Bersih appears to have paved the way for the rise of an otherwise complacent and relatively docile political force in Malaysia, its vast rural Malay population. 

Ambiga Sreenivasan and the opposition of the Chinese DAP and Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat have ensured a swifter more effective means of realization of the idea of “Ketuanan Melayu”.

Not content with vehemently opposing government assistance to the Malays to advance themselves to the level of the Chinese and Indians in commerce and education, Bersih and the Chinese led opposition has engaged in widespread race hate campaigns directed against Malays. Their latest stunt has now opened up the floodgates to accessing power through illegal street marches, unsubstantiated scurrilous allegations against politicians treated as fact, the force of mob rule and abandonment of the ballot box.

Bersih by its intransigence and its attempt at a naked power grab has signed the death warrant for liberal parliamentary democracy in Malaysia. Bersih’s contempt for the rule of law is manna to the restless rising Malay consiousness.


Regardless of government shortcomings over the decades, the Malays have remained largely steadfast in their support for UMNO and everything Malay it stands for. The Malays are and have always been unwavering in their support for their rulers, their traditions, their community, language, customs and their religion.

That loyalty has long been viewed by others erroneously as a sign of weakness and a sign of backwardness in the Malays. Wrong. Lee Kuan Yew himself once analysed this fall back position on culture and traditions in the Chinese referring to it in the following terms : “culture is that ballast” societies seek to rely on in a changing world.

Culture and tradition provides a sense of stability, balance and purpose. It serves as an anchor in times of turmoil and uncertainty. And there is no greater demonstration of the truth of that statement than is found to exist in the lives of the Malays. Especially the rural Malays.

The Malays have clung on to their “Adat” for centuries with little dilution of its truths and its meanings attached to them. It is their Adat what underpins the concept and the political ideology of the idea of “Ketuanan Melayu”, an idea that is anathema to the migrant classes in Malaysia who will not accept the primacy of the Malays as the first people and the recognized owners of what is “Tanah Melayu”.

Bersih has now somewhat and perhaps unintentionally presented the more radical Malays with an unprecedented opportunity on a silver platter, for the Malays to accelerate the process of Ketuanan Melayu. The means Bersih has adopted is the same tool by which the Malays will set out to carve their political  objectives in a New Malaysia they will define. And in place of the ballot box Bersih has shown the more radical amongst the Malays how to use their sheer numbers, riot and disobedience of the law to overcome their timidity in politics.


Many more Malays today are talking of adopting the Bersih method of riot to topple amongst others, that Chinese dominated government of Penang state. It will be according to some, their first major step in a campaign to reclaiming what they believe was always rightfully theirs since time immemorial. A Malay dominated Malaysia.

To the rising rural Malay political consciousness this is redemption of their dignity and reclaiming their cultural heritage given away without their consent at the birth of Malaya first then Malaysia. They will now without hesitation (and courtesy of Bersih’s riot) seek to achieve this political objective by emulating and applying those same methods of the opposition and Bersih as endorsed by Guan Eng, Penang’s chief minister. 

If the state of Penang falls by this method, it will without doubt re draw Malaysia’s present multi party and multi cultural landscape. Replacing it will be what Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand have adopted and enforced for ages. A homogenous political culture where culture and traditions of the majority and their politics will become inseparable. Such a change will stand testament to the failure of the Westminster system in a multi cultural democracy. In fact it will re define the meaning of democracy as we now understand it.


The Malays now view the precedence created by lawyers in the Malaysian Bar Council , Ambiga Sreenivasan, Anwar Ibrahim and Guan Eng in street marches and false propaganda campaigns, as a legitimate means for their planned actions across the states. Their methods will necessarily include defiance of  legitimate authority, definance of the courts and discarding the ballot box to as a means to an end as Bersih has done.

Substituting the age old democratic process including the ballot box and the courts with those new methods which now Bersih appears to have adopted for themselves, the more radical Malays will seek to secure their political objectives with the same weapons of conflict introduced by Bersih and the opposition.  

