31st August – A Time For Reflection

By Multatuli Murtadi

After 64 years, we have moved from White Bosses to Brown Tuans.

Instead of the contrived celebrations of Merdeka I would like to use 31st August to reflect on what has gone wrong with our nation and especially on the role of the majority. 

On 31st August 1957 Malayans of every colour and creed celebrated the birth of the nation. Later we were joined by Sabah and Sarawak.

Sixty four years later I wonder how many celebrated Merdeka on 31st August 2021?

What happened to the dream of a multi-racial, multi-cultural united Malaysia of one people?

Many, especially the non-Malays would feel that they have been let down. When once they were part of the family now they are told they are just guests.  When once they shared in governing the country now they are excluded and policies are made as if only one race live here. 

Who can blame them for thinking that instead of the White Bosses they now have the Brown Tuans. Who can blame those who have left in droves for countries where racial discrimination is against the law and not the law.

“Malaysian Apartheid” is not an exaggeration for describing what is happening in our country.

I don’t intend to rehash all the ills that has befallen our country. They are well documented. Instead, let‘s use 31st August as a time for reflection.

How did ‘nature’s gentlemen’ become like this – rapacious, cunning, cheating – all the things we accused the Chinese of. How did a people who were inclusive and accepting of others become so racially discriminating and so intolerant. We were never like that – not my generation at any rate.

Believe me, this is what the others think of us even though they mostly suffer in silence. Warned of another May 13 and now with even more draconian laws who would speak out? If we have a little empathy we will understand how it feels to be second class; to feel unwanted in your land of birth. Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes and you will understand how it hurts when your children cannot go to certain schools because they are of the wrong skin colour.

How do you console your child who has done well in school yet cannot get into university while others with lower marks can. Ask yourself how it feels when you have to mortgage your house and borrow money from relatives to send your child to university when someone much rich gets scholarships for his children because his skin is the right colour. And when you struggle to save enough money to buy a house you have to pay the full price while someone can buy several houses at a discount because he is “special”. The list of unfairness is long and does not need elaborating.

To the Non-Malay Malaysians, let me assure you the Malays are not racists although I don’t blame anyone for thinking so considering what is going on. We are like everyone else we have a heart too. Don’t judge us by the crooked politicians who claim to be protecting us Malays but who are really only looking after their self interests

Let me and other fair minded “nature’s gentlemen” speak for those Malaysians who feel aggrieved. By doing that we speak for our community too – to put right the impression other Malaysians have (wrongly I stress) of us.

We are not the thieves that looted the country. We are not the type who would steal the hard earned money of those who saved to go to Mecca. We are not the type to live off the sweat of others – taking away businesses others have built.

You only have to look back a generation or two. We got along with our Indian and Chinese friends. We ate at the same table in coffee shops. We visited each other’s houses not worried to eat and drink what was offered because we know they respect our religion. We sat next to each other in class and played together. We were all Malayans (and later Malaysians).

While we had our special privileges which gave us some advantages to help us ‘catch up’ that was never a problem because we did not abuse it. We were fair.

So what happened to us that we are now labeled racists and religious extremists?

I will tell you what happened: we allowed ourselves to be misled by so called leaders who scared us by saying that the non-Malays will take over the country, that we face an existential threat  like the red indians of America. That Islam is under threat. These leaders used race and religion to turn us against our fellow Malaysians. They reinforced these lies using government agencies.

Those of us who dare speak the truth are labeled traitors to our community but the real traitors are those who steal from the community and country. Who discriminate against other Malaysians in the name of protecting Islam and the Malays. Islam has existed for 1500 years without PAS or UMNO, it does not need protecting. In fact those self proclaimed protectors of Islam are the ones who give Islam a bad name.

Malays have been here a long time and we are the majority; we hold the levers of government, we own the banks and control Petronas and the GLCs; how can we be in danger of extinction?

However the Malays are in danger from our own kind.

The B40 among us are neglected while the rich and powerful enrich themselves further.

We are in danger because of the poor education you give our children while you send yours to international schools and universities abroad.

We are in danger because you have made us uncompetitive and reliant on you. Despite decades of privileges we enjoy the Non Malays are still performing better than us. Surely something is wrong.

We are in danger beause the whole country is going down due to the poor quality prime ministers and ministers picked on race and not merit.

It is very hard to admit all this but unless we face up to it we will continue to slide down the slippery slope.

We must stop blaming the non-Malays, using them as scapegoats for the failing of our Malay leaders. We must take some blame for this because we put them there. We allow oursleves to be bribed by the crumbs they throw us.

I personally have no faith in the old generation of politicians. They got us into this mess and if we continue to vote for them in GE15 we have only ourselves to blame.

Undi 18 is important because I believe among the young generation of educated and exposed Malaysians we can find true Malaysian leaders – a prime minister for all Malaysians not just for one race.

Essentially I believe that we Malays are a fair minded and tolerant people, that we have the capabilities and brains to do well . We should not be afraid to compete.

The country needs to come together as one nation with one citizenship – Bangsa Malaysia. Affirmative action is necessary to deliver social and economic justice for everyone.

We are a people with a generous heart and there is enough to help the needy irrespective of eticty.But there is never enough to satisfy the greedy.

Every Malaysian should have reason to stand proudly before our flag and to celebrate Merdeka. But this cannot happen if part of our population are treated as second class citizens.

I would not like to be treated as second class so why should I treat others as such?

Unlike many, I have a positive view of our future because I believe Malaysians will come together as one people eventually. As the majority it is our responsibility to take the lead.

We should reflect on this.

(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)

1 September 2021

Multatuli Murtadi,


Rebuilding Malaysia


  • Zainal Ismail says:

    Whoever you are ,I completely share your views on inter racial relationship in the current state of our nation . I am already in my seventies , and although I am presently living and working in England since year 2000,I can see from afar how my country have degenerated into to put it mildly a racist country, not because of her people but more due to corrupt politicians, with their racist and religious rhetorics in their efforts to stay in power in order to keep robbing the country’s coffer. Not one day in a year that the country is free of politicking by politicians when during my 21 years in UK I hardly hear of politicians making speeches except during election times .
    I really enjoyed my childhood days when I have friends of different races, playing together going to same schools . Even when I went to RMC in the late sixties we don’t see ourselves as Malays , Chinese or Indians and we are respectful of their faiths or religions . We sleep , study and play together like normal children .
    Why are our children being segregated and treated differently. For the sake of our beloved country we cannot allow the present state of affairs to continue. Our country is doomed to fail if this is not changed . I know there are enough of rational and like minded and peace loving people out there to save our country from these corrupt politicians and together to make Malaysia a truly United and prosperous country where different races can live and be proud of our country. Poverty must be eradicated and Affirmative action to help the marginalised must be pursued with vigour irrespective of race.

  • Ch'ng Kim San says:

    I salute your truthfulness and honesty. Your courage and braveness to voice out the actual problems in this land. We hope to have more honest Voices , to lead Malaysia to a better tomorrow.

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