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Saturday, August 26, 2006
Just Because Racism Exists Elsewhere

As mentioned in my previous article, I do have a lot to share with my readers. However I had to raise only the general points (without much discussion on how I arrived at those points) because I had to bear the post’s length in mind.

So here in this particular section, I would like to just elaborate some points raised in previous post entitled “We Are 49 Years Old Now And What Have We Achieved?”. It is hoped that you would understand how I came to my conclusions.

Many thanks.

xoxo,
Otto



***
  • Comparison to London And New York
    This comparison was made specifically for the concept of “multi racial society”.

    How many of us have told tourists and friends who are visiting Malaysia, almost beaming with pride at “how multi racial Malaysia is”? How many of us took time to explain how we are so multi racial and tolerant of different cultures here?

    I feel almost cheated by the government for promoting this concept so religiously, to the point where I felt utterly proud and patriotic that our country is so blessed with so many races and we are all galloping next to each other in playgrounds. When I left for London, I realised that London was equally as multi-racial as Malaysia, if not more! Nowhere did the city claim to be ‘multi racial’.

    I felt short-changed and stupid for going around telling all my western friends how multi-racial and multi-cultural Malaysia is. Imagine you describing (with great pride) to tourists from the world over that our country is multi racial with Malays, Chinese, Indians and indigenous tribes living close together. Now imagine these tourists come from cities where an underground carriage has a collection of people from Africa, the Indies, South Americans, Pakistan and India, China etc. Can you imagine the polite smirk across their faces as they entertain your perception of how wonderful our nation is?

    It is like a little fish in an aquarium calling his aquarium the biggest aquarium in the world without realising that fish from the sea swim fast and free in a boundless body of water.

    We should bear in mind that we are nowhere half as multi-racial/multi-cultural as some cosmopolitan cities, who never bragged a day in their lives how multi-racial they are.

    The point we should also consider is why are we relentlessly promoting this point? Why are we obsessing on the fact that we are multi-racial? Is this because we are trying to compensate for something that we are not? Is this government propaganda to brainwash us into believing something we are not? Is this fact “Malaysia is a multi-racial society” the truth or was everything a shamble? Why didn’t London and New York promote itself to be so? Were they truly multi-racial and thus not needing any affirmations anymore?

    As my first commentator from the previous post had pointed out, London “is a thriving metropolis that has been the centre of cultural exchange for hundreds of years”. So why didn’t London heavily promote itself as a multi-racial society? Why they did not include this fact in their bid for the Olympics 2012? Why aren’t the English as obsessed about it while Malaysians are?

    You don’t think we obsess about the fact that we are multi-racial? Just count the number of campaigns, both tourism and national day advertisements we subject ourselves to each year. Now the question is why are we obsessing?


  • Just Because Racism Exists Elsewhere
    You will discover that I believe it is the same everywhere on earth as you read my blog. You will not find any reference where I say that Malaysia is second-class or that western nations are the best. Usually I would actually remark that each country has its own set of strong and weak points.

    There is no perfect place on earth. Racism exists everywhere on earth but that is not good enough an excuse for me to accept racism as part of my life. I believe that human always strive to be their best and to aim for the best and as such, I believe we should educate the young about the ills of racism.

    A clearer example - Just because UK is projected to be an obese nation in the next four years, it doesn’t give me the excuse to be fat. I am in charge of only me and I shall keep my body healthy. Similarly this is my country and I shall do my best to negotiate a better future for it.


  • With reference to Nude Squat, Bloody Sunday, UPM and Lina Joy
    Please take note that I have specifically mentioned that these issues can be used as opportunities to grow and develop. It depends on how the nation wants to handle these issues. We can either bicker and kill each other over this or we can sit down and discuss ways to improve the situation for the better.


  • Malay Special Privileges
    I advocate the Malay Special privileges to exist for a certain number of years. I believe the some Malays do need assistance; there is no denying that. But I want assurances from the government that the help is given to deserving Malays. I do not want to see how a politician’s family has benefited from the bumiputera quota. I want to see the privileges being extended to those who truly need the assistance and help.

    However I believe that the special privileges should be capped. They should have an expiry date, by which the privileges will be revoked. This is where the JKF quote comes handy. The Americans allocated 10 years for their space development and within the span of that time, managed to send men to the moon.

    What is the acceptable timeframe for the Malays to compete alongside the rest of the communities in Malaysia? We are not talking about really technical ‘send them to the moon’ scenario. With proper training and help to the truly deserving Malays, I am sure everything is achievable in very short period of time.

    This special privileges encompass the education and employability section paragraphs, as found in my previous post.


  • The reference to Kennedy and the Moon
    The reference was made as an example for my readers to grasp the concept of human achievement within a span of time. In this specific example, it was about the American's determination to reach the moon within 10 years. They were the first nation to place mankind on the moon and all achievable within 10 years.

    Now compare that to the fact that the government's stand that the Malays still require help, subsidies, quotas etc in place (ref: the latest NEP). The government had given 49 years of privileges with the intention of helping the Malay community to raise itself up as equal with the other communities. They had ample provision given to them and had 49 years of it. Is it more difficult than putting a man on the moon? Why does the Malay community still need support and help? Are they so stupid that they need constant protection and care?

    Obviously the Malays are not stupid. They are an intelligent community as our history has proven (case in point, Tunku Abdul Rahman). So if there is nothing faulty with the Malays, why is the system failing them? Is it because the rightful Malays are not receiving the adequate support, which they need? Are the special rights serving only a minority of Malays and the proper help is not channelled to the those who are truly in need of some sponsorship/training/education? This is the golden question.

    I advocate for the Malays to receive special privileges for a certain number of years. The fact that it will one day expire will put more pressure on them to fully utilise the privileges and to be the best that they can be. The current situation is not ideal and neither is it natural. The government cannot protect a majority of citizens forever. It is not economically feasible and even if it was feasible, it does not promote productivity and healthy competition. The better option is to carefully channel the special privileges to where it is needed most and educating the people that this is a privilege and it is not going to last forever. Knowing this will create a sense of urgency and awareness, to treasure all that is given at the moment and to make full use of all services available.


  • Common Excuses
    One of the most common excuse heard is the "oh you think Malaysia is bad? It's same-same everywhere else". I honestly do not care about other countries because my loyalty and future does not lie there. It lies in my country, the place where I am born, which is Malaysia. I do not console myself that it is okay to be racist every now and then, just because it is also the same elsewhere. I do not possess a "tidak apa" (trans: never mind) attitude about racism just because my third cousin studied in Australia and he encountered lots of racial slurs too (which is a common arguement as well). Racism happening elsewhere has no bearing to my arguement at all. I have no say in other countries but I have a say in mine.

    Another common excuse heard and is overused in political campaigns in Malaysia is, "No other parties had historically led Malaysia successfully. You want to take chances with PAS/Keadilan/etc political party?". Please turn on to CNN and BBC for an idea how matured politcians campaign. They talk about how they are going to serve the people. They talk about the future, talk about taxes and how they are going to make the future brighter, if they are voted into power. They do not dwell on past glories or play the "fear for the future" card.

    I would like to see a day when politicians will start talking about the future. They will come up with the numbers and show how they are going to achieve their projects.




***
Well this is all that I can think of for the moment. I shall add more as I receive comments from my readers. Till then I am going out to visit a museum or something. I wrote the post to engage a discourse with my readers and I welcome constructive comments.

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9 Comments:

Nicely put!

7:45 am  

I think you confuse the term multi-racial and the term multi-cultural. In essence, people living in Britain are British, and practise British culture. They eat British food, the enjoy British pop-culture and the national holidays are purely British in nature. Still, Britain is a very multi-racial country. However, most 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Britons who have come come from immigrant families, have assimilated into local ways and practise local culture. Malaysia on the other hand may not be as multi-racial as Britain is, but we most definitely are multi-cultural, probably more so than Britain. Think of how the Chinese, Indians and Malays still practise their own cultural beliefs, eat their own food and have their own subsets of pop-culture. I am a 3rd generation Malaysian of Indian ethnicity, and still, many cultural, culinary and religious beliefs are deeply ingrained. I'm sure you'll notice that this is similar with other races in Malaysia. Each race has managed to cling on to it's own cultural identity. There isn't really a single Malaysian culture that we all have assimilated into. Also, our public holidays in Malaysia reflect this multiculturalism. We have a public holiday for all the various races and religions in Malaysia. I don't think Britain acknowledges it's various cultures and races to the same degree.

11:30 am  

Anon
You have raised a very relevant point. This concept for "race" is apparent in Malaysia. It is not as apparent in countries such as the UK and Sweden (both which I stayed for a period of time and therefore can remark about them). I've visited Thailand in the past year and found that the people were "Thais", period.

They weren't native-Thais, Chinese-Thais, Thais-Thais etc. They were just Thais... and that helped seal the harmony in the country.

The race card is played heavily in Msia, causing its people to be divided. Do not for a moment think that this is a good thing because this is what is causing all the friction we encounter.

It is time for Malaysians to find an identity that is truly Malaysian. Not race based but citizen based. We need to find common ground that represents all Malaysians equally.

