The Malays are victims just like everyone of us. For us to be free, we have to help the Malays to be free.

If you hate Umno, you’ve got to love the Malays!

Posted on 05/03/2014 - 09:30

Wong Chin Huat

OUTSPOKEN: Many people don’t realise an important fact about Umno: they have many faithful supporters amongst the non-Malays.

No, I am not talking about their non-Malay cronies. I am talking about non-Malays who may themselves vote against Umno or BN, but for every anti-Umno or anti-BN vote they cast or mobilise, they over-compensate by delivering a few pro-Umno or pro-BN votes.

Confused? The logic is actually very simple, though counter-intuitive.

Umno supporters: Type A v Type B

Core to Umno’s ideology is this equation: Malays = Umno and Umno = Malays.

For the standard Malay supporters of Umno, with whom we all are too familiar, the logic then goes: since Malays = Umno, if you love Malays, you must also love Umno. Let’s call them “Umno supporters Type A”.

Now, at the other end of the spectrum, you will find also non-Malays who believe in Umno’s ideology. For them, since Umno = Malays, if you are harmed by Umno, then you are harmed by the Malays. If Umno is your enemy, then the Malays are your enemy. Logically, next, if you hate Umno, you would hate also the Malays.

And, if you cannot or dare not get even with the powerful Umno, you take it out on the Malays weaker than you, on the Malay language, on Islam. You run them down whenever you can. Even if running down the Malays, the Malay language or Islam does not hurt them, you at least feel better.

I am sure you have come across these people. I call them “Umno supporters Type B”.

On the surface, Type A and Type B cannot be more different. But when you examine their behaviours and the consequences, you will realise that they work towards the same direction: sustain and increase votes for Umno.

The difference: Type A tries to pull more Malays towards Umno while Type B tries to push more Malays towards Umno. In other words, Type A helps Umno consciously by replicating themselves, while Type B helps Umno unconsciously by multiplying Type A.

Act, react and interact

You find this logic mind-blowing? Arh, that is because you have been indoctrinated to believe that every ethnic group is autonomous in their behaviour.

In other words, Malays act the way they act (as if there is only a single way to act) because they are Malays, not because they are responding to the non-Malays. Or, non-Malays act the way they act (also as if there is only a single way to act) because they are non-Malays, not because they are responding to the Malays.

Generically, if “they” are bad, that is because “they” are “who they are”; and “we” are good because “we” are “who we are”.

The truth of course cannot be further than this. We don’t just act. We react and we interact.

Whatever prejudice or stereotypes we have about others are actually how we try to make sense of the world so that we survive better.

If you are a member of X and you have just by chance been cheated or harmed consecutively by members of Y, you may conclude based on your experience: the next Y you encounter will also aim to cheat or harm you too. You may soon firm up your belief: “all Ys are against all Xs, so all Xs must unite against all Ys.”

And you know what, if you and other Xs will now act hostilely against any Y, the Ys will also gang up to act hostilely against you, the Xs. Your belief will be vindicated.

It’s called “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

Dismantle or reinforce the prison?

Who started the process? Many like to blame it on Umno, some others would blame it on the diversity of our society. I think the question is simply not useful or relevant.
If racism is a prison that locks us all in, how could we possibly know who laid down the first brick? Without realising it, everyone builds the prison to protect ourselves from each other. But with mutual distrust and fear as the bricks, the walls just gradually grow higher by the day.

We resort to racism because it makes us feel safe, not realising eventually we just lock each other in, and waste our lives to hold each other back. What may be individually rational in some circumstances but turn out to be collectively most irrational.

The most useful and relevant question here is: how do we dismantle the prison?

But does everyone hate the prison and want to dismantle it? It may not be so if you actually may benefit from it while you forgo freedom like everyone else.

Here’s the real problem with Umno. While other groups can be more racist than Umno, Umno is the most powerful player in the political system and it stands to gain the most from preserving this common prison that we are all in.

Its political fortune depends on two things. First, the Malays remain backward and dependent on the government’s protection. Second, everyone especially the ethnic minorities is paranoid about the occurrence of ethnic riot or political violence in general.

As long as these two factors are in place, Umno and BN can stay in power just by playing the role of the champion of Malays and the arbitrator of inter-ethnic conflicts.
Now, if ghostbusters will suffer structural unemployment once all the ghosts are gone, can you expect them to exorcise all ghosts?


Macam mana? So how?

Get everyone especially the non-Malays to love the Malays, stop any projection of anger against Umno onto the Malays, the Malay language or Islam, embrace the Malays’ problems like their own, because like it or not all Malaysians swim and sink together.

Trust me, I know many non-Malays will react very angrily towards my call by now. “We are already neglected by the government who loves only the Malays, and you ask us to love them even more? Why can’t they love us first?”

And you can expect criticisms coming from other directions too.

The hardcore Type A Umno supporters will say: “You see, the non-Malays would never genuinely love us. If they really love us, they should just accept Ketuanan Melayu, rather than loving us so that we become less dependent of the government and all Malaysians may become equal someday. It’s an evil conspiracy!”

And the race-blind idealists will say: “Why should we repeat and reinforce the racist framework imposed by the regime? We should just completely forget about ethno-religious labels. Mind you, there are the indigenous people and estate Indians who need more desperately our love and attention.”

In an ideal world, these three groups will all be correct. The Malays should love the non-Malays first. The non-Malays should love the Malays without any political motives in mind. And, with that, we will be colour-blind, need-driven in solidarity and social work, just pure anak-anak Malaysia.

But because this is not an ideal world, we have only two choices.

First, continue business as usual, allow Umno to claim that “only Malays will help Malays”, and stay in power for perhaps 10 more years.

Second, no matter how you do it, love the Malays, make them less dependent on Umno, so that the self-proclaimed ghostbusters can be exorcised soon together with the ghosts. At least, never be a Type B Umno supporter, no matter how bitter you feel or how badly you are provoked.

Albert Einstein said it famously: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

Should we now fight Umno with love (for the Malays)? Your call really.

Dr Wong Chin Huat is a political scientist at Penang Institute. He believes the most relevant question to ask in Malaysian politics may not be "why", but "so how?"