Malays have too much power — Zaid Ibrahim

NOV 29 — It’s a common saying from the elderly and the wise: too much of anything is harmful. Now, I think the Malays have too much power and it’s gone to their heads. 

At the last general election, Utusan Malaysia and Umno actively lambasted the Chinese by casting doubt on their loyalty to the country and asking them to go and live elsewhere.  

When the Chinese, hurt by these accusations, understandably rejected the Barisan Nasional at the polls, Utusan had the temerity to ask, “what more do the [ungrateful] Chinese want?” 

Only people who have too much power will conduct themselves in the way Umno and Utusan have. To them, the idea of being sensible and reasonable is unreasonable and weak.

Of course, organisations like Perkasa will tell you that the Malays are losing political power and “enemies” are circling in for the kill. This narrative is attractive to some people, especially retirees like Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman who once headed the Election Commission. 

Rashid said he’d signed up with Datuk Ibrahim Ali (they are both from the famous state of Kelantan) to make sure that Malays don’t lose power. I cried with laughter when I read this. 

Surely the dear Tan Sri knows only too well that the problem with the Malays and their leaders is not that they are losing power, but that they have so much of it that they can no longer appreciate it. 

Powerful Malays today do as they like without care for consequence. They don’t think about national policies nor do they try to persuade and engage others. They simply impose their will and threaten those who disagree with them.

Right now, PAS and Umno are apparently forging a closer relationship and, to top it all off, the Malay Rulers are more vocal and assertive than they have ever been. Listening to all of them, you’d think that Malays and Islam are under serious daily attack and everyone must get together to defend the race and religion or perish. 

The problem is that we know the fears are just imaginary. This is why, besides the rhetoric, none of these “champions” has ever bothered to spell out the accusations or to give hard evidence of what terrible things the Chinese/Christians/Jews/Liberals and so forth are actually doing. 

Not only do these self-created fears exist entirely in the heads of leaders in Umno, Utusan and Perkasa, Malay power is actually reaching its zenith under the present Prime Minister. We will have to wait and see what this new power will do to Malays in general. 

We can already see some of its effects: Malaysia is the only Muslim country in the world who can claim proprietorship to God’s name . This can only happen when the Muslims have too much power for their own good. Even for weekend rest days  we keep changing them; because no one can questioned us.

In such an important portfolio as education, we have two Ministers, two Secretaries-General and two Directors-General and over 50 separate departments. Only a group with too much power will organise things this way—and it is this same group that sends its children to private international schools or public schools in England but asks the rest of their people to learn Arabic and Bahasa Melayu. 

Now, coming back to the historic meeting between two of the largest Malay-Muslim political organisations in the country: PAS and Umno. What do you think they will talk about? 

I don’t think it’ll be how to improve education for the people or about enhancing skills and improving English for the global economy. In fact, I don’t think the economy will feature at all. There will be no talk about increasing development funds for Kelantan  ‘ or returning the oil royalty to the state coffers ;or helping them solve the  water problem.I don’t think they’ll even talk about improving state religious education. 


They just want to talk about hudud (which neither party will implement), Islam (which the Holy Quran has declared to be perfect and protected by Allah—therefore nothing needs to be done, right?), and the threat of liberals, NGOs and alliances like Comango. That’s what too much power does to you.

Moving on to better things, I was fortunate yesterday to have been a guest of Bank Negara Indonesia at a Forum in which the various political parties assembled to talk about important issues for the Indonesian general election in 2014. 

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made an excellent presentation. He urged Indonesians to think about economic issues and urged both all political leaders to work together to bolster the country’s performance.  

He spoke about enhancing capacity building and overcoming administrative gridlocks. He warned about decreasing imports from large economies and the tightening of money flows from the United States, which has helped Indonesia over the past four years. 

He spoke about the need for infrastructure enhancement, especially in the provinces, and challenged presidential aspirants (from his own party and the opposition) to put forward good policies.

Not once did he speak of “enemy forces” working against Indonesians, Islam or the Pancasila. Not once did he rely on false paranoia to gain cheap political capital. Instead, he urged his people to unite to make Indonesia a world economic power. 

That is my kind of leader: honest and inspiring. My kind of leader knows that power is limited so he must govern with care because his days are numbered from the moment he takes office. 

He or she believes that political power may be used only to discharge the sacred duty to the people while maintaining the principles of democratic government. 

It’s a tough job to govern responsibly. Umno and other Malay leaders have yet to learn this.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malay Mail Online.

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