Myth of “UMNO is Melayu; Melayu, UMNO” Forever Shattered!

Myth of “UMNO is Malay; Malay, UMNO” Forever Shattered!

M. Bakri Musa



While UMNO apologists and sycophants in academia, blogosphere, and mainstream media quibbled over such minutia as the number of participants at last Saturday’s massive KL112 (January 12, 2013) rally, two facts are indisputable.  First, that peaceful and largely Malay crowd, the largest the nation had ever witnessed, forever shattered the myth that UMNO is Melayu, and Melayu, UMNO.  Second, given a modicum of respect by and without provocation from the authorities, Malaysians are quite capable of partaking in peaceful rallies.


On this second point the authorities, specifically the police under its new leadership, are finally learning that water tankers, personnel with anti-riot gears or tear gas canisters, and other crude displays of power often precipitate rather than prevent violence.  BERSIH 3.0 demonstrated that very clearly.


The size and orderliness of the rally, together with the bravery and determination of the participants, was reminiscent of the transformative event of over 66 years earlier, the opposition to the Malayan Union Treaty. That altered the course of our history.  Insha’ Allah (God willing), last Saturday’s rally too, will.


The power imbalance between those demanding change and those in power back in 1946 was enormous.  Then it was mostly illiterate and unsophisticated Malay peasants facing the much superior and more formidable colonial authorities.  Yet in the end, right won over might, and justice prevailed!


Today, while the UMNO Government is detested to the same degree as the old colonials, it is nowhere as sophisticated wielder of power as the British.  Meanwhile, those clamoring for change are far more worldly, more committed, and in far greater numbers than their adversary, UMNO and its supporters.  More importantly, unlike the colonials, today’s UMNO government is crippled with corruption and incompetence while also being crude wielder of power.  All the more we should expect that right and the truth, as well as justice, will again prevail.


National Laureate Pak Samad’s stirring reading of his poetry “Di Atas Padang Sejarah” (On This Field of History) last Saturday at Merdeka Stadium prompted me to make that comparison with the anti-Malayan Union Movement.  He is old enough to remember and may have even participated in that historic protest.


Di atas padang sejarah,” Pak Samad asserted in his poetry, “pantang kita mungkiri janji.”  (We must not renege on our promises.).  Today, the successors to those who brought us merdeka over 55 years ago have betrayed that great promise.


While Pak Samad’s gray hair and rousing poetry lent an air of history and gravity to the moment, the Blue Gang’s Ito Mohammad and his “Ubah Sekarang” (Change Now!), specifically composed for the occasion, gave the gathering a certain hip!  There was no mistaking however, the seriousness of his message.


Ubah sekarang,” Ito belted out in his trademark rhythm and blues beat to the cheers of thousands, “Kita cari kebenaran! (We seek the truth!) Ubah sekarang/Teggakkan Keadilan (Uphold justice!)”  Then to the roar of the crowd, he added, “Ubah Sekarang / Send-off Barisan!”


Ito is a talented performer and a committed crusader with a definite mission, in the mold of Bono.  Ito is for truth and justice, to give meaning to merdeka, for the sake of our children and grandchildren.  One thing is certain:  Ito is no carma (cari makan – hired hand) artist!


The anti-Malayan Union Movement was led by the charismatic, farsighted and savvy Datuk Onn; so too KL112 in the person of Anwar Ibrahim.  In many substantive ways Anwar is a far more formidable and superior leader.  Onn meekly obeyed the commands of his sultan in the sycophantic manner of Hang Tuah, and accepted his banishment to Singapore; Anwar in the chivalrous tradition of Hang Jebat had the courage to take on a man far more powerful (at least then) than the sultans or King – Mahathir.  Anwar paid greatly, physically and in many other ways, for his defiance but in the end, unlike Jebat, Anwar prevailed.  Last Saturday was proof of that victory.  Meanwhile his old nemesis Mahathir was left to rant in his blog.


Far more important than leaders are the commitments of their followers.  UMNO could not have organized a rally a fraction of the size of KL112 without resorting to bribes, outright giveaways, or having their carma artists, academics and journalists singing high praises for its leaders.


There was a pathetic attempt, no doubt by a bumbling UMNO operative, at a Facebook posting calling those rally participants to collect their fees!  That posting bombed as it was immediately exposed for the hoax that it was.  Those UMNO hired hands were not even sophisticated enough to pull a cyberstunt!



Fair and Free Elections


Anwar commits to ten goals, the top being free and fair elections.  Elections must not only be fair and free but more importantly, be seen as such.  Our Elections Commission lacks credibility, both on conducting elections as well as maintaining the integrity of the electoral rolls.


It is too late to change the personnel at EC.  Besides, that would not make any difference.  They have been indoctrinated to believe that their agency is just another electoral instrument of Barisan instead of an independent agency answerable to the King and thus the citizens.  The only credible way to ensure fair and free elections would be to invite external observers.


Free and fair elections should be the priority. The responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the electoral process extends beyond the EC and Election Day.


We must never let or tolerate the 2008 post-election fiascoes of Perak and Selangor to recur.  In Selangor, the hooliganism and vandalism of the staff of and condoned by its outgoing UMNO Chief Minister Khir Toyo stood in marked contrast to the civility and orderliness in the transfer of power between Gerakan and DAP in Penang.  This being Malaysia, the races of the main protagonists at both events did not escape notice.  In Perak, the permanent establishment including the sultan which should have been the stabilizing and buffering elements were themselves hopelessly entangled in the mess.  They did not shine; they were the problem.


Khir Toyo, now convicted of corruption, epitomizes UMNO’s rotten core.


