ALSO BY

Utusan is not the voice of Malaysians

I refer to the letter Non-Malays shouldn't worry about Utusan's ranting.

As an observer, I'm trying to make sense of the argument put forward by the writer in his response to the article written by Zaid Ibrahim. Zaid was accusing the Utusan Malaysia of being extreme and stoking racial flames in particular reference to the article entitled ‘Melayu Dikhianati' (Malays Betrayed) by Awang Selamat.

The writer agreed with Utusan Malaysia. He is of the opinion that Zaid is Malay from a different class living in a different world. First, I must make it clear I can't be a hundred percent neutral. Secondly, I won't take all the points for discussion but only limit it to a few.

But I'll tell readers this - I'm for democracy and will try to be as democratic as democratic can be. I'm for mind set changes and no looking back and I also believe in the usefulness of rule of law.

Lets ask this question - did people, did multiracial Malaysians in general feel threatened, hurt, uneasy, uncomfortable or even frightened when they read the Utusan article? In as far as Zaid was concerned the answer is ‘yes'. But Saad viewed it otherwise.

The writer's argument is that nobody should feel threatened; it's all right for Utusan to make such remarks, because not all the three are driving BMWs. According to Saad, there is because disparity even among a community and he cites the example of some Malays' spending power at the posh shopping malls of Mid Valley and Pavilion.

The fact is, the public is aware that Utusan is the mouthpiece of the main political party that has ruled the nation for last 51 years. That makes Utusan a special and untouchable newspaper. The big question is why did Utusan behave like an opposition political party's organ in wanting to arouse the people's racial sentiments?

Many people are of the opinion that Utusan should have matured enough by now, and therefore they must have certain degree of responsibility instead of behaving like a spoilt child. Times have changed; the younger generation may not be interested in political gimmicks that use race and religion..

When the writer said non-Malays shouldn't worry about Utusan's ranting, what assurance has he got that it doesn't arouse racial sentiments? What if the other newspapers respond to it or behave in the same way?

If ranting doesn't mean anything, why do it? Is this not typical of time-wasting? Anyway, I detest blanket claims - Utusan doesn't represent the voice of Malaysians, in particular not those from Sabah and Sarawak

I don't know Zaid in person but from the looks of him, my first impression is that he can be a pompous or an arrogant Malay. But that is beside the point. Zaid is seen trying not to look down but also ‘to go down' to the people and perhaps in doing so he will get the feel of what is it like to be an underprivileged Malaysian.

Since Zaid has been said to be a different class of Malay he is now trying to change himself, and that would be the stark difference between him and the writer. The writer is not yet prepared to see things differently.

I take it that Malays like the writer have a different interpretation of liberalism than some Malaysians; and this is exactly what has happened in the issue of integration. The understanding of what integration of the races is as found in Peninsula Malaysia and that as found in the two Borneo Malaysian states is miles apart.

In the Peninsula, with the domineering attitude of the Malays until today, integration for them means something akin to assimilation - ‘I'm the boss and you follow me'. While we all know that the real integration won't change our character.

Whilst in assimilation, everyone else has to conform and be dictated by the upper authority.
With the issue of race, we in Borneo sometimes would like to say it aloud that we want the racial problem in Peninsular to be kept there only.

We have slightly different way of looking at race and religion. The two subjects have never been a real a political issue in Sabah and by the look of it, the people here are happy to maintain that as it is.

That difference also means that we've not come to a stage similar to the people in the Peninsula. For example, we've had no May 13; I therefore pray that it never will happen.

With this, it reminds me of Farish A Noor's recent article where he says the flow of ideas and expertise should be both ways - Peninsular Malaysians have a lot to learn for East Malaysians. Why don't we listen to whomever may teach us a few useful lessons in nation-building?