11:37 am  

Well written ! But they dont deserve any rights as the Indians were also in the same sittuation as they are.... So perhaps we all deserve a bit of all the rights. Or no rights at all.

12:42 pm  

well written, and i agreed for the most part. however with regards to the race card being the 'ultimate' card played with politicians preying on our insecurities, the question lies on us, how much we can let go to be recognised as one ppl, or how much we can be what we are and respect one another to be recognised as one ppl, one country? we havent come to either stage yet. prolly takes another 50 years or so..if that.

another year of independence. selamat hari merdeka.

5:46 pm  

I think a more relavant comparison for Malaysia would be our neighbour, once brother, Singapore. I'm currently studying in Singapore and I am really glad to have 'escaped' from Malaysia, for a simple reason that i see no future in pursueing anything in malaysia, if all that great aspirations that you have will be hindered by something called racism, might as well do it somewhere else! Singapore is now a DEVELOPED country, Malaysia is still far behind. Its all because of our government, because of their vision. So far as i can see, their vision is not to develop the country and prosper AS A COUNTRY but along racial lines. Protecting the Malays rights had been too much of a priority for them that they find it hard to put down. And many still have the mindset that Malaysia belongs to the Malays, and the rest are 'intruders' who are out to snatch away what they have(when in fact what they have come largely from these 'intruders').

Singapore is in every bit a multi-racial country, if her people can live harmoniously, why cant we the malaysians? The quantity sure doesn't matter. From what I observe, the Singapore government is an on-looking one which plans ahead for the good of the nation as a whole. They recognised that issues along racial lines are sensitive, hence introduced programmes to instill racial harmony in the people. and more importantly, the political leaders are themselves role models in practising racial fairness and pragmatism. Now what is our government doing?

The change can be done bottom-up or top-down. ANd it is apparent which way would be easier. If the government does not see this simple concept, i seriously doubt Malaysia can get very far.

5:52 pm  

For 49 years Malays are being spoon fed by the Govt, for 49 years other races are getting 2 class citizenship privileages. Do Malays still need such help from the Govt? Look at the recent Beauty and Beast wedding of Siti Nurhaliza and that Datuk Khalid watsoever... how much they spent on their wedding. In a rightful sense Bumiputra is a word meant for the orang asli in Malaysia... Malays by history are Sea Pirates that came to this land to inhabit. Indians and Chinese came here to do business... Malays came here to rob the land off the orang asli... and now they're getting hungrier and do not want to share... The leaders of non-malays are being pulled by their noses and became the Yes men in Parliament, wonder how they could protect the non-malays of their rights in the country... wonder who are really the intruders of this country...

6:07 am  

The non bumi politician are a selfish lot trying to rob the country from the poor rakyat with their equally bad if not worse Malay politicians. This non malay poliitician are powerless and dare not confront the biasness and unfair practices in our country. What they care are the money in their own pocket. I am really saddened by this. Malaysia after half a century will soon fall behind china and thailand. Our economy is slowing down and what have we actually achieve so far? I know of people in the ali baba business who are chopping of the woods in our forest. One day when Malaysia have become so degenerated and all our oil and gas have run out, perhaps our citizen will realise there is nothing more worth to fight for since all resources have been depleted.

3:37 pm  

Every single prime minister that we have had has a background of recent immigration into this country, as does our present Yang DiPertuan Agong. Inter-marriage has taken place in the past, and with illegitimacy thrown in, we are very much more mixed in blood than we could probably imagine. Much of our culture also shows this mixing - for instance, Malaysian Chinese cuisine is distinct from those of Southern China, even for dishes which are ostensibly the same, due to variations in the ingredients used. The average Malay is not a keris-wielding wira bangsa - he or she is working in a paying job, many of them not very lucrative, but still an honest living nonetheless. This person may hold certain prejudices about not only their countrymen from other races, but also the Arab tourists thronging the streets of KL and even fellow Malays from other states. That, however, isn't going to deter her from serving her customers or colleagues professionally, to the best of her ability, regardless of their race and in spite of her prejudices. The same could be said of any average non-Malay Malaysian. The Malaysian is going to live life as best she can - make lemonade with lemons. If there is a problem, then it is one of leadership, as all this talk of race seems to make more sense to the people who hold press conferences rather than the people who read the news. Maybe I am not going to be the one making the speeches that make the news, but awareness of this reality - that we are truly all in the same boat, no matter the politicking in the press - allows me to hope for this nation, and hopefully guides my behaviour in a positive manner from day to day - A Speaking Malaysian.

7:14 pm  

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