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A non-Malay PM: How possible?

IN envisioning federal power, one of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)’s trickiest points is where to place the DAP (read, a Chinese Malaysian) in the executive line up. As prime minister? God forbid, not in this Malay-Muslim majority country. As deputy prime minister? But what about PAS?

Recently, PR parliamentary leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said it was okay for a Chinese Malaysian to be a deputy prime minister (DPM). It could mean creating two deputy posts, as is now the case in DAP-ruled Penang. Anwar’s original statement was only reported in a local Chinese-language newspaper. Other media did not repeat it until PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang was asked for a reaction. He said he didn’t know of any such plan within the PR. DAP chairperson Karpal Singh, meanwhile, said a Chinese Malaysian DPM shouldn’t be a problem, since the PR parties have already agreed that a Malay-Muslim would be prime minister.

The need for a Malay-Muslim Malaysian prime minister has become the default position, even among the opposition. Yet there is nothing in the Federal Constitution to state that Malaysia’s prime minister must be of Malay origin. So if convention isn’t cast in stone, is Malaysia ready for this change?

Not numbers alone

Lim Guan Eng


Going by numbers, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng should now be the parliamentary opposition leader. It’s the DAP, and not PKR, which has the higher number of parliamentary seats in the opposition alliance. The DAP has 29 seats and PKR 24. PAS has 23. But the DAP is happy to let Anwar remain as opposition leader. Evidently, politics isn’t always about the numbers.

In India, Sonia Gandhi was on track to becoming prime minster after her Congress Party won in the 2004 general election. But she nominated Manmohan Singh instead, who became the first Sikh to hold the post. Lebanon, meanwhile, is the only confessional democracy in the world where positions are filled based on religious belief. Thus, the president must be a Catholic Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of the House a Shia Muslim.

Similar to India, Malaysia inherited a parliamentary democracy from the British where the constitution stipulates that whoever has the majority support of the House is qualified to be prime minister. Article 43(2)(a) states that the Agong shall appoint as PM a Member of Parliament who has the House’s majority support.

Beyond that, however, Malaysia under the Barisan Nasional (BN) has its own formula. Yes, the BN fulfils the constitutional requirements of the prime minister being an elected member of the Dewan Rakyat, and who commands the majority support in the House. But the BN has also created its own conventions as to race and religious “requirements” for a prime minister. These are political norms, rather than rules, which have become instituted by practice. Over time, Islam and being Malay Malaysian have been conflated into the requisite identity of a prime minister until it’s taken by some as a given.

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as ultra a Malay as he may be, was not wrong when he said in 2000 that a non-Malay Malaysian could become prime minister. Indeed, he was constitutionally correct.

“Confluence of factors”

So what’s stopping opposition parties from thinking differently? For all the multi-ethnicity they champion in policies, why do their politics end up mirroring the BN’s?


With regards to Anwar’s candidacy for prime minister, the DAP’s Liew Chin Tong says this was “never a matter for debate” among the PR parties because there was “no other choice”. Anwar, he said, was the most qualified person from among the three parties given his past federal experience, wide networks and public persona.

“For the DAP, it wasn’t that he is Malay [Malaysian], but because he is the most acceptable to all. Politics is not mathematics but a confluence of factors, and Anwar fits these factors,” Liew, the Bukit Bendera Member of Parliament, says in a phone interview.

Political analyst and The Nut Graph columnist Wong Chin Huat concurs on Anwar’s acceptability to most people, albeit from the position of PKR being the most centrist of the three parties.

Wong believes that while the DAP and PAS would each prefer their own party leaders as first choice to lead the PR, “they know their leaders will unlikely be accepted by other parties and the public because of their ‘flank’ positions”.

“It’s about the relative positioning of each of the three parties. PKR is the most multiracial, so as far as such values are concerned, Anwar is in the end the common denominator,” Wong says in a phone interview.

The electorate’s vote

However, it’s hard to ascertain just how much support Anwar has based on Wong’s reasoning, and how much support is still based on the default thinking that the prime minister must be Malay-Muslim.

Obama (Public domain | Wiki commons)

Obama (Public domain | Wiki commons)

A sizeable number of young Malay Malaysians are not ready to accept a non-Malay Malaysian head of government. This was reflected in a Merdeka Center for Opinion Research survey, which was conducted in late 2008 during Barack Obama’s historic election as US president.

How many Malaysian voters actually think that race counts less than a candidate’s principles and abilities in administering just policies for the country’s good? If the Merdeka Center poll is anything to go by, the numbers are not encouraging. The same sentiment was at work in Penang when Lim became chief minister. Strategically, he was compelled to appoint one Malay and one Indian Malaysian deputy to assure voters that his government would represent all races.

What needs to happen, then, before the current default thinking on who qualifies to be prime minister can be successfully challenged by the majority? At least two things would have to happen first:

the BN must lose federal power so that the current practice of filling up cabinet positions based on racial quotas can potentially be replaced by a system that is constitutional, yet merit-based; and

race-based political parties and racial politics must be disbanded.

Between the BN and PR, which of the coalitions are able, or even interested, in facilitating such change? If it is the PR, how well is it leading the way in this?

Unfortunately, Malaysia still needs a Malay Malaysian leader to convince the majority of Malay voters about a mindset change. That is likely the hope that the PR has in Anwar and the challenge that Datuk Seri Najib Razak faces as BN chief.

No matter, what is clear is that until and unless Malaysians can put leadership qualities above race and religious criteria, and demand for such leadership, Malaysia will be stuck with the same formula of racial politics, whether from the BN or PR.

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137 Responses to “A non-Malay PM: How possible?”

  1. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Well – there has never been a Muslim country led by a Non-Muslim! The Malaysian Muslims will NOT accept a Non-Muslim leadership as this means the end of Malaysia’s status as a Muslim country. A Muslim country will certainly have pro-Islam policies. Will a Non-Muslim leadership enforce pro-Islam policies? I think that at the end of the day – Non-Muslim Malaysians have to come to terms with Malaysia’s status as a Muslim country.

    • born2reign says:

      Just like [how] Proton can never be managed by a Mat Salleh.

      So Malay [Malaysians] are ok driving an overpriced [vehicle] on the road, and to [accept low] sales and unemployment.

      Cannot face competition as usual.

      What’s this about 1Malaysia? What is it again?

    • Avinesh Kumar says:

      They need to wake up to the fact that constitutionally it is possible, and stop living under the proverbial coconut shell. I admit it’s a far-fetched idea for most, but these are issues which the Malay [Malaysian] masses should be enlightened to, and not just shove into the cupboard.

    • Malaysian says:

      If a non-Malay PM could deliver, and is wise and people-centric, then why not? Malaysians should not always be having a “siege” mindset, thinking that having a non-Malay PM means people are out to get them. Why can’t everybody work towards a collective good? It may be a far-fetched idea, but it could happen. After all, Obama became the first African-American President of the US. Personally, I believe everything must start with a proper foundation of understanding one another’s religions and having mutual tolerance, which we have a long way to go. Why not leverage on the good values of all religions to elevate Malaysia into becoming truly great?

      • mykantree says:

        I think the current siege mentality of the “Malays” are a by-product of the present Malaysian political landscape, one that is largely instigated and set by the Umno/BN regime. Once you remove that regime from the scene, it will die a natural death or fade away in due course. That of course is assuming the same is not taken up by another political party/parties.

        We all know that the Malay [Malaysians] are more capable than what the Umno/BN regime would like them to believe. .As has been mentioned umpteen times by many, the siege mentality is being perpetuated by the Umno/BN regime not for the long term benefit to the Malay [Malaysians] in general, but for the short to medium term benefits of the elite and ruling class of the Umno/BN regime.

        How else do you explain the fact that Malay [Malaysians] in general are still where they are, after almost half a century of government policies that are supposedly and specifically skewered towards their well being and benefit!

        There is more than enough evidence of the benefits, if not downright abuses by the regime, that is published almost daily, to prove this fact.

        The only way for the Malay [Malaysians] in general to really realise their aspirations of real progress is to first reject the Umno/BN regime as their panacea of a better future.

    • Jamie says:

      It is worrying we are equating Islam with Malays.

      The author is merely stating a fact that other RACES can become the PM, not necessarily other RELIGION can lead an Islamic state. Would you be alright if we had a Chinese Muslim as our PM? How about Indian Muslim? Does it even matter?

      Having said that, can someone point out to me where in the constitution does it say Malaysia is an Islamic state? Yes, it does say Islam is the official religion bla bla, but it doesn’t say Malaysia is an Islamic state, does it?

      This is the point the author has left out…. following that fact, would it be alright to have a Christian as the PM? Or an atheist?

      (btw, did you know your Rukun Negara writes “Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan”, hence it is wrong to recite the Rukun Negara and NOT believe in God/gods?… LOL!)

    • durian says:

      I don’t recall anywhere in the constitution saying that Malaysia is an Islamic country apart from that Islam is an official religion. If you read history properly (not based on the brain-washing textbooks), or you can even do some research at the Malaysia Bar Council website which has quite a lot of references, Tunku Abdul Rahman, our respected first prime minister, repeatedly stated that Malaysia is a secular country and not a religion-based country. Islam was appointed as the official religion simply for the sake of official procedures.

      Please don’t have double standard when one man is preaching 1Malaysia but the rest of the citizens are thinking otherwise. It’s more reasonable and logical to have a merit-based system for political position, rather than race-based. It’s like saying just because you are Indian or Chinese, you can’t become number one student in the class. When you are able to leave behind the sentiment of race and religion, and begin to consider everyone as a whole, that’s when 1Malaysia is a success. That is what a Prime Minister of multi-racial country should be about. Don’t get consumed in your racial and religions beliefs (even though I am not saying that these are wrong). Having another race as a leader doesn’t mean the Malay race or other races will be destroyed.

      Finally, please bear in mind that Chinese, Indians and mind you, the people of Sabah and Sarawak have long been part of Malaysia. We no longer put our race as priority, but instead we’re proud to be called Malaysians. Don’t make the others go otherwise.

    • durian says:

      Oh and one more, I don’t remember anywhere in the Al-Quran stating that one race is more superior than the others. As a matter of fact, all races are equal in the eyes of the Al-mighty Creator. Why is there a difference [between] beliefs and actions?

