Racism: The Cancer In Our Body Politic

By Yin

In Malaysia everything is about RACE. You can talk about corruption, governance, economic disparity, religion, even sport; it always revolves on race.

Starting with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, successive governments since, have pushed the Malay Agenda and to exert the so called ‘inherent rights’ of the Malays as ‘owners’ of the land.

The narrative put about is that the Chinese and Indians are immigrants (hence guests) while the Malays are indigenes (hosts). The insinuation is that guests must behave and accept what is given them by the host.

Truth is, the only indigenes are the Orang Aslis and the Natives of Sabah and Sarawak. And they are at the bottom of the barrel.

The Malays are immigrants from Nusantara; many very recently. Najib Razak admitted to as much in boasting about his Bugis Ancestry and Zahid, his Javanese roots.

In any case, indigenousness is not a basis for special privileges.  The universally accepted concept of citizenship is that once acquired, citizenship bestows the same rights and responsibilities on all citizens.

It is interesting to note the Koran holds very similar views. 

“The cornerstone of Islamic political thought, its concept of sovereignty which resides with God and God alone, excludes the right of any group to arrogate to itself the ownership of any land or country. At the same time it does not recognise any distinction between “indigenous” and “non-indigenous” in relation to rights and responsibilities to the community since mankind is of one single nation.”  – Chandra Muzaffar (The NEP – Development and Alternative Consciousness Pg 44).

Today we have an overtly Malay Government determined to further entrench Malay hegemony.

There is no Malaysian Agenda only Malay Agenda. Bangsa Malaysia promised in GE14 is forgotten.

Malay hegemony and racial exclusivity is nothing new. After Tunku (in whose administration there was still meaningful participation by the non-Malays in government) successive administrations were more and more Malay centric to the exclusion of the other races whose representation is just tokenism with no real say in government policies.

Even when Hussein Onn was prime minister, racial discrimination was already evident.

An interesting account related by Robert Kuok told how he tried to convince Hussein Onn of the wisdom of a multi-racial Malaysia.

“Please, Hussein, use the best brains, the people with their hearts in the right place, Malaysians of total integrity and strong ability, hardworking and persevering people. Use them regardless of race, colour or creed” (Robert Kuok – A Memoir Pg 270).

Hussein Onn would have none of it. He ignored his friend’s warning about the Malays ‘growing up spoiled, with an attitude of entitlement’ which unfortunately has come true.

What is our obsession with race?

When America can accept a black man as president, Peru a Japanese  and Britain an Indian as Chancellor of the Exchequer (arguably the second most powerful position). When citizens irrespective of ethnicity can hold senior positions in government, industry and universities in those countries – but not in Malaysia. Why?

If many of the biggest Fortune 500 companies are run by ethnic Indians, why are our GLCs’ top jobs reserved only for Malays. Why not someone who can turn a profit whatever his race or religion. Why has not a single non-Malay been vice-chancellor of our public universities. Because none is smart enough?

While many countries welcome immigrants with the required skills and expertise, we drive ours away because of race.

I often wondered what has shaped the Malay mindset that they seem blind to the blatant racism in our country.

An article in the Asia Sentinel sheds some light on the matter – Malaysia: Permanent Ethnic Malay Polity (June 4).

Isn’t it ironic that while we do not have social racism (the Malays and non-Malays get along with each other socially) our government creates institutional racism. Yet while social racism exists in many Western countries their governments are fighting it. Ours defend racism in the name of defending the Malay race and Islam. Against who they have never said.

Thousands of Whites in America and many parts of the world have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Blacks to protest against racism.

How many Malays will even speak out for those racially discriminated against in our country?

The saddest part is the silence of the educated Malays who should know better. They seem to have discarded all sense of fairness and propriety to preserve their entitlements.

After 60 years we are still a nation of Malays, Indians, Chinese dan lain lain. When do we become Malaysians?

Sahabat ku Di manakah kamu?

Where are the friends

You played with as a child

Sat next to in school

Your teammates

With whom you played football

Against another

Why are they not speaking up for you?

Protesting that they are Bumiputras

And you are not

Their silence is a kind of betrayal is it not?

A denial of the friendship

Struck in youth

Now forgotten

How do the ideals

Of our nation’s founding thrive

When minds are closed

Usman, sahabat ku

Kalau mereka tuli

Kepada permohonan anda

Siapa apu?

We condemn others for their racism

Yet blind and silent to our own

The world cries for George Floyd

Who cries for us?

(From: Poems of Protests and Resistance – Yin)

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

By Yin, 
Letters from Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan

Rebuilding Malaysia


  • Mokhtaruddin says:

    All praises for this article came from non other than racist themself, you know very well your origin is beyond the Nusantara and given a citizenship by this country but yet you have guts to complain about the Malays and bumiputra? Look back at your origin country in China & India, should we follow their style in handling issues in Uighur and Kashmir?

  • Syed Azizi Wafa says:

    The stigma of May 13 PLUS other incidents of racial coflict since before and after merdeka is the cause of all this. The Malay population can easily be persuaded to hold their ranks since if they dont the Chinese might take over the country and harm them. Malay politicians use this message to their advantage and I do not see any change will happen in the future that will create a strong multiracial philosophy coming from the Malay political leaders. This has worked for the PN govt. and I dont think the PN govt will abandon this strategy forever to stay in power.

  • James Brodie says:

    Here! Here!
    Yin may have an address in Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan, nevertheless, his views are well thought through. There is nothing insane about it. It is true to the last detail.
    Wake up orang Melayu. Stand up & stand out. We don’t want to take over. We want to work together and make Malaysia great like Singapore. Nazism failed. Fascism failed. Apartheid failed. All based on racism.

  • glissantia says:

    Bottom line: Has much anything changed since Merdeka under “Malay hegemony” for the vast majority of Malays? If you don’t know, go to any town or village and look around.

  • Pardip Kumar says:

    An outstanding article

Leave a Comment