Even as the rakyat rejoiced in the days after GE14, UMNO was given the Kiss of Life

Posted on March 18, 2020


unnamedThere’s a fair bit of speculation in this post.

You draw your own conclusions.

“Looking back during the past few days, it is now quite clear there was a plan to form a unity government without PH” : Xavier Jayakumar, as reported in the Malay Mail on 28th February, 2020.

I am not sure about a unity government, but I think Xavier is right in that there was a plan.

And I think he is also right that Dr M was implicated.

Go back to the early days and weeks after the fall of UMNO/BN.

BN was like a sinking ship, with rats abandoning it to save their sorry political careers.

UMNO was in a state of disarray.

Najib was prevented from leaving the country.

Then UMNO leaders began distancing themselves from him.

As Najib resigned as president, there was a scramble to seize UMNO leadership by Zahid, Mat Hassan and KJ.

The nation watched as this drama unfolded.

The protests raised by UMNO and PAS to the appointments of Guan Eng and Tommy Thomas as Finance Minister and AG respectively got my attention.

Their objections : these posts had to go to Malay-Muslims!

These objections, made in the context of a freer press, meant UMNO and PAS’s continued play of the race-religion card would be taken out to the Malays, particularly in the heartlands.

This had to be stopped.

I spoke to PH leaders.

No, the Sedition Act must not be resorted to.

I advocated 3 things

First, charge the UMNO and PAS leaders who were turning those appointments into racial and religious issues under section 298A of the Penal Code for causing disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will.

Second, embark on a needs-based program to uplift the lives of the B40, most of whom are Malays. I proposed the Social Inclusion Agenda. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM) had in fact written to the Reform Committee set up by the PH government about this.

No need to talk about dismantling the race-based programs, just help all B40. UMNO and PAS would not be able to attack this as they still want the votes of the non-Malays.

Third, and, in my view, most important, embark on an information campaign to take the truth to the Malays about how, over the last 40 years, in the name of Ketuanan Melayu and Demi Membasmikan Kemiskinan Melayu, UMNO had misused the NEP and robbed the Malays blind.

This was to be a non-partisan effort. Civil society leaders, and leaders from both sides of the political divide. Given that, at the time, many BN and ex-BN leaders who were looking to re-model themselves might have been willing to get on board.

The second and the third suggestion were key to slowly but surely neutralising  UMNO and PAS’s race-religion gameplan.

I have brought both suggestions up on many occasions with PH leaders in 2018 and 2019.

In fact, in December, 2018, BFM interviewed me on the matter of stamping out race politics and I shared these same suggestions.


Less than 2 months after the 14th GE, Saifuddin Abdullah announced that the government would ratify 6 more UN human rights conventions. Malay Mail has reported it HERE.

Amongst those conventions : ICERD.

Given that UMNO and PAS were still playing the race-religion card, I did not think ICERD needed to be pursued immediately and vigorously. However, given that there were more pressing issues and reforms in the PH manifesto that needed immediate addressing, I felt quite certain that any ratification of those conventions. most certainly ICERD, would not come up any time soon.

How wrong I was!

In September, 2018, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, Dr M announced that Malaysia would ratify the remaining 6 UN human rights conventions.

Including ICERD!

“However, this will not be easy as Malaysia is multi-ethnic, multireligious, multicultural and multilingual. We will accord space and time for all to deliberate and to decide freely based on democracy”, he is reported by The New Straits Times to have said.

Dr M was well aware this was not going to be easy.

And too politically savvy not to have known that UMNO and PAS would seize this opportunity to turn it into another race-religion issue.

He spoke of giving space and time for deliberation.

Yet, on checking at that time, my sources told me this was never brought to any cabinet meeting for deliberation.


And space and time for deliberation by who, how, and to what end?

I will come to that shortly. Let me first go back some 2 months to July, 2018.

For reasons best known to him, Dr M saw fit to meet with Zakir Naik.

And then issue a statement that he would be allowed to remain in Malaysia, provided he adhered to the laws of the country.

Zakir was quoted in the meida as thanking and praising the leadership of Dr M and reassuring that he would not flout our laws.

Amongst others, then Deputy Chief Minister, Penang, reacted by demanding Zakir’s deportation.

