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Enter Muhyiddin, actor No. 3 in Umno's 'liar politics' 1Melayu, 1Bumi drama

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyddin Yassin's protective comments of Umno-owned newspaper Utusan and its proposed 1Melayu, 1Bumi is unlikely to set off the same fire that snaked through the nation when he declared he was Malay first and Malaysian second last year.

His political rivals warned that it was just a gimmick to satisfy the right-wing members in Umno, with Prime Minister Najib Razak and former premier Mahathir Mohamad already briefed and agreeable to the script. Both Najib and Mahathir had scolded Utusan for its suggestion last week, saying it could destroy racial unity.

"You can see they have divided their tasks very well. One person says one thing to keep up with the different audiences. This statement from Muhyiddin is to pacify the radicals in Umno. He is the third actor in the sandiwara (drama). I am sure they must have monitored the ground reaction when Najib and Dr M rejected the 1Melayu, 1Bumi idea last week," PAS MP for Kuala Krai Hatta Ramli told Malaysia Chronicle.

"But this is very dangerous politics. Umno must reject outright 1Melayu, 1Bumi. It must be a categorical denial of such a concept, otherwise, it is hard to see a credible future for our country."

Liar politics
The 1Melayu, 1Bumi was proposed by Utusan following the DAP's blockbuster win of 12 Chinese-dominant seats in the Sarawak state election that all but annihilated the SUPP last week.

Calling on the authorities to spearhead such a movement, Utusan had insisted it was necessary to prevent the Chinese from toppling the Malays from their long-held political dominance.

And despite rejections from both Najib and Mahathir, it was telling that ultra-Malay rights group Perkasa had gone against the wind and promptly agreed to lead the movement. The majority of Perkasa members are from the Umno right wing and Mahathir himself is the patron of the group, led by president Ibrahim Ali.

"I hope the Chinese can finally see for themselves the duplicity of 1Malaysia. Najib is playing fire with his brand of 'liar politics'. He is taking the non-Malays for fools with empty promises in 1Malaysia which he has no intention of keeping in the first place. He is also wasting our taxpayers' money paying APCO some RM70 to 80 million to keep the project going," PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli told Malaysia Chronicle.

"Yes, there is rivalry for the Umno presidency but this is not about that. The General Election is first. They have to win first, then only divide the spoils.

"For investors, this is another sad confirmation that the Malaysian government no longer has control over the political direction in the country, what more sustainable policies. Every step BN takes is for short-term political gain and there is nothing done to transform the country from race-based politics to a unity, colourless platform."

Outlaw race-based parties
On Monday, Muhyiddin was careful in spelling out his thoughts. When asked by reporters for his views on 1Melayu, 1Bumi, he said boycotting the paper as suggested by BN component MCA was pointless.
He also insisted that non-Malay media were just as extreme.

“It is the voice and desire of the Malay community and also Malaysians in general. If we read Utusan, we can see that there are also reports on other things. Just like other media, there are pro and cons. We cannot stop a media from reporting what it wants to report but there is a limit,” the DPM, who is also Umno deputy president, told a press conference.

According to Muhyiddin, boycotting Utusan was tantamount to gagging the voice of the Malays.

“Even if you boycott it will not be effective at all. The more you ask people not to read, the more they want to read. Even the non-Malays have said that there are sensitive reports in the non-Malay media. If we ask why such stories are reported, they will say that they reflect the feelings of the Chinese and Indian communities,” he said.

In the wake of the Sarawak polls, DAP too was accused of playing race-champion with the Chinese to get their votes. The party was condemned by Mahathir for irresponsible behaviour and for not thinking of the community's future.

Of late, there have also been calls for Malaysia to outlaw race-based parties so as to put an end to using racial hatred as a tool to win votes.

"In many civilized countries around the world, UMNO- MCA- MIC would be prosecuted for having racially discriminatory membership criteria. That these racially exclusive political parties form the national government in Malaysia is a huge embarassment to our country. It remains the greatest blot in our post-independence life as a nation," PKR vice president N Surendran told Malaysia Chronicle. 

"We can hardly think of any other country in the world that allows such race-based parties to exist. The only example that comes to mind is the whites-only National Party of South Africa which practised apartheid, tyrannised over black South Africans and became the outcasts of the world. For half a century they beat, tortured and imprisoned innocent black South Africans. Now the National Party no longer exists. Unless they reform fundamentally, UMNO-MCA-MIC are similarly destined to finish in the rubbish heap of history, lamented only by the likes of PERKASA."

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