    • Hakimmudin Ubaidullah says:

      These issues have to be dealt with in context. Your point on the Muslim character of Malaysia being the primary driver (my words) of a Malay Muslim led government by its prime minister in the foreseeable future is a reality in Malaysia.

      In Israel even though Palestinians are only a technical minority it is never in doubt that the country will always be led by Jews including Jewish Prime Ministers.

      In the United States, the birth place of contemporary western democracies, unless a candidate is born in the United States, he or she is prohibited by law from taking office as President of the United States. This regardless of their status otherwise as citizens of the United States “with full and equal rights under its constitution”.

      In Singapore a closer comparison with Malaysia, former Prime Minister and Minister Mentor once said ‘The Chinese in Singapore will not accept a Prime Minister of Indian or Malay descent regardless of how much more qualified they may be over their Chinese Singaporean counterparts’. Not in his time anyway he said.

      The issue people ought to concern themselves with is whether a prime minister or government meets the criteria of a good leader with the ability to steer the country into economic, political and social stability and progreess whilst securing its borders and maintaining law and order for peace, good governance and prosperity to thrive.

      Instead we have racial chauvanists putting forward obsolete theories stirring a hornets nest of race hate with the intent of provoking racial hatred and divisions. All this in the name of free speech and the ‘right to freedom of political expression’.


  2. Farouq Omaro says:

    Sabah had no problems on anyone being the Chief Minister, be it Muslim, Chinese or Kadazandusun-Murut. However I am not sure if this is still the situation after 1999.

  3. clearwater says:

    A truthful and fair commentary of this country’s political dilemma. Majority of the young and impressionable Malaysians continue to be brainwashed into thinking along communal lines; are cocooned; and do not feel the urgent need for drastic change to compete with the rest of the world. Some day it will all come home to roost. Meanwhile, rapacious politicians continue to plunder the country’s resources.

  4. It’s not about Why Not … it’s about WHY is there still RACISM […] in Malaysia? The sooner we [get] rid of racism and the ridiculous notion that [being] born into Islam [equals being] Malay [Malaysian], the quicker Malaysia can [rid itself of its] racist stigma!! We need to rid Malaysia of religious and racial bigots. That means the total obliteration of Umno Baru racists and their BN [counterparts].

    Lastly, remember that the Orang Asli are the original Malaysians. How about making one of the PM. Does one need to be highly educated?? Give me a wise Orang Asli anytime!!

  5. 4RAKYAT says:

    Malaysia is not ready for a non-Malay [Malaysian] PM.

    Kit Siang is not Obama. Obama’s language is English (not an African language). Obama is a Christian.

    I am a hardcore Pakatan supporter. So I am saying, please stop all these thoughts.

    Maybe in a few more generations. But not now. Not in the near future.

    Drop the dream. Stop scaring the masses (who are precious voters).



    • ong says:

      Stage 1: Stop doing it!

      Stage 2: Stop talking about it!

      Stage 3: “Stop all these thoughts”! (Quoting you)

      You go straight into Stage 3, telling others not to have what you consider to be undesirable thoughts. What are you? Control freak?

      You claim to be a “hardcore Pakatan supporter”. I hope that’s all you will ever be, no more than a “hardcore supporter”. If somehow you ever become a “Pakatan leader”, then I will have no choice but to say goodbye to Pakatan.

  6. Malaysian says:

    Who cares if the PM is a Malay [Malaysian], Chinese [Malaysian] or Indian [Malaysian] as long as he [or she] is clean and fair to all?

    • 4RAKYAT says:

      At least for the present and near future, the PM must be ethnic Malay. That’s realpolitik.

      Any suggestion otherwise would be throwing a spanner in the works – the ‘greater plan’ i.e. Selamatkan Malaysia.

      Look further than what you are accustomed to – deep into the kampungs in the pendalaman. Those innocent folks do not share the same view and they are voters too. You wanna risk it?? They have to “see” it before they agree. We see it. They don’t. Not yet, anyway.

      You wanna pursue yours (ours too) higher ideals of being classless and free? Well, we are not. The majority of voters are not.

      You wanna kuburkan Umno Baru, just play along. Be better than them at their game. We read about Obama. We read more about the outside world than these kampung folks. But you and I are merely two miserable votes. You wanna take a guess, which group, at the moment, outnumbers the other?

      I am afraid all efforts will go down the drain if suggestions like these perpetuate – worse, get played into Utusan meloya’s hands. [It will] give Ibrahim [Ali] something to chew on. [And then] to bite us. Perkasa has fans, too. Who’d not want easy handouts? Perkasa promises them these things.

      We fight Perkasa and Umno Baru and the likes. And yes, we don’t dance to their tune. But certainly, we shouldn’t create another reason (like calling for a non-Malay [Malaysian] PM) to push those innocent kampung folks into the loving arms of Umno Baru.


  7. Leithaisor says:

    Constitutionally and morally, the Prime Minister of Malaysia can and should be someone who is from any race.

    But practically, there is so much deep-rooted distrust and racism that such an eventuality is a very onerous task. Much if it is likely traceable to factors like the British divide-and-rule policies, cultural differences and ignorance of our forefathers.

    The use of racism as a political tool by well-educated politicians and some of their less-educated side-kicks, as well as grass-roots level leaders continues unabated to this day. Indeed, I would venture to say that there has been an upsurge of late.

    From the almost standard racist spiel at annual assemblies to threats of dipping keris in blood to taunts of pendatang, beggars and prostitutes, to notorious BTN courses to little Napoleons imposing their own version of NEP quotas, to noisy useful-to-Umno Perkasa, Umno, with its long hold on power, is about the worst offender.

    But MIC, MCA and the other BN component parties are not exactly innocent. PAS, PKR and DAP would also be wise to check themselves. The Human Rights Party is almost as bad as Umno in my opinion.

    I can understand the reservations of Malay [Malaysians]. Not only has history shown them to have been given a raw deal many a time, political expediency has translated into widespread molding of their psyche to suit political ends.

    Fortunately, there appears to be a significant number of Malay [Malaysians] who have come forward over the recent years to speak up against that, and work towards opening up of minds and growth.

    It would be wonderful if Malaysians mature sufficiently – in spite of those who would rather it not – to be open to a non-Malay [Malaysian] PM, if such a person is the one who is best for the post.

    But will I see it in my lifetime?

    Then again, I never thought I would live to see DAP, PAS and PKR set aside their differences to come together as Pakatan Rakyat and bear fruit in the form of the 2008 Tsunami which denied BN a 2/3 majority. So… who knows?

  8. mykantree says:

    Why must it be that a Malay-Muslim [Malaysian] must be the PM of Malaysia? As stated in this post of The Nut Graph, the Constitution does not demand that it be so. I totally disagree with Dr Syed Alwi’s opinion that this is a Muslim country. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, yes; but a Muslim country? NO. Absolutely not so. Not unless the Federal Constitution is changed!

    It may be true that it would not be politically expedient [to demand] that a non-Malay, non-Muslim [Malaysian] be the PM of this country now, or even in the foreseeable future. Neither did white or coloured Americans foresee that an [African American] would one day be the president of the United States. And neither did I expect a first-generation Indian Muslim [Malaysian] to become the PM of Malaysia.

    There will come the day when one will be one. So long as Malaysia exist.

    • Dr Syed Alwi says:

      Dear mykantree,

      What are you dreaming about ? The Malaysian Muslims will NEVER elect a Non-Muslim [Malaysian] to lead them. A Muslim country like Malaysia can only be led by a Muslim. Do you honestly think that PAS, PKR, BN and the ordinary Muslim Malaysians will keep quiet and accept a Non-Muslim leadership that might not make pro-Islam policies ?

      • mykantree says:

        Yes Dr, I dream this dream. Maybe not in your life-time, maybe not even mine.There are ways and means that we may think impossible, but then again what many things we or our predecessors thought impossible became possible.

        I’m even sure you doubted that one day you would be a doctor during your youth. Didn’t you? But you are one now, aren’t you?

        After all this is Malaysia Boleh. I wouldn’t lose sleep over it.

      • lovemalaysia says:

        Dear Dr, why are you ASSUMING that having a non-Muslim/Malay PM means neglecting pro-Islam policies? If you are secure in your faith and secure in being who you are, then why the feeling of insecurity?

        • Dr Syed Alwi says:

          Because there is NO secularism in Islam! Can a non-Muslim leader uphold Muslim interests? I doubt so. In Singapore the opposite happens. The PAP thinks that the Malays cannot lead non-Muslim Singapore. Conflict of interest!

          • curious says:

            Do you think Singapore will reach its current state of modernity and success if Malays were to run the country by imposing Islamic laws? No way! The arguments you presented are really projecting your other Muslim counterparts to be non-friendly and not cooperative! Are you saying that it is right to impose Muslim laws and principles on non-Muslims?

          • Dr Syed Alwi says:

            Dear Curious,

            Singapore progressed because of its very pro-West policies. Also – it allowed many MNCs to sink roots in Singapore. Singapore has nothing to lose with these MNCs because it does NOT have any natural resources that these MNCs can exploit.

            But in any case – I am NOT so sure that Singapore is all that successful. Go check out the Singaporean blogsphere and cyberspace. See what is happening in Singapore.

          • mykantree says:

            Dear Syed, PAP may think that a Malay cannot lead Singapore. Maybe so. But what makes you think the PAP thinks that they will forever rule Singapore. In my mind there is every possibility that a Muslim, even if not a Malay, may one day lead Singapore.

            In so far as Islam is concerned, it is secure under the Malaysian constitution, who ever rules this country.

  9. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Dear mykantree,

    I do not think that Malaysian Muslims will accept a Non-Muslim PM.

  10. Breadstick says:

    What the fuss. People’s power is what most people always forget. Even if PR can’t deliver at the federal stage, they will brought down the following general election. What’s more important is to elect better lawmakers to govern our nation. Clear all the mess [in the] media, judiciary, etc.

    For me, given a choice of LGE/LKS or Najib Razak/Muhyiddin as my Prime Minister, hands down I will elect the former!

    I’m a Malay-Muslim [Malaysian] by the way…

    Malaysia Must Change!

  11. watever says:

    Since this is a Muslim-majority country, I really believe that even though it is constitutionally possible to have a non-Muslim as PM, we won’t have it in near future, not [unless] this country [becomes] a non-Muslim majority [which] I doubt will happen considering falling birth rates among non-Muslim [Malaysians].

