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Muhyiddin rewrites history

By Mariam Mokhtar
Here we go again, Umno rewriting Malayan history.

The first was in late August, when the whole of the Umno machinery turned on PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and accused him of being a communist sympathiser.

For years, Mat Sabu delivered the same speech about Merdeka day but this year, in the run-up to the 13th general election, his speech was closely scrutinised and manipulated by Umno and its mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia.

Mat Sabu is perceived by Umno as a great threat. Why? It is because he dared to challenge the authorities’ version of Malayan history.

Mat Sabu had questioned why Mat Indera, the Malay freedom fighter who attacked a police station in British Malaya, had been called a terrorist. In Mat Sabu’s estimation, Mat Indera had called for and fought for, a free Malaysia. His embrace of the communist ideology was simply a means to an end.

However, Umno considered Mat Indera and other Malays like him, terrorists. They were conveniently brushed out of our history.

The bottom line is that Umno wants everyone to believe that only Umno had been responsible for liberating Malaya from the British. Furthermore, Umno wants the rakyat to believe that all Malays “belong” to Umno and have done since the 1950s.

Umno refuses to accept that not all Malays support Umno; they don’t now and they didn’t in the 1950s.

Back in August, the condemnation of Mat Sabu made headline news and he became Utusan’s new whipping boy.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Zainal Kling of the National Professors’ Council continued the lie that the British never colonised this country. The news took the Malaysian public by surprise and so Umno organised roadshows with professors, former policemen and ex-Inspector-General of Police Haniff Omar, trying to convince the public that Malaya was never a British colony.

Muhyiddin’s version

Umno’s second attempt at rewriting history was yesterday, at the Umno general assembly and party conference.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin declared that his party could have formed the government at Independence, without the help of other races.

According to him, Umno’s willingness to co-operate with the MCA and MIC in the 50s helped deflect accusations of racism and helped bring about independence.

Umno, he said, had won the majority vote in the first general election post-Merdeka and therefore, “we are not racist… we were willing to share power with others despite our ability to form a government on our own before independence”.

It is puzzling that, when Muhyiddin made his claim, the leaders of the MCA and MIC did not protest. Muhyiddin’s insult was as good as saying to their faces, “You are a pendatang and you should be grateful to us Malays for ‘sharing’ power with you and that we didn’t turf you out.”

Perhaps Muhyiddin places little value on the inter-ethnic cooperation in which the Alliance (Umno, MCA and MIC) had displayed since 1954. Muhyiddin ignores the fact that the Reid Commission of 1956 accepted proposals from the Alliance upon which to base our Constitution. Muhyiddin belittles the contribution of the non-Malays.

Last October, Mat Sabu warned us of Barisan National’s (BN) 3R strategy of race, royalty and religion, designed to spread lies about the opposition and create fear in the rakyat.

Mat Sabu revealed the modus operandi that he alleged BN would use, to recapture Selangor. More than 180,000 foreigners had been given voting rights. Most had not declared their nationality in the electoral registration and thousands had registered as double-voters and were in possession of two different identity cards.

Mat Sabu warned the Eelection Commission to adopt Bersih 2.0’s eight demands to clean up the electoral list and accede to Bersih’s demands: “Or else, we are prepared to launch our Bersih 3.0 rally at any time.”

Today, we find that BN pre-empted Berish 3.0 by banning street protests with the Peaceful Assembly Bill which it rushed through Parliament.

With BN’s 3R strategy of race, royalty and religion, Muhyiddin said last week that “the DAP wanted to set up a republic when they suggested that the prime minister be elected directly and not be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong”.

The deputy prime minister condemned the DAP for failing to see any good in the Malays amid claims that those who were in league with DAP were traitors.

Said Muhyiddin: “The Malays should not fall into the trap because the intention of this racist party is to just use them for their own benefit.”

Umno’s false promises

Using the sultans to turn the public against the opposition is a convenient ploy of Umno. In 1983, Umno leaders said nothing when Mahathir criticised the sultans publicly and stripped them of their powers. Today, the sultans, whom the Umno leaders have befriended for the sake of mutual survival, easily take offence at the remarks of professors and opposition politicians.

The rakyat may be afraid of being termed republicans and of being accused of sedition, but it is doubtful that the rakyat will accept another Perak-style fiasco.

Muhyiddin knows that not all Malays benefit from the New Economic Policy (NEP). Ordinary Malays are aware that the NEP only rewards those who are close to the Umno elite.

The majority of Malays are poor. The middle-class Malays will not speak out for fear of losing their new station in life. They do not realise that with a new order, they could progress further and be in a position to help the less fortunate Malays and non-Malays.

Muhyiddin’s government has not dealt with the sex scandals, the financial abuses and other improprieties linked with Umno politicians. His government is also responsible for the unexplained deaths of those in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the police.

Perhaps the Umno Malay is proud that he can rob the rakyat of their hard-earned cash. To date, the police have not found any criminal breach of trust with the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s alleged swindling of public funds.

In the civilised world, a minister linked to any whiff of financial misappropriation (or sexual scandal) would resign to clear his name. Not in Malaysia.

Honour, especially Malay honour, means nothing to the Umno leaders. Arrogance, obstinacy and denial are the order of the day.

The Malays who have not benefited from Umno’s false promises should know how to vote in the 13th general election.

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