Commentary Politics

Step aside Pas and Umno, it’s Pribumi’s turn to ride the Malay unity wagon

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

September 30, 2019

A commentary by Zaidi Azmi

MALAY unity has once again become the in thing these days and pretty much like any fashionable trend, many are jumping onto the bandwagon.

Perhaps taking a cue from the epic cheering — from the Malays — that Pas and Umno had basked in upon signing a political unity accord, Pribumi Bersatu also wanted to do the same.

Well, it’s not exactly identical in the sense that the party intends to extend an olive branch to Pas and Umno but more on the latter two’s call for Malay unity.

As it is, the initiative, which was seen by many as a rival to the Pas-Umno’s Ummah Unity Accord, is called the Malay Dignity Congress: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Mandate.

And while the congress, which will be held tomorrow, is spearheaded by a think-tank outfit from Universiti Malaya (UM), several Pribumi Bersatu politicians were seen to be within its committee’s inner circle.

The two are Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad and Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin who defected from Umno to Pribumi Bersatu after Barisan Nasional lost in the national poll on May 9 last year.

At a meeting last week, those from the congress said that this movement, in which they are trying to get the Malays to support, is an “apolitical initiative” to unite the fractious Malays and chart ways to improve the community’s economic position.

Wait, what!?

So, it’s a non-political movement that was named after a politician? Ah, one can almost taste such an oxymoron.

Also, everyone knows that in Malaysia, politics have gravitas. If the congress is non-political then how can it go about and pressure the government to take heed of the agenda that it will propose?

The so-called apolitical nature of the congress, however, was not the only peculiar aspect of it. Some of the ideas that it intended to champion were also quite odd.

For example, it was disclosed in the meeting that to call for the government to re-introduce the one school system, which will likely and inadvertently affect the position of vernacular schools, was among the congress’ agenda.

Um…so, oppressing other races will somehow unite the Malays? Really? Do the higher-ups in the congress think all Malay blows off steam by bullying other races?

If we do, then boy, the Malays must have some kind of Mother-Teresa-like patience for being able to tolerate and accommodate vernacular schools for more than half a century.

Look, the fact of the matter is that vernacular schools have and will always be a part of Malaysia and to the Chinese and Indians, these schools were a part of the agreed social compromise when our forefathers fought for Malaysia’s independence.

While some have been quibbling that such is not so, to do anything that undermines vernacular schools will only beget a blowback from Chinese and Indians, pretty much like how angry the Malays will be if anyone tried to threaten the position of Islam.

Also, if Prime Ministrer Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was unable to do away with vernacular schools during his previous 22-year reign, during which he commanded a great deal of support from the Malays, what makes those of the congress think he can do so now?

In all honesty, it does not take a rocket scientist to see the underlying political need for such a congress.

Pribumi Bersatu needs a way to stop and regain the Malay support that it once had when it, along with its allies in Pakatan Harapan, bested Barisan Nasional at the May 9 national poll last year. 

The party needs to prove to the Malays –Malaysia’s ethnic majority– that it has the political clout to protect their interests, which the Malays see as unlikely given the 26 parliamentary seats that it currently has as opposed to DAP’s 40 seats.

The hat trick of an electoral loss that Pakatan had suffered in three of the four by-elections that were held this year was a clear-cut sign that the Malay groundswell against the coalition is anything but imaginary.

It remains to be seen whether the Pribumi Bersatu-linked congress has the needed influence to woo and galvanise the Malays into supporting them.

Even more so, given how silent the majority of Pribumi Bersatu politicians were on issues that have affected the Malays ever since Pakatan form government.

Where were they when the Malays in a kampung in Paya Jaras had their houses controversially demolished?

Where were they when some of the more insensitive non-Malays chimed with glee after Dr Mahathir tarred every single Malays as lazy?

Where were they when the Malays in the now-defunct SPAD were left jobless after the outfit was dissolved, despite repeated guarantees of employment by the government?

And now these primarily mute Pribumi Bersatu politicians expect the Malays to kiss them on the forehead, give them a gold star and be their shepherd?

Gosh, what a tall order.



About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at