Top posts

Featured Posts

Najib's speech a disaster for moderate Malaysia, signals start of a hardline regime

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

If Prime Minister Najib Razak is feeling the heat, it is not surprising. Other than hardcore supporters, he failed to impress Malaysians with his racial emoting and violent language at the much-watched Umno annual assembly, reflecting the citizenry' growing sophistication and underscoring the time warp that he and his party warlords seem to remain trapped in.

“I don’t understand why the Prime Minister feels the need to focus on those who challenge the Constitution and its provisions on the position of the Malays which are under Section 153. Who are these people, because so far as I know, no one has done that? But what I do know of is there are many who have criticized the implementation and abuse of Section 153,” Ramon Navaratnam, past president of Transparency International, told Malaysia Chronicle.

But who is challenging Section 153 and what does it actually state

Indeed even the Pakatan Rakyat led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim clearly states in its manifesto that it would defend the existing federal constitution, including Section 153, the position of the Malay rulers and Islam as the country's official religion.

Recently, in a reaction to Umno’s growing use of racism to solicit favor with the Malay electorate at the expense of the minority races, Anwar’s daughter Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah had detailed what Section 153 actually stated in a widely-praised series of articles entitled Malaysia or Malaysaja. Pakatan leaders have long urged the BN government to make the Federal Constitution a part of schools' syllabus, but the proposal has been  rejected.

Ramon - but no one is challenging S153
On Thursday, in his policy address, Najib warned of the prospect of racial cleansing such as in Rwanda and Bosnia if Malay rights continued to be challenged.

He not only ignored the fact that Section 153 does not state that Malays have special rights or rights that are above the other ethnic groups - although there are clear provisions that the Malay community is entitled to special positions in the economic and educational sectors - he even warned against any debate or discussion on the matter.

But this is how the Umno elite has been calling it for the past decades. They often insist that any interpretation other than theirs is an affront to Malay 'supremacy', a traditional race-championing tool used to tie the Malay community to it.

Failed to repeat remarks made to MCA audience to Umno audience

Indeed, to many Malaysians, Najib's comments were clearly racist and served only to confirm their views that his 1Malaysia plan reeked of insincerity and could be mere hype to trick the non-Malays into a false sense of comfort.

Tony Pua
“I am disappointed that Najib didn’t tell the Umno cohort that the Chinese and Indians are not penumpangs like he told the MCA delegates,” Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said on Twitter.

“Absolutely, the acid test which Najib failed was not saying it in front of the 4,900 Umno delegates who needed to hear it,” said PKR vice president Sivarasa Rasiah in response to Tony on Twitter.

Both opposition leaders were referring to the Malaysian Chinese Association’s annual assembly held earlier this month, where Najib had tried to ingratiate himself with the audience by saying the Chinese and Indians should not be called kaum pendatang (or migrants).

But even then, pundits had taken bets amongst themselves whether he would dare say the same thing at the Umno assembly. (Click to read  In calling MCA to be less demanding, Najib kicks his own "ass"...)

Full marks from Mahathir and BN media

The BN-controlled media has expunged the most 'sensitive' of Najib's comments from their reporting. (Click to read Najib warns of 'crushed bodies', 'lost lives', 'ethnic cleansing' if status-quo not kept...).

In fact, different newspapers slanted his speech to suit the community they served. For example, in the MCA-owned Star, Najib was portrayed as a defender of the Chinese and other minority groups. His speech was hailed as a beacon for multi-racialism and it was even reported in an article entitled A Delicate Balancing Act (scroll below for full story) that he was referring to Perkasa in his speech.

Sivarasa and Tian
"Najib’s speech clarified issues that had stirred the Malays in the past year, much of which had to do with Perkasa. He did not mention Perkasa even once throughout his speech. It was his way of saying that we are what we are, and we can be what we want to be. We do not need NGOs like that to tell us who we are or what to do."

"Sad to say, that is the Star for you. Najib must stop being a coward and trying to be different things to different people. I would point out to the Star that Mahathir's lavish praise for Najib's comments leave us all in doubt that the last people he was referring to was Perkasa and the Umno right-wing. It is clear Najib has reneged on 1Malaysia and he has exposed himself to be a hypocrite," PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

Perkasa is an Umno-linked ultra-Malay rights group and has been responsible for some of the most extremist and racist rhetoric heard in Malaysia for decades. Perkasa, whose patron is former premier Mahathir Mohamad and also counts Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin as a key supporter, has also been busy lodging police complaints against those who supported Najib's proposal to replace the New Economic Policy – an offshoot of Section 153 – with a New Economic Model.

"I have said this before when I was president, and Najib is reinforcing this. They don't really understand the contents of the constitution. If you hold on to the original agreement, there is no problem. When people want to make changes that all this while had not been allowed, that would spark tension among races," beamed an obviously pleased Mahathir when asked to comment on Najib's speech. .