  12. DLim says:

    I don’t think a non-Muslim [Malaysian] will ever be PM in Malaysia, at least not for the next 30 years. My rationale is ‘until and unless the notion of bumiputera is done away’, there is no way a Malay [Malaysian] will ever accept a non-Malay [Malaysian] as PM. If the idea of meritocracy and equal opportunity does not currently exists in the civil service, what more can a non-Malay [Malaysian] expect? Whether the situation will change in decades to come will depend on the mentality of the population.

  13. muru says:

    Whichever way, the Indian [Malaysians] will NEVER have a say. So why bother having a non-Malay [Malaysian] PM. The Indian [Malaysians] would still be denied by a non-Malay [Malaysian] PM. Let the Indian [Malaysians] swim with the friend rather than be saved by the devil.

  14. Peter says:

    Interesting comments.

    So, what happens if the person is a Chinese Muslim [Malaysian] lady? Can she then be considered [for] PM?


    • Dr Syed Alwi says:

      Dear Peter,

      Chances are – Malay-Muslim [Malaysians] will not accept a Chinese-Muslim [Malaysian] woman to be their PM. For one thing – even PAS would have a problem putting a woman on top. Not to mention a Chinese [Malaysian] one. BUT – theoretically speaking – a Chinese-Muslim woman CAN lead a Muslim country. Theoretically speaking. Nothing in Islam that is specifically against it.

      • Peter says:

        Dear Dr Syed Alwi,

        You didn’t need to answer (it-was-a-trap, LOL). My comment is more of sarcasm than anything else.

        It’s amazing the type of constraints that we put upon ourselves. What if that lady happens to be the most fantastic leader that could lead us to the highest peaks? Should we just let tradition and prejudices limit us so that we can feel comfortable? … so that we don’t “rock the boat”?

        What if she isn’t a great leader after we put her as PM, you ask? Simple! We replace her. That’s what’s great about democracy. So, why be a fuddy-duddy? Let’s experiment and think out of the box. You are still part of the majority and have the biggest say. Where is the risk?

        Oh, I forget. Being “liberal” is frowned upon. Hehe.

  15. Benjamin Sathyanandam says:

    A non-Malay [Malaysian] PM? But wasn’t Mahathir our PM? 😉

  16. Subliminal says:

    I think whatever that would help Malaysia become a better country is what that counts. Even if it means having a non-Malay [Malaysian] PM. Plus if this is all about democracy than it should be the people who should decide. But I guess democracy in Malaysia is something that deserves defining too.

    But I do think that a good PM is also not governed by his or her religious advocacy. You can be a Muslim and still suck at governing the country and be so full of corruption. And that goes for any other religious system too. There will always be the nominal ones that would just wear a religion on themselves as tags and would never go beyond that.

  17. Silencers says:

    Okay, so I guess a common denominator here is that the PM must be a Muslim. Must the PM be a Malay though?

    Keep in mind, Islam does not equal Malay – and it NEVER SHOULD.

  18. So its back to the argument of qualification. First barrier [is to be] Malay [Malaysian]. Second barrier, [be Muslim]. Third??? That to me, is racist and bigoted.

    To those who wants to postpone it another 30 years before [the idea] becomes mainstream for ANYONE to be PM, this is so behind and SO racist. As per my blog site, [stop] the propoganda […] of Umno-BN to fast track it. Nothing else matters and we cannot and should not tolerate racist and religious bigots. Mind you, Malay [Malaysians] were not the real Orang Asli. […] Malay [Malaysians], especially Umno, live with two lies daily, one is that being born Malay [Malaysian] = = Islam. Two, that they are bumiputera but stole this from the Orang Asli.

    Their days of lying are numbered. [Since] they are cornered, they [are on a] campaign of fear. Fight [these] lies we must!

  19. Azizi Khan says:

    @Dr Syed Alwi,

    If I read your post, theoretically speaking, most people will get the idea that all Malaysian Muslims are ‘hypocritial racists who use other race as a means to an end but not recoginising their rights’ but the reality is far from that. A lot of Malaysian Muslims I know are happy to have a good leader at the helm. He or she doesn’t have to be a Muslim but rather a good, clean person who helps everyone.

    But theoretically speaking, you seem to imply that Malaysian Muslims will accept a PM of dubious quality so long as he is a Muslim. Oh wait! We already do! Congratulations! We are officially a model Muslim country! Lets make a deal! Cayalah! 😉

    PS : Oh BTW mate, I really enjoy your posts. You really bring a refreshing load of […] to this site. I believe through efforts of others who comment on your posts, we can successfully enlighten a whole lot of hypocritical Malaysian Muslims. 😉


  20. tkosong says:

    I am a Malaysian Muslim. I have no problem if the Prime Minister is non-Muslim. Dr. Alwi, please don’t speak on my behalf. Who are you to speak on behalf of all Malay-Muslim Malaysians. If I am given a choice between a corrupt Muslim leader and a [clean] non-Muslim leader, I will choose the the [clean] non-Muslim leader.

    • ong says:

      Unfortunately people with your mindset form a minority, most likely even a small minority. Those with mindset like Dr. Alwi, including highly educated ones with Dr. before their names & PhD, M.A, etc, after their names, form the majority.

    • Breadstick says:

      Spot on, tkosong. It’s all about a clean PM & cabinet lineup.

  21. yalawela says:

    They say Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. Make me believe that..that Islam doesn’t look at race or even religion…you are supposed to love everyone, even people from different religious background. Or else, you’re telling me your religion is a lie. So Dr Alwi, please stop your Malay Muslim [Malaysian] PM […]. Dr M wasn’t Malay to begin with!

  22. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Dear readers,

    Why not put what I speak to the test? Make it an election issue and see what happens! I tend to agree with 4Rakyat. Sure – the majority of the Malay [Malaysians] do not want a corrupted Umno. BUT – they still want a Ketuanan Melayu and a Ketuanan Islam and so on. If you do not believe me – then put it to the test at the next elections. Seeing is believing !

    The number of liberal Muslims in Malaysia is miniscule ! They are an irrelevant lot as far as politics goes. You wanna change a Muslim country into a secular liberal democracy ? Be my guest ! Lets see how far you’ll go…..

    Finally – let me say that while I fully support a re-interpretation of Islam, at the same time I am realistic enough to know that such a reform of Islam will not take place in our lifetime. Maybe in another 100 years. Especially when the Middle East runs out of oil so that they will have to industrialise and face social problems that test Islam’s adaptability to modern conditions. Another 100 years people !

    • ong says:

      Dr Syed Alwi,

      By posing the challenge: “Why not put what I speak to the test?”, you’ve exposed yourself as being unable to understand what others are writing. No one is disputing that if put to the test the majority of Malay [Malaysians] will be like you, which is to reject a non-Muslim as a PM solely on the ground of being a non-Muslim. Most of the commentators are in fact aware that if put to the test, you will win hands down, and have expressed their disappointment that the majority are like you. A few commentators claiming to be Muslims disagree with your stance and do not accept you as their self-appointed spokes[person], but never claim that they represent the majority.

      Therefore your challenge is unnecessary. You win. However your inability to understand others makes me wonder what the “Dr.” in front of your name stands for.

  23. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    And another thing dear readers,

    While the bulk of TNG’s readership are people who may not place much emphasis on religion and are somewhat Westernised, the majority of Malay-Muslims Malaysians however, are very Islamically conservative. While you want a Western-style liberal democracy, the Malay-Muslim Malaysians want a more Islamic social climate! I think that you ought to approach this issue from a scholarly viewpoint instead of just syiok sendiri!

    • ong says:

      Dr Syed Alwi,

      Are you implying that people are “somewhat Westernised” if they “do not place much emphasis on religion”?

      You claim that “the majority of Malay-Muslims Malaysians” are “very Islamically conservative”. What you call “Islamically conservative” has intrigued me. Is soliciting bribes in between prayer times or even after Friday prayers part of “Islamically conservative” behavior? This I am talking from personal experience, and not from the internet.

    • Subliminal says:

      I think it’s not just a matter of syiok sendiri as how you would put it. But simply a call to progress. And if change is what we need than change it is. And it needs to go beyond the speculation of people like you; calling for a “scholarly viewpoint.” Go to the streets and really get facts down.

      And I think this issue goes beyond just a reform in Islam. Simply because Malaysia does not consist of just Malay-Muslims. It is a reform “we”, collectively, need to get into.

    • Sabahan says:

      Then can Dusun/OA/Dayak(bukan Islam) and etc be a PM because they are after all, bumiputra right? Sama saja bah tu? Bangsa bumiputra jugak.

    • Sabahan says:

      Dr Syed Alwi,

      Your argument did not even consider our Borneo brethren. [Do you] consider them bumiputra or are you more bumiputra than them. Well, I will put it straight to you. Most Malay [Malaysians, if not not all, can still trace their ancestry back to Yemen, Indonesia, Pakistan etc. Our Bornean and Orang Asli brothers can’t. So what makes you more bumiputra than them and please DO NOT even consider Mahathir’s argument that the first sultanate were Malay in nature because it doesn’t appply to Borneo. That only applies to the Peninsular.


    • lovemalaysia says:

      Dr, with all due respect, you are the text book case of having a “sieged” mentality. You were saying looking at the issue from a scholarly perspective. Are you even looking at other races’ perspectives? People are fed up with all the nonsense going on in the country. But your replies show that you are taking a very biased perspective that shows arrogance.

      • Dr Syed Alwi says:

        Dear lovemalaysia,

        What Malay-Muslims are fed-up about is CORRUPTION and NOT political ideology. The other races want a Western-style, secular liberal democracy. But the Malay [Malaysians] want a Ketuanan Islam. So how?

        If you look at other countries – their minorities don’t complain much about the majority ethnic group’s dominance in politics. Why are you complaining so much? The majority in Malaysia are Muslims and they want Malaysia to remain staunchly Muslim. If you cannot accept that political reality – then I am very sorry for you – because reality bites.

    • Firdaus says:


      There are hundreds of Malay-Malaysians who obviously (from their photos) do not want an Islamically conservative climate!

      As if he speaks for the majority. Yes, he speaks for the majority: of old folks and bigots. Anyone with a brain the size of a pea can do that. But that hardly is “majority” in the context of the Malays in Malaysia if you look at their actions rather than listen to the Jimmy of a few like this […] “Dr”.

      Mind you, I am not saying that we want a morally-corrupt or promiscuous society. But it is hardly the “Islamically conservative society” we want that this […] “Dr” would want you readers to believe.

      • Dr Syed Alwi says:

        Dear Firdaus,

        You do not have to be rude. If what you say is true – then make this an election issue. Lets see what the outcome is !

  24. Azizi Khan says:

    Dr Syed Alwi,
    Please note: Just because someone is “Westernised”, it does not mean they are not religious. And just because Malay-Muslims Malaysians in a majority fashion support a racist stance, it doesn’t make it right nor Islamic.

    This is the hypocrisy of Malaysian Islamic politics. The Islam from the politics is so far [apart] that it is almost a communist lifestyle with an Islamic label.

    This is the reason why, Malaysian Islamic groups and politicians often look down on major Islamic countries like Turkey, Lebanon etc.

    It is refreshing that the number of “Westernised” Muslims in Malaysia are growing because these people are actually taking their time to understand what the Quran really says and not swallowing the load of bollocks spewed by the multitude of “Jabatan Agama”s as a thinly disguised attempt for political dominance and mind control of illiterate Malaysian Muslims.

    Bottom line is being a Muslim is universal. Being a Malaysian Muslim has become borderline racism and bigotry.


  25. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Dear readers,

    First of all – I do believe that Umno and BN should change – by being less corrupt. I do believe in a multi-party system. BUT – and here is the big but – I think that the majority of Malaysian Muslims still want Malaysia to be a Muslim country (and being a Muslim country is NOT equal to being an Islamic State). They still want a Ketuanan Islam and a Ketuanan Melayu. They want a Muslim PM who should preferably be Malay.

    What the Malay [Malaysians] do NOT want is CORRUPTION. If Umno can clean its act – I put it to you that the Malay [Malaysians] will return to UMNO in droves !

    In other words – they still want a social contract a-la 1957. A coalition government based on a power-sharing formula that is founded on Ketuanan Islam and Ketuanan Melayu.

    What the Malay [Malaysian] masses are angry about is BN’s corruption. NOT the political ideology. Besides – I do NOT see anything different with Pakatan. Do you think that a PAS-led government will be any less Islamic than the current one? Come on, PAS cannot let go of its Islamic ideals without losing Malay-Muslim support. Its all nice and easy to talk of Islam For All. But how do you deal with non-Muslims who want a Western style, secular liberal democracy? More Islam under PAS?

    The reality remains that Islam cannot reform in the near term. The Middle East must change first. The Middle East needs to industrialise so that they can experience first-hand the problems of adapting Islam to a modern society.

    Look – I myself believe that Islam needs a re-interpretation and a reform. But I know this will take many, many decades. 100 years. In the mean-time, the best bet for Malaysia is still a hybrid Muslim country with a power-sharing formula a-la 1957.

    This is the TRUE Malay Dilemma. How to govern a Malaysia divided along ethno-religious lines? The Malay [Malaysians] are – by and large – Islamic conservatives who place great emphasis on Islam. Whereas the non-Muslims prefer a secular liberal democracy a-la Western governments.

    There is only one way out – COMPROMISE and hence a coalition government based on power-sharing along ethnic lines. There is simply no other way to govern Malaysia.

    Indeed – how do you change a Muslim country into a secular liberal democracy a-la the West ?

  26. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    And another thing dear readers,

    Do you honestly think that the situation is better in Singapore? Singapore Malays too have a different culture, different value-system as well as different aspirations – from Chinese Singaporeans. Political parties in Singapore – the PAP included – have great difficulties recruiting Malay Singaporeans. Why? Because Malays – whether Malaysian, Singaporean or Indonesian – in the Nusantara – are mostly conservative Muslims. Malays place a great emphasis on religion. That’s the bottomline. If you ignore the religious issues – the Malays will desert you. They will not follow non-Muslims who ignore Islamic issues. Bottomline !

    • ong says:

      “Malays place a great emphasis on religion”, according to you. Problem is that I don’t understand what you mean by “place a great emphasis”. Come to think of it, I don’t think many Malays themselves know what you mean, since they who you claim to “place a great emphasis on religion” are so prone to indulging in corrupt acts, stealing and plundering. To preempt you, I shall state categorically that there are many non-Malays, too, who indulge in corruption, stealing and plundering. However, they don’t proclaim to the world with poker faces that as a race, they “place a great emphasis on religion”.

      • Dr Syed Alwi says:

        Dear Ong,

        Only a small number of Malays are corrupt. Indeed, are Singapore Malays corrupt? Are PAS Malays corrupt? But broadly speaking, most Malays ARE conservative when it comes to Islam. Orang Melayu sangat taat pada agama. I stand by my view as this religiosity among Malays cuts across the entire Nusantara.

        • ong says:

          You asked: “are Singapore Malays corrupt? Are PAS Malays corrupt?”

          Silly questions, really! The fact is that humans are generally prone to being corrupt. Humans include Singapore Malays and PAS Malays. But between Singapore Malays and Malaysian Malays you can be 100% sure that Singapore Malays are less likely to commit corrupt acts. This is not because Singapore Malays are more religious but simply because if they are caught, their government shows no mercy.

          What about in Malaysia? My observation is that those enjoying “immunity” are more likely to commit blatant corrupt acts compared with those without the benefit of “immunity”. If you have lived in Malaysia long enough, you will surely realise that those with “immunity” are the UMNOPUTRAS and perhaps royalty. Nothing to do with religion, which leads back to my original question: What is the significance of “placing a great emphasis on religion” and what good does it do?

          • Dr Syed Alwi says:

            Dear Ong,

            Because in Islam – the leader of a Muslim country must be Muslim. To even qualify as a Muslim country, there must be Muslim political dominance. Do you think Malaysia’s conservative Malays are going to give up on Malaysia being a Muslim country? Not gonna happen my friend!

    • DLim says:

      Dear Dr Alwi,

      You are equating “all Malays” with religious conservatism. In fact, you are implying that all Muslims will NEVER ever achieve the Westminster style of governance because religion is equivalent to governance. That’s indeed scary if it’s a fact. If one is not able to look beyond religion, it’s a question of time when war will come to the fore because religion is so personal and metaphysical. It requires to a certain extent and based on the leaders, blind obedience and faith.

    • frustratedmalaysian says:

      I don’t understand why are you hiding behind the Islam veil when presenting your arguments. […]

      • Dr Syed Alwi says:

        Because Malaysia is a Muslim country. It is NOT a secular, liberal democracy and the majority of Malays are conservative Muslims.

        • frustratedmalaysian says:

          Malays may be the majority in Malaysia. Does that mean other races are not important? It is not just about the Malays! All Malaysians want is a just and equitable system and right now it is not! Look at the education system then, in the instance of getting admitted into public universities and to their course choices. I have many friends with perfect STPM results and active portfolios, curricular activities wise. Yet they did not even get the choice they wanted. They rather let less-than-worthy-individuals have their seats. Your country, Singapore, gladly opens their doors to welcome these bright rejected students. Racial quota is absurd! Are they afraid that Malay-Malaysians aren’t competitive enough to compete fair and square?

          • Dr Syed Alwi says:

            Dear frustratedmalaysian,

            I think the Malay Malaysians do NOT want the non-Muslims to control the political future of Malaysia – given that the economy is already firmly held in non-Muslim hands. I think there is a legitimate fear among Malay Malaysians of losing control of Malaysia’s political destiny.

            True – Singapore practices meritocracy blah blah blah. But where are the Malay Singaporeans politically? They are nowhere to be seen. Malay Singaporeans have no voice in the running of the country. Why? because they have no political bargaining power vis-a-vis the other races. But Malaysia is a Muslim country. The Malay Malaysian cannot afford to lose political control over Malaysia.

  27. rashidzack says:

    Obama is a totally different case. US achieved that level in 250 years. Malaysia has just got 50+ years. We cannot be ‘Malaysia Boleh’ in all cases. The economy of US and the big number of Senators are under the influence of whites and Jews. If the Chinese [Malaysians] can surrender their economic power to the Malay [Malaysians] may be tomorrow you can have your Chinese PM. Do not just compare [one aspect alone].

    Compare all the history and development [and the results]. I am a hardcore PR supporter and a Malay [Malaysian]. PR wont be able to win the Federal govt without at least 45% of Malay [Malaysians] even if 100% of Chinese [Malaysians] give their support to PR. What if I and more Malay [Malaysians] abandon PR, it will impact the votes for PR. We must remember, in the 2008 election, DAP won 90% of the seats it contested by bringing down Gerakan dan MCA. But PAS and PKR have yet to wrest [as many] seats from Umno. If they won all the Umno seats, now what, DAP [would] just be a minority party in PR. This is the reality. A win for PR is to win Malay [Malaysian] seats for PAS and PKR.

    So now, stop talking about the impossible. Talk about this again if Chinese [Malaysians] will forgo their economic power first. Nothing can be achieved without sacrifice rite? Or our future great-grandchildren can discuss again about [making a non-Malay Malaysian the PM].

    Sorry for being rude. But just to warn the non-Malay [Malaysians] not to be so demanding. Look at all factors before fighting your own cause. Do you know that PR received 45% support from Malay [Malaysians] in the 2008 election? But with the recent by-elections, PR is only receiving 30%. Why? Because of people like you. The non-Malay [Malaysians] who show bad intentions [but say they are fighting] for PR. You must know one thing for sure, Malay [Malaysians] regardless of his/her party commitment, will get together for whatever reason if they feel their rights, religious and status are at stake.

    In the PAS Muktamar and PKR National Congress this year, the loss of the traditional Malay [Malaysian] votes for PR was highlighted. All thanks to this ‘hidden’ agenda of the non-Malays.

    Read this to understand more:

    • O'reilly says:

      There we go with the warning again. What hidden agenda of non-Malay [Malaysians]? You’re making us look like the Zionist Jews of Israel.

      What is it about this discussion that makes you fear so much? So insecure? Is that it? You are insecure?

      About Chinese economic power, where do you think it came from? Our ancestors brought their wagon-loads of gold from China in their tongkangs? It dropped from the sky when they arrived?

      This is only a discussion and you are already ranting and raving about the hidden agenda of non-Malay [Malaysians]. And what’s this about Malay [Malaysians] and non-Malay [Malaysians]? Aren’t we Malaysians? I take out my blue coloured IC and it says there under my mug, WARGANEGARA.

      Talk about when all Malaysians will be known as Malaysians, and not Malay [Malaysians], Chinese Malaysians, non-Malay [Malaysians], bumiputra, non-Malay bumiputra and etc. What the hell, how many categories must we have anyway?

      And to the Dr. talking about the conservativeness of Muslims in Malaysia, sorry but I tell you this is all Umno’s doing. The racist bigots have done this to you. You fear so much an ‘infidel’ taking charge that deep in you, you already have a seed of hatred. Look yourself in the mirror and honestly ask yourself. Where does your insecurity lie?

      • Dr Syed Alwi says:

        Dear O’Reilly,

        Islam is what divides us. There can be NO Malaysian Malaysia because Muslim Malaysians have to factor Islam into their planning and decision-making.

        We have a different culture, a different value-system, a different world-view and even different aspirations. Our taste-buds are different.

        Since the majority of Malay-Muslims want Malaysia to remain a Muslim country – Ketuanan Melayu-Islam – then I guess only Unity In Diversity can take root.

        Look – it is the nature of Islam itself. As for a reform of Islam – well – that will take many decades – 100 years.

        • O'reilly says:

          Dear Dr.,

          Probably, and no offense meant, Islam is in need of a Reformation as what Christianity went through. Either that or somewhere down the line of history, somebody screwed up big time.

          Hell, if you want a government based along the tenets of Islam, base it on the one Muhammad had when he was in Medina. I can live with that. History has shown that it can be done and things were going pretty good. But I challenge the notion that Islam is the property of the Malays, as is being displayed so fervently by our ‘politicians’.

          I wasn’t too interested in replying until the guy above me came with a ‘But just to warn the non-Malay [Malaysians] not to be so demanding’ line of crap. That just got me boiling. If you want to question our rights, don’t question our patriotism. And that cuts both ways. Respect our rights, and we will respect yours.

          I hold on to the proverb ‘No matter if it is a white cat or a black cat; as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat.’

          • Dr Syed Alwi says:

            Dear O’Reilly,

            Yes – Islam needs a Reformation. However the Middle East will have to industrialise first – so that they can understand the difficulties of adapting Islam to a modern society.

            You fail to understand that while a good cat catches mice – humans require more than mice. Human society also has intangible qualities like culture and religion.

            So you see – you are looking at the issue from a purely materialistic point of view. But a Muslim society is much more than just economics. A Muslim society is ordered around the tenets of Islam.

            I think what most of you people fail to understand is just how important Islam is to the Malay [Malaysians].

    • Firdaus says:

      You are so full of [facts] and figures.

      And you actually cited a blog.

  28. 4RAKYAT says:

    Only through education can the people be set free.


  29. 4RAKYAT says:

    And I don’t mean the current education system. I mean education which liberates the mind, and does not stifle thoughts.

    With opened minds, eyes and horizons, Umno Baru will die. Good. Cantik. Molek.


  30. Pragmatist says:

    You can’t. Religion is by definition is antithetical to secular, liberal democracy because then people have choices, choices that they will require reason and rationality to choose. Religion requires unquestioning obedience, not reasoned thought.

    I have departed and looking at the demographic reality of the future, I will never return. To all the agnostics and atheists in Malaysia, even religious types who don’t observe the prescriptions of their religion strictly […] I have only one thing to say. Run, fast as you can, far as you can. You may think you can fight and win. This false idealism shared by many. This is not a South Africa, this is not a White Australia, this is not a KMT Taiwan. This is a nation controlled by a terrible, murderous ideology which is winning the war of demographics both at home and abroad.

    My recommendation: Pick a good, Arab-hating, Islamophobic, racist country and move there. Leave while you still can.

    I’m certainly not a racist, I’m just the voice of reality. Yes, because you’re Asian you might suffer a bit of private discrimination by individuals in aforementioned racist countries, however you’re still free to live your life as you see fit. Here.. it’s just a matter of time before that option ceases to exist completely.

  31. Raya says:

    I am sure everyone wants a non-corrupt government, unless you are benefiting from it. Although that is a whole different issue.

    But let’s say if there are very capable candidates from each race group (i.e., clean, good management, etc.), a Muslim Malay, a Chinese, Indian, Kadazan and Dusun.

    Would you tell me that people will want to pick the first choice?

    Secondly, I do not know of Ketuanan Islam (educate me there) but as for the ‘Ketuanan Melayu’:

    Do people who support it really know what it is?
    Do they know how and why it started?
    Are they supposed to keep supporting the concept because they have no choice?
    Or because they need to continue gaining benefits?

    People call it ‘A sensitive issue’ but do they know how sensitive are they supposed to be?

    Teachers discourage kids at school to talk about it, even shut them up at times, and most of the next generation will continue to be silent.

    I think it is a pretty clever political tool. And the education system (I went to government primary and secondary school) in Malaysia made it even harder for these things to be questioned. It will definitely raise the “Jangan mempersoalkan hak istimewa Melayu”, and some of these people are supposed to be leaders of the country.

  32. At the end of the day if Malay [Malaysians] want to have 5-8 children and continue to suffer […] that is their [choice]. You can continue your […] ways of unlimited population growth in the hope that Umno-BN […] will look after your illusion of 30% equity. What you will get is more suffering. While other race are cutting down on their family planning, the Malay [Malaysians] who believe in being born a Muslim-Malay thinks its the duty of all non-Malay [Malaysians] to continue paying tax, to keep your dominance of 90% in army and police to keep the illusion-delusion of peace.

    Bumi non-Malay [Malaysians] will not be used as ATM machines for your […] dominance. […]

  33. OIC says:

    Dr Syed Alwi,

    Malaysians need to change their mindsets, examine their values, think like a human being. Just because one is a Malay/Muslim does not give him the right to rule over everyone else! Especially when their “rule” turns out to be corrupt.

    If I may, allow me put this to you this not so crazy idea. Would the majority of Malay [Malaysians] accept a sultan-less Malaysia one day? […] Is it a written in the constitution that Malaysia must be rule by the sultans? Something for you to think about.

  34. [The] Sultan and Agong are the heads of state and part of the constitution. Stop the rubbish [abou] a Sultan-less Malaysia. They [are] there in a more ceremonial sense, period. […] because the Perak [crisis]. One [corrupt] act has done great damage to the myth of this defender of Islam.

    Let’s talk about the freedom of religion, [of the] press, and the ISA before we get tricked and trapped into this useless debate [about sultans] yang kononya defender of Islam when [other] important [things] Malaysia [needs] to improve [on] has not moved an inch.


    How is it possible for a Malay to be born Muslim and how can Malay [Malaysians] and [the] sultans steal the rights of bumiputera from the Orang Asli. Orang Asli are the TRUE bumiputera. […]

  35. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Dear People,

    I am a Singaporean and I have just returned from a week-long vacation in Malaysia. From what I see and hear, the Malay Malaysians do NOT want to give up their Islamic ideals. Hence the only way out is a compromise solution. A power-sharing formula based on the 1957 social contract. No other viable solution in sight. Even PR will have to be more like BN.

    • HY says:

      How can seeing and hearing for one week be enough to gather perspectives which are truly representative of what the people are thinking? We’ve been in Malaysia all our lives!

      • Dr Syed Alwi says:

        You may have lived in Malaysia all your life – but obviously you do NOT understand the Malay psyche!

        • HY says:

          Oh? Then the Malays can claim that they fully understand other races’ psyches? All I’ve seen in your arguments are about Islam. Not even a hint of religious tolerance. It is having such mindset that has denied Malaysians equality and freedom from racism!

          • Dr Syed Alwi says:

            Dear HY,

            No – the Malays do not quite understand the non-Muslim psyche. But Malaysia is NOT a secular, liberal democracy. Malaysia is a Muslim country. Therefore there is no doubt whatsoever that the non-Muslims MUST compromise some of their wishes.

  36. the reader says:

    This article implies that most Malays are racist… […]

  37. born2reign says:

    rashidzack says:

    “If the Chinese [Malaysians] can surrender their economic power to the Malay [Malaysians] may be tomorrow you can have your Chinese PM. Do not just compare [one aspect alone].”

    This is like demanding that Bill Gates gives up his wealth and power before Americans can unite; or for Michael Jackson to give up his wealth and riches and “King of Pop” title before Americans can unite.

    Hence the root cause is that Malay [Malaysians] cannot differentiate what is racism and [what is] entrepreneurship. Malay [Malaysians] are constantly envious of [those] more successful, instead of learning and humbling themselves to learn and strive for excellence.



    If you cannot celebrate someone else’s success, go wallow in your own failures. Have your own pity party.

    I’m for a colour blind PM anytime.

    • Dr Syed Alwi says:

      Dear born2reign,

      Islam is what divides Malaysia, not economics. Even if the Malay [Malaysians] have economic power, in Islam the leader of a Muslim country MUST be a decent Muslim.

  38. yeo kien kiong says:

    I’m sure Dr Syed Alwi understands each and everybody’s psyche especially that of Malay Malaysians.

  39. A PM should be for all, regardless his [or her] skin colour or faith.

    The ultimate goal should be for a better, progressive and civilised Malaysia.

    A Malay [Malaysian] or Chinese [Malaysian] or a ‘dan lain-lain’ PM, if they are not doing a good job for our nation and our rakyat, then my vote will not go to them.

    I’m looking forward to a time when we Malaysians actually vote for a PM [on the basis of] of his/her character, and the ability to lead us into a better society.

    A lot of countries have done it, why can’t we??

    • Dr Syed Alwi says:

      Dear Nor Arlene Tan,

      You fail to appreciate the role of Islam in the Malay [Malaysian] community. Do you honestly think that the mostly conservative Muslims of Malaysia – will suddenly give up on Islam ?

      You are looking at the issue through the lens of your own beliefs. But Malay [Malaysians] will always look at things from an Islamic perspective.

      I think that you have no idea of how important Islam is to the Malay [Malaysians].

      • Dear Syed Alwi,

        I think you are generalising that only Malays are Muslim and Islam is a dictator religion that when a particular Muslim is in power, that means the whole line of generation shall be of Muslim origin, regardless whether he is qualified to rule or not.

        That is absolutely shallow, not to mention a disgrace to Islam itself. You are definitely putting loads of disinformation about what Islam is all about, and are creating fear of Islam (Islamophobia).

        And to put Malays in such context, you are certainly looking down on the Malay population. Who are you anyway? What credit do you think you ‘represent’ the Malay??

        I am a proud my Malay/Chinese mixed parentage, I am not going to let you putting […] on both my Malay origin and Islamic heritage. The Malay community are certainly more than what Umno is and definitely more than what you have narrowed them down to be, they have the capability to assimilate and acculturation happened naturally in the ancient Malay Kingdoms. See the Malay language, Malay food, culture and clothings, it is definitely not an original idea, it is the result of thousands of years of acculturation from foreign elements.

        To have a non-Malay PM in fact is a sign of acculturation, to show that the majority of Malaysians (most of them Malays), are comfortable enough in their own skin, and able to accept the multi-ethnicity as part of Malaysian society. And what’s more, this will show the end of race/religion-based politics, but a new era of leadership based on common values/interest/aspiration on what being a Malaysian is all about. That’s where the Malaysian Identity will emerge and I believe, that’s where being a Malaysian is something really cool and we are all proud of, regardless of of our colour and creed.

  40. DLim says:

    Dr Alwi,

    Your ‘facts’ that non-Malay [Malaysians] control the economy of Malaysia is rubbish! There are many rich and successful Malay [Malaysians] in Malaysia, richer than most Chinese [Malaysians]. Most Chinese have to work in the private sector because they are not given the opportunities in the public sector, and even if they can get in, promotion is slim. This is a FACT! You use the logic that Chinese [Malaysians] control the economy to instill fear just like how racist whites in white countries demonise all Muslims as terrorists.

    • Dr Syed Alwi says:

      Dear DLim,

      Are you telling me and everyone here – that the Chinese do NOT dominate the Malaysian economy ? That’s blatantly false. The public sector does not even pay well! It is the private sector where the real money is made.

      In Singapore – the Malays have difficulties finding jobs – because the SMEs here prefer Mandarin-speaking candidates. Thank God they don’t do that in the public sector.

      • DLim says:

        Dear Dr Alwi,

        The Chinese have no choice but to work in the private sector because the public sector discriminates against them. It is not a total question of choice, but survival. Don’t forget that in Malaysia, they specifically seek out Malay [Malaysians] (as in race) for candidates. Some of the SMEs ask for Mandarin-speaking candidates but do they specifically ask for Chinese?

        • Dr Syed Alwi says:

          Dear DLim,

          In Singapore they used to ask for Chinese only – in the job ads. After much complaints – they now require Mandarin. It’s the same thing in a new guise.

          • Jennifer says:

            Dear Dr Syed Alwi,

            You don’t have to be a Chinese to learn to speak Mandarin. I am a Chinese Malaysian who can speak the Malay language and I have a Malay Malaysian friend who can speak Mandarin fluently. A language requirement in a job ad is merely a required skill to perform any given task by the company. You wouldn’t hire eg. a person who can only read, speak and write in Mandarin to be a writer for a Malay language magazine, would you?

            Just sharing my opinion. Thank you.

  41. […]

    Pakatan is more likely to ensure the above than BN ever can. So could we expect LGE to become Malaysia’s first non-Malay [Malaysian] PM? After Anwar has his stint as PM […].

  42. Sean says:

    Dr Syed Alwi,

    As well as asserting the often-found “All Muslims think with only one brain” orthodoxy – fails to employ the principle of parsimony: a serious omission on the part of a declared physicist. If Malaysians in the government category ‘Malay’ are Constitutionally Muslim, their (discussed as a class – I refer to no individual) choice of religion is redundant; their defining quality is their government-assigned [racial] category. We should not be discussing anything on the basis of the religion of officially ‘Malay’ Malaysians – it is not an independent variable (it is a dependent variable, just in case there are any Malaysian judges reading; the double-negative may cause them trouble).

    The issue under discussion is ‘PM: Malay or not?’ – it too has nothing to do with religion, but is purely a question of [racial] category. I suspect the motivation for steering the conversation toward Islam is that in the eyes of the affiliated dogmatist some issues cease to exist because their advocates are automatically disqualified by non-membership. Dr Syed Alwi can consult some histories of the giants on whose shoulders his occupation now stands for similar examples.

    Is Dr Syed Alwi aware that the Constitutional religious obligation on Malays is not isomorphic, and that there exists a (= not less than one = one or more, it’s an existential argument) Malaysian Muslim who is not a Malay? While it is (I read hints that the relation is not 100% in practice, but no data?) true that in Malaysia race determines religion for a single value of ‘race’, there is no such inverse relation and Malaysian Muslims exist who are not categorised as Malay by the government. I write this without testing the data myself, but what race is a ‘Mamak’? Can a ‘kiasu’ contributor confirm the race of their most infamous recent tormentor? Are those people not Malaysian Muslims?

    If a (any!) Malaysian Muslim were to reject a Malaysian Muslim candidate for PM on the grounds that the person was not a Malay, that would still be an issue of race – not religion. Islam would still be an irrelevant consideration for that voter in that situation – because (correct me if I’m wrong) Islam does not impose a [racial] hierarchy on those who submit to it. There simply is no ground for asserting that Islam – a religion – should determine the race of the Malaysian PM. In the absence of any evidence to suggest that race (if such a quality exists at all beyond the few disappointing regimes where it is promoted by the state) has some impact on the ability of a person to competently discharge the duties of PM, it would be doubly dishonest to suggest that a candidate rejected on racist grounds was somehow an “Islamic” matter.

    I’m agog that you declare both your level of academic qualification and your occupation at the same time as you attempt to manhandle many reasonable TNG discussions into a domain of which you declare yourself – and the bodies you imagine to share the single mind – the final arbiters. Please, Dr Syed Alwi, make an attempt at the reason you must occasionally employ in your occupation.

    • Dr Syed Alwi says:

      Dear Sean,

      If what you say is true – then go ahead and get the necessary Malay votes to install a non-Muslim PM. I live in the real world. Not in the world of make-believe.

      If you are so confident that Islam is not the issue here – then by all means – make this an election issue. Lets see what happens.

      Because the truth is – Islam is the issue. A Muslim country is one where there is Muslim political dominance and its leader must be a Muslim. If you cannot accept that political reality – then I am very sorry for you. Too bad.

      • Sean says:

        “install a non-Muslim PM”
        Have you read the title of this page? Why are you discussing a different topic?

        • Dr Syed Alwi says:

          Dear Sean,

          How many non-Muslim Malays [Malaysians] are there? And according to the Constitution, a Malay [Malaysian]must also be a Muslim! Time for a reality check Sean !

          • Sean says:

            “How many non-Muslim Malays [Malaysians] are there?”

            That’s an interesting question, I hope someone can give us the answer. The more relevant question is “How many non-Malay Malaysian Muslims are there?”. The question you ask (is it a typo?), which reads like “How many Malay apostates are there?” is not only irrelevant to the topic (race of PM), but would also hardly help with the balance between passion and reason.

            The topic is “can a non-Malay be PM?”. I believe (I have not tested my speculation) that there are non-Malay Muslims in Malaysia. Since all Malays must be Muslim by Constitution (another fact I haven’t checked) their religion is irrelevant to the specific question “A non-Malay PM: How possible?”.

            Deborah Loh’s question – as asked – nicely side-steps the debate you seem committed to have because there are Malaysians who are Muslim but are not Malay. Repeating “the PM must be a Muslim” over and over again not only doesn’t answer the question that Deborah asks, but implies – since we know the relation is not isomorphic – that Malaysian Muslims are prepared to accept a non-Malay PM, so long as they are Muslim. Would you say that is the case or not?

            At the risk of further inflaming sensibilities, perhaps a thought experiment would help. Mahathir is – I think it’s fair to say – highly regarded by many as the once-PM of Malaysia. Imagine that Mahathir’s ancestors all held Mykads (I realise MyKads don’t go back very far). I’m guessing (I don’t have any data, again) that Mahathir’s MyKad holds the data “Malay”,”Islam”. So far so good.

            Now his father, Mohamad Iskandar, I’ll err on the side of ‘benefit of the doubt’ (because I don’t know, and frankly don’t want to contemplate the administrative mechanism by which a person officially changes the fact of their ancestry) and say that his MyKad contains “Malay”,”Islam”. Would it have been possible for Mohamad Iskandar to be PM, if he had so desired? He was a Malaysian Muslim – which is what you keep repeating is the thing matters. Now how about Mohamad Iskandar’s father? For the sake of argument, we’ll accept at face value what it says on Wikipedia – that he was a Malayalee. With no chance of being certain what would have been on his MyKad, I propose that we imagine it would say “Indian”,”Islam”. He is a MyKad holder in our argument, so for my purpose, he is a Malaysian Muslim. Would it have been possible for Mohamad Iskandar’s father – a Malaysian Muslim (not a Malay in this thought experiment) – to have been PM? An obscenely large proportion of contemporary Malaysian politicians have ancestors who also held high posts in Malaysian politics. Just contemplate the image of Mahathir’s paternal grandfather on an oil painting showing his installation as PM of Malaysia. Possible or not?

            I mean no disrespect on this occasion to Mahathir or anybody in his family. I use his name and his (found but not verified by me at Wikipedia) family history because I imagine it’s reasonably well known, and given the apparent rich diversity of Malaysia’s ancestral contributions, probably quite a common family history.

            Now under an article which discusses the race of a Malaysian PM, you have made 21 replies that say “… Islam …!”. But I would expect most reasonable people to imagine that Islam itself is not inherently racist. The principle of parsimony in combination with the Malaysian Constitution tells us that we must refer to Malaysian Malays as Malays and not as Muslims, because their (the ‘typical’ Malay Malaysian, not any individual – I hope that’s clear) religion is a function of their government-assigned race. ‘Malaysian Muslim’ is a larger set of Malaysians than ‘Malaysian Malay’, so ‘Malaysian Muslim’ is an inaccurate label for ‘Malaysian Malay’.

