The Chinese Dilemma in an Umno Problem

The Chinese Dilemma in an Umno Problem

Some recoloring and a new beginning?

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The Ahi Law of Admissibility

True or False

To argue the prime minister’s case that he not yield to demands to resign, Najib Razak’s hatchet men (Ahirudin Attan, Salleh Keruak, Rahman Dahlan et al) rely primarily on one piece of troll: the past of Mahathir Mohamad.

This says that if Mahathir is a history of dictatorial and abusive rule, economic mismanagement and financial scams — ISA, Anwar Ibrahim, race baiting, police brutality, arbitrary jail, failed economics, idiotic financial schemes, market manipulation, botched commercial enterprises, crony profiteering (Francis Yeoh and YTL), corruption licensing, the list is near endless — then he has neither moral standing nor authorial legitimacy to demand anything from Najib nor criticize the man’s record. Least of all Najib’s resignation.

This is the Ahi Law of Admissibility: a thing committed in the past shall not be made applicable for use in the future. True or false?

For that Law to hold, it relies on two premises:

  • (a) a person such as Mahathir is the primary, valid voice to want Najib’s scalp or he is the only person of some standing and with enough residual power and influence to get it; and,
  • (b) the same demands by other people are inconsequential, hence easily dismissed, or if their demands aggregate and are transposed in the person of Mahathir then those voices also lose their moral authority.

Pick any of those premises, it is easy to tie up Ahi’s tongue with Helen Ang’s brain stem and shove the pair down Salleh’s throat — gargle, gargle. But, really, does it matter? The argument that is.

Ahi’s Law is the God of morality equivalence; Mahathir had done it, why fault Najib; and it is itself immorality. Najib is welcomed to nail Mahathir for all the latter’s sin (he had six years since 2009 to do it) and that still won’t answer the problem afflicting him: his credibility is so deeply compromised — from murder to money in bank — that few finds his position tenable at all. As it turns out, Mahathir is used to deflect his integrity problem like the Red Shirts were used.

Najib is not answerable to Mahathir, and this is true. But, with the powers granted him and not without conditions, Najib is answerable to history, to his father, to all Malaysians and to a morality higher than Ahi’s depravity. It is called decency. Malaysia, as a national project, has failed miserably, worsening by the year and now Putrajaya, no less, has fallen into moral putrefaction.

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Guess who is ‘meddling’ in Malaysia’s affairs:

Chinese Meddling in Umno

Najib Razak’s fate as Prime Minister has hung on the only thread that Umno has Merdeka’s past on its side and the goodwill residue passed on from Tunku Abdul Rahman. It has the notoriety of delivering the good, but mostly the bad then thrust them onto the rest of the population. So, if Malaysia was going to fix itself, it has to first fix Umno. This is the prevailing wisdom. Even Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah sees it that way.

The other alternative is to uncouple the party from Malaysia.

One method is complete replacement; hence Pakatan and Anwar et al and hence the no-confidence motion in Parliament. The other and the more painful of the two methods is surgery within the Barisan Nasional, hence the MCA, which is one of the three coalition founders. After which, Sabah and Sarawak have to enter the picture.

Mahathir’s relentless campaign to remove Najib appears like a lonely one-man road show and, after weeks and months, it seems to go nowhere mostly because of what he has done to Umno and not for it. This is most evident in Sabah. Alongside it, there are the Peninsula electoral seat distributions and the electoral horse trading. Then the institutions at Umno’s doors, commandeered by the party and chief of these are the Police and the Law. Such obstacles, Umno and so on, must now seem to Mahathir like colossal walls and he keeps running up against them in his campaign. A sense of futility results. He had put them in place and you’ve to wonder, does he know it?

Now take them down.

This explains why Mahathir campaigns as if pleading to Malays only, Umno members in particular. Even when he is in Tawau he is there speaking to Malays although they don’t constitute the numerical Number One in the state. Now, Muhyiddin has openly joined him but, still, it is there — that pervasive air of futility.

