Thursday, December 4, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

The recent flare-up about Mukhriz’s comments regarding abolishing vernacular schools really ought not to have surprised most of us. Quite frankly, I’m anticipating a barrage of ultra-nationalistic and ‘race-baiting’ rhetoric to surface for the coming weeks as the drama and suspense builds up to the grand gathering in March of the demagogues of ‘Ketuanan Melayu.’

I see Mukhriz’s remarks about doing away with vernacular schools in the context of a long tradition and legacy within UMNO. As others have also already observed, there is no mystery that such sectarian laden rhetoric is of course all about jockeying for votes for the leadership posts within UMNO. I’m of course amused by the various voices lashing out that his remarks are indeed tantamount to being seditious. Needless to say, I’m of the persuasion that if the regime applied the same standards it invokes on others, Mukhriz should of course be taken to task and charged for such ‘seditious’ remarks. But then, we all know that the UMNO machinery is notorious for its double-standards. So, I won’t be holding my breath expecting the police to charge Mukhriz.

On the contrary, I’m waiting for the action and drama to pick up momentum and to get fully underway. If history is any indication, this ought to be another festive season for the aspiring UMNO brass to make demonstrative, and by no means subtle, gestures about affirming the culture of ‘Ketuanan Melayu.’ Of course, almost by definition, such a phenomenon is rooted in a racist doctrine. Therefore, not unlike the sectarian spirit embedded in Mukhriz’s recent reference to vernacular schools, the cast of characters vying for a piece of the limelight not just at UMNO’s grand gathering, but ultimately for a seat at the table of the UMNO brass, will be doing what many others in similar shoes have done before them. That is, revel in the frenzy of ‘Malay supremacy’ and, by implication, in not so subtle ways, re-legitimate the racial apartheid that is the cornerstone of the mantra of ‘Malay supremacy.’

If the practices of those opportunistic UMNOputeras who have gone before is any indication, there will be no effort to articulate a constructive vision, ideas or set of goals for the forging of a healthier democracy. There will be no genuine debate and dialogue about how UMNO can better engage with the other non-Malay parties and be a catalyst for advancing the vision of an inclusive and genuinely mutually-respectful coalition. Absent also will be any emphasis on UMNO’s responsibilities, as the dominant party within the BN, to all Malaysians.

No, you will also not see Koh Tsu Koon of Gerakan gracing the gathering of UMNOputeras, as the head of UMNO had done back in October at the Gerakan party conference. And you will certainly not find the Gerakan or any other non-Malay BN party president chastising the leadership of UMNO for its failures in providing the necessary pragmatic and moral leadership. But it was certainly acceptable for
the UMNO president to chastise Gerakan for its failures.

It is very revealing indeed that the leader of UMNO can stand before the gathering of another BN party gathering and essentially criticise the latter, but you won’t find a non-Malay BN party president given the courtesy, let alone have the audacity, to critique UMNO and its leadership at the latter’s own party gathering. That is only predictable as we know that it is ultimately reflective of the master-servant relationship between UMNO and the other BN ‘partners.’ No amount of sugar-coating can disguise this truth.

Needless to say, it will be a cold day in hell before anything like the above will ever happen. On the contrary, as in the past the UMNOputera ultra-nationalists at their forthcoming gathering will indeed be looking to reward those among the candidates for high office within the party who can most reassure them of their superiority vis-a-vis the non-bumiputeras.

And as many aspiring politicians and opportunists before him have done, Mukhriz has demonstrated that he’ll not disappoint the hardliners in the UMNO base. He’s only following in the steps of – and mimicking - some of his unscrupulous and flawed predecessors.

Stay tuned….the show has only just begun.

G. Krishnan