KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 — Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and those who fashion themselves “defenders of the Malay race” can be true heroes by working to end the country’s socio-economic ills and not in attacking the DAP or Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said.
The former de facto law minister took to his blog yesterday to defend the largely-Chinese party and its rising Malay star, observing the vitriol released by UiTM lecturers, administrators and other graduates during the 12-day campaigning for the May 31 May Teluk Intan polls that ended with the DAP’s loss to Barisan Nasional (BN).
“Perhaps they think this enhances their profiles and makes them suitable for promotion and contract extensions because they are ‘champions of the Malays’, but they are actually doing a disservice to academia generally,” wrote Zaid.
An alumnus of the university, the one-time de facto law minister noted the savagery of the attacks against Dyana, the DAP’s 26-year-old candidate in the Perak by-election and against her party, and said the display showed a marked departure from the original aim of UiTM’s promoters, which he said was to help the Bumiputera become world-class professionals.
The “racial indoctrination” at the Bumiputera-preferential university had gone overboard, he said, adding that the campaign of hate-painting the DAP as anti-Malay and Dyana as a “traitor” to her own race for aligning herself with a Chinese-majority party “made no sense” and was hurting UiTM’s reputation as an academic institution as well.
“To me, they shouldn’t make fools of themselves by airing their political views. It was unnecessary for the former Vice-Chancellor and the alumni to gang up on Dyana just because of her political beliefs,” Zaid wrote.
The 63-year-old related that when he was a student, the institute’s then director Datuk Arshad Ayub, had only reminded its scholars to study hard and make the most of the opportunity to improve their socio-economic standing and be useful to their communities.
“None of us were described as ‘traitors’ for our liberal views,” said Zaid, who went on to become a lawyer and founded the country’s largest law firm that bears his name.
“We were never told that the Chinese (i.e. the DAP) were out to take over the country or that Christians were converting Muslims en masse,” the Kelantan-born said.
He observed that most of the DAP’s members are “ordinary businessmen, Chinese schoolteachers, rubber dealers, pork sellers, shopkeepers, factory owners and shop-lot operators” who had no links to the ruling elite who could give them a leg-up economically with preferential treatment in public projects.
“They aren’t independent power producers like YTL and Genting. Indeed, those Chinese who usually get these prized assets are not DAP members, so what can ordinary DAP members do to pose a threat to the Malays?” he asked.
He also questioned if the “defenders of the race” considered the opposition party a threat because of its “Malaysian Malaysia” ideology.
“How can this slogan be threatening? It’s the DAP’s way of saying that all citizens are equal before the law, which is the correct position to have in any country in the world... except Malaysia, apparently,” the lawyer-turned-politician said.
Zaid, a former member of Umno and PKR, said the DAP’s ideology could not be worse than communism, and added that the party had a right to its brand of “skewed” political views in a free country.
He pointed out that the Chinese in the DAP were no different from the Chinese in the MCA, a founding partner in the ruling BN coalition.
“They all look alike. The only difference is this: Chinese in the MCA are willing to let Umno rule forever as long as they get some seats in the Cabinet, or are given some port and highway concessions from time to time,” he said.
Hitting out at the educators in UiTM who immersed themselves in petty politics and confused the student population, Zaid suggested they were the “real traitors to the Malays because they are supposed to teach Malays to be educated and skilled”.
He urged UiTM’s educators to return their focus on academia and find ways to deal with the social and economic diseases plaguing the nation, listing crime, corruption, poverty, drug addiction among Malay youths and the rising divorce rate among Malays as examples.
“Would it not be better if UiTM became a positive force for the betterment of its students and of society, instead of being involved in cheap politics?
“Attending to serious socio-economic issues is a lot harder than parading oneself as a defender of the race, but that’s what serious academics do if they really want to be true heroes,” Zaid said.