"What Najib said is that we have a formula that has worked well for the past 50 years, so why do you want to change it? Why bring up issues that only cause tension among all races?"

Disastrous speech, signals death of 1Malaysia and NEM

The 85-year old has been one of the most vocal opponents to Najib's 1Malaysia and New Economic Model. He put his foot down when Najib and his supporters tried to put Umno onto a multiracial path and distance their party from Perkasa, which has caused enormous damage to Malaysia's image as moderate nation. Najib's latest capitulation is seen as a white flag and an acknowledgment that he needs to U-turn from left to right if he is to survive a challenge from Muhyiddin in Umno's election next year.

Mahathir - back with a vengeance!
The NEP is an affirmative action plan that aims to eradicate poverty amongst all races especially the Malays who formed the bulk of the poor during the time of Malaysia’s independence from British rule in 1957. But its implementation has been sharply abused by the Umno elite spawning endemic corruption and massive siphoning-out of the country’s wealth.

But to protect what pundits say actually amounts to an “Umno scam”, party leaders especially Mahathir have  promulgated programs that aimed to increase the racial divide amongst the ethnic groups and keep the Malays beholden to Umno .

These programs include courses run by the National Civics Bureau or BTN, which in the guise of patriotism, advise their civil servant-participants to be wary of the other races. Past attendees have shocked with revelations that many BTN lecturers refer to the Chinese as being as cunning as the Jews, the historic enemies of the Muslims, and Indians as ‘pariahs’.

Nik Nazmi - disastrous implications
In his controversial speech, Najib also signaled that Umno leaders would not hesitate to use force to retain control of the federal government.

“I think the implication of his speech is disastrous. Is he recommending Umno to resort to force to defend Putrajaya (the administrative capital) should they lose through constitutional means?” Nik Nazmi, PKR communications director, told Malaysia Chronicle.


A delicate balancing act  (Star)

The Umno president’s speech had the approval of both his predecessors but the question is whether his party is ready to implement his call for change.

DATUK Seri Najib Tun Razak is the only Prime Minister who has to deal with two former premiers in the background.

Yesterday, for the first time since Najib took over the Umno reins, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were both present at the opening of the party general assembly.

Dr Mahathir had made his presence felt as a VIP guest since Najib’s very first assembly as Umno president, listening intently to the presidential speech each time. But it was Abdullah’s first time on opening day since stepping down.

Some people thought it was a good omen to see the two Tuns together but they were not really together.

There was a sort of “buffer zone” between them, made up of several VIP ladies, including the wives of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

Relations between the fourth and fifth prime ministers are still cool to say the least and during the tea break, it was Najib’s turn to play buffer with one Tun on his left and the other on his right.

Politics is often a delicate balancing act and Najib has handled the two Tuns with finesse.

Abdullah’s support for Najib has been intrinsic. Dr Mahathir, on the other hand, has been rather stringent in his opinion but he gave a sound approval to Najib’s presidential speech for the second year in a row.

The speech evidently resonated with the older man in the way it stressed the continuity of Umno’s role as a Malay party, the need for Malays to succeed now and in the future and, more importantly, to change the way they think and act.

It was what Dr Mahathir had said many times in his time except that Najib was now putting it in a more thoughtful and measured way.

“It was a political education kind of speech. He made it clear that Umno will always be about the Malays and that doubts that the Malay agenda had been sidelined was so unnecessary.

“He was telling that so much time and effort had been spent defending things that no one can really take away from the Malays.

“At the same time, Malays cannot just rely on the Constitution that protects their rights to be successful. They must also show ability and capability. They have to change their mindset,” said Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

It is easy to overlook the fact that Najib has been Prime Minister only since April 2009.

Said Bagan Pinang Youth chief Najib Isa: “I realised it only when he mentioned in his speech that he has been there for 18 months. It feels like so long because he has done so many things – tackling the economy, the party, and Barisan Nasional.

“The thing now is for the results. It has to be soon and effective for us to get the feel-good factor. Then we can talk about the general election.”

Najib’s speech clarified issues that had stirred the Malays in the past year, much of which had to do with Perkasa.

He did not mention Perkasa even once throughout his speech.

It was his way of saying that we are what we are, and we can be what we want to be. We do not need NGOs like that to tell us who we are or what to do.

Although Najib spent a big part of his speech reassuring his members that the party will always be about the Malays, he was basically calling for Umno to change and transform.

In that sense, his speech was about Umno’s survival in the new political climate.

The message is well understood by the top and middle echelon. The ones on the ground will need more time to absorb the implications. But the big question is whether the party is ready to put into practice the change. -Ends

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog