KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 – Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has acted fast to respond to the likely backlash from the recent statement by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman that the Pakatan Harapan government would end the era of “Ketuanan Melayu” or Malay supremacy.
Speaking at the Pagoh Bersatu delegates annual assembly yesterday Muhyiddin dismissed the Bersatu youth chief’s comment as being “misinterpreted”, Bernama reported.
The Home Minister said his Cabinet colleague’s statement was wrongly interpreted as though Bersatu would no longer fight for the Malays.
“The truth is that the party existed on the basis of championing the rights of the Malays, in line with the Federal Constitution.
“Although we fight for the Malays, we must remember that the non-Malays also need our support, so that they too will be able to enjoy the country’s wealth.
“We have to understand the current scenario. We have formed a new government with a new hope, and we have made a promise to be fair to the people, regardless of their race and background,” he was quoted as saying by the national news agency.
Syed Saddiq: New Malaysia to share wealth equally
On Saturday, Syed Saddiq was reported to have said that the Malay supremacy era had ended and Malaysia would shift towards equity and equitable distribution of wealth across all segments.
“The Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has stressed on this, the same with Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz. But you can’t just look at ending it, we must look at what replaces it. We want a shared prosperity because to develop a nation, no one must be sidelined or left behind.
“We will ensure that the Malays will still be looked after, but it’s also about equal opportunity and equitable distribution of wealth. There will no longer be any kissing of the keris, being symbolic protectors of the Malays while at the same time Malay equity continues to plummet.
“So we will work the ground, empower them and give them opportunity,” Syed Saddiq was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.
He is not wrong about Mahathir’s feelings on the issue of Ketuanan Melayu. In August last year, the Bersatu chairman said he never believed in the concept.
Mahathir: I don’t believe in Ketuanan Melayu
Speaking at a forum to about 1,000 people at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Mahathir said that the British didn’t believe the country could remain peaceful after independence when its population comprised three different races who follow three different religions, and speak three different languages.
“But today the balance is just nice. The Chinese basically control the economy, and the Malays are able to do better in politics. The Malays are not the ‘Tuan’.
“I don’t believe in Ketuanan Melayu. I used to tell Ibrahim Ali that if you are the driver, it is the guy behind you who is the Tuan,” he said in reference to the president of Malay rights group Perkasa, which Mahathir was previously the patron of.
“If anyone tries to take 100% for themselves, this country will never grow. The success of our country comes from our willingness to share.”
Making Bersatu more like Umno?
However, it is left to be seen how this pans out with Bersatu actively seeking Umno leaders to join the party.
Veteran journalist A. Kadir Jasin was reported as saying that about 40 Umno MPs may be jumping ship. He said this after Jeli MP, and former international trade and industry minister, Mustapa Mohamed applied to join Bersatu after having left Umno last month.
The question therefore remains as to how long Bersatu will remain this so-called beacon of fairness and committed to equitable wealth distribution?
This is especially with more Umno leaders and their followers joining them to boost the “new, improved and rebranded Umno”.