            I am prepared to accept your oft-repeated observation, which I have casually made (to myself) on a great many occasions, that “there are a lot of Malaysian Muslims!”. But until you accept the argument from parsimony – that a Malay Malaysian is a Muslim by decree and referring to such persons in general as a Muslim is potentially confusing (see the isomorphism argument), and also that Islam itself (yes, I know I’m not an expert, I’m prepared to be surprised by one) is not intrinsically racist, your argument concerning Islam must be regarded as superfluous for the specific question of the race of a Malaysian PM.

            I’m not all bad – I too was thrown by the picture of LGE (I’m not a fan) into a fit of depression at that one single prospect that the idea of a non-Malay PM presents. When Deborah gets round to part 2 of this article “A non-Muslim PM: How possible?”, I hope she will be kind enough to copy and paste your arguments there, and you can have it all your way. I might even support you if there’s a part 3 “Can LGE be PM of Malaysia?”, though I might appeal less to reason.

  43. Joseph Choy says:

    Dr Syed Alwi,

    You seem to know a lot about Malay Malaysians and their psyche. You may have a point there when you said that under the present circumstances Malay Malaysians are not ready to accept a non-Malay [Malaysian] as the Prime Minister. But you got it totally wrong when you said that [only a few] Malay [Malaysians] are corrupted.

    I have many experiences dealing with numerous government agencies and I dare say that 90% of [them] are corrupted to the core, especially the police force. They really believe that we the citizens owe them their living.

  44. Edi Mat Diah says:

    Letih baca…
    1900s – we want to try our luck in this new country.. (welcome!!)
    1950s – we want to stick around.. (come, stay next to me)
    2000s – we want to be PM of this country.. (what??)

    • Sabahan says:


      Orang Borneo bukan Islam boleh jadi PM kan? Boleh bah sama saja kan kami…

      • Edi Mat Diah says:

        Boleh bah kalau kau…

        What the heck. Sabahans never came to mind when I wrote the poem above.
        But if you wanna be counted in, suit yourself.

  45. sallehudin says:

    Buat tanggungjawab masing-masing sudah.
    Buat kerja masing-masing dengan ikhlas.

    • sallehudin says:

      Saya tak percaya semua dari A sampai Z…selagi tiada bukti DIDEPAN MATA SAYA, DIDENGAR OLEH TELINGA SAYA…saya cuma mahu keamanan.

      Keamanan segala-galanya. Seorang yang hidup sederhana mungkin lebih baik sekiranya mengeratkan hubungan baik untuk semua orang tanpa mengira kulit, agama dan kaum walaupun pelbagai status pendapatan.

  46. Hakimmudin Ubaidullah says:

    Perhaps non Malay Malaysians ought to learn to accept the concept of majority rule before they whip themselves into a frenzy about a non Malay prime minister. Perhaps it would also be worth dismantling the mindset that speaks of “Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Indians and Malays” before embarking on a crusade to change the country and dislodge a majority with minority rule. Such talk does little to engender confidence in a majority still reeling from the perfidy of a race group that grabbed Singapore then turned them into a caged “prosperous” minority minus their dignity.

    • mykantree says:

      Here you have presumed that a non-Malay Malaysian being PM means rule by a minority! And many base their arguments on that presumption. But is that the intention of the article by Deb Loh? I would like to think not.

      There are already non-racial political parties operating in the country. DAP and PKR, are examples.They are already running some states. Do we not see them running the country as well?

      The politics of any country can and will change. Some might take longer than others to do so, but they will change to reflect the will of the people…one way or the other.

    • Yee says:

      Nobody is asking for a non-Malay only PM. The point is that every Malaysian citizen should be eligible to be PM based on merit regardless of race and religion. If the Singaporean govt really discriminates against minorities, then we should take that as a lesson instead of paying back an eye for an eye. Vengeance only breeds more vengeance.

  47. […]

    Personally, I see the core problem with Malaysia is not the color of the skin, but the content of the character….

    Too many corrupted officials, unclean government, inefficient civil servants, unjust laws/enforcement (JAKIM, RELA, ISA, court judges), elite-capitalist policies (the NEP has a very specific focus to make the rich Malays even richer but used the poor Malays for political bait), zero social welfare (no worker’s union, no minimum wage, no long term effort to eradicate extreme poverty), failed education system, elite-capitalist-communal political parties (again, the illusion of unity are being crafted by race-based political parties, aimed to indoctrinate racism & race-loyalty for each races. What the masses don’t know, ONLY the leaders in the elite-capitalist-communal political parties become EXTREMELY rich and powerful, with their race-based pacts (Dr M, Vincent Tan, Samy vellu, Taib, to name a few), while the rest of the poor [citizens] feel victimized by the other races which creates a cycle or support-system for the elite-capitalist-communal political parties, automatically creating a very feudal-like society).

    So which color, which gender or which sexual orientation, no problem, if the person can rule Malaysia properly and effectively, and make all Malaysians feel proudly like, well, MALAYSIANS. (NOT Chinese Malaysian or Indian Malaysian or Orang Asli Malaysian or Kelantanese Malaysian or (Malay)sian)…. then my vote is on that dude for PM.

  48. Yee says:

    I fully support a colour-blind and competent leader, whichever background he/she may be. Confining ourselves to criteria as mundane as race and religion is just deliberately limiting our potential as a thriving multicultural society. We could have gone even further if we were not being bogged down by needless racial and religious prejudices.

  49. Bigjoe says:

    The issue of non-Malay PM is not really the issue with DAP nor is it that important with non-Malays in this country. What the non-Malays and DAP want is really about commitment to basic principles of meritocracy, non-racial, non-religious politics. The race card plays a role because we believe non-Malays are more committed to those principles and given the overwhelming power of the PM office, even a more balance one under PR govt, the PM commitment level can either derail the goal OR push it to irreversible path. In particular, there are lingering doubt about Anwar about his commitment.

    In my view, the DAP and non-Malay concern about commitment to the principles while has foundation, it should MUCH MORE to be viewed as a challenge of being a true partner and higher ideal of co-citizentry. Like it or not, the fears even though it is real, should be bravely dealt with cerebral power NOT political. This is OUR lot in life and citizentry.

    Forget about non-Malay PM, if in the end there is never one but he believes in the same thing most of us do, THAT is a greater victory, a bigger tribute, a greater reward. THAT should be the ideal.

  50. T says:

    I think the good Dr Syed Alwi is making the point that Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country. He is not claiming that it is an Islamic state. But it is also not secular, in the sense that Islam plays a big part in the majority’s daily life and there is really do division of social, economic and politic aspects of life in Islam.

    It was possible to have a non-Muslim in Malaysia during pre-Mahathir days. Then, Malaysia wasn’t Arabized and Muslims and non-Muslims inter-mingle freely. Once PAS became a threat, Mahathir roped in an Islamic firebrand by the name of Anwar Ibrahim from ABIM to out-Islam PAS. And thence down the slippery slope of no return that we witness now.

    It is remotely possible to downplay Islam. Provided PAS plays along and don’t play the religion card. However, after decades of Mahathir using race and religion to maintain power and to instil fear in the majority, it would be indeed a very difficult task to go back to the good olde days when religion is not worn on the sleeve.

    Just remember, the kebaya was more popular than the tudung back then.

    • Yee says:

      Ah, good ol’ days when everybody was dancing to Dangdut and riding on Vespas that may never come back…

  51. Koko says:

    If [a] Chinese [Malaysian is] going to be PM, who is going to appoint [him/her]? The majority right? Who is the majority? Bumiputera right? So, why don’t the Chinese start [sucking up] to the bumiputera now if they want to be PM so much? Or [do] they intend to do it by iron rule? So much for democracy then.

    • Sean says:

      “Who is the majority?”

      I think you might have been confused by the all-pervasive pseudo-logic that curses Malaysia. You and I are part of the same majority in Malaysia when the measure is “age of majority”. I could be wrong – there could be more children than adults in Malaysia, but even if that were the case, I will just find another measure to demonstrate a different, but still unarguable, majority I share with you. I eat rice. I think that makes me part of your majority too – you and I are members of the rice-eating majority of Malaysia.

      Now what do we want from a Prime Minister? That they are an adult? That they eat rice? Our (me and you, my new-found brother in adulthood and rice-eating) majority will quite probably elect a PM who is also a member of our majority.

      Are you an honest man? Are you of good character? Are you intelligent? Good communication skills? Own teeth? Full head of hair? Unfortunately for me, I am not a member of all of those groups and some I fear cannot be said to constitute reliable majorities. But I think you can sense my direction: If you and I have sufficient in common that we also expect in a PM, we may well vote for the same person from our own majority. If the most important quality for a Malaysian PM is integrity, and the majority of Malaysians also have integrity, then how would that person’s election not be an example of a democratic majority in action?

      The problem is that there’s a decades-old, cretinous, race-based competition in Malaysia that tends to relegate any decent measures of a person’s worth to a lower rank. If we measure ourselves primarily by our respective accidents of birth, then of course the ‘majority’ is one or another race, depending on how one measures racosity, raciousness or whatever the idiot concept is, and democracy is then just a euphemism for ‘genocide’, to be won – naturally – by the majority since it has superior numbers.

      If you define yourself primarily as a member of a ‘race’, then of course the idea of a PM from another group who define themselves primarily by race is abhorrent, more so if it appears by local pseudo-logic that a ‘democratic majority’ of racists would make such a prospect impossible. The title of the article is in itself part of the problem. I think you and I could easily agree if the question was “A charismatic PM with integrity: how possible?”. I expect we could both answer “Easy! We will vote for such a person from within our own majority ranks of charismatic people with integrity!”.

      Now the question for you is – can you think of a non-Malay (try thinking of non-Malaysians, no need to limit ourselves for a hypothetical exercise) whose candidacy you could conceivably support for the post of PM of Malaysia? Nelson Mandela? Angela Merkel? Zinedine Zidane? Cicak Man (no wait – he’s a Malay, right?) Mahathir’s paternal grandfather? I think most reasonable people would be perfectly satisfied with a “yes” answer if there was a single non-Malay person you could imagine as Malaysian PM. Such an answer doesn’t mean LGE will be PM, if that’s a prospect you (quite reasonably, in my opinion) fear.

