An Urgent Merdeka Message For Malaysia’s Next Prime Minister – OpEd


In conjunction with Independence/Merdeka Day on August 31, 2017, I have these brief messages of peace to both the next leader and the people led. We cannot know who will be the next prime minister, and which coalition or party will help us through this mess, but I hope this message is clear and simple: we hope for an election as clean as a sarong pelikat washed with Clorox.

Mr or Ms prime minister (who doesn’t have to be a Malay-Muslim, only a good man or woman), help all Malaysians, not just Malays or your own people, if you and your coalition are going to redesign strategies for peace, equality, and social justice.

We are all bumiputeras now; today’s generation of Malaysians, be they from Chinese, Indian, Malay, Kadazan-Dusun, Iban, Orang Asal, ‘orang hybrid’ or this or that heritage. Those have been here long enough to no longer call this land Tanah Melayu, but Bumi Bangsa Malaysia. We have toiled for the soil.

And you must remind yourself that you are prime minister for all. Not just for you, your family, and members of your family.

Poverty now cuts across racial lines, with an increasing number of those in the middle class now falling into the trap. Even the middle class are struggling to put food on their table.

There is no strong rationale any more, after 60 years of independence and being a country called Malaysia, to continue policies based on racial lines. Continuing these policies will guarantee another 50 years of race and class antagonism.

In the field of education especially, scholarships need to be given based on merit, talent, and needs, not because one is a bumiputera or a Malay, or because of birthright. If you are a Malaysian citizen, you ought to be enjoying the rights and privileges as well as the responsibilities that come with being a citizen. It’s that simple.

Let us not continue our policy of educational apartheid, Mr or Ms prime minister, if you and your party are to enjoy the support of all Malaysians. One crucial aspect of change is to dismantle the all-Malay, all-bumiputera, all-privileged school, and use its philosophy, paradigm, and pedagogical process to democratise education for all races.

Many of those in the elite and privileged boarding or residential schools, such as in Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM), are not from families that cannot afford a good education. Many are from wealthy families.

There are deserving children from all races that must be given every opportunity to excel, just like abject poor Malays were given the chance to back in the early 1970s, when the MRSM system was first introduced.

Mr or Ms prime minister, you must be fair and just to people of all races.

For example, open up privileged schools such as MRSM to children of all races. Open all monocultural educational institutions, such as Universiti Teknologi Mara, to Malaysians of all races. It will be better for the nation.

Look at the plight of other Malaysians. Promising billions of ringgit in educational, entrepreneurial, and economic aid to only one race defined by a one-dimensional construct is a political act with ill intent. Be wise in the political time you and your party have been given.

Again, reverse the apartheidisation trend in education – for the sake of our children’s future. Education is one of the best means of social reproduction to ensure the evolution of a just and progressive nation.

The New Economic Policy has been replaced with the New Economic Agenda, which promises fairness for all, not just for Malays and bumiputeras. Honour that.

In concluding this part of my plea I say this: in our country, there is enough to go around for everybody, not just to feed the greed of the few.

To the ultras

I also have a message for the ultra-Malays misrepresenting their race, showing the world that Malays are amok-loving and buffoonish, allergic to reason and good dialogue, always ready to wield the parang andkeris even if not challenged, and love to perform theatrics in public to scare the hell out of other races and even their own race. And most of the time, for lousy reasons.

Leave this drama. Malays are not like that. We have more class than Hang Tuah or Hang Jebat, the two historical fools we read about in textbooks – fools who served the sex-crazed, women-snatching, human-trafficking, drunkard sultan who thought he owned the world with control over a river only big enough for Donald Trump’s yacht.

To the red shirts, who do not represent the Malays, here is my message:

I can understand what has happened and how this is an unhealthy development that goes against the hopes and aspirations of a nation wishing to move forward. But here is my advice, especially to those who have children.

It is better to focus on raising your children well to adjust to an ever-changing and increasingly globalised and diversified society. Raising your children to be good citizens able to realise their limitless potential in a multicultural and liberal world. There is so much to gain from networking with others.

Teach them to understand others, improve their English, steady their moral compass, encourage them to think well of and befriend those of other races and religions, and be grateful that schools offer a great opportunity to love and respect friends and teachers of different races.

Teach them of the dangers of generalising, stereotyping, and projecting hate that leads to mass deception, encourage them to learn about other cultures and religions, and teach them that all of us in Malaysia are now Malaysians, not this or that group of immigrants.

Teach them that we all are migrants in time and space and in history, and all humans with emotions, struggles, challenges, histories of joy and despair, memories of pain and pleasure.

Teach them that all of us merely differ in skin tone, born to speak different languages, believe in different things about salvation, all of us travellers in this life.

This is what we are, and have no need for moments of history where hate is cultivated, for there is a bigger picture of oppression that we may not understand. We may all be mere pawns in this great political game of big-time plunderers and multiethnic robber barons skilled at mass deception and distraction.

We should be grateful that we are still alive, and we must think of ourselves as Malaysians for each and every one of us to prosper in peace.

Come back to our senses. Our strength as Malaysians will still come from diversity and the cultivation of talent. On Merdeka Day, we should rejoice and celebrate the achievements of this nation for that beautiful concept of unity in diversity, not rally to spew hatred and invoke the horrors of May 13.

Let us design a safer journey towards a more progressive and harmonious Malaysia, beyond this red-shirted river of blood that marches through the city because of some mangled, manufactured propaganda of ‘Malay dignity’.

What laaahhh you, Malay dignity gang

Malu lah kita majoriti orang Melayu

Kita tarak macam tu lor

Lu, gua, kita semua sama, tapi manyak lain-lain lor

Kita manyak hormat sama semua-semua bangsa lor

Seriously folks, chill, we are a great nation of different peoples, unity in diversity

Our strength is drawn from the creativity of many

Let’s have a party

Not just a party but a nasi lemak and teh tarik kaw kaw party

A truly Malaysian party

Muhibbah late night party

Because we love our country

We just don’t want it to turn into a Zimbab-wee!

But first, dismantle all race-based and racist parties, can we?

Now that rhymes, wouldn’t you agree?

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman is an academician, educator, international columnist, and author of nine books He holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in international education development and Master's degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies, communication, fiction, and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Columbia University chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here. His latest book, a memoir, is published by Penguin Books is available here.

2 thoughts on “An Urgent Merdeka Message For Malaysia’s Next Prime Minister – OpEd

  • August 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    I admire Dr Azly Rahman’s insight into the state of affair we are in today. From the very beginning, Dato’ Jaffar On knew what Dr Azly now sees. Hence, the formation of PARTY NEGARA inplace of UMNO. But he was not appreciated. Racism in Malaysia was born. The rest till today, is history. With Dr Azly proposal, we are BACK TO THE BEGINNING. It is a step in the right direction and it is not too late.

    • August 30, 2017 at 7:10 am

      “NOTHING” is ever late Except that in 60 years of ‘Merdeka’, Malaysia has not progressed in terms of peace & harmony for its people because of manipulation by zealous politicians who want to hang on to Power. Tengku Abdul Rahman gained independence for Malaya for ALL Malays, Chinese, Indians & Others. We are a multi racial Nation living in peace & harmony.

      Let us please go back to that way of Life and be the envy of many Countries around the World.

      ‘Anak Malaysia’


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