Wan Fayhsal’s Malay Muslim PM demand: A tall tale full of sound, fury but little significance

I THINK we should take Bersatu Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal’s request that Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim amend the Federal Constitution to make the position of PM exclusive to Malay Muslims as seriously as the police should take a drunk person’s report that his partner is trying to steal RM1 mil from their joint business which they have yet to start.

There is nothing real about the contention. It is fully the product of a hypothetical imagination. A non-Muslim is nowhere close to being the PM of Malaysia.

It’s as Shakespeare says, “a tall full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. All this talk about a non-Muslim being a PM started when Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang brought it up a few weeks ago.

We don’t know why Kit Siang brought up the topic – maybe he was just thinking freely and some things came out of his mouth in flow – but whatever his reason was, what Lim Kit Siang spoke about is a theoretical possibility, not a real possibility.

Sure, the next incoming Yang di-Pertuan Agong has named DAP secretary-general and Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook as one of the more capable ministers in the cabinet.

Sure, DAP is the largest coalition partner in the ruling government. But despite all that, Loke couldn’t touch the PM’s position even if he tried to reach it with a pole and a ladder.

Theoretically speaking, it is possible that Tan Sri Tony Fernandes will quit his job as the boss of Air Asia and work as a waiter at a banana leaf restaurant in the next five years but realistically speaking, this will not happen.

At the end of the day, billionaires don’t work for the middle-class and in life; you are not able to order someone who is more powerful than you around for the majority will not accept the rule of a minority – even if legally and theoretically – it is possible for them to do so.

Dream time

In Malaysia, Muslims form the biggest identity group. When it is time to choose a PM for the country, there is of course a chance that they might choose to elect a non-Muslim as the PM instead of one of their own but the question is why would they do that when they don’t have to, need to or want to?

At the end of the day, identity matters in the selection of a leader. Just because your neighbour is a more accomplished person than your father, it doesn’t mean your neighbour is going to lead your family.

Your father will be the leader of your family, even if there are other people who could do the job better because only your father identifies with you and you can only identify with your father.

More than individual ability, organisational backing is the key to political power and strength. Even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who ruled almost like a king during his first reign was reduced to the position of helplessness when he did not have the backing of BN and UMNO.

It is organisational backing that magnifies the skills of a leader to the point that it becomes a force to be reckoned with. Organisational backing however, is always given to the individual or individuals that the organisation can identify with.

If there is non-Muslim in Malaysia who thinks that they are so superior in skill and ability, that they think they can convince the Muslims to back them as the PM of the country, I think they are having a really nice dream.

When you have multiple identity groups occupying the same polity, the strongest identity group will always take the dominant position for they will always award the top leadership position in the polity to the individual that they can identify with.

Wan Fayhsal is taking advantage

If a minority group is exercising authority over a majority group in a polity that they both occupy, it’s either because an external power is involved or an apartheid-like system is in practice.

Should the Muslims even attempt to amend the constitution to make the PM post available only to them? I actually think that the answer is no. The PM’s position is like trust in a relationship. If you have to demand it, you don’t have it.

That Wan Fayhsal is seeking Anwar to make the position of PM to be exclusive to the Malay Muslims is almost certainly a politically calculated move than it is a genuine request.

Wan Fayhsal is likely just using an issue that Kit Siang raised to put Anwar in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t and damned if remain silent” position.

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal

If Anwar says that he won’t amend the constitution to make the position of PM exclusive to the Malay Muslim, he won’t be able to gain the Malay Muslim support he needs to gain.

If he says he will make the PM position exclusive to the Malays-Muslim, he will lose the non-Malay Muslim support he has. If he stays silent, he will appear weak.

In response to Wan Fayhsal’s request, what I predict Anwar will do is stay silent and let everybody else respond to Wan Fayhsal beforehand. If Anwar jumps into the fray and has his say at all, it will only be after all the dust has settled.

By next week, this “amend the constitution to make the PM position exclusive to Malay Muslims” will disappear without a trace from our minds like a short rain on a hot day in May. – Dec 15, 2023


Nehru Sathiamoorthy is a roving tutor who loves politics, philosophy and psychology.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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