THANK you, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad or acknowledging the roles played by “non-Malay” political parties in shaping Bangsa Malaysia as a multi-cultural society with an ability to galvanise the multi-ethnic society based on consultation, bargaining, consensus and cooperation towards a united Malaysia.
It is also this spirit and the combined efforts therein that have freed the Malays, Chinese, Indians and others from colonial rule.
If not for the leaders of these ethnic-based political parties and our founder fathers – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun V. Sambanthan – this country might have been a part of Indonesia or Dr Mahathir would have continued to be a colonisee.
He would not have become a prime minister (PM) for 22 years and for a second time at the age of 92 for another 22 months.
Dr Mahathir mudah lupa (easily forgets) and tak tahu mengenang budi (does not know how to be grateful) that these are the values which the Malays are proud of as per the adage hutang budi dibawa mati (we take debts of kindness to the grave).
Maybe Dr Mahathir himself whose origin is from Kerala is not aware of the ways of the Malay and the practice of hutang budi.
It is not the “unwillingness of the non-Malays to assimilate into Malay culture including creating their own political parties” that contributed to the racial issues plaquing our nation.
It was Dr Mahathir’s book The Malay Dilemma, his rule and his racial rantings that have broken inter-racial bridges built and founded by Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman and the Alliance.
Dr Mahathir’s sins
Mudah lupa again Dr Mahathir has conveniently forgotten that ethnic political parties were formed because UMNO refused to open up to non-Malays.
Although UMNO founder Datuk Onn Jaafar wanted to do so, his intention was met with protest and he had to resign from his party.
Similarly, Dr Mahathir’s rule of 22 years has failed in his Vision 2020 and also created bigger divides with his “Arabisation” of the Malays in the name of “Islamisation”.
This has not only divided Malaysians along ethnic lines but also divided the Malays along liberal and conservative lines.
Over the years “liberal Malays” who used to be our pride and seen to be progressive and open minded are now looked upon with distrust and disgust as they do not have Islamic credentials and are mostly western trained technocrats.
Today, “liberal Malays” are frowned upon as if being open minded and a progressive thinker is a sin. This big divide among the Malays is the cause of the divisive society that we have today.
This is Dr Mahathir’s systematic breaking down of the foundation of Malaysia in the name of “nationalism” and subsequently “Islamisation” whereas in actual fact, Dr Mahathir was just using race and religion as a bait to perpetuate his authoritarian rule.
Oh yes! He had played the rakyat against the third “R” too when he turned the rakyat against the “royalty” in the 1980s that nearly triggered a national crisis.
In conclusion, it is not the ethnic-based parties that caused the divide but it was their wisdom and leadership that keep this nation intact and gained respect as a successful model for a multicultural society.
Many foreigners are in awe of and did a study of our multi-racial model of harmony and unity.
Lastly, Dr Mahathir was wrong when he compared Malaysia to Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia as these countries practise assimilation whereas in Malaysia, we have agreed to walk along the lines of “accommodation”.
We were successful until a pendatang from Kerala challenged the Federal Constitution, the Royal institution and our political conventions! – Sept 6, 2023
Senator Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker is MCA’s vice president.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.