The all-embracing slogan – Malaysian Family – mooted by the newly minted Prime Minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, comes across well. But it is good to be mindful that slogans are rhetoric devoid of substance.
If only Ismail Sabri had recanted and renounced his previous anti-Chinese sentiments and stunts before coming up with this newly coined slogan, he would have been convincing. Because he didn’t, his sincerity is suspect.
Ismail Sabri evokes the Low Yat Plaza episode, when he rallied the Malays generally against the Chinese traders operating there. A thief, who happened to be a Malay, was caught stealing a phone. Immediately, it became a racial issue with a huge crowd gathering in front of the Low Yat Plaza denouncing the Chinese.
In retaliation, Ismail Sabri set up similar business ventures exclusively for the Malays, urging them to patronise these outlets. Two of these enterprises, one in Kuantan and the other in Johor Bahru, folded up while the one in Kuala Lumpur, Mara Digital, is tottering.
There was also an occasion when Ismail Sabri called the Malays to boycott Chinese businesses, accusing the Chinese of selling their goods at exorbitant prices. But the prices charged were the same for all Malaysians – no community was targeted or discriminated against.
“As long as Malays don’t change, the Chinese will take advantage and oppress the Malays,” he had written. Clearly, it is a very provocative statement meant to rile up the Malays against the Chinese.
Because of Ismail Sabri’s history, one wonders in all fairness how he can be inclusive and accommodating. They say a leopard doesn’t change its spots, and therefore, he will always come under a cloud of suspicion.
In the name of the Malaysian Family that he expounded, is he prepared to treat all Malaysians – in spite of their colour and creed – as equal citizens? He has to state his stand on this principle.
Will Ismail Sabri do away with preferential treatment and treat all the poor, irrespective of ethnicity, as deserving of equal treatment when it comes to helping them?
Will he support the idea that poor non-Malays should also be given the same discounted prices when they buy houses?
Will Ismail Sabri discontinue the practice of extending the same discounts to Malay millionaires when they buy houses, a practice denied to non-Malays, even the poor among them? Such discounts to the undeserving is an abuse of the system of helping the Malays.
By all means, help the poor Malays – no one will begrudge that. In the same way, treat the non-Malay poor as generously. After all, poverty, like Covid, knows no racial barriers.
Will all students in spite of their race and religion be given a place in our higher education institutions without distinction and discrimination? All students with excellent results deserve an opportunity to pursue a career of their choice. In this way, the brain drain will be reduced, if not stopped, and most, if not all, the best will be kept within Malaysia for the good of the country.
If the government was to provide assistance for all the poor, irrespective of ethnicity, the majority poor among the Malays would also benefit from such a policy. The same goes for educational assistance for needy students.
It is well and good for Ismail Sabri to say, “Let us with open minds and willing hearts uncover our similarities without digging for differences.” If this can be put into practice, then we have no problem and we can move on as one nation. The similarities were there all along, but who was responsible for creating the differences and destroying our harmony?
In contrast, we know Anwar Ibrahim would be more forthcoming, given his more inclusive statements in the past. As leader of a multiracial party, he understands the aspirations of the various communities and will be more likely to treat Malaysians fairly and equally.
Will you, Mr PM, state your stand equally in clear terms as well? This is important if you wish to win over the confidence of all Malaysians. Mouthing slogans can be construed as political opportunism without any basis.
You have declared that all Malaysians are like your family. Will you treat all Malaysians fairly and equally so that we can all march together in the quest for a better Malaysia?
Malaysians await your answer!