The initial intention was to give the title "The Myth of Malay Unity" but midway into the posting, the title "The politics of Malay Unity" was felt to be more appropriate.
This must be the third or forth time in my lifetime to experience the talk of Malay unity or the preposition for cooperation between UMNO and PAS.
However, the impracticality of Malay Unity remain and few realities for an UMNO-PAS cooperation need to be understood.
Firstly, UMNO and PAS are ideologically, culturally and geographically different.
While that did not stop them from uniting under the Barisan Nasional banner in the 1970s, the different psyche eventually lead to the split in 1977.
Strangely, the change of time brought about a more liberal PAS in their stance towards DAP. With Nik Aziz himself acknowledging Islamic state is not in PAS's constitution, PAS is slowly but surely emulating UMNO.
Secondly, in Malay majority of more than 65%, it is usually a face off between UMNO and PAS. The seat that PAS yearns for is the same seat that UMNO wants. There lies a certain level of difficulty to achieve the political unity.
Thirdly, UMNO-PAS unity can be concluded as not adding more seats to the Malays. Other than reducing election campaign heat, it is of little political strategic value.
Surmise to say, talk of Malay Unity is nothing more than partisan political posturing.
At individual level, life to the ordinary Malay goes on irrespective of the partisan differences between certain segment of their community.
The bulk of Malay voters are indifferent and still fence seaters. The figure could reach as high as 60% in certain channel.
The voting consideration of the simple Malay folks is neither ideological nor policy initiatives but based on who they know, like and relationship. The slight difference now is the once manipulatable Malay voters are not as easy to lead on as before.
If one had a chance to be in Parliament, members of the Parliament socialise in the canteen irrespective of their partisan affiliation. The so-called animosity between PAS and UMNO are only at the fanatical followers level.
Only outside and in the public eye, do these politicians get into their act of battle. After sometime, this game is all rather pretentious and mere game of perception.
Let's assume that UMNO and PAS actually decide to forget their past grievances and patch up. Then again, it is still not that easy for them to make a political pact. For one, they have to compromise with each other in the division of territory.
Then, UMNO have to consider their partners in Barisan Nasional. In the Peninsular, UMNO subsidise MCA seats in areas with Malay majority areas. All MCAs current seats are in UMNO's Malay majority areas.
Many of those seats will be taken back to cover for shortfall for seats given to PAS and possible loss of seats to PKR in areas with wider race mix. This will effect the MIC seats too. MCA, Gerakan and MIC will have to slog for their party's representation in Parliament and Government.
On the other side, PAS will have issues to contend with in their ever delayed Pakatan Rakyat coalition. They can't simply leave.
PAS would be a laughing stock if they lose what they gained in Pakatan to join UMNO. More embarassing if UMNO and PAS later get into a squabble again. It will be a case of "yang dikejar tak dapat, yang dikendung keciciran."
So, the idea of election cooperation does not make political sense.
Furthermore, as the major race of this country, the Malays cannot be seen to be a political bully to the minorities.
No race in the world is united in absolute. Differences in views, approach, and value system will exist.
Malay Unity is nothing more than a psywar and actually more a case of politicking the message of Malay Unity. The dealbreaker will be brushed as villains and hopefully Malay will place their votes to the party that advocate Malay unity.
In most cases, PAS fell victim in this psywar. Seldom they are the ones insisting on certain conditions and when UMNO, call their bluff, PAS end up spinning other excuses and it is a lost cause from thereon.
This time again UMNO sets no condition. With PAS at the heights of over-confidence, few leaders such as Nik Aziz, Khalid Samad, Nizar and few of the pro-Anwar Erdogans in PAS had shot their mouth to reject.
They almost fell for it until sensibility sets in. After their Port Dickson retreat, they realised that the numbers is not in favour PAS. Malay vote are still swinging against them. They may face the prospect of losing Kedah, if Shafie Apdal and UMNO Kedah could gets his and their act together, which they don't seem to.
If Pakatan only allocate them existing seats to defend their existing seats, they will be at the losing end in the Pakatan pact. PAS will be jeer as being used because it is their election machinery that made tremendous impact in Pakatan's by-elections.
There is also another changing factor.
In the face of a political onslaught from an increasingly united Chinese, the fear factor amongst Malays may favour UMNO at the expense of PAS.
While, UMNO may lose seats to PKR due to swing in Chinese votes for Pakatan. A win for PKR does not mean seats for Malay. Majority of PKR seats in Parliament are held by non Malays despite the bigger number of Malay membership.
