Editorial: Malay Dignity – Fact or Fiction?

By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Someone asked me what has gone wrong with the Malays in this country? Must they organise a congress specifically to identify problems affecting their dignity? Sounds odd indeed. Or was the meeting in Shah Alam on Sunday, October 6 an ill-conceived attempt at serenading their weaknesses and the need for additional privileges over and above what they are enjoying at this material moment? Don’t they realise these privileges are already assured and enshrined in the Federal Constitution?

Whichever way one puts it, to my simple mind, it is nothing but a sham and an affront to level-thinking Malays like yours truly. Who are they trying to hoodwink this time around? It was all fine pre-May 13, 1969 when the position of the Malay community hit rock-bottom. Well, then they did not possess numerical superiority like they do today. The number of non-Malays was almost at parity.  When you don’t have the number the tendency is to shut up. However, when numbers is on your side the opposite is true. That is the situation today.

The nation’s wealth then was almost entirely in the hands of foreigners, especially the Brits through their huge conglomerates and estates. Non-Malays, for whatever they were worth then, had a fair share of the pie and the beneficiaries were the rich Chinese towkays and tycoons. Some owned large tracts of virgin lands where tin-prospecting was the order of the day. Others utilised these lands to plant rubber when the commodity was highly sought by warring countries.

I do not envy the Chinese for they, like their forefathers who left China to seek fortune in South East Asia, slogged their guts to amass wealth with nothing but their bare hands and wits as tools. They were opportunistic, nonetheless, but who would not, considering their disposition then and now. Had the Malays done the same they would not be left so far behind.

But there again, this is easier said than done. Although there are exceptions to the rule their number is small. And who do you fault? The answer is pretty obvious – politicians with an agenda to pursue.

Molly-coddling the Malays, being the majority race, is a worthy pursuit notwithstanding the financial burden and ensuing physical stress. Keeping them happy and contented with false hopes and dreams was and still on the lips of every Malay-based political party, especially Umno. The Islamist party, Pas, unfortunately, is just an unwelcome bedfellow. Unlike Umno, it neither has the strength nor the sustenance.

It is an open secret that almost all 200 Umno division chiefs in the country are billionaires, as evidenced by the ongoing court case relating to the estate of the late Jamaluddin Jarjis who was killed, along with five others, in a helicopter crash in Semenyih on April 4, 2015. Jamaluddin was a close ally of former Prime Minister, Najib Razak.

When Utusan Malaysia, Umno’s one-time media appendage, went belly-up none of them cared to throw a lifeline. That alone is an indication of the rot within the now-disgraced party. The party leaders cared less for their underlings. Their one and only desire is to amass as much wealth as possible regardless of the source and the means. The welfare and good name of the country do not matter. And yet they go around claiming that they are being marginalised and taken advantage of.

So when someone talks about Malay dignity, the one question that keeps popping in my head is – is it fact or fiction? My answer is simple. It is fiction in every sense of the word. The two fundamental weaknesses prevalent in most Malay leaders are trust and credibility. These shortcomings affect our dignity (maruah) in more ways than others.

Neighbours – friends or foes?

My 3-year-old white-coloured moggie, Lucky, decided to go beyond her established limits in search of games one evening. She does not venture out as often as before as stray dogs are aplenty in my neighbourhood. Although she is able to stand on her own against the canine intruders, age has definitely caught up on her. She sleeps often these days preferring to go out only when there are familiar faces under the porch.

Lucky’s younger companion, a 10-month-old tabby, is pretty agile in spite of her size and weight. I have a hunch Lucky’s fear of heights was somewhat suppressed when she saw her friend walking nonchalantly on the roof of our porch to the adjoining porch and subsequently to the neighbour’s house three houses away.

There is a crack in the ceiling of this neighbour’s balcony that can easily fit a small-sized human. Lucky can wiggle her way into the ceiling via the crack effortlessly. I wonder what was in the crack that had a hold on her. My wife managed to retrieve her the first time she got stranded in the ceiling but the same night she was up in the ceiling again. Getting her out was impossible as the house owner was away. He returned a day later and all the while poor Lucky was in the ceiling without food or water. As the situation grew fraught my wife sought the assistance of our former neighbours who are avid animal lovers and staff of the Kinta Civil Defence Department.

By then the house owner had returned. He was not too pleased by our constant ringing of his doorbell. He allowed us in reluctantly and poor Lucky was eventually rescued after some very anxious moments. Two officers from the civil defence office arrived in their office van. Upon seeing that the matter had been resolved they left.

My writing this little episode is to record my observations of people’s reactions when one is in dire straits. There are two kinds of people – those who will help willingly and those who will not lift a finger. At the very least I now know whom to turn to when in difficulty. My safest bet is my former neighbours – four sisters who would occasionally turn up at our place to look us up. Their concern for us and our pets is unmatched. Perhaps it is our love for animals that brings us together. Money is not the issue here. It is about caring and empathy. We are blessed.

And for those who have problems dealing with wayward pets or perhaps to remove some creepy crawlies that have strayed into your yard, the Kinta Civil Defence District office is the one to call. They are located at Jalan Kelas Holf, 31400 Ipoh. Phone number: 05-242 7615.

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