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Umno, not racist?

Najib saying 'just ignore the racism!'

DATUK Seri Najib Razak‘s assertion over the weekend that only “one or two Umno leaders” have made racist comments and that they do not represent the party’s views belies belief.   

Umno’s top leaders have in fact publicly and repeatedly championed the Malay agenda over the legitimate interests of other Malaysians. In some instances, intimidation and fear have even been used in their rhetoric to uphold “Malay rights”.

Hence, Najib’s exhortation for Malaysians to ignore and forget the racism that Umno is capable of is problematic, to say the least.

Not just a few

It was at the opening of the Gerakan national delegates conference on 1 Nov 2009 that the prime minister reportedly said that people should not pay too much attention to the one or two party leaders who make racist remarks. He added that every party had such leaders. Najib, who is also Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairperson, urged people to instead look at Umno’s policies from “Day One”, saying they have “always been fair, inclusive, democratic and open”.

Hishammuddin (pic courtesy of theSun)

But in attempting to paint a rosy picture of an inclusive and representative Umno, Najib appears to be conveniently forgetting the words of many of his party colleagues, including those from his own cabinet. Or perhaps, the prime minister wants us to forget.

Again and again, Umno leaders have berated and chided those who are seen to question Malay rights and supremacy. When Najib says we are to ignore the “one or two” leaders who have made racist comments, whom exactly does he mean?

Could Najib be referring to his cousin Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who gained infamy for his keris-wielding tactics during the 2006 and 2007 Umno general assembly as the then Umno Youth chief? Perhaps he was referring to Hishammuddin‘s statement that it would be better for component party leaders who advocated kepimpinan Melayu instead of ketuanan Melayu to join the opposition? Or maybe Hishammuddin’s attempted defence of the Shah Alam cow-head protesters?

Syed Hamid
Syed Hamid

Perhaps Najib was referring to Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman who objected to the use of the term “bangsa Malaysia” because it was “rojak” and not acceptable. The Johor Menteri Besar said that if the term were to be used, it must only be applied in the context of all the peoples of Malaysia “with the Malays as the pivotal race.”

Or was Najib referring to former Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar who warned non-Malay Malaysians not to question the concept of ketuanan Melayu and that it was “not a joke to be fooled around with”?

What about the Umno leaders who lambasted former Umno colleague Datuk Zaid Ibrahim for being “offensive” for his November 2008 speech that the concept of ketuanan Melayu had failed? Could Najib be referring to them? Indeed, there seems to be more than just “one or two” leaders who would not hesitate to play the racial superiority card in their political games.

Ahmad Ismail
Ahmad Ismail (source: Oriental Daily), against a map of
Malaya (public domain. Source:

Or maybe Najib’s definition of “racist comments” only encompasses those who make extreme comments such as former Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail who described certain non-Malay Malaysians as “pendatang” in November 2008?

Najib said at the Gerakan national delegates conference that Umno was “willing to change” and would “hear the voice of Malaysia”. Will leaders who have previously made racist comments, or who make racist comments in the future, then also be changed?

Indeed, what would be more compelling than merely denying Umno’s racism and telling people to ignore “one or two leaders” would be if Najib acknowledged his party’s racism. And then vowed that the party would no longer put up with any leader, no matter if it’s just one, ten or a hundred, who made racist remarks.

Umno-owned newspaper

It is also impossible to portray Umno as an inclusive and non-racist party while newspapers such as Utusan Malaysia, which is Umno-controlled, continue to publish articles with titles like Bangkitlah Melayu — Bersatu hadapi tuntutan kaum lain yang makin keterlaluan and Melayu jangan jadi bacul.

speech bubbles

The Malay-language newspaper has published several scare-mongering editorials stating that the political dominance of Malay Malaysians was receding due to the “extreme” demands of other races.

