Mirror Mirror On The Wall

By Multatuli Murtadi

As a child when I got into a fight and my parents get to know about it, I get punished. Who started it is secondary. My parents do not believe in blaming the other children. It is for their parents to sort them out. We put our own house in order. It takes two to fight; I am as much at fault as the other person.

Call this old fashion values if you like, but it works. We don’t point fingers at others and blame them for our problems.

We Malays must get our own house in order. For too long we have blamed the Chinese, the Indians and everybody else for whatever ills that befall us; but never ourselves.

Especially since Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first regime, we have had robust pro Malay policies covering everything from recruitment to government service, Petronas, business and education. Yet we lag behind the others. Our leaders tell us that it is because of the Chinese and Indians that we are left behind. Because they control the economy (Really? When most of the banks are Malay owned and so are the Insurance companies, the GLCs are Malay controlled etc), that they will not employ us and that they are too aggressive in business. We fail to understand that in the private sector they employ who they think is best for the job – the colour of the cat is secondary. They are aggressive in business because it is a matter of life and death so to speak; they don’t get bailed out with taxpayers’ money like our Malay entrepreneurs do. If they borrow from the bank they must pay back with interest and on time. We don’t even pay back the money we borrow for education.

They grumble but then they put their nose to the grindstone. They don’t blame the racist government policies because it would do no good. Instead they work harder, longer, smarter. They have to, to survive.

When we find we cannot compete we tell ourselves that all the Chinese think about is money. The implication is that they are materialistic while we on the other hand put religious salvation above chasing money. That the after-life, syurga is more important. In other words we have loftier goals than money. Who are we kidding after what our politicians and civil servants are doing in pursuit of money. At least the Chinese work for their money – we extort.

When things are not right with us we blame others. When we underperform we give the excuse that we do not chase money unlike the Chinese. That Najib is a crook is Jho Low’s fault! Don’t misunderstand me, Jho is as low as they come but unless Najib is himself corrupt, 1MBD would not have happened. He was the prime minister. He could have reported Jho Low and let the police do their work.

Who is it who corrupts us?

It is the Chinaman who corrupt us by offering us bribes, we complain. Have you asked yourself  why anyone wants to bribe unless they feel they have to in order to survive? Unless the other side is amenable? It takes two to tango.

If bribery and corruption is a Chinese DNA (as many Malays claim) then logically, Singapore would be a hot bed of corruption since there are more Chinese there. Singapore ranked third in the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International; in other words they are the third least corrupt country. Malaysia on the other hand has been named world champion in bribery. Transparency International says Malaysia scored worst in a Bribe Payers Survey.

We get scholarships and we get to go to the best schools reserved only for us. We get into universities even if our grades are not good.

The non-Malays do not get the same treatment. Certain colleges and schools are closed to them. University places are limited so that even the brightest non-Malay cannot get into our public universities. They complain but they get on with it. Their parents mortgage their house or relatives contribute to send them to university. They can rightly blame the government but instead they dig deep within themselves to rise above this racial discrimination.

We on the other hand blame others when we cannot get jobs with our degrees. Why not we ask if the degrees our universities churn out are valued by the private sector and if not, surely it is the government who should take responsibility for giving us a low-quality education not up to the standard required by industry.

It would seem that the harder we make it for the others the harder they strive and the more successful they get. This has become a red rag to many Malays and so we make it even harder for them. Guess what? They will rise above this imposed hardship too. The best steel is forged from the hottest fire. This is something we should learn from the others.

It is not rocket science to know that when you mollycoddle someone he gets soft and unable to compete. Sixty years of mollycoddling has made us Malays what we are – uncompetitive; unable to take sustained hard work, unable to take stress. We are always looking for hand outs which the government is eager to give in order to buy our votes.Our leaders know that but they keep giving us crutches because they know that it is the only way they can keep power. They scratch our backs we scratch theirs like the convicted felon Najib would say.

Ketuanan Melayu

They sell the notion of Ketuanan Melayu, the lie that we are the owners of the land (not the Aslis and Natives of Borneo) and so we are entitled special privileges denied to the others.

This sense of exclusive proprietorship has led us to believe we can do whatever we like – even steal from the country; bend every rule and expect to get away scot free (which many have). When the man in charge of overseeing that corrupters are caught and punished is himself compromised, apalagi? When children become billionaires because daddy was the prime minister, it sets the tone for the rest. So, everyone from the top down to the lowest matamata is on the take. Favours are given to relatives and cronies so they too can get rich. Why not, if my boss can steal billions why can’t I take RM50; if his family can get rich so can my family. So the whole system is corrupt to the core. Hence, we are the World Champion of Corruption.

We blame others for our lack of dignity. When our leaders held the Malay Dignity Congress they used the forum to slag the non-Malays, instead of examining what they had done wrong and try to correct it. They take the easy route – blame others. They don’t tell us the hard truth that the world does not owe us a living fearing that we may get angry. When the parent does not discipline the child but instead choose to blame someone else he spoils the child. This is what our leaders have done, spared the rod so we have become spoiled children.

When the head of a Japanese company make a bad mistake, he apologises publicly and resign. There is a great sense of shame. We on the other hand ask “ApaMalu?” The CEOs of our GLCs can lose millions and yet laugh all the way to the bank. The Koreans, when their prime minister is caught for corruption she is clad in prison garb, pending appeal or not. Ours still take holidays abroad and swaggers round town in his swanky suits like he still owns the joint. Yes, our judicial system allows that, but you won’t find someone who has stolen RM2,000 getting the same treatment.

Mahathir’s Look East policy

Mahathir asked us to “Look East” if we only learn one thing – “Honour” – it might have saved us.

As a Malay, I ask myself is this what we have become? A community with no honour and dignity? A people who can only survive on government handouts, on taking what others have built up with their sweat – demanding 51% for doing nothing, just because we have the power to take? This mentality seems to be ingrained – Razak did the same. Where is our pride?

Have we become a people who can rise only by putting others down, refusing them licences, creating monopolies which we hand to one of our own? Have we become a people devoid of a sense of fairness and justice?

You probably hate me for stating these inconvenient truths and asking hard questions, but these are questions we should have asked ourselves.

An Egyptian friend gave me a framed Arabic calligraphy which says “The truth shall set you free”. It is time we free ourselves.

I am sure we will find the true Malay in ourselves – noble, a proud people with honour and dignity whether we are rich or poor. We are known as a kind, generous and fair people. What happened?

Don’t count on our leaders to give us back our dignity. They don’t have the moral fibre to do what is right, or tell us the truth especially if it is unpopular.

Yes our community needs a hand up to catch-up with the others. We have squandered three generations of special privileges but instead of biting the bullet and correcting ourselves, our leaders promise us never ending privileges. We, as a community, has got hooked on this “free ride”. We refuse to get off.

But nothing lasts forever.

For your information, the government is bankrupt, it cannot mollycoddle us much longer. We are living on borrowed money. . . and borrowed time.We have mortgaged our children’s future. Even international investors are shunning us because of our corruption and moving to Indonesia and other countries, which means no jobs for our children.

But to be sure when GE15 comes along, they will somehow find money to bribe us again – government servants will get fat bonuses and the rest of us get RM500 to show how much the government cares.

I say, take it because it is your money!

How you vote is up to your conscience. Before you put the ‘X’ ask yourself this:  Is my grandchildren’s future so cheap that I vote for crooks and bunglers? Is my memory so short that I have forgotten 1MBD and how they mishandled Covid and the floods?

Beware of those who come bearing gifts.

The leaders you should vote for are those who are not afraid to tell us the hard truths – that there is no free lunch – but who at the same time give us a hand up if we ourselves are prepared to work hard.

To be sure, the road back is long and hard, but we can do it.

