The meaning of the Selangor crisis

If the installation of Tan Sri Khalid as menteri besar of Selangor stands, then that fact, by itself, will mean and signify and establish that whatever the formal "niceties".

Sep 11, 2014

By Ernest de Silva
If the installation of Tan Sri Khalid as menteri besar of Selangor stands, then that fact, by itself, will mean and signify and establish that whatever the formal "niceties" about constitutions and electoral politics may suggest, Malaysians now live under what might be called a political system or dispensation of "Islamo-monarchical 'Ketuanan Melayu'. "

Following GE13 I expected Umno to seize the opportunity afforded it by the favourable new national election-based political arithmetic and to set as its main priority for the period from GE13 to GE14 the implementation and institutionalization and practical achievement of Ketuanan Melayu, of effective Malay political supremacy.

Ketuanan Melayu realised in substance
What does the talk about "mewujudkan dan menghayati atau merealisasikan" Ketuanan Melayu mean?

It is to implement and institutionalize Ketuanan Melayu and, by so affirming Ketuanan Melayu thinking, to “make it real” as the nationally operative doctrine here in Malaysia, meaning within the political and the wider sociocultural order.

The significant about the Selangor events, if Tan Sri Khalid's chief ministership stands, is this – with this move, its successful accomplishment, the final and ultimate "Malay supremacist" goal of effectively, or de facto, establishing Ketuanan Melayu.

After this, there is no more new ground to be fought for and won, to be conquered and gained. It is all already in hand.

What remains now is not the task of conquering new terrain and establishing control over it; all that remains now is to "fill in" the ground that has already been conquered for Ketuanan Melayu.

This ground is to be filled with institutions and activities and practices and personnel that will give content and expression and ballast to that important new fact of Ketuanan Melayu; that will empirically and socially "substantiate" it, provide it with growing and ultimately massively powerful substance.

But the conquest, the primary phase of "the great Malay struggle", is already complete.

Its consolidation may yet prove to be a long process but we are now in the stage where the task is merely one of consolidation and amplification, not of ideological and national institutional conquest.

That is where Malaysia now is and we all are now at.

Shape which Malaysia has taken
Umno has become stridently Islamist in its eagerness to retain the support of the Islamist and Malay ethno-supremacist hardliners to whom it is increasingly beholden and now, this Umno incessantly goads and scorns and flays PAS on grounds of the latter’s insufficient commitment these days to an Islamist politics that will validate and sacralize a mundanely pro-Malay sectarian-nationalist political agenda – Umno’s agenda.

The Sultan’s powers and prerogatives, in the final instance, are based and rest upon his traditional (and hence pre-constitutional) role as the payung or umbrella sheltering his Malay subjects and protecting Malay society and customs and – placing his role in all this beyond questioning – as the defender of the Islamic faith, its standing and dignity in his lands.

So in place of the former elected government, we are now faced with the imminent prospect of an assertively pro-Malay government and polity, ratified and sacralized by the ideas and an agenda of unyielding Islamist politics, and brought into power (or ushered to its threshold) by the initiative of a Malay-Islamic monarch.

And the implications of these developments are not simply Selangor-specific. Their reach is nationwide.

In shorthand, that amounts to, and to me sounds very much like, “an Islamo-monarchical Ketuanan Melayu” polity.

Source: CPI Asia (adapted)

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