By Multatuli Murtadi
It’s that time of the year when resolutions are made and hopes wished for.
Both mine are intertwined. I remain resolute in fighting to change our country for the better. My wish is that we will become one country, one people, sharing one destiny.
No more “They and Us”. No more Bumiputras and Non-Bumiputras. Just Malaysians.
To paraphrase Usman Awang, the one united race we dream of in 1957 seems so distant from reality. Many Malaysians are angry and sad that their leaders have driven a wedge between us. Some of us get the title “Bumiputra” and not the others.
Speaking for myself I will be happy to burn my I.C. which states my race and religion in exchange for one which simply says I am a Malaysian. If I happen to be a Malay that is an accident of birth and being a Bumiputra is forced on me, but being a Malaysian is my choice.
Corruption, Transparency and In/Competence are important issues. A good education policy attuned to global demands is important. Religious freedom – not just for Non-Muslims but also for us Muslims is important. Economic and social fair play is important. Racial discrimination is important. Butmore than all the above, is Race and Religion.
If we do not resolve this most fundamental issue we will be going round in circles because the problems eventually come back to race and religion.
Divide and Rule
How do we achieve social and economic justice if policies are made to favour one race?
From 1970, policies have been made apparently to address the imbalance between the different communities. The government then misdiagnosed this as a racial issue when it is in fact a social and economic issue. It’s about the ‘have-nots’ and how to raise them to the level of the better-offs.
The ‘have-nots’ comprises every race albeit the majority are Malays. If we use socio-economic tools to deal with the problem we help all races, not just one, which in the process divide the races. But perhaps that is what UMNO Baru, Bersatu, PAS and Pejuang want in order to maintain power by exploiting race and religion.
But even with the most robust pro Malay policies as in the Mahathir years and similar policies of successive governments; the Malay leaders have failed to lift the standard of living of theMalay B40 significantly. This is because of cronyism and corruption.
In the end it is the UMNOputras and the Malay bourgeoisie who have benefitted most. The poor Malays have remained poor even today and the wealth gap between the rich and poor intra the Malay community is the widest of all the communities.
To put context into this; China lifted 800 million out of poverty in 40 years. We can’t do it even in 60 years. One has the political will and competence to deliver, the other exploits the Malay’s poverty for political gains.
A non-racial discriminatory socio-economic policy which benefits all Malaysians is the fairest way and it would not divide Malaysians; not the sham ‘affirmative action’ of the government. Real affirmative action is colour blind, is based on needs and not on race and religion.
Frankly, the government knows that, but it is their strategy to use the Malays against the others – to divide and rule.
Competency . . .
Or incompetency as is the case of our government. The floods we are having and Covid-19 have exposed the incompetence of the ALL Malay Government. If we choose our government (including all government services and agencies) on race (and religion) we are limiting our talent pool. Throw in party politics and we have the formula for picking the dishonest dummies to run our country.
Ismail Sabri has a reputation of being a Malay ultra. His ‘Malays Only’ digital mall which he promoted to rival the Low Yat mall failed miserably. His talk of “Keluarga Malaysia” is a sham. How can you have a happy family when one child is favoured over all the others. This child eats at the top table and the others get crumbs. I certainly do not want to be in his family.
Muhyddin Yassin has openly declared that he is a Malay first, a Muslim second and being a Malaysian a distant third. He is certainly not a prime minister for all Malaysians. On top of that he is as incompetent as his successor Ismail.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in his first premiership enacted anti Non-Malay policies which provided the template for all future prime ministers . His second term as prime minister was no better.
From Mahathir’s first time as prime minister till the present, no prime minister has helped the Malay B40 relative to how their policies have benefitted the Malay Upper Middle Class. It is a case of the rich Malays getting richer and the poor Malays getting poorer.
The standard of our education keeps falling. Malay language chauvinists fail to understand that in order to compete, our people need STEM subjects, not more Islamic studies, not more religious schools. To do business with other countries we need English and to keep abreast of technical and scientific developments. The Malay leaders understand this, why else do they send their children to international schools or register their children in a foreign school abroad like one ex-minister did recently.
If our national schools are so good why not they put their children there?This is a case of false Malay pride which Malay leaders stir in the rakyat and exploit it. They impose the limitations of our own language on the masses while they give their children the benefit of an international education.
There is a place for our national language but there is also a place for English and other languages.
India conducts most of its trade and foreign dealings in English which is an official language. They flourish in science and technology because their students can keep abreast of the latest developments. India has produced clever students who run Fortune 500 companies. Would they have done it if they insisted on Hindi – let their false pride get in the way? Singapore is the same and so is the Philippines or Sri Lanka and others. They don’t let sombongbodoh cloud their decision making and stand in the way of progress and prosperity.
Ask our Malay elite what they speak and read? Where they send their children to school? Why can’t ordinary Malaysians have the same?
Some Malays are so blinded by race and religion that they even coin the phrase “Apa Malu Bossku” or accept PAS president’s convoluted explanation that corruption is not corruption if there is a willing giver and willing taker. He alleges that the Koran said so. What kind of Muslim is he when he uses a phrase out of context to support the alleged corruption of his colleagues and himself. He is a disgrace to Islam.
When we are ”Malays” and “Non Malays” then many Malays feel that they have to defend Malay pride and dignity. That when the Nons talk about corruption and incompetence they are attacking the Malays – the fact is most of the corrupt ministers and government officers are Malays so when one talks about corruption it naturally reflects on our race.
If we were all ‘satu bangsa dan satu negara” (I remember this refrain from Tunku’s days) then when we attack corruption and incompetence it is the crooks we are attacking which can be from any community – not the race, or religion.
Wanting to do something about corruption, incompetence and our woeful education is very commendable. But isn’t it just papering over the cracks?
There is talk about this great “reset” but yet none of what I have heard addresses the elephant which has been sitting in the room for 60 years – Race and Religion.
Resetting is not enough in an edifice eaten by termites. We need to tear the building down and build again on foundations of equal citizenship, freedom of religion and social and economic fair play. I would like to see those who call for this “reset” to include the ending of “Bumiputraism” and calling for a “Bangsa Malaysia” of equal citizenship. Without this it is just “redecorating the house” while the structure is crumbling.
The pandemic and the recent floods (more to come according to the weatherman) has shown how Malaysians have come together to help each other. No one is asked his race or religion when food and water is handed out by NGOs and neighbours. No one cares about race or religion when help is given. Both disasters have also exposed the incompetence of the government. The floods have exposed the indifference our ministers who holiday abroad while the rest of us are drowning.
The disasters have shown very clearly that there is no racial or religious divide among Malaysians. That is something the politicians in UMNO, PAS and all the other ‘race exclusive’ political parties have created.
My wish for 2022 is that ALL Malaysians come together as one people.
When GE-15 comes we vote the best people with a clean record and a record of competence.
Let us not vote on race and religion again.
We have seen what 60 years of race and religion politics has done to our country. Enough is enough.
Happy New Year and a belated Merry Christmas.
I am allowed to wish Christians Merry Christmas am I not? One can’t be too careful with the extreme and intolerant Islam the government is propagating.
(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