By Yin, Letters from Ward 5, T.R.
The Defence Minister Mohammed Hassan urged more Non-Bumiputras to join the Armed Forces as reported by Bernama Sept. 23.
On the same day The Star reported that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim says the government is looking into ways to tackle the brain drain.
Let’s cut to the chase; one must be brain dead and blind not to see the elephant in the room.
It’s about RACE; it’s about Racial Discrimination, it’s about being treated as an equal citizen and not second class.
Different Administrations under different prime ministers and defence ministers have brought up the two issues in the past. They talk about incentives, better pay and conditions and everything else except the issue of equal opportunities.
There was a time when the government was not too keen to recruit Non-Malays into the Armed Forces or Police, to ensure there is an overwhelming majority of Malays in both institutions. Perhaps they suspect the loyalty of the Nons? The Non-Malays duly obliged. Now they want more Non-Malays; that’s well and fine. But Mr Defence Minister, can you guarantee that promotion will be based on objective criterii, on merit and not race? Non-Malays made up a sizeable proportion of the Armed Forces at one point but Non-Malays soon saw the writing on the wall and they resigned in droves or retired at the first opportunity.
The defence of the country cannot be compromised. We must have the best people and that means we recruit and promote strictly on merit. There is no room for racial discrimination. If I were a soldier I want to know that I am being led by the most competent officers and not one just because he is from my kampong. When I go into combat I want to know I can trust the ability of the person next to me.
Looks like Non-Malays have equal right to die for the country but no equal rights to live (cari makan).
Will Dato Seri Mohammed Hassan institute measures that guarantee equal treatment and merit based promotion in the Armed Forces? When will we see a Non-Malay Chief of the Armed Forces or even a general in our military? To my knowledge (and I am willing to be corrected) most Non-Malays hit the ceiling at the rank of colonel. Yes we had an Indian Malaysian as head of the navy but that was fifty years ago (?). Yes in the early days there was some semblance of meritocracy. But since Ketuanan Melayu the Nons have been largely marginalised.
Now the defence minister wants Non-Malays to join. First address the elephant in the room Sir!
Our prime minister grabbed the headlines in New York for his address to the United Nations General Assembly. He spoke eloquently and in English!
Trust Anwar Ibrahim to bring up the hoary chestnut of “Brain Drain”. It has been going round so long it has become a sad joke.
Did we not have Talent Corp? Now Anwar Ibrahim wants another “committee”, ”task force” etc to study the problem and come up with solutions. Another “money-wasting” exercise in futility if I may say so.
What new solutions will this exercise come up with? Talent Corp has spent millions trying to persuade Malaysian Talents to return. I can say the result is not commensurate to the money spent.
The government can offer all the incentives and perks but unless it is prepared to deal with the elephant in the room nothing will come of this exercise proposed by Anwar. Another sandiwara by a politician.
Take the example of education – would a “brain” want to come back to teach in our universities; serve under a vice-chancellor probably less qualified than her. Or work in a university system where student intake is based on race and not merit. You cannot make silk purses out of sows’ ears, whatever they tell you.
Even if a “Malaysian Brain” overseas want to return to contribute to his tanah air – give up the lucrative position and life style (without the increasingly Islamic environment) – I submit that the institutional racism practised by our government will put them off.
Racial discrimination is not just stopping Malaysians from returning but it has also stunted our country’s progress. The country cannot prosper if a large proportion of its population is excluded in many areas of public service and even private enterprise.
By all means apply “Affirmative Action” to help the less privileged but it is time to end this racial divide every government for the last five decades has fostered.
Malaysians will die for the nation, they will return to contribute but only if they are equal citizens and not second class.
Anwar Ibrahim, “Remove the Elephant in the Room” it has overstayed its welcome!
(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)
By Yin, Letters from Ward 5, T.R.