A non-Malay approached me the other day and said, “You’re lucky. Being Malay means you rarely get racist taunts, apart from the usual “Melayu balik kampung” or “Melayu bodoh“.
He scurried away before I could respond. I don’t know who he is, but hopefully, he will read this article about a day in the life of a columnist.
People who write newspaper columns are rarely invited out. Or, perhaps I am rarely invited out.
A few months ago, at a wedding reception in Kuala Lumpur, my host introduced me to the people seated on one table. They were strangers but one said loudly, “Ah you! I’ve heard of you. So how much is DAP paying you to write the articles?”
She looked around the table, expecting the others to applaud her insolence. They were clearly embarrassed, but not as embarrassed as my host, who turned beetroot red.
My host tried to steer me away, but I simply smiled at the questioner and told her that I was not affiliated to any party or person. I said that I act independently and based my articles on personal experiences and my observations of Malaysian society.
She was not satisfied. “How can you survive?” she demanded.
I said, “With great difficulty.”
She barked, “Is it Soros, or the Jews? Are they funding you? You have a website and your webmaster must charge you thousands of ringgit a month. You make videos. That is expensive… Who are your moles in government, who supplies you with confidential information?”
Before she could say more, my host whisked me away. I noticed the others were focussed on their appetiser, or playing with their napkins.
Why bullies in society become emboldened
None of her friends dared to tell her to behave, especially as her host had lost face. Actually, her actions were a reflection of society. Nobody was willing to stand up to her. Bullies in society become emboldened because they are rarely challenged.
Racism affects us all. My host spotted an empty seat on another table and before I could head for it, she said that she would find another table for me and said, “I’ll find you another (table), among the Malays, because you might be more comfortable with them.”
I said, “No. This table is fine.” The guests at the table were mostly non-Malays and foreigners. We got on well, and this prompted one Chinese to whisper in my ear, “You are no different from us, and the best thing is, you’re Malay. You shook my hand, and did not mind it when I sat next to you, or offered you my clean cutlery, when yours was missing.”
This was another sad reflection of society.
The Mat Salleh was told, “When you convert your life will be complete.”
An Englishman, the son of a planter, said, “I live in England, but I return to Malaysia every year. I like the Malaysian way of life and I have business ties here; but when I meet Malays, they say, “You eat our food, you work with us, you speak Malay, you are almost one of us. What a pity that you will not convert; then your life would be complete.”
I said that I had no answer for him.
God will deal with them in the after-life
As I waited for my transport to arrive to take me home, another of the party guests approached me and said, “Why must you criticise the Malays so much? You don’t read about the non-Malays criticising the Indians or Chinese, do you? They are good to their own people, why not you?”
To the first question I said, “I don’t criticise individuals, only leaders. Most of the ministers and heads of GLCs are Malay. I do not pick on the Malays, but I criticise anyone who is irresponsible, has lied, or stolen.
“Many Chinese and Indian writers also criticise the non-Malays, but their articles are probably not shared by your group.”
He said, “Why don’t you let God punish the corrupt leaders in the after-life?”
I replied, that criminals should be punished in their lifetime and not be allowed to postpone their sentence indefinitely.
His friend joined him and said, “Why don’t you write your column like this…” and spent the next 10 minutes detailing what and how I should write. I was saved by the Uber driver and told the wannabe columnist, “Write your rebuttal and send it to my editor.”
A dish laced with anxiety
On the following night, I had to return to Ipoh to meet up with an old friend at a Chinese restaurant. The proprietor kept looking at us and when my friend asked if there was a problem, he told him that he was anxious that I, a Malay, was eating there. He wanted us to finish quickly and leave. He was fearful of being reported to the authorities, as his restaurant did not have a halal certificate, and my presence was giving him unwelcome attention.
Who would have thought that a meal of kailan oyster sauce, steamed fish, and spicy tofu, would court intense anxiety?
I don’t support Umno-Baru, but I am still Malay. I don’t support PAS, but I remain a Muslim. Neither party protects the Malays, or Muslims, despite their outlandish claims. Their racist and religious agenda is destroying the nation, and especially the Malays.
What has become of Malaysia?