“Apa yang dikehendaki oleh orang Cina, India dan PAS ketika ini ialah kuasa politik dan pentadbiran yang lebih besar. Bukannya keadilan dan demokrasi. Maka kerana itu, kuasa politik Melayu yang dipegang oleh Umno sejak merdeka mestilah dihapuskan. Ini boleh dicapai apabila PAS dan Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim menyokong DAP,” began the editorial entitled Melayu jangan jadi bacul by Noor Azam on 4 Aug 2009.

“Orang Melayu perlu bangkit dan bersatu dalam berhadapan dengan tuntutan kaum lain yang kini dilihat semakin keterlaluan,” stated the 15 April 2009 Bangkitlah Melayu article.

Utusan Malaysia has also become a mouthpiece for Umno politicians. In the Bangkitlah Melayu article, it quoted Member of Parliament Datuk Mohamad Aziz, from Umno, as saying that the ruling party does not have to worry about making any decision that benefits Malay Malaysians.

Branding or real transformation?

United Malays National Organisation (with Malays scratched out and replaced with Malaysian)
Umno trying to rebrand itself?
It is insufficient for Najib to advise people merely to disregard any racist remarks made by his party members. If he is serious about changing Umno, then disciplinary actions should be instituted against members and leaders who make statements that do not reflect the party’s “fair” and “inclusive” policies.

It would seem that Najib and some other leaders are trying to rebrand Umno. In his maiden speech as Umno Youth chief at the 60th Umno general assembly in October 2009, Khairy Jamaluddin called for ketuanan Melayu to be ditched in favour of kepimpinan Melayu. Najib’s remarks at Gerakan also seem to suggest that Umno is trying to rebrand itself as a party for all Malaysians and not just Malays. Whether or not this will merely be a cosmetic rebranding or a genuine appeal to the grassroots for change remains to be seen.

Umno leaders have consistently championed the Malay agenda and to change tack after years of insisting on ketuanan Melayu will require more than an assertion on their president’s part that the party is, in truth, an inclusive one.favicon

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18 Responses to “Umno, not racist?”

  1. Francis says:

    First purge all those who hate Malaysians and then say the party is for all Malaysians.
    Again see what KJ said about rebranding Umno – ‘ketuanan Melayu to be ditched in favour of kepimpinan Melayu.’ How can you still say Umno is for Malaysians when you have people all out to lust for kepimpinan Melayu. Chinese, Indians and others are not equal to Malay [Malaysians]. The formula does not equate.

  2. Devlin says:

    Anybody has a clip of the speech by our PM when he wanted to bathe the keris in Chinese blood? It would be interesting viewing…

  3. The Special Privileges promised on the eve of independence to the Malays only cover four areas viz. representation in the civil service, intake into institutions of higher learning owned by the government, government scholarships and opportunities from the government to do business.

    Please refer to any Malaysian Studies module used by the universities to verify this.

    Special Privileges is not a sapu bersih (clean sweep) policy. It refers to representation and not a clean sweep.

    In fact, what has been happening is almost a clean sweep.

    The civil service is today 90 per cent Malay [Malaysian]. Other races have been pushed out.

    This is what Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Front) meant by ethnic cleansing when it complained about Indian [Malaysians] being left out from the mainstream and being marginalised by Umno.

    Umno has even extended the Special Privileges beyond the four areas to almost every aspect of life in Malaysia. Umno took it upon itself to do this, according to Pakatan Rakyat senior leader Zaid Ibrahim. The Nut Graph should send a reporter to interview him on this since he’s working on PR’s Common Policy Framework.

    Umno likes to point to Indian [Malaysians] who have done well in Malaysia to claim that the community has not been marginalised. It must be noted that Malaysia has been built to a great extent by Indianexceptionalism and not Indian inclusivesness.

    In short, if an Indian does well in Malaysia, it is not due to Umno but despite Umno squatting on them.

    Tycoon V. K. Ananda Krishnan got fed up of Umno leaching off him and took his Maxis group private. Now, they have begged him through CIMB Chief Nazir Razak to re-list his group. The Kuala Lumpur Stock exchange lost a lot of its value after Maxis was de-listed.

