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Umno and the burning down of 1Malaysia

Commentary

 najib-1malThe Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has stated that his vision of 1Malaysia is intended to counter the growing national divide between Malaysians on race, religion and other sensitive socio-cultural issues. He has also argued that the aim of the vision is to strengthen national unity on the basis of inclusiveness – “this policy means that we’ll try to be as inclusive as possible, in a sense that we should have a government that is able to reach out to all communities”. (Interview with CNN, Talkasia, 1 Nov 2010)

Not only was this vision of 1Malaysia markedly absent from the recent Umno general assembly but the real driving force of the party – one completely at odds with 1Malaysia – emerged from the shadows during the singing of a song by Tokyo Umno Club representative Arif Yassir Zulkafli.

The lyrics of the song ‘Lagu Warisan’ can be seen to encapsulate the ideological leifmotif of Umno. It provided the emotional and psychological high point of the meeting and explains why the song left delegates in tears and in spontaneous rendition.

It also explains why the Umno mind and mentality has remained unchanged during the last 66 years of the party’s existence – insecure, envious, delusional, un-accepting of other Malaysians, and propagating a bankrupt doctrine of ‘Blood and Soil’ nationalism akin to that of the Nazis and fascists.

Blood and soil nationalism refers to an ideology that focuses on ethnicity based on two factors – descent and homeland. Readers interested in learning more about blood and soil nationalism can read the Wikipedia.

Anak Kecil main api
Terbakar hatinya yang sepi
Air mata darah bercampur keringat
Bumi dipijak milik orang

Nenek moyang kaya raya
Tergadai seluruh harta benda
Akibat sengketa sesamalah kita
Cinta lenyap di arus zaman ini

Indahnya bumi kita ini
Warisan berkurun lamanya
Hasil mengalir ke tangan yang lain
Pribumi merintih sendiri …

Melayukan gagah di nusantara.

The translated version in English reads:

A small child plays with fire
His desolate heart burns
Tears, blood and sweat (yet)
His land belongs to outsiders

His forefathers had abundance
Now his inheritance is mortgaged
The result of discord amongst ourselves
Love disappears in the modern tide

How beautiful is our land
Passed down from generation to generation
But the profits flow to other hands
The natives moan unheeded

Aren't Malays the brave in the archipelago

Recommended references: For more on the translated lyrics, read Dr Azly Rahman HERE as well as his article ‘A Malay view of Biro Tata Negara and Ketuanan Melayu’

Impact of Lagu Negara

The poisoning of Malay minds through the negative portrayals of non-Malay communities and depiction of the Malays as victims whose birthrights have been stolen by “immigrants” is continuing unabated.

For now, it has left the 1Malaysia concept in ashes.

The danger is that these sentiments contributing to a siege mentality can be so deeply embedded that they become impossible to deal with rationally. When inflamed by irresponsible parties, they can easily get out of control and can be the catalyst for violence.

Lagu Warisan - the signature song of Malay ‘patriots’ yearning for a return to a Malay motherland free of pendatang - originated from the Biro Tatanegara, a propaganda arm of Umno in the civil service.

In his article ‘BTN is hardly an innocent selling toothpaste' (Dec 17, 2009), C.T. Wong writes that

“[when] the moral codes are suspended [and a] new moral code is substituted… the cry for defending one’s race or religion or country carries a new and sinister meaning. The perpetrators of ethnic violence hijack the mind and the feelings of its own race for their purpose of gaining or consolidating powe. […] Systematic, conscious and deliberate efforts are being made to create the Enemy in the public space in some of the mainstream media or government-sponsored programmes. The explicit or implicit elimination ideology is so openly propagated that the normal revulsion against cruelty towards other human beings is alarmingly lacking."

To the BTN, we must add a double-faced Umno mouthing the rhetoric of solidarity and inclusion when with non-Malay audiences, and fanning the flames of extremist racial emotions when addressing the Malay constituency.

Taking the fight to Umno

The line separating good and evil and truth and falsehood may appear contentious and complicated. However we should not run away from drawing this line, however difficult is the task.

Minimum proactive actions include speaking out and calling for the removal or neutralizing of those institutions and individuals guilty of sowing and escalating racial distrust (and religious disharmony), in particular that emanating from the ruling circles and the bureaucracy, especially from Umno ranks and the official print and electronic media, particularly Utusan Malaysia and TV3.

Leaders of the other Barisan Nasional component parties who have been silent, indifferent or impotent towards the escalation of the hate politics of race and religion must find their voices and put pressure on Umno towards genuine reform. Other key stake players such as PAS and Muslim NGOs must be more active in influencing Islamic elements towards more progressive positions that can counter the politics of racial envy and hate propagated by Umno.

Failure to respond to ‘Lagu Warisan’ and its supporters will see the country’s racial tensions and divisions escalate towards a breaking point, with the minorities very much on the defensive and the authorities either reluctant to intervene or to act in favour of the minority.

The rule of law becomes the tyranny of the majority; perpetrators of racial and religious hate and disunity feel that they can get away with irresponsible actions aimed at maintaining dominance or curbing dissent; and the country’s basic tolerance gives way to hardened and polarized positions on all sides, setting the stage for instability and social strife.

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