Umno’s tiered citizenship

I get upset when people talk about race relations in this country.

Let me be clear, they should talk about it – it is their vacuous way of looking at that beggars belief. Talk, but be real. Don’t assume a Malaysia that never was.

Racism is not new in Malaysia – I suppose it is not new in human history per se. It is the assumption that everything was honky-dory at independence – that we have set ourselves for a fall because we did not stick to the dictates of the founding fathers – that upsets me.

Firstly, you might want to contest who actually are the founding fathers – but that is for another discussion.

The people who negotiated – yes that is the word, don’t abuse words like struggle and sacrifice – independence from the British were hoisting the concept of Malaya based on benevolence from its leaders – not principles.

There was never a consistent policy from Abdul Rahman – prime minister number one – on citizenship being paramount.

It was a here and there policy. He would never tell off the zealots in the party, and they have been there all the time. If anything, they are the core of the party.

The argument pro-Alliance (now Barisan) Umno men use to get internal support is one of convenience. Any Umno man who places non-Malays on the same level as Malays will lose. The party never accepted equality, they accept a tiered citizenship.

Malay citizens of Malaya, then other citizens of Malaya – and always in that order.

And with the help of MCA and MIC, they’ve kept that status quo for more than 50 years.

The instances of parity and fairplay existed not out of process principles, but due to the principles of the leaders involved.

You can take your favourite Umno man and say he meant well, which is fine – but you cannot claim that that person endeavoured to cast in stone those ideals in the way the party operates.


MCA controlled the finance ministry, but it was by convention not rule. Umno increased the presence of Malay civil servants with the leaving foreigners, but the ratio of non-Malays in the service was managed by common understanding.

No process, just understanding.

Everything is talked behind closed doors, and we always expect benevolence from the leaders involved.

The ruling class, the feudal class managed the nation with the expectation things will always be ok if they got along with each other – and the rest of us can wait for their dictates.

These were not democrats.

Umno until today has never had a discussion about whether other citizens are citizens. It is always a waffled discussion with an agreement that citizenship is important, but that nothing is ever as important as the amorphous Malay rights.

That is the sticking point, because from it comes all the injustices in this country.

It defeats my sense of reason when people – irrespective of their ethnicity – say that it is a fact the ill-defined concept (aka Malay rights) has to be accepted by all Malaysians.

Of course not. No logical idea talks about inequality being the basis of partnership, the whole idea is ludicrous.

So that is why when people talk about supporting Umno and supporting diversity in the same vein, I have to tell them, “ Are you absolutely sure you did not check-in your brain at the counter before proceeding to the discussion?”

One thought on “Umno’s tiered citizenship

  1. Just an opinion;

    I think it started with the so-called founding fathers. None of them wanted to sacrifice culture and language, etc. to become one assimilated culture like what Indonesia did. So now people have some freedom to do some things that mark them as a particular ethnicity, but have to live with second/third class treatment.

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