As far as UMNO's BN partners in Semenanjung, it is not encouraging. Gerakan is as good as 'bungkus'. They are not expected to win any seats against DAP.
With many former Gerakan leaders joining Penang's DAP Government, Gerakan is viewed as a Pakatan agent inside BN. They are more an irritant than a partner to UMNO.
MCA is trying to shed their image as obedient partner to UMNO. They are trying hard to potray themselves as a fighter to win the heart of the defiant Chinese.
Dr Chua Soi Lek and Wee Ka Siong is leading the charge. Their mistake is to use Perkasa as the punching bag and for crossing into unfamiliar territory of brandishing Islam. Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali has already sounded his warning shot to see MCA lose their seats.
Without Malay and Chinese votes, MCA can also be considered as 'bungkus'. Current indication points to a finished MCA.
Will UMNO's seat in the Peninsular together with votes for BN in Sabah and Sarawak sufficient to maintain the BN Government?
They could pull through. But no more is the dominance of a two third majority.
Both PKR and PAS realised their problem in gaining ground on Malay votes.
There is also growing concern amongst Malay Pakatan leaders that without Malay voters backing them, a Pakatan win on the back of a split Malay votes will give power to DAP.
The attitude of DAP in Selangor, Perak and Penang is not desirable for a stable and peaceful Government. How much more can they stomach DAP's Chinese favoured policies at the expense of Malays?
They need to use Najib's liberal policies and relaxed affirmative action policies against UMNO. But DAP is not helping.
There is also another twist to this.
The poor attitude and participation in by-elections, psywar against Pakatan and BN event participation by Gerakan and MCA raised suspicion that Gerakan and MCA do not have their heart in the BN coalition.
The theory being bandied is that certain MCA and Gerakan leaders are in collusion and cutting deals with DAP and Chinese leaders in PKR to Chinese swing votes for Pakatan. The indication is Penang Gerakan leaders jumping ship to Pakatan and MCA's public statement breaching their usual sensitivity level.
Part of the plan is to jump party after candidate nomination and for candidates in Malay majority areas, it is after the results. Certain community leaders see the need for such plan to save MCA and Gerakan from total demise.
This concern could have manifested itself in Haji Hadi's latest response to Tony Pua with an affirmation that PAS will defend the Bumiputera and Malay rights.
If these is what is meant as Malay Unity, then it is a unity of purpose i.e. common ground to defend issues of common interest. But how long will it last before the next PAS policy flip flop and some idiot start to raise such argument as assobiyah?
However, this time around the call for a dream team of UMNO-PAS is somewhat louder, more serious and more urgent tone. Could it be a response to the surging Chinese quest for political power?
On the ground, the popular opinion is that Chinese clans, associations, kongsi, trade organisation, and NGOs have reached a consensus to give their vote to DAP and Pakatan.
In Chinese politics, the power structure is bottom up and these groupings will determine where the overall Chinese voting trend.
The believe is that Chinese has tasted blood in Penang, Perak and Selangor and the time to wrest power is now. No more is the strategy for "different ships to sail the same direction."
For the Chinese to take such a chauvanistic attitude for political power, it is not a smart move. Chinese cannot hold to power without the support of the other races. Just like Malay majority cannot pursue only Malay policies, Chinese majority cannot be inward looking like what is happening in Penang.
It could backfire and cost them politically. And worst still, it would destabilise the peace and prosperity of the country.
With the Bumiputera and Malays population at more than 60%, what would happen if they responded with a call for "Melayu undi Melayu" and "Bumiputera undi Bumiputera" for East Malaysia?
It means to consider ones race first in ones consideration to vote. The party is only considered when it a case of Malay against Malay or Bumiputera against Bumiputera. This idea is not difficult to promote. All it takes is an Ibrahim Ali-type character to make this call nationwide.
What happens to the nation if the whole nation decide to vote on purely racial consideration?
The nation will be divided along racial lines. We will backtrack to the early 1960s during the time Parti Buruh and PAP were behind the common occurring racial strife. A repeat of 1969 is just a matter of when?
For these same reasons, this blogger never bought the idea of Malay political unity. Let there be diversity and choice.
Ideally, changing votes does not mean a major change in ideology but merely administrative approach and policy emphasis like Republican vis-a-vis Democrat and Labour vis-a-vis Conservatives.
The condition is the Constitution or the original spirit of it must be preserved. Don't anyone dare to to mess with the Constitution.
* Edited 8:00 AM
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