Sunday, September 26, 2021

Why minorities did an eye-roll over Umno PM's 'apartheid' remark

Martin Vengadesan

COMMENT | The systematic oppression of Palestinians over many years through discriminatory policies, denial of basic civil rights, imposition of harsh conditions, large scale land confiscation and inhumane acts committed against them is tantamount to the crime of apartheid, said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob in a video speech to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday.

Syabas! An admirable position was taken up by the Umno man – but you know what else is tantamount to the crime of apartheid? – dividing Malaysians by race, depriving Orang Asli of their hereditary lands, sitting idly by as one Indian after another suffers a mysterious death in police lockups and leaving Sabah and Sarawak decades behind in development despite their lands being resource-rich.

It is absolutely shameful that every single premier of the country thus far has belonged to a Malay-rights party and not an ideological one like a conservative, liberal or social-democratic party – what does it say about the insecurity of a voter base that is so comfortable with electing ethnic champions?

To be fair, Ismail Sabri’s speech was spot on – he said that Malaysia has always been a firm believer in all efforts and initiatives that promote peaceful coexistence between nations, different peoples, faiths and cultures.

Perhaps in his righteous indignation over the suffering of the Palestinians, the Bera MP has forgotten about the strife that followed in 2018 when the Pakatan Harapan government proposed that Malaysia sign the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd).

Malaysia is one of only two Muslim-majority countries in the world that has not ratified the treaty after the Harapan government decided against acceding to Icerd following weeks of racially and religiously charged protests in which backwards-looking Umno and PAS members held the nation to ransom.

The other is Brunei.

Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Palestine, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq and Turkey are among the 55 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries that have ratified Icerd.

Icerd was initiated by the United Nations (UN) in 1965 to deal with global racial intolerance but in Malaysia, it was portrayed as a threat to bumiputera special privileges (Article 153) and Islam.

So while Ismail Sabri very nobly wants to champion the cause of those Palestinians who are being oppressed by a brazen and often cruel Zionist regime – his own record, and that of preceding premiers like 'Malay-first' Muhyiddin Yassin, 'Apa lagi Cina mau' Najib Abdul Razak and the pioneer of racial hate-speech Dr Mahathir Mohamad – is not very convincing.

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, who himself used to belong to a race-based party, has at least often championed the transition from race-based affirmative action economic plans to one that is needs-based since he left Umno in 1998.

Indeed it became a fundamental pillar of his party’s platform upon the formation of PKR in 2003 that Malaysians are helped based on economic needs rather than their race.

Perhaps that is why he is destined never to become prime minister.

Anwar has said that the New Economic Policy, which was conceived in the 1970s, is now obsolete, but it can be dismantled with a firm commitment to needs-based affirmative action involving both the public and private sectors.

Is Ismail Sabri willing to do that to create awareness that Malaysians – the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans and Kadazans and the multitude of other groups – should be seen as one community with equal rights and privileges?

What we had is a succession of pathetic leaders who indeed have kept their own masses marginalised while enriching an elite group of cronies.

Many are trained to accept and not challenge this false wisdom and only raise their voices to threaten others as we saw during the anti-Icerd protests, rather than question abuse of power or theft.

Identity politics 101 is the name of the game as the majority race controls almost every important position yet somehow feels it’s under threat.

Nor do we see our brethren from the majority speaking up as alarming proposals such as the Act 355 amendments on Syariah Courts are being discussed.

From education quotas to bumiputera-only institutions funded by taxpaying Malaysians of all races, to discounts for property and preferential treatment in the civil service, we have allowed a system that drives talented Malaysians away in droves.

Personally, I haven’t seen my sisters in years as they live and work in London and Washington DC, and close to 80 percent of my generation has already migrated thanks in no small part to our outdated racist systems. This is despite the fact that my great-grandfather chose Malaya as home in the 1890s.

If Ismail Sabri is really sincere about ending apartheid-like systems, he could look a little closer than Palestine.

MARTIN VENGADESAN is an associate editor with Malaysiakini


  1. But No Meow from Wee KHAT Siong now?

    Before MCA Roar Like Fire Breathing Dragon over Low Yat 2?

    Malaysia minister calls for Malays to boycott Chinese businesses
    Lee Seok Hwai
    The Straits Times
    Assistant Foreign Editor
    FEB 2, 2015

    Malaysia's agriculture minister will have to explain to the police his Facebook comments urging Malays to boycott Chinese businesses so as to force them to reduce prices in line with falling oil prices, news reports said on Monday.

    Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had called on Malays, who form the majority in the country, to use their "power" to force the Chinese minority to cut prices.

    "The majority of consumers are Malay, Chinese are a minority, if the Malays boycott their businesses, they will surely have no choice but to reduce their prices," Ismail, who was the domestic trade and consumerism minister, said in a posting on his Facebook account, the Malaysian Insider reported. It said Ismail had confirmed to the newspaper that the statement was made by him.

    Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said later on Monday that the police would record a statement on the issue from Ismail, The Star reported. "The police will ensure that harmony between races is respected," Khalid tweeted on his Twitter account.

    The post was not accessible publicly but was screen-captured and was in heavy circulation among pro-Umno blogs and social media, with many expressing support for the minister, Malaysiakini reported. But The Star reported later on Monday that the post had been deleted.

    According to Malaysian Insider, Ismail had said in the post: "Forgive me for sharing my views, but besides the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism, which uses the Price Control Act and the Anti-Profiteering Act to act against traders who raise their prices indiscriminately, the greatest power lies with consumers."

    The Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a partner in the ruling Umno coalition, slammed Ismail's comments, The Star said.

  2. “The World Is A Family” was the theme of IS’s speech to the UNGA. A home for everyone, every human Race or Creed.

    Except, of course, if you are Jewish.

    We must wipe out this Abomination called Israel, artificially created by Britannia….wasn’t Malay-sia created by Britannia too? Ha ha ha….please don’t wipe us out….

    99.5% of Middle East territory not enough, Arabs must wipe the Jews off the 0.5%, back to where they came from…..Poland, Ukraine, Crimea…? Even if they were born in Israel it doesn’t matter….

    1. Blurred mfer, u DO ampu yr auntie pommie no end!

      "wasn’t Malay-sia created by Britannia too?"

      Ooop… in yr fart filled well history, right?

      Wakakakakaka… wakakakaka…

      So on what f*cked historical ground is yr jus soli for the Israeli?

      Ooop… in a land been created by yr auntie 'Britannia' pommie!

  3. The writer forgot that the Ketuanans are very good at sounding righteous and indignant at perceived poor treatment of its own kind in other countries.

    But, hypocritically, these Ketuanans do not blink an eye about how they treat the nons in Malaysia.

    The writer says 80% of his generation have emigrated. My question is "only 80%?"