Institutionalised racism the real arrogance

I refer to the letter West needs to deal with its arrogance. It is extremely unfortunate that Abdul Malik has experienced racism in the UK or in any other country. However what on earth does this have to do with arrogance in the West? Verbal racial abuse of the type described by the writer is in fact illegal in the UK. The fact that it is illegal doesn't stop it from happening but does indicate that it is unacceptable. How would that make the UK or any other similar country 'arrogant'?

As a Westerner married to a Malaysian, I have seen a steady stream of educated and hard-working Malaysians arriving in the UK, US, and Australia to settle permanently. The general view of those that I meet is that their rights are better respected in their new countries even if they are merely permanent residents and not citizens.

My wife has worked in the UK for almost 20 years. She has never experienced racial discrimination in her job. Yet during the time she worked in Malaysia prior to coming to the UK, there were occasions in her job where certain clients would not deal with her because of her race and her company would use other members of staff either as substitutes or to accompany her.

During the early 90s, when visiting Kuala Lumpur, I used to frequently pass a large billboard with an an advert for a condominium with the prominent messageof '5% discount for bumiputeras'. As a foreigner, it struck me as being quite offensive and in my face even though it was hardly relevant to me. To non-bumiputeras, it stood as a monument that many would pass every day reminding them that they were treated differently from the majority ethnic group in their country.

In the US and UK, such a sign would be shameful to the majority. People would openly challenge it and disassociate themselves from it. Conversely, it appears that in Malaysia the sign is normal and acceptable to the majority and no comment is passed.

How would the writer or anyone else feel if he passed that sign in the rush hour each morning and afternoon on the way to work? Either as one of those entitled to the discount or as one who was not.

Perhaps one might consider that verbal abuse of the type the writer experienced is the outlet of those racists frustrated by the fact that their government despises them. If their views were legitimised through overt racism supported by government and society at large, the abusers would have no need to involve themselves personally. Why bother shouting at somebody when the government and large corporations and society at large have institutionalised and legitimised your superiority over them? Now that is real arrogance.