Let us look ourselves in the mirror . . . only we can save ourselves because our leaders cannot. Only we can give ourselves back our pride and dignity taken away by those who pretend to care for us but who enrich themselves, their families, and their cronies at our expense.

It is time that we take responsibility for our present situation and stop blaming others.

Mirror mirror on the wall, will I have courage to help make changes?

(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

Rebuilding Malaysia


  • Jeorphy says:

    We look at the Indonesia government now? They have manage to control the corruption, we in Malaysia getting worst now a days. It is very difficult to control now as our government most of them is practicing the bribing itself. Now in indonesia they are practicing equal race and religion & they call it all bangsa Indonesia, so no one should be left over unless you are not perform it up to you.I would like to see in the future that our Malaysia government will be change sooner.

  • Frederiq says:

    The whole article needs to be translated in Malay and preferably all their dialects and distributed to all the kampong people in all outer corners off Malaysia where they need to understand that getting their Rm500 handout is poison.

  • Gurmukh Maude says:

    Please translate this into Bahasa Melayu and print it in the Malay Newspaper, Malay Blogs and especially in Harakah Seharian. This article will de better if it reaches the intended targets. The Chinese, Indians and others already know this too well.

  • Francis Voon says:

    Long live Malaysia and power to you who are brave enough to forge a truly equal multi – cultural society. I may not be around to see that day, but as long as there are people like you there will be hope.

  • Gary KK Yuen says:

    After…the truth has set us free

    Out of many, comes one

    Not a king for he fights only for his people, but a hero…who fights for everyone

    FAMILY (values taught when we were kids)
    LOYALTY, &
    KINDNESS (without which the stated above will render as useless)

    This msian above all else is steeled to go to war with ALL ills cancering our country now…

    Si vis pacem… Parabellum!

    Fair, objective, TRUTHFUL well written piece with lots of thought and soul searching…when there is one of you there are others…we just need to find them ALL!

  • Joyce says:

    Bravo! Well said. I salute you.

  • Thanks K:Raman says:

    Tamil song sung by MGR ( thirudanai paarthu thirunthaavitaal thirutai ozhikka mudiaathu. Unless thieves change theft cannot be irradicated let us hope that the 18 year olds bring up a change of old horses.

  • William Mah says:

    Mariam, good write-up. I believe that if you as a Malay, who truly wants the Malay community on the whole to wake up to the truth and read your articles, you should also publish your articles, such as this and many other good ones you wrote before this, in Bahasa Malaysia version and publish them in Malay community circles. It is the majority of common Malay audience who are the voters base you want the truth to reach and not just the ones who have a good command of English (truth be told, there aren’t many Malays who have good command of English, that will make up the majority of Malay voters base. Sorry to state the obvious). Many of the Malays who may have good command of English and are educated to read your articles may already be comfortable with and have been bought by the current leaders to support the status quo. They will not rock the boat and neither will they have the guts to look into the truth mirror and accept what you have suggested in this article.

  • Edwin Nelson says:

    The only leader i know now who is pushing to build a one nation and not just one Race or one Religion is Datuk Shafie Afdal of Warisan. He was the Chief Minister of Sabah (for those in Semenjung who do not know) until the Shereton move where he lost some of his seats and was removed as CM.
    Yes he and his party has fallen but each time they fall they are one step closer to their objective.
    He is one Malay who has the foresight and fighting spirit to fight for the one Nation, one Malaysia concept where all relegions and all races will rank equal to each other.
    If you want one nation for all races and all relegions then support Shafie and Warisan.

  • Catherine Hoong says:

    The truth, nothing but the truth.

  • Lee Guat Siang says:

    The truth shall set you free.

  • Sunderalingam Vanialingam says:

    It’s very well written and may be eye opening to many. In my opinion it is not that all Malays are ignorant but definitely many are. But unfortunately what was missing is that it’s the same with people of any race when they instill the idea that they need or deserve a compulsory token of appreciation (bribe) to do their jobs.
    I also suggest it’s translated to Malay as well so more people will understand it.

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