Resurgence of racial rhetorics and revisionism

JAN 21 — With just months to the general elections, the Islamist lobby gathered its supporters in a mega convention — taking advantage of the political schism — in order to further its agenda.

The convention last week was organised by Ummah, a new umbrella coalition of around 300 Islamic NGOs which was formed just last year. 

If ever there is any doubt of Ummah’s cosiness with the status quo, one just needs to look at its launch last year at the Putrajaya headquarters of government-linked agency Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Yadim) whose former chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki is now a deputy minister in charge of Islamic affairs.

Most media coverage of the convention focused on the racial rhetorics and attempts at revisionism by two of the convention’s speakers.

The chairman of Ummah, cleric Ismail Mina Ahmad, had in his keynote speech claimed that it was only the Malays who stood up against invaders — from the Siamese, to the Portuguese, British, Japanese — and even the Communists.

This fallacy was rightly condemned, almost universally and from both sides of the political divide (save for Ummah-endorsing PAS) considering how well the contributions of non-Malay freedom fighters are documented.

But there was one part of the speech that was not widely covered where Ismail insinuated that the Malays have historically been the prey of the ethnic Chinese.

“‘Bintang Tiga’ had killed the Malays... who were these ‘Bintang Tiga’? I don’t dare to name them, lest I get sued,” Ismail had said.

We can all agree that Ismail is no historian but a quick read will tell you that “Bintang Tiga”, officially known as the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army, was formed by the Malayan Communist Party. 

When this was pointed out to Ismail at a post-convention press conference, he flatly refused to acknowledge the fact.

And yes, “Bintang Tiga” had targeted the Malays but only those who were not only suspected of aiding the Japanese, but even joined the Japanese police force that had targeted the Chinese.

Then again, Ismail is the one who just last year told Malay daily Utusan Malaysia that the Illuminati is real — that it is an invitation-only, Jewish, anti-Quran movement known by names such as “Skull and Bones”, and “Lucifer.” 

One clearly needs more than a pinch of salt when listening to his many claims.

Another speech that made headlines was made by retired teacher Raof Hussin, who insisted that scholarships are the constitutional rights of the Malays and Bumiputra, and therefore must be barred from non-Malays.

Ummah has since disputed the reports, claiming the speakers were misquoted; Malay Mail in particular was called out for these reports more than half a week after they were published.

Ismail’s racial remarks were reported by at least one other publication, Malaysiakini. Not only that, Ummah’s Facebook page itself had promoted the same Malay Mail article that it later disputed. (The post was still up at the time of writing).

And while Ummah claims that Raof was also misquoted, his remarks were similarly reported by at least one other outfit, Islamist-friendly Malay daily Sinar Harian.

Interestingly, most of the denials were not made by Ismail himself but were left to Ummah’s secretariat chief, Aminuddin Yahaya from the controversial Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma).

“I will just report it to Allah,” Ismail said, when asked if he wished to act on the alleged slander.

The situation here is clear: Ummah’s deflection was meant to serve its manufactured narrative that the media is out to get the Islamists.

Perhaps the simple fact is that the speakers were brazen enough to spout their racial rhetorics, because they expected the media to swallow their propaganda wholesale.

And perhaps, even knowing that there was media present, they were confident that they would not get caught. That the remarks would just swoosh by. This would explain Ummah’s lag in responding, even when its Facebook page had promoted a number of articles about the convention.

For some, the blatant racism and revisionism was shocking but it should not be. These remarks should once and for all dispel any doubts about the agenda of the Islamist lobby. 

They have not so much shown their stripes, but have merely decided that the situation is skewed enough towards their cause that there is no need to hide or mask their racism behind the guise of religiosity.

Well, the lobby can demand all they want but Malaysians should know that associating with Ummah is simply indefensible.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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