The suggestion made by UMNO legal advisor, Datuk Hafarizam Harun (no relation to me), that the ISA be used against, particularly, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah, is symptomatic of UMNO's psycho terrorism response to any opposing intellectual proposition. This technique has been a feature of UMNOlitics for as long as all of us would care to remember.
Psycho terrorism, like any other form of terrorism, is aimed at creating fear. With the target in a state of utter paralysis caused by the crippling fear, the psycho terrorists move to control the target's mind and eliminate the target's action. Without the target's action, there would not be any reaction. Mission accomplished.
The target's action here is her rejection of the much quarreled about - though never properly debated or well argued - concept of Ketuanan Melayu, or the Malay Dominance/Supremacy.
Lately, UMNO's potency, even among its own members, is suspect. While outwardly its President - also our Prime Minister - has been preaching social justice and the concept of a fair and just society and has been blah blahing about equitable distribution of wealth as well as a culture of inclusiveness in his idea of 1Malaysia, it is felt that UMNO cannot do away with its post-war-nationalistic stance. Lest UMNO might lose the support of the grassroots.
Thus, a balance has to be achieved between pandering to the needs and aspirations of the young and educated as well as the middle to upper middle class urbanites on one hand and the lower rung of the society, whether in urban areas or rural on the other.
That is precisely the reason why we, Malaysians, are seemingly marooned in a state of paradox since 2008. One fine day we would hear the Prime Minister extolling the advantages and benefits of equitable wealth distribution among all Malaysians only to be told a week or so later that the special "rights" of the Malays will be defended come rain or shine.
The next day we would be duly entertained by a call from the Prime Minister to the international community not to be involved in the politics of hate only for us to be brought back to Earth by Perkasa claiming that Ketuanan Melayu is guaranteed in our Federal Constitution and Utusan Malaysia proposing with complete impunity that 13th May should be commemorated ala Christmas Day.
It would also not go unnoticed among all Malaysians that despite UMNO's express neo-economic agenda which espouses openness, fair competition and transparency in non-Malay and international forums, it continues to dance to the tune of Perkasa, Gertak and the likes before a Malay audience.
I loath to think what the international community and investors think of us as a result of all these different posturing before different audiences. It reminds me of one of Batman's nemesis, the creature known as Two Face.
Contrary to what analysts believe, UMNO is not at a cross-road. It is on a 6 lane highway, driving against traffic, in a car made in 1956 with a lose drum brake. It is a calamity waiting to happen.
It goes without saying that Ketuanan Melayu, its propagation and sustenance, is UMNO's most weighty balancing act, as far as its leaders are concerned. Any challenge - real or perceived - against that concept would and could not be tolerated as that challenge would spell the cessation of UMNO's relevancy and significance to the common denominator - the Malaysian peasantry - in UMNO's dream of totalitarian-absolutist-feudal democracy state.
Datuk Seri Wan Azizah's rejection of Ketuanan Melayu must therefore be checked immediately. Lest that idea would catch up and a reaction would follow.
The thought of Malaysians, especially the Malays, coming to terms with the obvious failure of the so called affirmative actions thus far implemented by the UMNO-led government - which has further divided the society into "the haves" and "the have nots" depending on the accumulation of political contacts and patronages - and the prospect of them seeing the economical and political truth behind the cries of Ketuanan Melayu, would send shivers across UMNO's fiefdoms.
When pushed against an intellectual wall, UMNO has always resorted to fear mongering.
This is borne out of the culture of speak-only-when-asked-to and the-leader-knows-best practiced from within for much of the existence of UMNO, especially during the 22 years of total subjugation by Dr Mahathir. The end result of that culture is UMNO's inability - despite it actually having highly intelligent people within its circle - to unemotionally engage in an intellectual discourse with civility on issues close to the hearts of the people.
UMNO's only answer then is psycho terrorism. T-shirts with drawings deemed unacceptable to UMNO would be seized. At the height of the Perak Constitutional crisis, people wearing black t-shirts were arrested. People carrying candles in car parks were arrested. Police reports were lodged. Books, even cartoon collections, were seized and banned.
