Friday, May 09, 2008

The politics of ketuanan

Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek said it did not mean Malays were the masters and non-Malays slaves.

"Let's not politicise this until it reaches the level of a new polemic," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby in response to remarks by Transport Minister and MCA vice-president Datuk Ong Tee Keat that the term gave the perception that Malays were masters and non-Malays slaves.

"No need to become sensitive when Malay supremacy is mentioned," said Ahmad Shabery, who is also the MP for Kemaman. [Malaysian Insider]

You know, the spin about ‘politicising’ ketuanan melayu is putting me in a tizzy.

Isn’t racial discrimination (positive or otherwise) a political construct? Isn’t this a political issue pure and simple? If non-malays are ‘sensitive’ surely we aren’t the only ones? After all, isn’t this why some quarters are fussing about the loss of political power, damning others who question malay rights?

It smacks of the ‘separate but equal’ laws challenged by US civil rights movement back in the 50s and 60s.

If indeed it is merely false perception, then politicians should do the right thing - prove their convictions by not engaging in semantic spins, but by eliminating this outdated expression from national discourse.

And why shouldn’t non-malay Malaysians feel concerned when our national ideology justifies and defends the perpetuation of repackaged apartheid? I am an Anak Bangsa Malaysia. Why am I not allowed to feel secure in this land of my birth, my place threatened, my allegiance questioned, when all I ask for is affirmation? Is the threat of imprisonment and being charged under the Sedition Act supposed to allay my fears, assure me my rights, and make me grateful I am a citizen of Malaysia?

In this day and age, is there moral justification for the supremacy of a particular people on the basis of colour and creed? How do you explain this disconcerting siege mentality that is so prevalent among a majority people? When will Malaysians be allowed to be Malaysians?

Oh yes – the word ‘polemic.’ Now there’s another overused expression favoured by politicians. Like that other worn-out cliché, 'it does not arise.' It's all, erm, polemic to me.

More: Check out John Lee's Malay and Non-Malay Rights Don't Exist

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