Divide et impera or in the sciences of politics and sociology "divide and rule" or "divide and conquer" if literally translated from Latin.
From Caesar,Napolean,Louis XI, the Habsburgs to colonial Europe, divide and rule have always been the maxim for maintaining a hold on to power or breaking up larger concentration of power into smaller chunks that individually would be less powerful and less effective.
Machiavelli in his book the "Art of War" denotes the same application in military strategy.Infiltrate your enemies and divide the forces by sowing the seeds of mistrust among the ranks and file and the generals.
Colonial Europe imperialist territorial expansion gave them global network of colonies, of peoples subjugation and of divide and rule that have allowed the colonisers to exploit the natural resources and the inhabitants of the colonies to the fullest.
For centuries European colonies straddled the globe with territories changing hands among the European powers either through wars, gunboat diplomacy or treaties.The European were masters and enslavers of poor and undeveloped subordinated territories.
The "sun never sets on the British Empire" it was said at its pinnacle . At its height it was the largest empire in history and for over a century, the foremost global power.It held sway a quarter of the world's population and almost a quarter of the Earth's total land area.It ruled not only the land but all of the world's great oceans as well.That was the British Empire at its greatest, the epitome of divide and rule policy.Today, the empire is gone, the endgame of divide and rule.
The birth of the Federation of Malaya from British Malaya and the eventual formation of Malaysia was no less the same process.
Sabah and Sarawak could have been given independence on its own and many Sabahans and Sarawakians think on hindsight that would be the ideal situation, but as much as I do not wish to agree with the British, it seemed inevitable that we have not much choice but to participate in the formation of a bigger nation to counter the threat of Indonesia's expansionist policy then.Due to its weakening economic power and poor military forces the Philippines which has a claim over Sabah was not seen as a threat, it was Sukarno and Indonesia that the British was worried about.
Divide and rule policy inherited from the British had made this racially diverse nation into a very ethnically divided country and existential policies that failed to bring to fruit a national identity.
The Malays remained Malays, the Chinese remained Chinese, the Indians remained Indians. The Chinese speak Chinese and some looked upon China as the motherland and 20% of the population couldn't speak the national language properly. The Indians speaks the Indian language ( mostly Tamil) and some still looked upon Indian as the motherland and sent their sons to India to marry Indian brides chosen by the parents.
The races still eye each other with suspicion and whatever discomfort they may have with each other had been under the lid for decades but has now surfaced threatening to tear the country to shred if no action is taken to stop the racist mudslingers.
On the economic front the picture is even more dreary.
Tokenism! Rampant in both Chinese controlled companies and government controlled corporations.The Chinese would not employ Malays in critical positions as they do not trust them and perceived them too slow and less competent.It became even worse in family run companies where all critical positions would be wholly Chinese and the lowest rank the preserve of the other races.
Malay run GLCs practised the same discriminatory behaviour, staffing almost the entire organisation with Malays.
The civil service, the military and the police force are almost entirely Malays.The same way the Malays are being treated in Singapore by the Chinese, critical positions are not for those whose allegiance are still questionable.The Chinese and Indians have come to accept that they would never be top brass in any of these vital organisations.Most stayed away.
The Malays, the leading political force had cleverly retained the British divide and rule policy and held sway political control for over half a century until the unexpected political tsunami in March 2008 which jolted the Malay political powerhouse.UMNO never dreamt they would be rejected so badly by fellow Malays.They were still in Lala Land till the morning after.
Breaking up and dividing the Chinese and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak into small and inert political parties gave the Malays perfect political control over the other races under the BN concept, probably, the biggest amalgamation of political parties any where in the democratic world, the brainchild of former Prime Minister the late Tun Razak Hussein.A good concept if there were fair play.
There are no less than six active Chinese based parties in the country, DAP,MCA and Gerakan in the Peninsula, SAPP, LDP in Sabah and SUPP in Sarawak.
Sabah and Sarawak also enjoyed a democratic split of the indigenous people.In Sabah, there are at least three active KDM (Kadazan Dusun Murut) based political parties, PBS, UPKO and PBRS and Sarawak has three, SPDP, PRS and SNAP.
To try register a new Malay based party or revive a defunct Malay party is almost impossible.Various attempts to revive USNO in Sabah was rejected by the Register of Societies without giving valid reasons whatsoever. USNO, still has, among the adult Malay/Muslim population in Sabah, nostalgic reminiscent of days yonder when Sabahans had full control of the state.
Since its inception Malaysia has only two active Malay political parties, UMNO and PAS.Both are competing for Malay anchorage but UMNO has the lateral influence while PAS is confined to areas where the zeal for Islam is greater.
UMNO, the doyen of Malay politics has seen its influence eroding among the Malay population and has to share the Malays votes not only with PAS but with PKR, a multi-racial party headed by Anwar Ibrahim, one of the factors responsible for dividing the Malays.
In the March 2008 General Elections some very disillusioned Malays even voted for DAP candidates to show their anger and frustrations with UMNO leaders seen as high muckety muck and corrupt.
Corruptions and ostentatious display of ill-acquired wealth by UMNO leaders,families and cronies had been the rallying call for the diminution of UMNO political influence.The other big factor for splitting of the Malay votes was Anwar Ibrahim who is seen as a victim of UMNO conspiracy.
Anwar could be immoral as can be but Malaysians are bought that he is innocent even if proven guilty.Majority of French people thought of the same of Dominique Strauss-Kahn who now looked more and more guilty of the alleged crime.
Who divide the Malays?
The answer is simple, the Malays themselves but much of the blame would squarely fall on the shoulders of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed, former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and UMNO.
The division of the Malays started with the sacking and imprisonment of Anwar Ibrahim seen as trumped-up charges by many Malaysians.Very few Malaysians believe Anwar was guilty of the crimes brought against him.It was seen as Mahathir's heavy handedness in getting rid of Anwar to keep himself in power.If Anwar had been sacked without his incarceration the story would have been different.
UMNO, itself, is a big factor in dividing the Malays.The legacy of political largesse and massive corruptions in the government have made the ordinary Malays lose their appetite for UMNO.The cornucopia of wealth has become the monopoly of UMNO and the lapdogs. Even the middle class Malays, beneficiries of the NEP were embattled with such idea of breach of trust.
March 8, 2008 was a wake up call for the Chinese and Indians.Both have come to realise the unrealised political power they have. How, with a little help from the Malays they could change the political landscape.
While Sabah and Sarawak were still in their slumbers the West Malaysians woke up to a new day.A day very few expect the BN to have lost its mojo and a new dawn of change appeared on the horizon.The gradual erosion of Malay dominant.
Racial polarisation has risen alarmingly of late and the 13th General Elections would see greater polarisation.
DAP would become a very dominant player in Malaysian politics after the 13th GE.Most, if not all Chinese seats would go to the DAP.All other Chinese based parties would be decimated.
DAP, which is trying to woo Malay members and voters by recruiting and engaging prominent Malay personalities failed to excite the Malays.The Malays, other than Tungku Aziz, Zairil Khir Johari and few others, would always consider DAP a Chinese party.
The Malays, unless they consolidate before the general elections, would be divided between UMNO, PAS and PKR.
BN may still win but it could well be UMNO,Sabah and Sarawak.
"Divide and Rule" one that would come back to haunt you.