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Ibrahim Ali needs to do a reality check

Tang Loon Kong

Posted in Free Malaysia Today

I have been a Malaysian for almost 50 years. I have friends from all races. Many of us grew up together and attended the same schools. The May 13 incident came when I was a seven-year-old in Penang. It was a tragedy because some disgruntled and demonic people wanted to change history.

But now somebody like Ibrahim Ali is telling Malaysians that there should be people, Malays, specifically, who are a ‘higher’ class than the rest of others, like Orang Asli, Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Kadazans, and others.

The clarion call of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ by Ibrahim Ali is inundated by herd mentality, as would be in a political party. Therefore, there is no need to debate with Ibrahim Ali and his likes on this issue because they have drugged themselves with a conundrum.

There is no possibility that the ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ was even implied in the Federal Constitution. At the time of independence (before I was born), the number of non-Malays were more than the Malays, and the startling fact was that the Malays were not as economically well off like the non-Malays, particularly the Chinese.

It is therefore conceivable that the founding fathers decided that a special position was needed for the Malays so they can improve economically, and move along progressively, as one of the factors of economic well-being for Malaysia.

This proves that there is no ‘Ketuanan Melayu’, and that ‘non-Malays are not welcome’. The non-Malays were already constituted in the Federal Constitution, and that was what mattered. Ibrahim Ali is harping about a time when the Malays were a recognizable race, were a majority. This would be more than 100 years ago. But at the time, there was no official definition of who a ‘Malay’ was.

One loose definition could be the Miao tribe in southern China. They have dark skin and are famous for their silver jewellery. ‘Miao Lay’, could have been pronounced as Malay by the westerners.

Anyway, there is a kind of drum they call gelendang (gendang in Bahasa ) and they have the shining sun as their cultural symbol at the sides of their geledang. (I’m using this supposition because when I studied history in primary school and secondary school, it was said the Malay people migrated from Yunnan, southern China, many thousands of years ago).

Once the clock struck at midnight on Aug 31, 1957, everybody became Malaysians. Their respective racial origins can only bear cultural appendages that make Malaysia a uniquely multiracial country.

Ibrahim Ali is trying to move the clock back before Aug 31, 1957. Maybe if UMNO supports him on his cause, it can get somebody to make a time travel machine like the one we see in ‘Back of the Future’, or travel through some black hole we see in ‘Star Trek’. Until then, Ibrahim Ali’s clarion call of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ insults Malaysians who are moving towards globalization, just for economic ‘survival’.

Make no mistake that Malaysia is a relatively small country. We have to ride on the wave of globalization, and no amount of rhetoric can avert this reality. Ibrahim Ali is an isolationist and he will destroy the country if he and his likes are allowed to gain prominence, because Malaysia is also about Sabah and Sarawak.

Combined with the other states in the peninsula, the concept of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ cannot logically stand. The natives of Sabah and Sarawak would not stand for it. They could not have joined Malaysia if this concept was present and accepted at that time when they joined to form Malaysia.

The concept of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ is in fact quite dangerous for the Malays. It tells the Malays to concentrate on land ownership (good only if agriculture was the only industry, which constitute a small population), but Malaysia is a very small and crowded place.

The concept also suggests to the Malays not to go out of Malaysia and embrace globalization and some Malays may become xenophobic underpinned by kampung-style politics.

When a race is self-serving and xenophobic, it self implodes, and becomes cannibalistic. In other words, it will self destruct. And in today’s world of cut-throat competition, there is very little possibility for second chances.

Ibrahim Ali is showing siege mentality like the Red Indians. Perhaps, he has watched too many cowboy movies where the Red Indians lose their land to the whites. This is the lousiest model he can ever use. He is saying there is only one way of things happening, that is the western way. He is absolutely wrong. The cultures of the East and West are quite different, and he should come out of his Plato’s cave, as he has been there whilst many things have changed.

The Chinese and Indians do not come and seize land of others. Their culture and philosophy do not encourage that. The Chinese came to this area and contributed to its economic and cultural development. Settling down in these areas meant that they decided to make a more permanent contribution.

Often, to many Chinese and Indians, it is how much one can give indicates power, and not how much one can take. If everybody gives in Malaysia and for Malaysia, it would be a better world.

This is the significant difference. For starters. Ibrahim Ali should watch more than just cowboy movies from Hollywood.

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