Commentary Politics

When the Malays air their concerns, it’s best to listen

The Malays will and always bicker, backstab and play intrigue with one another but that does not mean they will welcome and tolerate outside interference any longer than it should be.

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

A commentary by Zaidi Azmi

February 25, 2020

LET’S face it, in Malaysian politics, the Malays, will and always be the kingmaker.

It was their votes that allowed Barisan Nasional to rule uninterrupted since 1957 and it was their votes that brought the coalition down to its knees on May 9, 2018.

And the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government yesterday was a result of a long-drawn power intrigue set against the backdrop of the Malays’ boiling unhappiness with a government that was still in its infancy — less than two years old.

It was a perilous unhappiness in which Pakatan, particularly those from the DAP, has been ignoring for the past 21 months despite repeated warnings by the Malays that were especially vivid in last year’s five by-elections, in which the coalition only won one.

In fact, the Malays were very angry with Pakatan so much so that they even ignored Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s pleas for them to vote for his party, Pribumi Bersatu, in the Semenyih and Tanjung Piai by-elections.

Spoiler alert – well, not really. Pribumi Bersatu suffered a trouncing in both by-elections.

Why were the Malays angry? Oh boy, where to start?

Pakatan’s sneaky attempt to rectify ICERD that undermined the Federal Constitution, the racist exploitation of a temple land dispute that resulted in the controversial death of an innocent Malay fireman and the uncouth and hurtful remarks bellowed throughout the Jawi-khat controversy were the bits and bobs that had been piling on top of the Malay groundswell.

And then, there was also the ownership transfers of Tabung Haji’s assets – which Minister Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusoff Rawa funnily insisted was not an asset sale. Gosh, what a peculiar take on a basic investment concept.

The gravity of overly upsetting the Malays is a fact with which non-Malay politicians sorely need to come to terms with. It is a thin line that needs to be skirted with utmost care.

The Malays will and always bicker, backstab and play intrigues with one another but that does not mean they welcome and tolerate outside interference any longer than it should be.

And yes, the Malays – no matter from which kampung they are from – can aptly smell a “use a Malay to screw a Malay” propaganda.

In the past 12 months, it was crystal clear that the Malays – barring the small number of liberal Malays with whom the DAP enjoys showering its support – have been unhappy with Pakatan’s obviously incendiary and uncouth antics.

The Malays felt that they had been pushed into a corner and to fight back when there was nowhere else to flee, was, simply put, a given.

So, the next time the Malays speak of concerns that touch on the interests of their race, economy and religion, it is best and most advisable for politicians to listen, and more importantly, act.



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