Saturday, May 30, 2009

Roosting Time…

You have very likely felt it for a long time: That, as Azmin Ali has recently proclaimed, Malaysians should reject Umno’s racism.” No doubt like you, a vast number of Malaysians have known that for far too long, Umno has been a racist party.

It is one thing for many Malaysians to have felt and known this, but it is quite another to see and hear individuals such as Azmin and numerous others willing to come out and educate the man on the street, or perhaps more rightly, the man in the kampung, that Umno has been nothing but a cabal that has exploited the rhetoric of communalism only for the purpose of advancing its patronage system for a few elite. Of course, again, many of us have known and realized this for some time now; nothing surprising about Umno’s record on this front.

But are we not now breaking new ground in Malaysian politics by seeing many of our Malay brethren spiritedly speaking out against Umno’s racism? Are we not seeing among many segments of the Malay population a serious questioning of Umno’s gross – and self-evident - mismanagement of a once well-intentioned and well-conceived idea for uplifting all poor people and for addressing the historical plight of Malays? Some of you might say, ‘well, but how could anyone conceivably continue to go on being oblivious to this fact?’ And, you’re quite right to be troubled about this lack of either awareness or acknowledgment (or both) of this fact.

Nonetheless, as the saying goes, better late than never. It is refreshing and reassuring to see public figures such as Azmin and others willing to speak to the man in the kampung in such a forthright and precise manner. Azmin’s comment that the “racist implementation of NEP has not only marginalised Indian and Chinese communities, but also the majority of the Malays,” is nothing if not forthright and precise. And it is equally, if not more a testament to the country’s awakening, that individuals such as Azmin are candid enough and conscientious enough to both recognize this reality and to call it for what it is – before an overwhelmingly Malay audience.

It is only when Malaysians begin to heed the fact that, as Azmin states, “Umno’s racist policy has forsaken the majority of Malaysians, especially those from the lower-income group,” will we be capable of taking the next step. Much progress has been made toward that next step.

Of course, it would not be surprising to hear the predictable retaliation from Umno, calling individuals like Azmin ‘traitors’ who are ‘selling-out’ the Malays. I suspect, Azmin is bright enough to know that and is prepared for such an onslaught; if such attacks on him do occur. These kinds of attacks might work at an Umno general assembly, among recipients of multi-million ringgit contracts. However, I suspect that more and more of the average Malay electorate is seeing past such obvious Umno-style character assassination tactics – while appreciating the fact that the Umno patronage system is rolling along no less to the severe detriment and deep expense of the vast majority of the Malay and non-Malay population.

Ironic, isn’t it? After all these years of supposedly promoting Malay progress, like their fellow Malaysians, the vast majority of Malays remain marginalized while Umno’s elite prosper. I have a feeling the average man in the kampung is seeing and getting this point.

You can say that, slowly but surely, the chickens are coming home to roost. And it should be obvious that Azmin and other like him deserve some credit for it.

G. Krishnan