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‘Siege mentality’ among majority group not unique to Malaysia, says academician

06 May 2019 / 21:05 H.

SINGAPORE: A “siege mentality” among the majority group in a country is not a phenomenon that is unique to Malaysia, according to a Malaysian academician.

Dr Azmil Tayeb, senior lecturer at the School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, in Penang, said: “We can see this kind of siege mentality among majority groups in Indonesia, some European countries and the US as well.”

He spoke at a seminar on “Malaysia’s Pakatan Harapan: One Year On”, organised by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute here Monday.

“It is actually a global phenomenon,“ said Azmil, who spoke on the topic “Different Regime, Same Siege? Malay Insecurity and the Umno-PAS Alliance”.

He said the “siege mentality” is a “majority with minority complex” which describes the Muslim community not only in Indonesia but is also applicable to Malaysia.

Narrowing down to Malaysia, Azmil said that “somehow in Malaysia, the Malays feel that their privileged position can be replaced ... fear of losing privileged status from changing of status quo”.

“This we have seen after the 14th General Election (GE14) as the Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN)-led government was defeated after 61 years. There is also an element of economic frustration now being channelled into emotionally charged ethno-religious issues,“ he added.

According to Azmil, three “sacred Rs” are being played up so frequently in Malaysia right now, namely “race, religion, and royalty.”

“All the three Rs are closely intertwined as you cannot be criticising one without being accused of criticising the other two,“ he said.

However, Azmil noted that Malay insecurity was not only happening after GE14.

“It has always been there. It is always lurking under the surface. Kept in check mainly because the previous BN coalition was totally dominated by Umno. The siege mentally has been there before GE14. This is nothing new. It has happened before,“ he said.

Azmil said Umno was in control of the coalition so there was a “perception” that the Muslim Malay privilege was secure with Umno at the helm.

Citing the post-1969 General Election where the country had a racial riot, Azmil said there was a widespread fear among the Malays that the Chinese were taking over after the Alliance (predecessor of BN) was denied the two-thirds majority.

“The same kind of fear that we see now. There are some parallels,“ he said, adding that PAS also won big, at that time, at the expense of Umno which was often overlooked.

“After 1969, there was a temporary alliance over “Malay Unity” between PAS and Umno but a short-lived one which lasted for five years,“ said Azmil, referring to the political partnership between 1972 and 1977. — Bernama

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