game of the Malay hegemonic state
we admit it not, it is the preponderant role of the Malay hegemonic
state that denies
justice and equality to the various nationalities in Malaysia.
years of Umno's political dominance has ethnised Malaysian politics
to the extent where
policies, administration, the mind-set and others have been totally
geared to see only members of the Malay race have an important
edge over members of other ethnic nationalities.
time to time, historical factors and others have been used to
buttress the arguments in support of Malay hegemony. However,
in a capitalist society such as Malaysia, the rhetoric of Malay
hegemony over the years seems to have only benefitted one a small
section of the Malay elite who have developed close nexus with
those in control of political power.
this economic contradiction notwithstanding, the political and
cultural power of Malay hegemony is such that it has served to
prevent whatever class alignments between the proletariat of the
various ethnic groups.
the defender of the Malay hegemonic state, is not alone in this
diabolical game; it is being supported by nearly 13 ethnic coalition
members, many of them are representatives of non-Malays.
very fact that these parties support Umno and in turn benefit
from the crumbs dished out goes to show that the whole Malay hegemonic
enterprise has some kind of political legitimacy. It is on this
ideological/political basis that the country has been governed
over the last four decades, periodic elections serving as mechanisms
for renewal of political power.
to remark, this whole Malay hegemonic enterprise has not been
without problems, but then the exercise of coercion whenever and
wherever necessary has served to put a damper on counter-hegemonic
on the basis of the Malay hegemonic order has meant a number of
implications for the development of Malaysian society. First,
members of other nationalities simply do not have the political
power to challenge some of the most obnoxious laws and policies
that stand in the way of their progress.
the institutionalisation of Malay hegemony has meant that demands
from other nationalities are simply denied or rejected on the
basis that they contradict with the national policy of the land.
discrimination in the name of Malay hegemony and affirmative action
has meant among other things sacrifice and hard work of other
nationalities have simply been discarded.
and very dangerously, the socialisation process initiated by the
practices and ideas of this particular political ideology has
caused irreparable damage to Malaysians in general to think of
alternative political formation - political formations that would
respect the equality of all races and for the evolution of genuine
the present opposition coalition can be credited for challenging
some aspects of the present status-quo, the trajectory seems more
directed at Umno rather than the entire Malay hegemonic enterprise.
In fact, it could be argued that none of the opposition parties
have directed themselves to dismantle the present hegemonic apparatus
in the country.
the contrary, some of them have even appropriated features of
the Malay hegemonic order to win elections and in the process
alienating other non-Malay nationalities. Opposition to the present
ruling elite is important, but it cannot be just directed at one
party or the dominant party without dismantling the ideological
apparatus on which this party receives its sustenance.
the failure on the part of non-Malay parties to articulate the
larger concerns of their communities has been drowned in the chorus
of multi-racialism; as though multi-racialism is a magical answer
to their long years of discrimination and marginalisation.
or multi-culturalism without the rejection of the Malay hegemonic
state and the institutions that go along with it will remain empty
slogans. Political parties, non-governmental organisations, social
groups and many others cannot take for granted that the use of
would just be sufficient to take the country on different paradigmatic
road to freedom, democracy and racial equality.
they like it or not, alternative political formations to the present
the regime must make effort to deal with the ethnic or nationality
question. Honest effort must be directed in rejecting racial and
religious discrimination of other nationalities. The immigrant
or other historical factors should not used to marginalise ethnic
groups in favour of dominant groups.
know that Umno, and to a lesser extent its other partners, have
destroyed whatever goodwill that existed between the various races
in this country. Barisan Nasional and its politics should be rejected
by alternative political formations.
then, mere rejection of political parties or its leaders would
not provide any sensible solutions to the creation of a new political
order. In this respect, opposition parties in the country should
make a serious attempt to think and understand as what has to
appropriation of the features of Malay hegemonic order will not
bring about a paradigmatic change but it will merely replace one
decadent political formation with another. Then it will be back
to square one in the Malaysian political arena - the same old
system with new political masters.
it is of utmost necessity that alternative formations, be they
political parties or social
must honestly and forthrightly address the nationality problems
of different ethnic groups.
significantly, the issue of racial and religious discrimination
that is currently perpetrated by the Malay hegemonic state with
Umno in-charge should be addressed, questioned and dismantled
is no way that alternative political formations in the country
can honestly address the problems of other nationalities without
touching on those aspects that bother them most.
us not deceive ourselves into thinking that mere collapse of the
Barisan Nasional regime will be the end of the nightmare and that
the non-discussion of racial issues will some how make them disappear
into thin air.
RAMASAMY is a professor of political economy at the Political
Science Department, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and has academic
interests in Malaysian politics and labour. He has written quite
extensively and is currently focusing on conflict management in