By Yin, Letters from Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan
In Malaysia RACE is an issue. Whether we talk about education, business, lifting the B40 or national competitiveness, we ultimately come back to the issue of RACE.
Mahathir Mohamad has made RACE the forefront of his attack on the government even now. His twenty four years as prime minister saw the entrenchment of Malays and discrimination against all other races.
Muhyiddin Yassin, Bersatu President, and Hadi Awang, PAS president, are similarly obsessed with the issue of race (and religion).
In the past we had a forum on “Maruah Melayu” – the agenda was how to raise Malay Dignity which the organisers say has declined. That turned out to be a Chinese bashing exercise.
Today we have the “Malay Proclamation” written by Mahathir.
The purpose is no different, to blame the ills of the Malays on the others.
Mahathir, adviser to the Malay Proclamation Secretariat wants to unite the Malays which he feels is under threat of losing their hegemony.
Marzuki Yahya who heads the Secretariat says that the movement is to forge the different views of Malays into a united front.
The crux of the Malay Proclamation is that Malays are in danger of losing out – hence the need for them to unite to safeguard their interests
Mahathir has a long record in politics and what he stands for can be distilled into – Malay hegemony, a Malay Malaysia with institutional racism as government policy, other races are accepted on tolerance and should not agitate for social and economic justice.
He will use the Malay Proclamation to stir up anti Non-Malay feelings
Mahathir is not the only one playing the race card. Hadi Awang, Muyhiddin and other Ultras have voiced similar sentiments.
Some recent rantings by Mahathir Mohammed (Kenneth Kee March 9 – Telegram)
- The majority of Malays in the country “did not benefit” from the multi-ethnic fabric of the country.
It is because we use the talents of all Malaysians that we have progressed. If not for institutional racism we might have progressed even further. Race-based policies have held us back and we have lost our competitive edge against other emerging economies.
Mahathir admitted as much that the majority of taxes come from the non-Malays. This tax has benefitted Malays in the main due to government policies.
The taxes also provide for the infrastructure and services which all Malaysians benefit from. How can he say Malays have not benefitted from multi-ethnicity.
However it is a fact that the majority of Malays have not benefitted as much as they should have. But this is because Mahathir’s policies were aimed at creating a class of super-rich Malays .Leaving the majority of Malays in the B40 class. Mahathir’s crony capitalism has seen his family and that of his cronies (including a few Non-Malays) get rich – not because of their hard work or intelligence but because of cronyism.
2. Multi-ethnicism has created a meritocracy which means only Non-Malays have benefitted is another Mahathir rant. This is a false claim. While meritocracy applies in the private sector, in all government services, race is the determinant and not merit.
Meritocracy exists in the private sector because the viability of a business depends on getting the best talents. He should be thankful for that because someone has to pay the bills.
3. The business sector of Malaysia is dominated by the Chinese. Non-Chinese cannot get good jobs there.
This is a blatant lie.
Mahathir forgets that Malays control the banks, the insurance industry, importation of cars, rice milling, importation of sugar, transportation, toll roads, sewage and water, the ports and the list goes on.
What is true and which Mahathir conveniently forgets is that these Malays businesses are owned by his cronies who are given banks and rice milling, ports, transport, A.Ps etc. None of which has benefitted ordinary Malays, especially the B40.
He is blaming his own failure on the Chinese – the convenient scapegoat for problems created by him. Non-Chinese cannot get good jobs there (in Chinese companies). Private companies need to be competitive to survive. They cannot depend on government bailouts (MAS, Pewaja, Konsortium Perkapalan Berhad), as such they must pick their staff on merit; race is not a consideration.
Mr. D.I.Y which has been judged the best managed company
By Deloitte has a top management team comprising Malays, Indians and Chinese
Astro’s top management team is also multi-ethnic.
There are other examples.
Mahathir should ask himself why are there not more Malays in the private sector. Education is the key. If a potential employee can only speak one language or whose qualifications do not come up to industry standard while another candidate’s does; which one do you think the company will employ.
Instead of taking the easy way out by blaming the Chinese, Mahathir should instead ask himself what did he do to lift the education standard of the Malays. When standards are lowered to admit students who otherwise would not quality for university what do you expect. If our vice-chancellors and lecturers are picked on the basis of race and not merit what do you think will be the end product.
4. Mahathir then ranted about vernacular schools and about how the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia assimilated the minorities.
Indonesia’s national motto Bhinekka Tunggal Ika means Unity In Diversity. This shows an acceptance of different ethnicities united by a common goal.
There is no institutional racism in any of the above countries.
Malaysia’s diversity is its strength and we should appreciate it.
As for vernacular schools, the answer is to have excellent national schools. Parents know what is best for their children; if national schools are the best then vernacular schools will die a natural death over time. Fact is thousands of Malay parents have opted to send their children to Chinese Schools – so much for closing down vernacular schools.
Ideally we should bring back English medium schools – it is a ‘neutral’ language but more importantly it gives us connectivity to the outside world. It is also the language of science and technology and international commerce.
Language chauvinism will lead us nowhere.
5. “As I said, I am not a racist. I am a national of the country called Malaysia. I have a right to a fair share of the wealth of this country.”
A bit rich coming from him. He and his cronies have more than a fair share of the wealth of this country! Allegedly Microsoft MSN rank Mahathir as the 6th richest leader in the world with a fortune of US$45 billion. If in fact it is true, where did he get the money from?
It is the B40 Malays who have lost out. In his 24 years as prime minister what has he done for the poor Malays – very little, because he was more interested in bashing the other races than in implementing policies to prosper the country and putting in place policies to benefit the have-nots.
It is interesting that in the same rant he admitted that his roots are Indian – something he seemed ashamed to admit on so many occasions.
It must be put on record that Non-Malays have always proudly identified themselves as Malaysians. On the other hand our ex-prime minister Muhyiddin identified himself as a Malay and Muslim before being Malaysian.
Non-Malays have always called for a Bangsa Malaysia, it is the racial extremists who stridently identify themselves as Malays and the rest as Pendatangs.
Mahathir inferred that Malays are native to this country.
Just to put the record straight – the only natives of this country are the Orang Aslis and natives of Sarawak and Sabah. The rest came at different times from Nusantara (Indonesia), India, China etc.
Mahathir made his racist rants on joining Parti Bumiputra Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) – an extension of the Malay supremacist group Perkasa.
Mahathir is stuck in 1981 and race politics, while Anwar Ibrahim’s government is trying to get away from race and religion to build a Malaysian nation.
Mahathir failed in 24 years to forge a Malaysian nation and now he is playing the race card to spoil it for Anwar.
The battle today for the hearts and minds of Malaysians is between the Conservative Islamist Malays and the liberal progressive Malays plus the Non-Malays.
The Malay parties have no new ideas. They sing from the same old song sheet of Ketuanan Melayu. They anoint themselves as defenders of the race and Islam without naming the threat. Mahathir’s rant about Non-Malays taking the lion’s share of the country’s wealth has no basis in fact.
Pakatan Harapan sells a different Malaysia. They have a blueprint for taking the country forward, to uniting the people, to bringing peace and prosperity to our country. A blueprint to lift the standard of living of the very poor irrespective of race – a genuine affirmative policy based on needs. The unity government wants to tackle the systemic corruption that has taken over the country.
Race politics will destroy the country if we let it.
By Yin, Letters from Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan
(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)
Ward 5 Tanjong Rambutan