

Besides, the losses, in terms of voters and deposits suffered by Dr Mahathir and his Pejuang comrades in the last general election should not be read as the political loss of the entire Malay community. There’s still life after Dr Mahathir.

Moreover, there are provisions in the Federal Constitution that safeguard the special position of the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak, Malay as the national language, Islam as the country’s official religion, and the position of the Malay Rulers.

This is apart from the fact the civil service is overwhelmingly Malay, while the armed forces and the police force, to name a few, are predominantly Malay.

The proclamation is political because Dr Mahathir blamed the existence of poverty among the Malays on the purported negligence of past Malay political leaders.

But this line of attack is also damning towards the former prime minister himself, as he ruled this multiethnic country for 22 years and 22 months, which makes some people wonder to what extent had he uplifted the living standards of the Malay poor.

That is why such critics as Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Abdul Karim accused Dr Mahathir of being partly responsible for the impoverishment of many Malays owing to the latter’s emphasis on privatisation and crony capitalism that had spawned millionaires and billionaires.

Little wonder that the gap between the rich and the poor in the Malay community is large, made critical by the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is more to this proclamation than meets the eye. – May 10, 2023.

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