Rais Yatim Should Take Dr M S Advice And Learn From The Chinese

"Stupidity got us into this mess, and stupidity will get us out." – Homer SimpsonNegri Sembilan Bersatu chief Rais Yatim's recent tweet that Malays should learn the lesson of accepting “other races” when dealing with the Rohingya has not gone well with certain quarters. Rais (photo, above) should be learning from two-time former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, instead of blathering online.You have got to give it to the stupidity of certain political operatives when they turn an issue with has broad-based “racial” support – which, granted, sometimes degenerates into populism and nativism – and turns it into a “ketuanan” spiel. Such spiels usually are ahistorical and filled with the usual propaganda that has got the Malay political establishment into the messes they find themselves in
The recent raid on undocumented immigrants and refugees is a strategy that could have been handled in a way which does not feed into narratives of oppression and heavy-handedness but, again, what can you expect from a kakistocracy
If the idea was targeted testing, then these raids should not have been carried out. Instead, the main idea was intimidation and what this does is encourage the very people you were targeting to test to attempt to avoid detection, hence, causing more problems for the frontliners
Why is Perikatan Nasional causing more problems for frontliners, especially now we have thrown the movement control order (MCO) out of the window? The MCO should be lifted or relaxed but only if the state comes to a conclusion based on facts, data and widespread testing
I may be in the minority - I am definitely not part of the cult of personality that the Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (below) has managed to foster – but I have serious reservations about this government's response to the pandemic and the lifting of the MCO
The harassment of journalist Tashny Sukumaran with the accusation of hate speech, in case some of you were not aware, Section 504 of the Penal Code is essentially the attempt by the state to address hate speech – “To counter hate speeches, the police now invoke Section 504 of the Penal Code (intentional insult to provoke a breach of the peace) and Section 506 (criminal intimidation). For hate speeches via social media, Section 211 of Act 588 (dealing with offensive content), can be considered.”This is also another attempt at intimidation. The fact that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission has been "ordered" not to bring charges against the Hong Kong media is further evidence of the arbitrary and bias application of these laws
But what lessons can Malays learn from the colonial era when it comes to dealing with the “others”? Well, here is the thing. The reason why the Rohingya are here is that successive Umno/BN regimes and political operatives from the Opposition advocated for their place and welfare in Malaysian society
When these "foreigners" become successful and start gaining economic relevance at the expense of the majority, they suddenly become a threat. I addressed this in my last piece. The problem with Muslim solidarity when it comes to the Malaysian experience is that it also means racial solidarity
This is why the Malay political establishment is always whining about how the “Malays” are split and that the pendatang (migrants) are ruining their place under the sun. The fact that the majority race is constitutionally defined and there is a pandemic of constitutionally created “Malay” acerbates this issue
Now we, the non-Malays, say we helped build this country, and we did. Immigrant communities, and this includes the Rohingya community, are sustaining and funding the very system that the ketuanan types use to divide us
Instead of blathering on about how the Malays are being mauled, Rais Yatim should just learn the lesson from the architect of modern Malaysia. He should slowly digest the nuggets of wisdom, which fall from the lips of the master of mainstream Malay politics
Mahathir acknowledged that far from being mauled, foreigners built this country. "If we take out the Chinese and all that they have built and own, there will be no small or big towns in Malaysia, there will be no business and industry, there will be no funds for the subsidies, support and facilities for the Malays. Learn from the Chinese," he said. You see, even with all those special rights, the majority are in trouble because of the mismanagement of the state, while foreigners – excluding those who are suddenly considered “Malays” mostly because of religion – have thrived in a racist system
Meanwhile, those pendatang who are favoured because of their religion are making full use of the system – financially – to make better lives for themselves. Who can blame them? But this puts a strain on the average "native" Malay struggling to survive after years of indoctrination and a religious bureaucracy which hampers economic activities
Even Mahathir acknowledged the inequalities of the system when he said: “The Chinese in Malaysia have no special rights, they experience discrimination. But they are more successful than us."Then, of course, there are the state's narratives of “foreigners”. No, not the Chinese and Indians – not this time – but the diaspora of foreign workers who came here because nobody wants to do the jobs they are willing to do
The reality is that “Malay” leadership has failed to encourage an eco-system of competitive independence that would temper the consequences of the decades-long immigration and labour mismanagement that have damaged the Malay community
But of course, these policy issues are not conducive to the kind of racial and religious politics that Pakatan Harapan and Umno/BN rely on. Instead of ceasing funding or cutting back on funding corrupt religious bureaucracies, what the government continues to do is blame the people who are the product of failed government policies
And as far the colonial system is concerned, Mahathir acknowledged how spiffy it was: “Yang tidak dapat dinafi ialah British membawa sistem Pemerintahan yang lebih baik dan Negeri-Negeri mengalami sedikit sebanyak pembangunan.” (What is undeniable is that the British brought a better system of government and some states experienced development.)Of course, he also said that the Malays “tak bekerja” (don't work), which is why all these pesky foreigners always manage to find work that the majority do not want to do. Hey, do not shoot the messenger. I am just quoting what the arch defender of Malay rights and privileges is saying about the community he supposedly champions
Rais should also pay attention to the class inequalities when it comes to the majority that Mahathir lectured to in his "tak bekerja" blog post - “Nasib kita di tangan kita. Memarahi orang lain tak akan menyelesai masalah kita. Bilangan kita dikatakan bertambah. Tetapi jumlah besar orang yang miskin tidak dapat bersaing dengan jumlah kecil orang yang kaya.” (Our fate is in our hands. Scolding others won't solve our problems. Our numbers are said to increase. But large numbers of poor people cannot compete with small numbers of rich people.)Or maybe we can’t have the Malays questioning why their community is under threat, that things have not changed after decades of Malay rule and, perhaps, the appointments of non-Malays into positions of power could be the kind of change that benefits their community. Like it did when a colonial power established a system of governance which the old maverick claims had some merit
And some folks say I am anti-Malay

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired barrister-at-law, he is one of the founding members of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan. - Mkini

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