Yin says that how we turn out as adults is determined by the environment in which we were brought up.
The Tempurong Generation
By Yin of Wad 5, Tanjung Rambutan
We are a product of our environment – our home, our school, our community. Our character and mindset are moulded by what we are taught by our parents, by our teachers in school and what we observe in society.
“Give me a child till seven and I will show you the man” has been said by Aristotle and many others.
The environment we were brought up in determines who we are.
Hence we see a distinct difference between the generations – broadly, the Baby Boomers and the Millenials.
Irrespective of their backgrounds, the older generation have an attitude of ‘live and let live’. There is an acceptance and indeed a celebration of our differences even. Of course we have our prejudices but this is natural in all multi-racial societies. However these prejudices are not reinforced in schools and society or set in stone by government policies. We have our quarrels but we always get back together.
We can trace this tolerance back to our childhood and school days when we mixed with everyone irrespective of race or religion. Indeed many Muslim children attended Christian Missionary Schools because their parents considered those the best schools for their children.
Pupils were judged on their merits be it in sports or studies. Those who excelled were justifiably proud of their achievements; knowing that they were not favoured because of their race or religion.
The government of the day genuinely tried to foster multi-culturalism. There was no legislated discrimination on race and religion like we have now.
Although the Malays were given every help, they still had to perform. They knew there was no free ride. Thus you can say the “Old School Malays” did it on their own merit – with state aid when needed but no lowering of the bar to accommodate them. They competed the same with everyone else.
You can say a lot of this tolerance can be attributed to the prime minister then – Tunku Abdul Rahman. A tolerant and liberal leader who was not concerned with the rituals of piety demanded by the ulamas. Similary, the Sultan of Perak at that time, Sultan Idris Shah was equally liberal and tolerant and was not hostage to the religious establishment.
The population in general, and the Malays in particular take their cue from the political leaders as well as the sultans. If you like, they were our role models.
Something else . . . the older generation have a good level of general knowledge. They have a broader world view. This is because we had a good education policy – not one driven by a racial or religious agenda. We had good teachers. Most of us are bilingual and many are trilingual. We are confident. We had friends of different races or religions.
Having a broad worldview makes one less easily persuaded by the narrow arguments of race chauvinists and religious zealots.
If the Baby Boomers took their cue from Tunku; then the role model of the Millenials was Mahathir – dubbed by many as Bapa Ketuanan Melayu.
How much damage has been done to two generations of Malaysians who were brought up on a diet of race and religion.
Brought up on an education which is inward looking, narrow and designed to serve a political agenda. An education system that has led to the separation of the Malays from the others even at a young age. An education that does not meet the rigors of academia or the demands of business and industry and has little relevance to the world outside.
I find a vast difference in the mindset of the Baby Boomers and the Millenials – the Tempurong Generation, I call them.
The younger Malays have from an early age been indoctrinated with the nonsensical notion that they are ‘Tuans’ of this country. When you are put in schools and colleges which are exclusive to your race, it reinforces this “Tuan” mentality – that you are better than the “Nons” and therefore entitled to more favourable treatment.
Later in life the Biro Tata Nasional (BTN) reinforces the notion of Ketuanan Melayu by downplaying the role of the other races in nation building. Islam is given prominence often at the expense of other religions.
This of course has far reaching consequences for the country and the Malays in particular – mostly detrimental.
Other observations of the Millenials is that most cannot speak proper English or no English at all. This is not surprising considering the education they receive.
So how do we compete with the outside world? To put it bluntly, we can’t.
The truth is, Malay is not a language of international commerce, or of science and technology. It has little currency outside Malaysia. This is a fact and not a slur.
But it is not just about the lack of English language skills. It’s also about the attitude of the Tempurong Generation and their “entitlement mentality”; and that is more difficult to correct and more dangerous.
If Aristotle is right then it is already too late for the thousands of Malay students who study abroad on taxpayers’ money. These students have already been brainwashed by years of Malaysian schooling. They may come back with degrees, but their mindset have not changed; especially concerning Bumiputraism.
The Tempurong Generation have a very narrow worldview. And no wonder, if all they see is limited by the coconut shell they are under.
They don’t realise that there is another world outside the tempurong where Bumiputraism does not apply.
It will take at least another two generations to undo this even if we reverse policies today.
There is so much to do:
1. We have to promote “Malaysianess” instead of “Malayness”.
2. We have to rejig our education which at present is Malay/Islam centric and inward looking. History books have to be rewritten based on facts and which reflect the contributions of every community in nation building.
3. Stop demonising your fellow Malaysians who happen not to be Malays or Muslims. Malay leaders in government speak of the other races (especially the Chinese) like they are the enemies – accusing them of stealing from the Malays. Malays are told to defend the three Rs – race, religion and royalty. The unstated enemies being the non-Malays.
4. Stop this two-tier citizenship of Bumiputras and Non-Bumiputras. It’s not as if it is ancient history that once upon a time we were all Malaysians (Bumiputraism was coined in the 70s – it is not in the Constitution even now). We were once all Malaysians; what’s wrong with that? A simple gesture of not insisting on race and religion in application forms (government or private sector) or in our I.C. would be a small step in the right direction.
We only have to point our young to Sarawak and Sabah to see what a real Malaysia should be. Thanks be to Allah, Ketuanan Melayu has not been allowed to take root there. Young Malays should visit East Malaysia to see for themselves how much better the races get along with each other. We were once like that.
I despair for the future of our country now that we have a “Government of the Malays, for the Malays,” as one columnist puts it. How much further will they push the Malay Agenda to the exclusion of the non-Malays? How more distant the dream of Bangsa Malaysia? How much damage have they done to Malaysia? How much more damage will they do to the new generation of Malaysians – especially the Malays; pushing them into an uncertain future they are not prepared for.
There’s a saying; “To grow mushrooms, keep them in the dark and feed them dung”.
We have 70 Mushroom Growers in the cabinet.
Lift the tempurong and let in the light.
(The views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Rebuilding Malaysia.)
Letters from Ward 5, Tanjong Rambutan