By Multatuli Murtadi: His swansong…
Let us be clear what Bumiputraism is. For a start it is NOT Affirmative Action as the government claims. Affirmative Action is designed to lift the socio-economic status of the poor and needy in society; it is aimed at the B40 irrespective of race or religion.
So what is Bumiputraism? To put it bluntly, it is a tool for Malay hegemony.
Bumiputraism is a label coined to differentiate the Malays from the Non-Malays. It sets one Malaysian community apart from the others. It a racial construct where one race is given a special (higher) status than all other races in Malaysia. Bumiputras are given special privileges which other Malaysians do not get. In real terms it amounts to two classes of citizenship.
The government claims that it is to protect and raise the socio-economic status of the natives. This is not true because the Orang Asli and natives of Sabah and Sarawak are at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.
Let us consider the ten reasons why Malays should reject Bumiputraism.
- Bumiputraism is racial discrimination by another name however much our leaders try to argue that it is ‘affirmative action’. Affirmative Action is colour blind and is based on needs. Affirmative Action beneficiaries are usually ‘means tested’ to qualify them for government assistance. Affirmative Action applies to all Malaysians who fall within the category of B40 – the poor and disadvantaged in society.
Bumiputraism is a race-based policy which give blanket privileges to Malays irrespective of their socio-economic status. It is used as a political tool by UMNO and other Malay-exclusive political parties to win elections.
2. The Koran forbids racial discrimination. What kind of Muslims are we – praying five times a day and going to the mosque on Friday, yet we think nothing of discriminating against other Malaysians who are not Malays or Muslims. If we are good Muslims then we cannot discriminate on racial grounds. Racial discrimination is not acceptable in Islam as in other religions, it is morally indefensible.
3. Bumiputraism as a national economic policy has failed to alleviate poverty among the Malays as it was intended; even after fifty years of racial bias. The reason is that it has been hijacked by Malay leaders who have exploited the poor Malays to serve their own selfish purposes.
4. Bumiputraism is used by influential Malays to enrich themselves, often at the expense of the poor Malays. These Malays give themselves and their families, licenses and permits which poor Malays do not get. Just to take one example; a powerful Malay politician can have a thousand taxi licenses while a poor Malay without strings cannot get even one. Instead, the poor Malay has to rent the license from the powerful Malay and work fourteen hours a day to make ends meet while the license holder sits in his aircon room doing nothing. Today e-hailing taxis have made taxi licenses less lucrative for the corrupt Malays, but they have found other means afforded by Bumiputraism to further enrich themselves.
5. Bumiputraism has made us dishonest without us realising it. The sense of entitlement has skewed our perspective of right and wrong. We think we are owed everything so we don’t bother to repay our education or business loans. We do not think what we do is wrong because we think the country and everyone else owes it to us.
6. Bumiputraism breeds a dependency mentality. If businesses are given to you on a silver platter there is no need to sacrifice like the Non-Bumiputra businessmen have to. If losses are covered by tax-payers money, there is no need to work harder or smarter. After 60 years it is time the Malay middle class and the rich stand on their own feet. It is time they give back, instead of continuing to leech on society. If we want a genuine Malay mercantile class we must insist that they stand on their own feet – after two generations of privileges they should be able to.
7. If we care so much about “maruah” why are we pushing for handouts? If we need help to compete; teach us how. Don’t give us fish, teach us to fish. If you continue to mollycoddle us, when are we going to learn? Are you really helping us? Or are you helping your election chances – not caring about the long term effects bumiputraism has on the Malays. Stop telling us that we are lazy, uncompetitive etc while you continue to push crutches on us instead of letting us walk on our own. Bumiputraism insults the dignity of the Malays.
8. Bumiputraism has made many Malays arrogant.The narrative that we are owners of the land (which we are not) has fueled this arrogance – telling Non-Bumis that they are guests and have no rights. We now demand and take what we think our status as ‘princes of the soil’ entitles us, to the point that we rob others of the fruits of their labour. How do we justify demanding 51% of someone else’s efforts and risk taking for doing nothing. Where is the dignity in living off the sweat of others. Only slave owners and pimps do that. We are neither. Slowly but surely Bumiputraism will kill the Malays – not save them.