    Similarly, I don’t know for how much longer Air Asia Chief Tony Fernandes is going to tolerate the Umno government squatting on him. He even had to part with a substantial portion of Air Asia X to nominees and cronies of former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi.

    Now, it’s Najib’s turn and Nazir is hanging around Tony F like a parasite and leech day-and-night. They even stopped him from building a new airport in Nilai just to pressure him. They never expected that he can assume half the debts i.e. RM 20 million of the bankrupt Pelangi Airlines in return for two small planes and the licence to build up Air Asia into the roaring success that it has become. If Air Asia goes to the dogs one day, it will be entirely due to the Umno govt leaching off Tony F.

    Luckily, he has built overseas subsidiaries.

    The Umno govt is reducing Malay [Malaysians] themselves to being poor performers through the policy of discrimination.

    The number of non-Malay [Malaysian] students getting straight As is a case in point.

    Unable to take the humiliation any longer, the Government has decided that the number of subjects at the SPM level will be limited to ten. This is just to prevent non-Malay [Malaysian] students from scoring the maximum possible As and embarassing the government when they don’t get scholarships or places in local universities.

    Umno leaders may not be very smart but they are certainly very sneaky. So, Umno should not claim it’s not racist. Racism is when you deny others their place in the sun.

  4. orang kampung says:

    Najib speaks with a forked tongue, period.

    He plays the good cop while the rest of the Umno team plays the bad cops. Their modus operandi is that Najib will act as the smokescreen to cover-up for the racial attacks carried out by his Umno counterparts that seek to fire-up the anger and insecurity of Malay [Malaysians] to protect their ketuanan Melayu rights. Why? to ensure that he and his corrupted cronies remain in power to rape the country’s resources.

    While those rakyat who are stupid enough believed in Najib, they are oblivious to the damage being done to racial harmony that is being carried out by his henchmen in word and deeds.

    Najib might fool some of the people some of the time but he can’t fool everyone all the time because collective actions speak louder than words. You can see it’s all rhethoric and no action.

  5. alex liew says:

    Our prime minister is acting as the good cop, and our deputy prime minister is acting as the bad cop. The moderates will support the prime minister and the extremists will support the deputy prime minister. In the end Barisan will get all the support!

  6. Lim Goh Tong says:

    I fully agree with Najib – that Umno is no racist. I also fully agree that the sun rises from the west and settles down in the east. […]

  7. megabigBLUR says:

    A party based on advancing the political interests of a particular race is intrinsically racist. They all have to go. I don’t think it’s humanly possible to ever eliminate ethnic issues from politics in a multicultural country, but a first step to becoming a real civilised country would be to abolish official sanctions for race-based parties.

  8. action speaks,words do nothing says:

    Allah ban, bumiputera/non-bumiputera house prices, bumiputera companies for government contracts, bumiputera partners needed for contracts, bumiputera/non-bumiputera share issues (see current Maxis forms), APs, percentage of government servants, percentage of heads of civil service departments, Mara, Maktab Sains, number of medical students in UKM, etc. We will be watching the bull.

  9. antiUMNO says:

    In order for Bangsa Malaysian to rebuild a civil society, Umno=BN must not stay in power. Umno cannot be trusted, they treat Malaysians like fools that can be easily manipulated as they wish. They will do or say anything to stay in power.

    To fight against Umno’s Ketuanan Melayu mentality which has been deep-rooted for the past 52 years requires wisdom and perseverance from all Malaysians.

    Everyone must step out from the trapped mind and prepare to go through another 50 or maybe 100 years of hardship to rebuild a new identity called Bangsa Malaysia.

    I call upon those with conscious minds, expose all evildoing of Umno=BN and vote them out in GE13!

  10. Anti Racist says:

    Umno is not racist? Our PM himself did say he wanted to use the Chinese blood to soak the keris when he was leading the Umno Youth movement in 1987. So can we believe what he says?

    One Malaysia = one for bumiputera and one for non-bumiputera!

  11. anti-umno says:

    Umno is more opportunist than racist. Either way, it is bad in the long term.