We must also never allow the prostituting of government agencies and departments into Barisan election machinery.  I have no problem with The New Straits Times and Utusan continuing as UMNO newsletters and their “journalists” as UMNO propagandists; after all both are owned by UMNO.  I take issue when taxpayer-financed agencies like Bernama, Radio Television Malaysia (RTM), and Biro Tata Negara (National Civic Bureau) doing the same.


Ito’s rhythmic ubah sekarang is not, as UMNO leaders would like us to believe, changing horse midstream rather letting an old lame and tired one to pasture.  Our culture is kind; we do not send old horses to the glue factory.


A second into midnight on August 31, 1957, at the same Merdeka Stadium, Tunku Abdul Rahman declared merdeka for our new nation.  He brought home from England our Declaration of Independence.  More importantly, he gave us hope to all the promises implied with our new sovereignty.  Today, Tunku’s successors in UMNO Baru (New UMNO), through their venality have betrayed that solemn covenant.  They have, in Samad Said’s poetry, mungkiri janji.  It is time we reclaim that promise and our dream.


Last Saturday, when Anwar repeated “Merdeka” seven times in the manner of the late Tunku, he had begun that process of reclaiming.  Tunku brought home the declaration of Merdeka; Anwar will give meaning to its words in our everyday lives.


Ubah sekarang! Tolak mereka yang memungkiri janji!  Change now! Remove those who have betrayed us!


6 Responses to “Myth of “UMNO is Melayu; Melayu, UMNO” Forever Shattered!”

  1. Antares says:

    Most heartening and rousing essay! Thank you 🙂

  2. As usual, very well articulated, Datuk. It was obvious to anyone, unless he was a mice, and blind to boot, what HKR112 meant, and portends. But will Malaysia end up an Islamic State instead of as a State of Islam with Pas’s insistence on hudud? Will all the painful efforts to bring about change that seems nearing fruition, end up with what has sadly happened with the Arab Spring in the ME, esp with what is happening in Egypt? Or will it really bring about change that everyone is comfortable and happy with? Sometimes, I just wished that PKR and DAP had had more confidence in themselves and had made more efforts on their part to forge a viable alternative sans PAS. But what to do now? We can only keep our fingers crossed, though I am not so sanguine. Now it does seem like between the devil and deep blue sea. Certainly not between the old devil and the angel as per Mahathir. Surprisingly, that man was off target for what is so obvious.

  3. Abangcina says:

    Wow…….unlike leopard, bm has finally changed his spots……and maybe when the opposition wins in the next election, he will start bashing the devilish Mahathir for destroying Malaysia in its youth……watch out Mahathir, many are going to bite your hands for the posion you fed them in their youth………….

  4. rosli says:

    Dear Datuk, I am a regular follower of your blog. I have never before commented anything until this moment. Your views are very true and I am amazed the way you are updated of the issues while you are thousands miles away.

    It’s a true pity that we Malaysian being played by those who claimed to be leaders of the country. I couldn’t careless about us i.e. our generation but can’t afford to have a good sleep every time I think of our future generation. Even today they are suffered by ever-changing-to-worse education system, being robbed of their privilege, etc.

    What has become of this once prosper country. I remembered very well I used to have many friends of multi racial, we played together, laughed and cried together, visiting each other, etc. Today, it’s glaring that school-children are not like before, they are hugely divided. It’s almost taboo for Chinese to befriend Malays, or Indian vice versa. Ask our politicians they will deny to the core this true fact.

    I could write to describe many other things but to cut short I think those in power for many years now have failed to do anything good to this country. We lost and still are losing to countries which once far more inferior than us in many aspects, not only economy but others like sports, social, entertainment, etc. Look at Korea, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, etc.

    Frustrated. I shall stop here.

  5. confuciuslim says:

    if the current crop of political leaders really meant good n well for Malaysia especially malays, we would have been much much better off. By most measurements be it economic, social, science, politics, etc, we have lagged n lagged quite badly compared with many others. it would be relevant to consider why not. really why not? why we aren’t better or at least why we did not maintained our position??? why would they prefer malays to be backwards? to be protected? to be helped? to be always dependent? to be easily “perbodoh dan diperbodohkan” to quote another writer, by others including their own leaders??? ? why don’t they want malays to progress, to become independent, to learn from others, to have noble values incompatible with corruption cronyism n abuse of power?? to learn english, to be more critical minded???? all those characteristics of a well- informed intelligent citizen who is able to think n stand in their own feet??? one of the possibilty is that once the genie of a well-educated malay who understands english n have access to alternaitve views n opinion is unleashed, it will spelt their end to their shameless manipulation n fearmongering leading to a compliant malay citizens wiling to put up with their endless n shameless corruption and cronyism for fear of the unknown devil they do not know for the devil they do know. But it is still a devil they do know and may be there is no devil out there or a lesser devil they do not know. perhaps dr bakri can share some thoughts on this. i can only hope n wish for all malaysians especially malaysian malays to be progressive, open, willing to learn, to look beyond race n religion, to accept that good n bad exists everywhere n is not exclusive to any race or persons professing a particular religion, to stress on substance n not forms or practices, to emphasize commonalities n not differences, for all malaysians to reach out to each others to be humble and accept that another person may believe in their religion as much as we in ours & finally to learn english which still afford the best means for knowledge mobility economic advancement n choice.

  6. Admin says:

    Dear Datuk, I am a regular follower of your blog. I have never before commented anything until this moment. Your views are very true and I am amazed the way you are updated of the issues while you are thousands miles away.

    It’s a true pity that we Malaysian being played by those who claimed to be leaders of the country. I couldn’t careless about us i.e. our generation but can’t afford to have a good sleep every time I think of our future generation. Even today they are suffered by ever-changing-to-worse education system, being robbed of their privilege, etc.

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