Friday, June 15, 2007

Penang's Population Puzzle

In an earlier posting Lina Joy & the 'cane toad' phenomena I recollected what I had heard some years ago – a rumour that years back the Chinese in Malaysia had become the majority ethnic group.

In that discussion I mentioned that many suspected the true demographic statistics weren’t released. The story told of the high level strategy to encourage mass illegal immigrants from Indonesia (by at least 1 million) to restore the ethnic ratio to its original split.

Then blue IC's were handed over nilly-willy like ad pamphlets at super shopping malls.

malaysiakini has just reported a new set of alleged dodgy statistics in the Penang population.

The malaysiakini headline is a rather catchy
Riddle of Penang’s population statistics.

Penang is, or was a State with the Chinese comprising the ethnic majority. The malaysiakini article discussed how over a period of 15 years (1990 to now) the population percentage ratio of Chinese to Malay went, nay, flashed from 70:20 to 43:40.

But, even in the saga of statistics the Indians are again marginalised, remaining stagnant at 10%.

The UMNO-led government and its official organs are so distrusted that rumours and speculations abound on possible fiddling of the stats and of course the sinister reasons behind the fiddling – namely the planned takeover of the CM post by UMNO.

Malaysians always love a good rumour, but with a twist, where rumours would eventually and usually become (though not always) truths.

Well then, is this true, namely the intended appropriation of the CM post by UMNO, a post that has been traditionally held by a Chinese, from the BN of course? DAP and PKR, stop salivating!

The argument for it has been the example of Sabah - apart of course from the recent incidents of some local UMNO leaders making ambit claims, in many ways agitated by young Turks from HQs who wanted to flash their party or ethnic credentials.

Sabah has seen UMNO dominating the CM appointment, much to the chagrin of other component parties.

However, the way KTemoc sees it is that Sabah and Penang have totally different political and security characteristics, and shouldn't be equated.

The former is a state fairly remote from KL control and has majority Christian Kadazans who aren’t happy with federation, and which undoubtedly worries the Federal government in terms of secession, autonomy, etc.

The latter, Penang, is a small state (including an island) next to Kedah and Perak, and peopled in the majority by Chinese who haven’t shown any political inclination for autonomy, let alone breaking away from Malaysia. They're only interested in business and the economy, and yes, vernacular education.

Then what would be the 'sinister' scheme?

While certainly local UMNO leaders do aspire to be the next Raja of Pulau Pinang, I personally doubt that UMNO HQs would countenance that, unless of course the Chinese Penangites swing dramatically over to the opposition, and breaking the so-called unspoken social contract.

UMNO HQs knows that, if an UMNO bloke were to take over the CM place from Gerakan, the different groups of Chinese Penangites supporting Gerakan, MCA and DAP would be driven together against UMNO in future elections.

Rather, UMNO has a superior strategy by its ‘arrangment’ for the two BN Chinese component parties to be split up in power, such that the Gerakan and MCA each won’t have more seats than UMNO. This way, while UMNO pretends to be in the background to the Gerakan CM, its Deputy CM is actually pulling the strings, because UMNO knows that Gerakan hates and fears MCA , and vice versa, and the two Chinese-based parties would never cooperate. Very gnarm sai( just right) for UMNO!

The classic British colonial strategy of ‘divide and rule’.

Some years ago, the incident of two MCA ADUNS taking an independent stand against the State government (Gerakan) whip in the case of PORR was a case in point of mutual dislike and hatred, and really, a MCA’s sweet sneaky strategy to erode Chinese support away from Gerakan back to Mother (or Daddy) MCA.

So, why would UMNO destabilize a ‘happy arrangement’ where it is already the de facto power in Penang –
oh, by the way, the de facto word is used here without permission from Malaysia’s only declared de facto leader.

The DAP argues that UMNO wants the CM post. Well, OK, but we need to distinguish between local UMNO aspirations and that of UMNO HQs'. The DAP may be correct in the local consideration but I would be very surprised if UMNO HQs would go to that extent.

It sounds reasonably plausible as Penang is the only State that does not have a Malay-UMNO political head.

But really, if UMNO wants a turn at the CM post, all it had to do is to just say the word, and there’s buggerall that Gerakan could do – and very much to MCA’s delight because it would mean MCA would eventually get a go at it as well.

And, look at the Datuk Bandar of KL, or the Municipal boss of Ipoh - no doubt appointed and not elected, but nonetheless appointed Malay heads in Chinese ponds. UMNO can do what it wants without going to such an extent if it wants to have a Malay CM, wherever, whenever, however.

No, I believe it may be something more than just that – I admit I don’t know yet – yes, am thinking, but not in time for this post.

There’s also another possibility, that a combination of modern day mobility (for jobs and a better life style and/or education in Penang from nearby regions), migration by Chinese Penangites overseas and inter-state and perhaps an influx of transplanted (blue IC-ed) imports have brought about the new composition.

At the end of it all, it’s rather sad when we should really be considering ourselves as Malaysians rather than Malays, Chinese, Indians etc.

1 comment:

  1. Hi KTemoc,
    There are serious advantages to holding power without having to take the front seat. The famous Son-In-Law knows how to enjoy that very well.
    In management terms its called Authority without Accountability. Its considered very dysfunctional in management writing, but this country is already full of dysfunctional structures, so who cares.