On 20th July, after Friday prayers at the Masjid Jamek Shaik Eusoff in Penang, protestors gathered to condemn calls to deport Zakir.

No prizes for guessing who might have been behind this protest.

A year later, in August, 2019, speaking in Kota Baru to a large audience clearly mobilised by PAS, Zakir delivered his now infamous labelling of Malaysians of Chinese ethnicity as “guests” and suggesting that before he be asked to leave, they leave first.

Which PR holder would be audacious enough to make such statements?

Someone who was serving a person or group of persons in high office and hence was sure of being immune for official action, perhaps?

Back to ICERD.

Objections to this came fast and furious.

Agitated by UMNO and PAS.

Then in October, something bizarre.

Dr M attended the Malay Dignity Congress, adding his own speech there to several that would have justified a slew of charges under section 298A of the Penal Code.

You can google those speeches if you have the stomach to read them again.

I just want to spotlight 2 things.

One, who were the organisers?

Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), all under Mazlee Malek.

Why were they allowed to go ahead with this congress?

Two, Anwar was not invited to attend the Congress.


This, in my view, may be telling as to what the plan that Xavier spoke of, was about.

After declaring at the UN the month before that ICERD would be ratified, why the Congress?

On 25th October, 2018 in relation to his attending the Congress, Dr M wrote this :

“When the former colonies of the European nations gained independence, many discriminated against the non-Indigenous people. Some had to leave the country. Some were violently attacked. Not so in this country. The non-indigenous people were accepted as citizens. In fact, 1 million of the non-indigenous people were given citizenship even though they were not qualified. It hurts me to think in their own country the indigenous people are not supposed to have their own gatherings without being accused of being racist”.

Like so many others, Dr M overlooks one important fact.

On the eve of Merdeka, in 1957, he and his family were part of the corpus of non-indigenous that he speaks of here. As I have written before, he was non-Malay on 30th August, 1957, and Malay the next day, by virtue of Article 160(2).

Sorry, back to ICERD again.

On 17th November, 2018, PAS announced that a protest against the proposed ratification of ICERD would be held in KL on 8th December, 2018. UMNO declared they would join the protest.

Space and time for deliberation?

Two days later, Dr M made it clear that ICERD would not be ratified.

His reason : it would require amending the constitution, requiring a 2/3 majority, something nearly impossible to do, according to him.

Firstly, anyone who will read Article 153(1) with no hidden agenda and render an honest interpretation will know that this is not correct.

Article 153(1) does not contradict ICERD.

It is the dishonest reading into that Article of “special rights” of Malays in total disregard to the explicit “special position”, and the giving effect to that dishonest reading that offends ICERD.

No amendment of the constitution is needed to ratify ICERD.

Dr M went on to say, as quoted by The Star : “This matter is sensitive to the Malays, we understand that. In my speech at the United Nations (general assembly), I mentioned about the complexity of implementing ICERD. So, we didn’t commit that we are going to do it”

If he was aware of the sensitivity of Malays, and he was not going to commit to it, why bring it up at the UN?

Create space and time for deliberation?

UMNO and PAS seized on that space and time on 8th December, 2018


Police estimated the numbers at the rally on 8th December at about 55,000

The foundation for Muafakat Nasional had been laid.

On the same day as the UMNO-PAS protest rally, Dr M is reported to have addressed a 1000-strong crowd at UITM, Shah Alam, explaining that he did a u-turn on ICERD in order to help the Malays. FMT has the report.

“If we want them (the Malays) to be able to catch up with those in front of them, they must be given the opportunity to catch up. If we don’t give to the Malays a little more opportunities than the other races, if we believe we must give everyone the same thing, to give in to equality, then only those who are able to do so will succeed. Those who are not will fall behind. That’s why we cannot accept ICERD”.

And so I ask again, why, then, bring up ICERD in September?

The plan that Xavier spoke of?

I think it was hatched long before Xavier got his ministerial appointment.

And Dr M was in the thick of it.

The plan?

UMNO-PAS to support Dr M to stay a full term as PM and to never let Anwar rise to PM.

Dr M counted on that support post the Sheraton move, and resigned.

And the old fox got outfoxed.

Yes, there’s a fair bit of speculation in this post.

You draw your own conclusions.