Unsubstantiated allegations against individual politicians like Penang’s  chief minister, his race based Chinese dominated party in much the same way Bersih has used such unfounded allegations against the government of Malaysia and its individual ministers will be substituted for the truth and for policies. And who could blame the Malays now for logically assuming that the precedents set by Bersih has valid moral authority and the force of law over established democratic principles and institutions as the ballot box and the courts?

If  as is believed the Malays plan to  use street marches, demonstrations, civil society disruptions and general pandemonium to force their demands through they have the numbers to achieve that end. In short if they plan to do what the government they say has tolerated of an unrepresentative mob in Bersih they will succeed.

Bersih after all is nothing more than a mob without a lawful mandate seeking to overthrow government outside of the ballot box on the basis of a whim and a prayer. Most of their demands were met by government. They had no purpose nor reason to defy the law and to riot on 28 April 2012.


Without equivocation it can be said that Bersih has ushered in the birth of Ketuanan Melayu. Ketuanan Melayu is now a juggernaut that will not stop till it  achieves all of the objects of Ketuanan Melayu and returns Malaysia to the absolute control of Malays with a government that is Malay complete with, laws, rules and regulations that are consistent with their Adat.

Goodbye to the Westminster traditions of parliamentary democracy as a political legal concept Malaysians have enjoyed at the expense of its majority people till now. Hello street marches, mob rule, unsubstantiated rumours and fear mongering of street mobs as a means of achieving power. Thanks again to Bersih.

And the Malays it appears are serious about their threat. They are in a majority. It is food for thought for the non Malays to contemplate and digest on 28 April 2012 when they face up at Dataran Merdeka.


It appears that Bersih in the heat of its rabid anti Malay propaganda campaigns has miscalculated terribly by precipitating a backlash of a Malay polity feeling under seige. The unintended consequences of a revolution in a hurry by a woman in a hurry cannot be ignored by rational logically minded people.

Malays across the political spectrum will in time to come, thank Ambiga Sreenivasan and Bersih for galvanizing their political consciences into action. (see  “Unintended Consequences of an Arab Revolution” in an earlier post).

Ushering in the birth of that perennial  bogey of Malaysian politics, Ketuanan Melayu is  midwife to its re birth, Ambiga Sreenivasana, the DAP, PKR and Bersih. In the process, Bersih like the youth of Egypt and Syria and other Arab states has become the catalyst for the rise of a very large dormant and often ignored section of the Malaysian political landscape. The majority Malays.


Apart from a selective politically correct urban Malay elite, the evidence points to a surge in Malay support for the Barisan and UMNO ( McNair Andersen, US State Department February 2012). Independent polls point to the rise of a  more reactive, politically savvy, aggressive and nationalistic core within the wider Malay political spectrum.

From within the core in that spectrum are those who agitate for the imposition of Ketuanan Melayu. No more is there a tolerance for consensual or gradual development of Ketuanan Melayu. The call now is for more urgent and immediate action.

Much like with Egypt’s Islamic Brotherhood and its raft of Islamic and traditional parties, these groups within the Malaypolity have been largely ignored by the ‘mainstream’ non Malay opposition and media. To some extent the same is also true of some elements of government. In particularly its urban elitist Malays like Anwar Ibrahim, Zaid Ibrahim and Tengku Razaliegh. These three individuals and dozens more like them are considered nothing more than political chameleons and opportunists on a short Chinese leash by their Malay kin.

Unlike the rural Malays, the opposition enjoys the support of vast social  and political networks in the west and in the Chinese diaspora, all allied to anti Islamic NGO  groups. The Malay’s though like the Egyptian example have been insular and isolated till now. Isolated from their kith and kin in south east Asia (Indonesia, the Phillipines and Thailand) by colonial rule. The actions of Bersih on 28 April 2012 has precipitated a crisis they will live to regret.

