Letter – Malays are now diverse, no longer just Umno’s

Malays are now diverse, no longer just Umno’s

By Hafidz Baharom

In former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail’s memoirs, The Reluctant Politician, his comments on the National Economic Policy’s pro Bumiputera policies are well noted. 

It is a handicap, just like in golf. And thus given time, it will need to be removed. 

This was the mindset in slowly removing the Bumiputera crutch. Unfortunately, it became too politically popular among the Malays as a way to win votes that it was maintained even at the cost of leaving the poor of other races to be taken care of their respective race based parties. 

However, I’m sure it is evident in Umno and even its allies the MIC and MCA that this strategy can no longer appease their respective supporters based on race. 

The truth is, the younger generation are no longer limited by race, especially in the urban areas. As such, urban Malays and other races will continue to be driven away by race based policies and overtones. 

To this point, we now see more urbanite youths joining political parties that are diverse – PKR and DAP being the two obvious ones. 

As such, all Umno can do is resort to name calling, going so far as to call the Malays joining the DAP as traitors to their own race. It is actually the opposite. 

To paraphrase multiple international politicians including the UK’s youngest MP Mhairi Black, the Malays did not abandon Umno, Umno abandoned the Malays. 

In their quest to appease their vote base, Umno decided to abandon their former liberal base in order to counter the growing conservative factions that supported PAS. We have seen this is their legislative agenda as well as the continued support of religious authorities regardless of how ridiculous they may be. 

In order to appease the poor rural Malays, they abandoned the urban Malays by letting the urban poor fend for themselves against the higher cost of living. This is obvious in the poorly constructed welfare programme of Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia or (BR1M). 

But more to such an end, Umno was willing to reveal to the Malays that it would cater to the ridiculous, unlawful actions of some, to maintain themselves in power. Street races for Mat Rempits, the abandoning of homeless by the side of highways, the support of a leader who received millions through questionable means. 

These made the Malays, especially the ones that the government themselves manage to educate through tertiary education, to question what the heck is going on. 

At the same time, the government no longer controls the source of informing the public – the Internet allows Malays, many with the ability to read websites in either English or Bahasa Melayu, to come to their own conclusions. 

Subsequently, those who are reading such articles are able to share their thoughts on social media to become influencers.

On top of all this is the issue of age. The median age for Malaysians is now 28.5 years old. Thus, what exactly is Umno doing to cater to the needs and wants of a 28.5 year old Malaysian who has a global viewpoint?

This is a question that all political parties must ask themselves. There is no longer an issue of Malays versus the Chinese and Indians, the Low Yat incident was further proof of that. You had a Malay youth junkie robbing a smartphone vendor, and Umno’s reaction was to create an exclusive Malay marketplace. 

Because somewhere in the twisted mind of Umno, the Malays won’t cheat the Malays. Instead of looking at why a youth became a drug addict, or even why he needed to rob a store of a smartphone rather than buy one – an issue of costs leading to crime, no doubt – Umno found it necessary to use the imperial old strategy of divide and rule. 

The Malays are now diverse, and to cater to it, Umno itself has become schizophrenic. They had a concert targeting youths banned in Sepang, while their president’s son went and stole the spotlight from an international DJ in Zouk Singapore. 

They say criminals should be punished, and yet willingly give Mat Rempits the streets of KL to race on. 

Constantly preach against corruption, and yet today had their own minister admitting that their president took cash from 1MDB – which was initially said to be a donation for whatever cause – I’ve lost track of just how many causes they said it was for. 

The bottom line is this – the Malays are not sheep nor stupid, not all of them at least. And thus, there are Malays who believe in the need for targeted affirmative action based on income groups instead of the entire race including the Datuks, Datuk Seris, Tan Sris and Tuns in the mix. 

Similarly, there are Malays who are liberal, there are those who are conservative, there are those who read articles all the way to the Wall Street Journal while others limit themselves purely to Harian Metro. 

Umno has failed to cater to this diversity. And as such, their loss is everyone else’s gain.

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