      It’s important to distinguish the general question concerning race from the specific alternatives on offer in reality. Asserting that LGE can’t be PM because he is the wrong race does a great disservice to other Malaysians who might feel they are the same race as LGE (or some other non-Malay race), but different from him by other measures, but also to reasonable discussion of the issue of who can be PM. Let us all know if your answer is really “possible, but I don’t want LGE”, and who knows? You might even find yourself part of a not-entirely-Malay majority.

    • Yee says:

      If we’re talking about a non-Malay PM, the DAP has the most seats in the opposition, therefore should the PR take over, by rule of democracy, it is actually eligible for the likes of [Lim Kit Siang] or [Lim Guan Eng] to become the head of state.

      Again, the point is not about a non-Malay/Muslim only PM. The point is that every Malaysian citizen should be eligible to be PM based on merit and not race or religion. Malaysia belongs to all Malaysian citizens and I’d support any colour-blind leader that is fair to all citizens, regardless of his/her background.

  52. bkk says:

    A Chinese or Indian PM ? Dream away! It took the US more than 200 years before [we saw an African American] president. I think Malaysia needs more than 200 years before you see Chinese or Indian PM. We are at 50 years now – 150 years to go! Stop dreaming and get real!

    • Yee says:

      History has already proven that dreams can indeed become reality. It may be still a distant dream, but it doesn’t mean it will not happen. It may not happen in our lifetime but this doesn’t mean we will stop working for it.

  53. Hakimmudin Ubaidullah says:

    In the home o western democracies, the USA, you cannot be president if you were not born in that counrty even if you are an American citizen with full voting rights.

    In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister and now minister mentor, made it abundantly clear that the Chinese of Singapore would not be prepared to accept a Malay or an Indian as Prime Minister of Singapore regardless of how much better qualified they may be over their Singapore Chinese counterparts.

    In the previous two examples the flaw has nothing to do with the fundamental principle of democracy or democratic government, the rule of the majority. In Malaysia that distinction has everything to do with majority rule.

    So what is Deborah Loh’s beef about the position in Malaysia other than to provoke unnecessarily further unwarranted divisions amongst Malays and Chinese [Malaysians] and to create volatility and to promote race hate in her article?

  54. Jacie says:

    It is stupid to say there will be a non-Malay PM in Malaysia.
    Come on, talk real. Are you dreaming??

    • Sean says:

      If there had been an Internet back then, I’m sure American Indians, Canadian Indians, Aborigines, would have said something similar. It appears something similar was said in the UK too, about Benjamin Disraeli – our Jewish Prime Minister in Queen Victoria’s government:

      ‘In response to an anti-Semitic comment in the British parliament, Disraeli memorably defended his Jewishness with the statement, “Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the Right Honourable Gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the Temple of Solomon.”‘

      (taken from Wikipedia)

      Lest it be fuel for the fire of bigots, I believe we all had brutal savages as ancestors at some point in time, quite possibly since we last shared a common ancestor. I also believe that social development is not monotonic – we all have to work together to maintain forward momentum. I doubt there’s a society on Earth that can honestly claim no backwards excursions in its history.

    • Yee says:

      Achievements begin with dreams. Simple as that. It may not happen in our lifetime but we will still work for it.

  55. mnz says:

    Theoretically speaking, yes, a non-Malay can be a PM. But given the current political situation, there are a number of prerequisites before this can happen:
    1. A higher degree of national integration is in place. Non-Malays understand and adopt more of the Malay culture, and Malays understand and adopt more of non-Malay culture – be it language, norms or values. Perhaps, expecting religious integration is a bit too far-fetched. But I think if a bit more of non-religious cultural integration happens, then we can expect the ordinary Malay individual to be more receptive of the idea of a non-Malay PM.
    2. The PR makes more visible effort at national integration. Conduct more activities to show to the common folks that the DAP, for example, is not intending to turn Malaysia into another Singapore or Hong Kong.
    3. There are too many blogs, forums and such that reek of chauvinism/racism, and are perceived to be linked to an anti-Malay agenda. Stuff like Negarakuku videos, or blogs complaining of how the Malay language and history should be wiped out with Singapore-style democracy would only further alienate the Malays, and keep them anchored to Umno and Perkasa.
    4. The first non-Malay PM will be someone who speaks like a Malay, understands the Malay psychology, and who interacts well with and is well-liked by the Malay sultanate, even though he [or she] is not a Muslim.

    • Dr Syed Alwi says:

      Dear mnz,

      If a person is NOT Muslim – then he or she can NEVER fully think and act like a Malay-Muslim.

  56. Dr Syed Alwi says:

    Why is it that the Non-Muslims do NOT ask Singapore to put up a Malay-Muslim PM ? It seems to me that the Non-Muslims are more interested in pushing their own agenda. No give and take on their part. Only take but not willing to give…

    If this is going to be the case – then Singapore Malays should demand a Malay Muslim PM complete with Islamisation policies etc

    • mnz says:

      Dr Syed Alwi,

      I think if Singapore can find the ‘right’ Malay, they would not mind having him or her to be the republic’s PM – someone Harvard-educated, secular-minded, strong supporter of meritocracy, outspoken critic against Al-Qaeda, Islamism and Malay ultra-nationalism, strongly aligned with Israel, PAP, etc.

      And in the same way, if we can find the ‘right’ non-Malay, then that person may end up as the PM: someone with strong, interesting ideas on national integrity, understand and respect Islam, strongly support the preservation of Malay history and institution, resourceful in handling the economies and pushing dependence away from petroleum, outspoken critic against Chinese chauvinism and self-isolation, strongly aligned with third-world countries, Islamic countries, tactful and with common sense in dealing with religious issues, etc.

      I don’t think any of the existing non-Malay political leaders fit the bill.

  57. myfish says:

    I think Dr Syed Alwi has finally let the cat out of the bag! His latest piece on the issue reveals his real opinion of this contentious issue.

    If I may add, we are talking about Malaysia here, not Singapore. If Singaporean Malays feels that there should not be any hindrance to a Malay/Muslim being the PM there, that is their right to call for it. Personally I do not see why not, if I am a Singaporean.

    To say that the non-Malays here are “It seems to me that the Non-Muslims are more interested in pushing their own agenda. No give and take on their part. Only take but not willing to give…” shows either gross ignorance or denial of the contributions and sacrifices that the non-Malays have made and are making everyday for this country, of whom they are citizens and that which is their home.

    What is it that the non-Malays are asking for that are not due to them or rightfully theirs to ask, as citizens of this country called Malaysia? Are they asking for more than what the Malays are given? I certainly think and know not! Are they asking for privileges and rights that even the Malays do not have? Are they demanding that the privileges, as specifically endorsed in the Federal Constitution, be denied the Malays too? Again I think and know not.

    Which part or clause of the Federal Constitution bars a non-Malay/Muslim from becoming the PM of the country?

    Non-Malays are not naive to believe that a non-Malay/Muslim will ascend to be PM of the country in the near future. Certainly not when most Malay/Muslim mindsets are what they are!

    But it is a hope that they will not, and should not, forgo; for the simple reason that as citizens of the country that is a “privilege to serve” that will not be denied; of this country or of what it will be.

  58. Bigjoe says:

    Honestly, the only non-Malay [Malaysians] who talk about [having a] non-Malay PM are either the suspicious, politically ambitious, with BN-type crony mentality or the very liberal unrealistic ones including media people who want to sell eye-balls. Overwhelmingly, this is not a major issue for most non-Malays.

    One more thing. Secular DOES NOT MEAN total separation of religion and state. It just means the running of state must be based on reason or more accurately of principles of this world, not faith and principles not of this world. It can be taken to mean total separation which is easier to administer and some (US in particular) argue a higher principle but it does not have to which is harder to administer and not necessary not the wiser choice. MALAYSIA IS SECULAR or it originally was founded and intended to be even if Islam is official religion.

  59. mnz says:

    Dr Syed Alwi,

    I think if Singapore can find the ‘right’ Malay, they would not mind having him or her to be the republic’s PM – someone Harvard-educated, secular-minded, strong supporter of meritocracy, outspoken critic against Al-Qaeda, Islamism and Malay ultra-nationalism, strongly aligned with Israel, PAP, etc.

    And in the same way, if we can find the ‘right’ non-Malay, then that person may end up as the PM: someone with strong, interesting ideas on national integrity, who understands and respects Islam, strongly supports the preservation of Malay history and institution, is resourceful in handling the economies and pushing dependence away from petroleum, is an outspoken critic against Chinese chauvinism and self-isolation, is strongly aligned with third-world countries and Islamic countries, is tactful and with common sense in dealing with religious issues, etc.

    I don’t think any of the existing non-Malay political leaders fit the bill.

  60. hazel says:

    I read the whole commentary. To start with, yes, the constitution of Malaysia does not state ONLY A MALAY MUSLIM can be prime minister. Of course a non-Malay can be PM. Unfortunately, we also practice a conventional system. Reasons:

    1) to protect Malay [Malaysian] rights and special privileges;
    2) to protect Islam as the official religion;
    3) Malay [Malaysians] are too spoon-fed with [privileges] although they are derived from the social contract..

    In any country, corruption is always present… to curb it is possible but it also somewhat living in denial… seriously it is true that majority of us are aware of the high scale of corruption in the political arena… regardless of race, I must say.

    As a citizen of my beloved country Malaysia, I do want a wholesome, healthy and peaceful country to be governed by a truthful and non-corrupted government… it saddens me at this young age to see our fellow leaders propagating an agenda for a better future for Malaysians… and now our PM is promoting Malaysia through out the nation. Perhaps among ourselves we are Malaysia but as a nation itself by that I mean in all field regardless of civil servants, political parties etc, we are far from it..

    Given a chance I would vote for a PM based on merit, capabilities and honesty to run the country not based on religion or race whatsoever….

    And yes Malaysia is not a 100 percent Islamic state…. MALAYSIA being a multiracial country can’t be 100 percent an Islamic state… we are partially secular and partially Islamic…

    Dr., regarding your comment on Malaysia being an Islamic country is beyond absurdity… yes we do have the syariah system for the Muslims in this country… but we do not practice the full sense of an Islamic system per se. Therefore, it is incompetent for anyone to say MALAYSIA IS AN ISLAMIC STATE…

    Perhaps not in the near future… at the same time I believe that in the long run we can face changes….

    Till then MALAYSIA BOLEH 🙂

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