The Malays have now been given that  “kiss of life” by Bersih in much the same way the Egyptian elites and their pro western youth provided for the Islamic brotherhood and their allies unintentionally catapulting the Brotherhood and the traditional and religious parties into a power orbit beyond their wildest dreams.

Bersih in a myopic self centred execution of the individual political ambitions of its leader has failed to factor in or foresee the resulting consequential damage of its actions to the existing liberal political framework that is Malaysia. In its wake it  has awakened a sleeping dragon in Ketuanan Melayu.

The failures of Bersih in this respect may be irreversible. It may well be the forerunner of a disastrous future for non Malay Malaysians not content with their prosperous  existence for decades in a country they call their own. It may now well be that the ultimate objective of Malay independence will be realized by the majority Malays.

31 August and the cosmetic “declaration of independence” engineered y the British and Chinese in 1957 may well be history soon. Thanks to Bersih, the DAP and PKR.

It appears that the stage has now been set for the irreversible and inevitable rise of Ketuanan Melayu, the ideology and the aspirations of a majority in a democracy. Unlike Bersih the loud hailer of a minority they the Malays have the numbers. Their government is the incumbent government and the advantage is their.


Guan Eng Penang’s chief minister has made the fatal mistake of endorsing support for the Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur on 28 April 2012. He has in the process given legitimacy to the idea of unrepresentative crowds from a minority demanding a transfer of power outside the ballot box. Demanding the removal of a duly elected government of a majority on the whim of a suspicion and the strength of political gossip.

What would Guan Eng do if a Malay gathering of say 500,000 (as is being planned by Malays) demanding the de sinofication of Penang, the removal of its Chinese leaders and a return to its traditional Malay cultural roots occurs in the days to come? It is not  a proposition anyone especially Guan Eng ought to take lightly. Such a scenario  is now more of a reality than it ever was before.

Thanks to Bersih. Thanks to loud minorities  planned counter rallies by Malays demanding change as particularly in the constitution (outside the democratic process as Bersih claims legitimacy to) is now a reality.

Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.


      1. Mr Kumar,

        This is a very interesting piece. I am in my 50’s and have gone through the 1969 riots (albeit I was small then). I have many friends and schoolmates of different races and have always thought of myself as a Malaysian first and a Malay later. But after 2008 and after all these BERSIH stuff, I am not willing to be apologetic for being a Malay first NOW. If someone organises that rally you spoke about, I would gladly join in now. I also believe that are other Malays like me who would now join in.

        That said, I hope it does not come to that as I still believe in the rule of law.


  1. Dearest GRK,

    a rare point of disagreement.

    Forgive me…

    I do not see a Malay resurgence of any savvy or sophistication beyond that of Ibrahim Ali!

    The indiginous Malays will be divided by the Pro-Israeli PAS treachery and maybe BN will sscrape through.

    Another May 13 will not lead to pro-Malay governance, it will simply invite intervention/invation by the zionist west/singapore.

    Just look north of the border in Thailand and the fate of the once proud and independent Thai people.

    I fear the good old days of old world Malaya are gone forever, the people are now labelled and weoponised

    well, i could be wrong.

    keep up the great work,

    Nik Netanyahu Aziz


    1. For starters the Israeli’s have more on their plate than they can chew right now. They are not interested in Malaysia
      apart from making sure there are no new Jihadists that could be aiming their resources against the state o Israel.
      Already their former prime minister has made waves again repeating what his former colleagues in that high office
      all told their people about peace with the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon, Moshe Dayan and of course Yitzak Rabin, all generals in
      the Israeli defence forces who saw action first hand on the battle front had this to say in different voices in different words:
      “This is not a land without people for a people without land” (the early Zionist propaganda about Israel. They all admitted that
      there would never be peace till they sat down with the Palestinians and discussed co existence on equally acceptable terms.

      The latest to echo that reality is Ehud Olmert. Yesterday I think.
      As for the Malays I think the envelope has been pushed to its limits with them. its only a matter of time and opportunity.
      Few things unite a divided people like a war (civil internal or external) and a threat to their existence.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: