A Kadir Jasin
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1. I WAS asked at a Hari Raya open house if I had stopped my blog. If you are a regular reader, you know I have not. But not everybody is a regular reader. It is, however, true that I sometimes do not update as often as I should. I told the enquirer that I have not and, insya-Allah, I will continue writing for as long as I live.
2. Another asked me to predict the likely outcome of the coming general election. I said, bring me a spring chicken, a young cockerel, two kati of sugar and two kati of salt. Another person listening in on the conversation added, some kemenyan (incense). These are articles that a Malay bomoh – medicine man – would usually require as pengeras. They are both gifts and ingredients that would supposedly make the portion or the mantra more potent.
3. On a serious note, I think if the Barisan Nasional retains power, it is not so much because it is strong or popular, but because the oppositions are in disarray – like the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Matahir Mohamad, was recently reported as saying “better the devil you know than one that you don’t.”
4. At the state level, the DAP looks safe in Penang. The PKR is under threat in Selangor. Its repeated show of disrespect for the Sultan and open squabbles between the Menteri Besar, Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and deputy president, Azmin Ali, could weaken Malay support and put off the non-Malays. Pas is safe in Kelantan, but its control of Kedah could be under threat due to internal problems and the continued poor health of the Menteri Besar, Azizan Abdul Razak. Perak is not safe for the BN while Negeri Sembilan and Johor could came under attack by the DAP and Pas. Sarawak and Sabah may no longer be the BN’s safe havens.
The Economy And Discrimination
5. Another open house visitor, a former CEO of a now defunct Malay conglomerate, said the job market is shrinking, the government and the GLC are no longer giving preference to the Bumiputeras and the discrimination against Bumiputeras is spreading in the non-Bumiputera-controlled private sector.
6. He pointed out that while tokenism by Chinese businesses is well known, now he observes the Indians are doing likewise. He said Malaysian Indian restaurants, including the Indian Muslim ones, are paying more to expatriate Indian workers and other foreigners (salaries, government levies, free food and accommodation) and discriminate against local workers on the pretext that they are choosy and lazy.
7. I came across such a situation in my dealing with a locally incorporated US-owned bank. Since I make a point of not defaulting on my credit card payment, I receive regular telephone calls asking if I want loans on my cards. I observe that Chinese officers (who regularly addressed me as “Encik Kalio or Kadio”), would offer the highest amount, the Indian officers came second and, on very rare occasions, a Malay officer would also chip in and she offered the lowest sum.
8. I can only conclude that the Chinese executives enjoy a higher level of authority to give out loans compared to their Indian and Malay compatriots. And as for the Chinese officers calling me “Encik Kalio or Kadio”, I can only conclude that they were Chinese educated.
Fear Of Perkasa
9. Then there are my non-Malay doctors and non-Malay ex-military officers who are curious and, at the same time, worried about the power and influence of Perkasa. They think Perkasa is sabotaging the Prime Minister, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak’s 1Malaysia agenda.
10. I think they hold such a view because they were so used to seeing the Malays rallying almost exclusively behind Umno and Pas. The two Malay-based political parties in turn speak on their behalf.
11. I asked them to consider what gave birth to Perkasa and the Malay Consultative Council (MPM), and why so many Malays, including professionals and intellectuals, are now rallying behind these NGOs and the maverick politician, Ibrahim Ali? Why do they choose to voice their concerns and demands via Ibrahim and not Mohd Najib, Abdul Hadi Awang (Pas President) or Anwar Ibrahim (the Supreme Leader of PKR)?
12. The formation of Perkasa and MPM was the response of the Malay masses to what they perceived as rising non-Malay chauvinism and extremism following the 2007 Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf) illegal demonstration and constant demand by Chinese NGOs like the United Chinese School Committees Association (Dong Zong), the United Chinese School Teachers’ Association (Jiao Zong) and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia on Chinese language, education and economy.
13. The Malays, including those affiliated to Umno, are rallying behind these NGO because they feel that Umno and Pas are longer protecting and promoting their rights and interest.
14. And, without fail, the question they begged me to answer – which I dare not – is, who is making the decisions in Putrajaya. Wallahualam, only God knows.