By Mariam Mokhtar
In the past, Umno-Baru and PAS would appeal to their Malay-Muslim brethren with their claim that the Malays needed to be defended, and Islam had to be protected.
When we asked, "From whom or what?" no answer was forthcoming.
A few days ago, Muhyiddin Yassin claimed that he did not want to become prime minister but was forced to do so in order to "Save Malaysia".
So, we asked, "From whom or what?"
Irresponsible politicians and individuals have alleged that the Malays are not in control of the government, and that if drastic action is not taken, the Malays will lose all of their rights, their way of life, their identity and in time, become strangers in their own land.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sadly, the moderate Malays who make up the majority, keep silent and do not come to the defense of their Chinese friends so as not to attract attention to themselves. In the end, the truth becomes another casualty in Malaysia's dirty political wars.
In the Malaya of our grandparents, the Chinese lived peacefully alongside the Malays who toiled the land and trusted the Chinese to help sell their produce to the merchants in towns and cities. Chinese sundry shops supplied the rural folk with goods acquired from the towns, which included the basic necessities ranging from items like tools, clothing and sugar.
For those who do not consider history to be their strong subject, the Chinese and Indians were established in Malaya long before the Malacca sultanate was established. Master craftsmen, merchants and spice traders made the Malay peninsula their base, especially when the monsoon winds along the sailing route stopped travel.
Like many Malaysians post-Merdeka, I can count many non-Malays -- Chinese, Indians and Eurasians -- among my friends. They attended a mission school with me.
We shared our food during break. We had sleepovers. We went out socializing without fearing the religious police.
Today, such practices are frowned upon. The way the official version of religion is practiced today prevents most Malays from sharing cooking utensils and food items. In other words, there is hardly any integration and few people know how the other half lives.
An English teacher, Mrs Wong, taught us the values of being honest and having the integrity to own up after a mistake, of helping others in times of trouble, of saying sorry when one is wrong, of taking pride in our classroom and its appearance. These qualities of self respect have stayed with her students till today.
Our mathematics teacher, Miss Hew, made us appreciate hard work. She expected high standards and we would tremble when we heard her footsteps approach the classroom. Today, we may joke about fearing her, but she shaped our characters and made us into hardworking women.
My piano teacher, Miss Remedios, told me that practice makes perfect and that I should never give up. Values that stand up in today's challenging world.
Many of my father's friends and colleagues were non-Malays. They went fishing together, and as growing fruit trees was another of their hobbies, they would swap tips on agriculture and shared the harvest from their orchards. At Chinese New Year, Deepavali or Hari Raya, there was a steady stream of visitors to one another's homes.
Today, many Malays refuse to eat in non-Malay households, and the magical friendship of multiracial integration forged soon after Merdeka was lost sometime in the 80s and 90s during the days of state-sponsored racism.
In my adult life, my accountant, lawyer, surgeon, general practitioner, pharmacist, plumber, electrician, mechanic and house repairman are all non-Malays.
If the non-Malays cannot be trusted, why do I and my family members put our lives and the well-being of our homes, cars and businesses in the hands of these people?
This is not to say that there are no competent and able Malay professionals providing similar services.
Race baiting and racism directed at non-Malays is on the rise in Malaysia. These have been created by irresponsible politicians and the ulamas to divide us.
When some Malays treat non-Malays as enemies, only two reasons are valid. Power and greed.
The bigots are not interested in the truth, because they are only interested in Ketuanan Melayu.
Many ordinary Malays lack confidence not because they don't try, but because they have received a daily dose of propaganda over the past 50 years from our leaders who imply that they are not good enough, are lazy and will succeed only with government handouts.
So, despite the financial help and affirmative action policies, the Malays still lag behind in education, economy and industry. Being pampered has weakened the Malays.
A woman has to try twice as hard for her achievements to be acknowledged. Same for the non-Malays. The Chinese who are denied equal opportunities will work harder to attain success. This makes the Malays envious.
The wannabe ulamas masquerading as politicians and the wannabe politicians masquerading as religious men say they want to defend Islam and protect the Malays; but no one is attacking Islam!
The Malays occupy all the important positions in government, GLCs, armed forces, civil service and the crony companies, but they are not under attack!
If Malaysia needs saving, it is from power-hungry politicians who carry with them the additional baggage of racism and corruption.
1. Wikipedia: Bujang Valley
2. Wikipedia: Chi Tu
3. The Star: PM: I'm not a traitor, I only wanted to save the country
(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)