There are few places in the world where standing prime ministers issue broad generalisations against citizens which are nothing more than exploitive rhetoric, and get away clean. The demand for a first world mentality must be met first by those who demand it. The old bureaucratic yapping of the 80s 'leadership through example' comes to mind.
The prime minister recently stated without reservation that Chinese Malaysians are financially better off than Malay Malaysians. Which is true. However, prime ministers of democracies should not make generalisations because of the connotations they invariably bring, which may be unfair and ill-advised. There must be clarity in meaning and all extremities of statistical results explained to induce reasonable understanding.
For it is true if the total wealth of all Chinese individuals were averaged, and the same done for the Malays, and if both figures were placed on two separate scales, the Chinese would win. (Let us keep the GLCs separate for now. It belongs equally to me, as it does to all the rakyat in the cafe I am in now.)
When the prime minister asserts a truth without qualifying it, he then risks allowing, nay encouraging, many Malaysians (I mean those with limited education like myself) to think that the jeans seller in Petaling Street lives in the new penthouse colony at KLCC simply because she is Chinese. The Chinese are richer than the Malays and she is Chinese therefore she must - using the simplest calculations possible - be rich.
The truth that she might be a single mother of four in a rented two-room apartment is not a concern, a matter, an issue nor a complication. Her personal tribulations are lost in her being Chinese. What is she to think of her prime minister? Almost 30% of Malaysians are placed to have a singular affectation, due to race. Gender, geography, family size, social class, political affiliation, education, blogging skills and everything else matter not.
The same is done for every other Malaysian. I am a Tamil. I like everything Tamils likes, I think the same, I work the same, I drive the same, I love the same way, I dance the same and I watch the same mind-numbing serials from Chennai. That is what the country has come down to. Race profiling for political mileage. The prime minister emphasised the matter wholly in race terms for the purposes of winning support from his party's bigoted right wing, which is growing by the day.
Not all Chinese are rich, nor all Malays, poor. Some Chinese need a lot of help, and some Malays need no help whatsoever. You get me a Malaysian prime minister who says this then I will concede that you have a leader for all Malaysians. Not before that. Neither Francis Yeoh nor Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary need special favours to succeed anymore. They will always need equal opportunity/fair regulation laws and a pro-business climate where they operate, but nothing more.
Race will always be an issue in a multicultural nation. However, blatant opportunism in blockading citizens from participating in political dialogue is just hypocrisy of the meanest sort. The prime minister cannot only assuage the feelings of some Malaysians and then hope the worst does not come from his words.
This country is in a bad place right now, as far as moral leadership is concerned. The previous prime minister was a bully and some of the problems today are inherited, but the buck has to stop with the incumbent. The leaders who steer the Malaysian ship lack the guile and the moral fortitude to pursue what is right because it is right, and say what is necessary to make every Malaysian feel equal. How can they when their political ideology is based on pursuing unequal ends for Malaysians?