Part of the Do'a Iftitah

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009



The sentient mind behind a proliferation of anti Malay, anti Muslim blogs in cyberspace is that same old chauvinist imposter of yore, this time dressed in the coat of democracy instead of the Malayan Communist Party.

It is that same mentality and chauvinism which with the aid of the west took over the gem of the peninsula, creating an island nation, relegating its original inhabitants to the ranks of second hand citizens.

Malaysia now finds itself in a conundrum, having to balance between the libertarian idea of ‘freedom of speech’, with its duty to maintain interracial harmony, the rights of its citizens, political and economic stability.

These are as concepts and rights inter linked. They are capable of producing a multitude of outcomes. Not all of these necessarily beneficial to political stability or racial harmony in a country as unique as Malaysia is.

Evidence shows us that a curtailing of these rights or privileges for the right purposes and at the right moment is and can be beneficial to political and economic stability and to maintaining interracial harmony. Kamunting has a purpose.


Enter Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein MP and Minister of Home Affairs Malaysia. In one act of sensationalism he staked his claim alongside the claims of a large constituency in Malaysia to a Malay identity.

His response albeit a colorful and provocative one has been welcomed by many as an appropriate and timely response to a nascent and nefarious anti Malay campaign directed from the neighborhood and channeled through the so called alternative media in Malaysia.

Complete with symbolic and some may say provocative gestures, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn wielded a Keris, the traditional dagger of Malay warriors, in Parliament proclaiming “Ketuanan Melayu” or the “Rule of the Malay”. Two words when used in conjunction with each other capable of a myriad of interpretations.

The English language media accompanied largely by their Chinese counterparts as if on cue erupted into shrill and bellicose responses of their own with their self serving interpretations of the term Ketuanan Melayu.

Ketuanan Melayu as a statement became a catalyst for exposing Malaysia’s superficial inter racial harmony, unleashing a torrent of abuse at the mainly Malay Muslim majority. The contumely at the Malays, aided and abetted by the silence of an indolent and incompetent prime minister at the time, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.


Long before European settlement in Malaya and imposition of their idea of government by colonial rule, the Malays had enjoyed a sophisticated form of constitutional government for centuries.

It may not have accorded with or borne the characteristics or definitions of secular European style constitutions. Kerajaan was nonetheless the framework under which government operated in a Malay Malaya albeit fused with Islam in pre European times.

In the European model church and state have been and are meant to be theoretically separate. In reality European governments have always and continue to be inextricably linked to or influenced by the power of the church and its theological ideologies channeled through the instrument of elected government.


Much of the Malay constitution in pre colonial times consisted of conventions or their Adats. Islamic teachings and theocratic political philosophies which influenced it in the post Hindu era received much attention and was debated for the conflicts and challenges it presented an established Malay culture and its traditions. Islam was not as radical as believed nor was it imposed by the sword or gun and the spiritual character of Sufism embellished already existing rich traditions in the peninsula.

Malays enjoyed a sophisticated and ordered relationship at family and local village levels with their order of rule from headmen, their councils, the Sultans and their governing counsel, army (defenders) law enforcers and Islam (and its educational and religious institutions including Madrassas and Pondoks).

The so called secular constitution of the Europeans did not in fact separate church from state. This is a myth conveniently recorded otherwise or omitted altogether from the annals of history. The Portuguese and the Dutch were ruled by Church. In fact the British themselves continue to have a constitutional form of government fused with that of the power of the church.

Their (the British) constitution and idea of the rule of law and other legal theories were nonetheless imposed on Malaya after colonization to the exclusion of the pre existing Malay form. It became recognized as the only constitution and with it came the basis of institutions they established.

Mistakenly believing that they had in fact eradicated any trace of the potency of Malay political culture, the British co authored and engineered the NEP with unforeseen outcomes. The empowerment of a Malay majority. A Nationalistic visionary leader in Mahathir followed and the drive to reclaim and re assert a Malay constitution sprouted independently in the minds of the Malays.

Thanks to the British idea of majority rule in a constitutional democracy, they have perhaps now opened the door to that choice of Ketuanan Melayu through the machinery of constitutional rights and the exercise the right to vote.

Singapore’s suppression of its Malays and their aspirations and rights has of itself nurtured the desire and supplied the tools to quench that thirst to be free as Malays in a Malay land.

It is now for the Malays to reclaim all that is theirs that was deemed abandoned or destroyed and excised from contemporary political culture for no good reason other than for economic gain and the political convenience of others.

Ketuanan Melayu is that call to Malays to re assert their true identity to its fullest extent making Merdeka for them whole and complete. Ketuanan Melayu has nothing to do with the bogey being propagated by anti Malay forces within and from outside Malaysia that say it is about Malay rights only to the exclusion of other races, religions and cultures.

Ketuanan Melayu is simply is a re assertion of that right of every nation to re claim its past and from its past whatever it is that rightfully is theirs, indelibly stamped on their natural and true national identity.

To the Malay it is his Adat in whatever just form that may be. In Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn’s words that’s Ketuanan Melayu. The primacy and not necessarily paramouncy of all things Malay.

If the Welsh could have agitated for Plaid Cymru and the Scots an independent Scottish parliament complete with kilt wearing former James Bond MP’s, surely the Malays are entitled to the respect and to their right to demand Ketuanan Melayu.

Gopal Raj Kumar

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