  12. Pendatang Cinakuih says:

    I refer to Joe Fernandez’s comments. [….] First, I couldn´t stop laughing. Now, I can’t stop wondering why you allowed this [person] with such knowledgeable comments any space on The Nut Graph.

  13. With all due respect to TNG, I have to disagree with them on this matter. All the examples that they have stated above came from the regime of [Tun Abdullah Badawi]. Trying to paint Najib’s administration with Pak Lah’s baggage is just misleading.

    This is what I do not understand about pro-PR people: when people criticise them, [the critics] are always wrong … but when [the pro-PR people] accuse others with misleading articles and statements such as above, it is A-OK?

    Do unto others how you want others to do unto you.

  14. monique says:

    Any race-based political party is a racist party, be it Umno, the MCA or the MIC. Why is the focus only on Umno? [Let] a [Chinese Malaysian] lead, and all favours will go to the Chinese; put a [Malay or Indian Malaysian in the same position] and you will see [the same] …

    Until and unless everybody is genuinely sincere in making this country truly 1Malaysia, then it is just talk, not only by the politicians but also by others who only know how to criticise but are not doing anything to make it better.

  15. Ellese A says:

    A very fair point, provided that you call those who fight for Chinese [Malaysian] rights as racist as those who fight for Malay [Malaysian] rights. There is utterly no reference in any of your articles stipulating that those who fight for Chinese schools on the basis of preserving a supposedly superior culture as racists. These schools are a stumbling block to national unity. If kids are separated from young from other races, surely you don’t expect them to discard racial prejudices and intolerances when they are adults?

    Also, don’t you think that the Chinese business groups are racists as well? If not for their discriminatory business practices in the first place, we would not need the Malay economic affirmative actions. So if you’re concerned about racism, be fair and nonpartisan. If you support these people or send your kids to vernacular schools, you’re a pot calling a kettle black.

  16. Ellese A says:

    There is a solution to all these so-called racist politics. We must be non-discriminatory. The Malay [Malaysians] must give up their fight for Malay rights, and the Chinese [Malaysians] must give up support for the Chinese business groups and schools. Any discriminatory action should be illegal.

  17. Ellese A says:

    Dear Fernz,

    You have a funny way of arguing your case. If you’re against racism, then you must not condone a party that fights for one race. On one hand you criticise Umno, and on the other hand you support Hindraf and argue along racial lines. Be principled, consistent and nonpartisan.

  18. Ellese A,

    I am not supporting Hindraf but merely pointing out their stand.

    Hindraf started off as a reaction to the so-called conversion of the Everest conqueror to Islam, body snatching, adverse Syariah Court rulings, temple demolishing etc. That’s why they call themselves Hindu Rights Action Front.

    Of course, the mainstream media has been busy labelling them racist and terrorists.
    But are they (Hindraf) trying to deny the rights of others? All they are asking for is human rights and equal rights. Both are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.

    If you say they are racist just because they are standing up for their rights and want their place in the sun, what about those who are busy putting them in a corner? Not racist?

    So, by your yardstick, if you discriminate against others, you are not racist. However, if you complain about discrimination, then you are racist. What a warped way of thinking.
    Let me tell you that everybody will lose if anyone in this country is denied his or her rights and such people stand up to be counted.

    The result of the emergence of Hindraf on the scene has been the wholesale defection of Indian [Malaysian] voters to the opposition. Indian [Malaysinas] may not have a single state or parliamentary seat in Malaysia but they are the kingmakers in 67 parliamentary seats. It’s the Indian [Malaysians] who decide who wins. Anwar Ibrahim seems to have forgotten that. Bagan Pinang was a reminder for him.

    Indian [Malaysians] will no longer tolerate a situation where they are left out from the mainstream and marginalised. They are not looking for government hand-outs like some people. They want the state to dismantle institutionalised discrimination.

    Of course, there are others in this country who suffer as well from all sorts of discrimination. But is it the work of Hindraf to stand up for these people?

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