Zaid Ibrahim – The relevant Malay - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Malaysiakini : “I don't pretend to be a man of the people. But I do try to be a man for the people.” – Senator Gaius Gracchus in ‘Gladiator’
SuaraRakyat, have you any inkling who Commander Thayaparan is? He gave his best years of his life, laying his life on the line for this country, a whooping 25 years. He served during the Confrontation and during the height of the Communist Insurgency. I bet during that time you might have been a dirty glint in your daddy's eyes or still "swimming", correct me if I am wrong. For the better part of his life he served, the majority were Malays. He ate, slept with them, sweated with them and probably even bled with them.
He, I bet knows what a Malay thinks more than you Who are you to call him an armchair critic? He served by choice, don't belittle him. When people cast aspersions on the loyalty of the Non Malays in defending the country, he shot down that bunkum The only Malays who leapt to the defence of the Non Malays were General Arshad and his merry men, when other Flag Officers in the Army Navy and Air Force remained silent and allowed that slur to carry on without being challenged. - Major D Swami (Retired)
COMMENT | (Full disclosure, I
compiled and edited Zaid Ibrahim’s latest collection of essays,
‘Zaidgeist: Building Bridges for a Greater Malaysia’. Of great
assistance in this endeavour was ZI Publications, which in case you were
not aware has many interesting titles in their portfolio). Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim defines who an irrelevant Malay is here
- “They are those who talk a lot about the ‘right way’ and the ‘correct
way’, and they want us to think that they belong to that category of
‘right and correct’ people.
They use public spaces under their command
(because of their positions in the government) and they usually make
pronouncements that attract headlines in news media and amongst Facebook
users. They think that because they are able to issue sensational
statements, they must be making some kind of impact on society and the
country. They probably think they grow in importance as a result.”
A young Malay activist once said to me, if all Malay opposition
politicians were like Zaid, the opposition would not be able to take on
Umno but at least we would have Malay politicians who you could believe
would lead Malaysia to a brighter future. Malay politicians like Zaid
face that dilemma. Whenever some Umno hack claims that Zaid is out of touch with the
Malay community - which I suppose means those from the rural heartlands -
I have to ask, what does out of touch mean, exactly?
That he warns them that a dogmatic approach to religion cannot
withstand the vicissitudes of the modern world? That institutional
integrity protects them from the powers of the state? That entitlement
programmes have not benefited them if they have to rely on them forever?
That Malay right is a sham that protects the political elites but not
the average Malay citizen bereft of political influence and money? That
race-based policy which favour one race is morally suspect? That
modernity means more than just aping Western culture or that tradition
means more than just aping Arab culture?
Does all of this make Zaid out of touch with the pure simple people
that Umno claims they want to “uplift”? If it does, what does this say
about the state of the education system and the policies of Umno? Going by Zaid's definition of an irrelevant Malay, most Umno
potentates would fall into this category. If this holds true, this would
mean that Umno was composed of irrelevant Malays, which is kind of
funny when you think of it because this would mean that people have been
voting for a hegemon which is irrelevant.
But there is more to it than that. If you read the book ‘Zaidgeist’,
Zaid’s main concern is that the country and the political elites are
slipping into irrelevancy and when this happens, the country will turn
into one of those despotic theocracies that we read about and are
thankful that we do not belong to.
His criticisms of the Malay community are not that of a self-loathing
rebel but rather of someone who clearly sees that the direction the
community is heading - led by kleptocratic charlatans - will destroy
this country which is blessed with natural resources and a diverse
polity which is an advantage globally, if only we could get our act