Since the 12th General election in Malaysia, where the ruling coalition had its worst performance, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), led by none other than the Deputy Prime Minister (read here), Malaysia’s fading dictator, Dr. Mahathir (read here and here) and Malaysia’s latest Malay chauvinist par excellence, Ibrahim Ali (Read here), have resorted to tried and tested method of putting fear into the Malay community that the opposition, led by two formidable and respected Malay leaders – Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) spiritual leader, Ustaz Nik Aziz, are doing the bidding of the Chinese dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) and that Malays would loose out by supporting them.
In case it was ever in doubt, the Malay community should be assured that Malaysia will always be led by a Muslim – who will then constitutionally be a Malay. This is because of how the Federal Constitution has been developed and interpreted, the demographic change in Malaysia and the political parties that make up the electoral competition.
1. The Federal Constitution
For a comprehensive explanation on why the Federal Constitution will always be biased towards the Malay/Muslim community, please read Goeff Wade’s “The origins and evolution of ethnocracy in Malaysia.” (Read here)
In brief, Wade argues that:
“…The constitutionally mandated special place for the Malays provided for in the 1948 Constitution and subsequently in the 1957 Constitution has been used as a basis for all manner of exclusionist and discriminatory policies which have become increasingly socially encompassing.”
No political party in Malaysia is challenging the Federal Constitution or more specifically, Article 153 which provides for the special position of the Malays. What is being challenged is of course the abuse and corruption that comes in the name of Article 153.
For an interpretation that is commonly accepted by Malaysians of Article 153 (except for the Malay chauvinists), please read a well researched article by Art Harun (read Visiting the Malay “Rights” and The special position of the Malays).
2. Demographic change
The Bumiputera community is now the largest community in Malaysia erasing the almost perfect balance between Malays and non – Malays in the immediate post independence period. Helen Ang has two excellent articles that demonstrates that the non – Malay community is no longer a threat to the Malays demographically.
She argues in “Honey, I shrunk the Chinese” that:
“…In another short 25 years, Chinese will only be a mere 18.6 percent of the population. They will soon fall below the sustainable threshold for propagating their culture, and their diminishing numbers will only increase the pressure for assimilation – something Chinese are reluctant to do.”
Hence, despite their economic clout, a dwindling Chinese population will not be able to muster much fight for their “culture” against the majority Malay.
In another article, “Honey, I shrunk the Indians“, Helen Ang describes the sorry state of the majority of Indians. This demonstrates clearly that with only 7 percent of the population and without any economic or political clout, the Indians cannot be a threat to the Malay community.
3. Political parties
Only the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) has a national reach and who are physically present throughout Malaysia except Sarawak. No other party, be they in the ruling coalition (Barisan Nasional – BN) or the opposition coalition (Pakatan Rakyat – PR) has UMNO’s reach.
On the side of the opposition, the two largest parties are the Islamic Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and the multiracial Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). PAS is exclusively Muslim but who are now actively reaching out to non Muslims (Read Muslim party reaches out) while the PKR has a strong Malay base.
The Democratic Action Party (DAP) which has the potential to become a mass based party, has for reasons best known to them, remained in urban and semi-urban areas where there is a significant Chinese presence. Malays have not taken to DAP as much as non-Malays have taken to PAS.
Hence, the fear among Malays that they will loose political power is unfounded. Malaysia, under the present circumstances, will continue to be a country that is governed by the Malays.
The propaganda by UMNO that Malays will loose political power reflects UMNO’s fear of loosing power. Malays can be confident that any party that have a realistic chance of leading the government, will be predominantly Malay.