In the circumstances, another solution has to be found among Umno’s dozen partners in Barisan by the only ones sufficiently independent of Najib or any Umno president. Even though it has no electoral, numerical strength, MCA has the strongest claim to moral and political legitimacy to either tell Najib off, or be replaced as Barisan chief, hence prime minister, by another Umno leader.

If, as Ong Tee Keat has suggested yesterday, the MCA finds the gumption to quit Barisan then it should also have the spunk to initiate an overhaul of Barisan, starting with what — as opposed to who — Umno sends to Barisan to sit on the Putrajaya throne. The past rule has been this: any Umno man will do, even a scoundrel.

The flip side of that rule means that Umno members must have the wisdom to see the reality — and this is the actual reality and not some Singaporean dog shit Kuasi kind — that the leader they elect won’t eventually just serve the party but the country as well (see clip above, in particular Muhyiddin’s words in Bahasa). Should they fail, evidenced by the man’s character and conduct, then other Barisan members has the option to send him back to Umno at any given time.

Given Mahathir, given Najib — they are 28 years added up — the automatic rule has to end.

This should be MCA’s consideration in the present circumstances, as a condition for staying within Barisan. How other Barisan members see it, is their business.

MCA’s dilemma is therefore straightforward: give us a good Malay man or take him back. And if Umno won’t take him back, for whatever reason, then a bad Malay leader — by any definition, by any standard — is also not a good Malaysian leader. Such a man loses his legitimacy to rule over the Chinese.

All this says that an MCA decision today, one way or the other, is historic from a number of angles. We shall reduce them to just three.

1. Future of Chinese-Malay relations. Najib has been good to the Chinese, in spite of the Red Shirt event which he probably regrets as a rash error because it antagonizes even his Chinese friends when he needs them most. Each placard that screams Cina babi sets back MCA goodwill and work by ten years and by a million Chinese votes. Such a state of affairs cannot go on.

But this also showed one other thing: a Malay leader has no qualms throwing the Chinese under the bus to save his own hide. Count Mahathir among such leaders. Henceforth there shall be no more of this political bigotry. It stops now!

2. Future of Barisan. Barisan’s principle in its creation, the Alliance before that, was straightforward. All races, between Malay and Chinese in particular, should advance together, marching in lock-step. No Chinese should have to be made to stay in a New Village so that a Kampung Baru Malay can go forward fast and ahead. Likewise, the kampung should not be brought to the city giving the Malay the illusion they are advancing, after which Umno-sponsored fatwas treat another Malay as a dog to be whipped and stoned. A line has to be drawn.

The Barisan mechanism — you do to your kind and we do to ours, and between the two, we talk — has repeatedly failed on the count, and the presumption, that an Umno Malay is a PAS Malay is also a desert Muslim, a DAP Chinese is not a MCA Chinese and is godless. And that culture, ethics and god are separable on the basis of political party membership. It presumes too much: that is, only politics understands ethnicity as the sense of self.

If the principle that the Malay and Chinese marching in lock-step is to endure then its mechanism has to be revisited and reworked. Life isn’t complicated; it is just the sheer variety that makes it appear so. A post-modern Internet world merely adds to the diversity rather than confounds lives.

3. Future of Malaysia. The MCA could close an eye to some dead Mongolian or some officials locked up because in the political calculus they matter next to nothing, in particular to the party. This is the same sort of attitude and calculation that has always governed parliamentary proceedings, enactment of laws, economic life, grand ideas like freedom, how Muslims and Malays are treated and so on. Those are, in short, little things building up to the big canvas.

But there are consequences, some very plainly in sight today. Beyond those repercussions, what is a Chinese politician in this era and in such an environment to do? To who does he serve alongside representing the Chinese? Is Najib the north pole star? Is the present administrative, legal and social systems doing what they ought to, weirenmin fuwu 为人民服务 whether Malay or Chinese? What big ideas do you have, Najib, to take us forward? It is not on account of failure that matters but the ethics of your design: is it to serve humans or to serve some kind of god, manna?

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