At a more esoteric level, the Sedition Act and of course, the dreaded Internal Security Act, would be called into play.
At this juncture, one wonders what has happened to the promise to "review" the ISA made by Minister Hishamuddin about two years ago? How thorough must the ISA be reviewed so much so that the revision process has to take so long? My stance on the ISA has been made known too many times. I will therefore not touch on it here.
I have also written much on the so called social contract and Ketuanan Melayu. I will therefore refrain from repeating myself. I will also not go into the murky waters of whether that concept historically existed.
In UMNO linggo however, one thing is clear. Ketuanan Melayu is not about the sanctity of the Malay Rulers nor is it about the well being of the Malays. That concept and the very phrase Ketuanan Melayu gained footing on 30th August 1986.
This was when Datuk Abdullah Ahmad, the famous MP for Kok Lanas, made his now infamous "Ketuanan Melayu" speech in Singapore. He was perhaps endorsed by the then PM, Dr Mahathir. (Well, at the very least, Dr Mahathir has never ever said that he disapproved of that speech). He said:
"Let us make no mistake - the political system in Malaysia is founded on Malay dominance. That is the premise from which we should start. The Malays must be politically dominant in Malaysia as the Chinese are politically dominant in Singapore....
The political system of Malay dominance was born out of a sacrosanct social contract which preceded national independence....
There is thus no two ways about it. The NEP must continue to sustain Malay dominance in the political system in line with the contract of 1957...."
He then continued,
"Ours is not a system of discrimination but of Malay preservation which foreigners particularly refuse to understand. Ours is a system of Malay political dominance but not, as is often put across, of Malay political domination."
Again, I have also written extensively on article 153 of the Federal Constitution and I will not go into that here. But the notion that the provisions of article 153 are tied up to Ketuanan Melayu is misconceived, if not misleading.
With all due respect to Datuk Hafarizam, article 153 has never been about Malay dominance of Ketuanan Melayu. It is there to ensure the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak could catch up economically with other races. It is about the protection of the legitimate expectation of the other races.
Our Father of Independence, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, in his book, "13 Mei Sebelum dan Selepas" (13th May Before and After) (Utusan Publications & Distributions Sdn Bhd, ISBN 978-967-61-2073-1), said as follows:
"Even the Constitution has ensured other matters for the Malays. It admits the fact that at the time the Constitution was drafted with mutual consent of all parties, every party was conscious of the fact that the economic position of the Malays had lagged behind other races who lived in this country. As such, a special condition was inserted to alleviate the economic backwardness of the Malays.....
In other words, the members of the Commission (the Reid Commission) had stated that the economics priority for the Malays was really necessary. They proposed that this provision be reviewed after 15 years. All these proposals were inserted into the Constitution.....
At the same time, we cannot forget the legitimate expectations of the other races as provided for in the Constitution. We must remember that all the other races were were fighting for this country's independence together with the Malays.
We should not put aside the fact that before we achieved independence, we were only an English colony which were divided by them. If all races did not unite for independence, our country would still be a colonised country until today..... (loosely translated from Bahasa Malaysia by myself).
Those are the words of the late Tunku himself on the origin and purports of article 153. He should know as he was the one who led the negotiations for independence and he was also involved in the preparation and submission of the Alliance's memorandum on the Constitution to the Reid Commission.
Speaking from the perspective of documented historical facts, it is obvious that article 153 is not at all about the concept of Ketuanan Melayu. Rather it is about the necessity to balance the economics structure of a young nation which was about to be born in 1957. It is about social and economics engineering. It is about social justice. It is about addressing economical imbalances.
As the society evolves, economical structures were built and altered. Surely there comes a time when stocks are taken. The foundation is inspected. The structures itself is looked at. The good is maintained. The bad is dismantled. Whatever which is deemed better would be put in.
And as far as Malaysia is concerned, perhaps a white ants specialist would also be called to look at the whole structure.
After all, we wouldn't want the whole roof together with the water tank to crumble and fall on our head one of these days, would we?