The Proclamation actually shows up how the direction of the Malay polity has deviated.
When Mahathir rolled out Proklamasi Orang Melayu in March 2023, I checked if I had actually put on my reading glasses!
The Proklamasi transported me to the tumultuous 1940s or 1950s, or to the 1960s when discontented Malays pressured the Tunku government to improve their socioeconomic position.
Dr. Mahathir was already on the scene back then as one of Umno’s most vocal “Young Turks.”
Umno achieved their goal: Tunku resigned following nationwide racial riots and the New Economic Policy (NEP) was ushered in.
Not only did Tun Mahathir scale to the peak of power, he remained ensconced for 22 years.
If anyone had the opportunity to implement the NEP, it would have been Dr. Mahathir himself, being Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister.
Fifty years down the road, the glaring hard-to-accept reality is that poverty continues to plague not only the Malays, but Malaysians of all ethnic groups.
‘Malays have lost power because they are divided’
The Malay Proclamation states that the Malays have lost power because they are divided.
Consider these facts:
Who in 1987 fought with Ku Li, his main party rival, and caused Umno to split into Umno Baru and Semangat 46?
Who in 1998 sacked and jailed deputy PM Anwar Ibrahim resulting in the formation of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, hence the further weakening of Umno?
Who in 2009 staged a palace coup in Umno to dislodge Abdullah Badawi, his chosen PM successor, because it was said that Abdullah had stopped several of his former boss’ lucrative projects launched prior to his retirement?
Who in 2018 left Umno, formed Bersatu, and combined forces with the main opposition Pakatan Harapan to overthrow Umno and succeeded?
Who in 2020, as second-time PM colluded with Malay MPs of all shades, engineered the break-up of the governing coalition, resulting in the collapse of the government all in order to prevent Anwar from becoming the PM as had been promised?
If Umno is the icon of Malay unity, then who is the culprit instrumental for the falling apart of Umno? Tell me!
And if Malaysia had a “Guinness Book of Records,” Mahathir would win hands down the title of the Malaysian politician who has formed the most political parties!
‘Malay leaders are more concerned with amassing personal wealth’
Political connection opened the doors to treasure troves under Mahathir’s long reign.
Giddy at new heights of wealth and power, Malay leaders had all but forgotten their original mission of uplifting the ethnic group as a whole out of the doldrums.
Mahathir is right on this count — the direction of the Malay polity has deviated.
The real purpose: undermine Anwar’s multiracial unity government
The highfalutin Malay Proclamation is nothing but a remix of a stale tune.
It’s a classic case of the thief crying, “Stop the thief!”
He is the self-styled Black Knight who has been resurrected to “save the Malays.”
The real intent is to undermine Anwar’s multiracial unity government. And he seems to be addicted to “slaying” sitting prime ministers!
To this end, Mahathir has found an ally in another self-serving politician, Tok Guru Hadi Awang.
Under Hadi, PAS has taken on strong racist overtones, drowning out the non-racial, peaceful and universal values of Islam advocated by Tok Guru Nik Aziz and his predecessors.
Hadi’s burning ambition in his twilight years is to wrest power, distorting if need be, lofty Islamic teachings.
Both Mahathir and Hadi, long time arch-enemies, are now strange bed-fellows in their bid for power.
Desperate to achieve their personal ambitions, these two angry old men will not stop at playing with fire recklessly.
Heaping blame on others does nothing to improve the lot of the Malays
My heart goes out to my compatriots whose leaders drum into them that their backwardness has been caused by the presence of the Chinese and Indians obstructing their opportunities.
Heaping blame on other ethnic groups will do nothing to improve the lot of the Malays!
To thrive as an individual and as a society, we must accept diversity.
No man is an island; we thrive in our inter-connectedness.
All Malaysians, indeed all human beings, want to live in peace and harmony.
The racist rhetorical statements of Mahathir and Hadi sow division and animosity and throw wrenches in the works.
Misconceptions need to be addressed
The Malay community does have nagging perceptions that the Proklamasi has picked up and played up.
These concerns were reflected in the last GE15 and probably also influence the coming state elections.
Even if misconceived, these doubts, anxieties and prejudices will persist, and so they need to be addressed by the unity government with concrete results.
The widely accepted but conceptual Madani is not enough. To start with, Anwar’s government must conduct a study on the state of our people of all communities, particularly the state of the Malay community since the implementation of the NEP.
An honest appraisal will lead to more lasting, stable solutions.
A Big Push on a national scale that will build a ‘Madani Malaysia” is necessary.
(Charles Chia is Committee member of Monsoons Malaysia.)