9. Half a century of Bumiputraism has made us what we are – dependent, uncompetitive. A community that others look down on or despise. Let’s face it, what do you think the others talk about amongst themselves when they complain about the institutional racism practised in our country. Can you imagine how angry they are when they have to sacrifice to send their children to university whereas a rich Malay who can afford to can get scholarships. If it were a poor Malay family, they might grumble (for they too are poor) but they would not be angry. Let us walk in the other person’s shoes and see how we feel. “Bumiputra” is not a label to be proud of, the way it has been corrupted. It is a stigma on our name, an albatross round our neck.
10. Malays are the largest community and therefore in the position to determine the direction of the country. We must take this position seriously. With power comes responsibility. If we claim that we want a united Malaysia then we have to remove the barriers that make national unity impossible. No one will accept a position where they and future generations will be always second class. Would we?
But let’s not kid ourselves, Bumiputraism will not end anytime soon unless the Malay B40 rebel because the Malay rich and bourgeoisie will not. They are having it too good. If poor Malays can be convinced of the injustice of the system and shown how it has enriched the corrupt and powerful Malays but not them, they will rebel – just as Hamid Tuah and his followers did.
Poor Malays are not the problem; the middle class and rich Malays are. They are the ones who have benefitted most from Bumiputraism. This applies especially to the crooked heads of departments in government service, the GLCs and the business class who get APs and licenses not allowed of Non-Bumiputras.
Too much of a good thing
You must have heard of the expression “too much of a good thing” where a surfeit of what initially was a good thing turns toxic. Bumiputraism is a toxic potion we continue to take at our own peril. Yet the short-term gains are so attractive that most of us will not give it up. Will future Malays be able to walk without crutches? We are not doing justice to our children and grandchildren.
Malaysia is the only country in the 21st Century which has an official policy of racial discrimination. Apartheid ended in 1994 in South Africa; when will Bumiputraism aka Malaysian Apartheid end? This is a smear on the good name of our race carried out by politicians bankrupt of vision and policies to take our country forward. Malays are not by nature racist but if we accept the status quo and remain silent we are abettors to this injustice.
We owe it to the future generation to ensure that our children can stand on their own feet. If fifty years of Bumiputraism has made us what we are – uncompetitive and lacking in confidence in our own ability, what will another two generations of special privileges (as called for by Zahid) do to us as a people? When the Non-Malays leave (I don’t blame them the way we are treating them) who is going to produce the wealth that pays for the privileges we have come to expect for doing very little? There will be no more Non-Bumiputra companies we can extort 51% equity from or demand 30% of the workforce. Who will carry us then? We have a long learning curve to travel and we’d better start now.
In the early years of the NEP, many Malays were helped; eventually the“Law of Diminishing Returns” set in. Today we are spending more and more (in the wrong places) and getting very little in return. It did not help that our Malay leaders were stealing from us and exploiting race and Islam to further their own selfish agenda. Malays continue to lag behind the others. Race based policies do not work – not for the Malays nor for the nation as a whole.
We have talented, brainy, hardworking and honest people in the Malay community. Because they are honest and will not bodek they get nowhere in our system. Those who dare speak out are sidelined by the government and those who are vociferous and actively challenging the government are intimidated by the police. They are also called traitors to their race and persecuted, whereas in truth they are the real patriots to their community and the country. If you feel as I do passionately for our community and for the country then add your voice for change.
In GE15 vote against apartheid, vote for inclusiveness, vote for Bangsa Malaysia. And if you want to safeguard the future generation of Malays (and Malaysians) then vote on policies, not race and religion.
We are a fair and just people and the Koran has taught us that all men are children of Allah. We also have our pride and dignity which forbids us to do some of the things we do – steal from the country, discriminate against others and be intolerant of others who are different from us. Let us reclaim our dignity and pride.
This is my last article. I have said enough; some of which many will not agree with and a lot of what I say will anger my fellow Malays. But when the anger dies down and you are calmer consider what I say again.
Let them who have ears listen and those who have eyes see.
(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)
By Multatuli Murtadi, Kelantan
Three Malaysians – Malay, Chinese, Indian – in hot soup