Malaysiakini
OPINIONS

Expunge the term 'bumiputera'

Mariam Mokhtar

Published
Modified 25 Jul 2017, 12:16 am

COMMENT | What has "bumiputeraism" done for the Malay, apart from giving him a sense of entitlement and make him lord it over the other Malaysians who are not Malay?

The so called "bumiputeras" could make a real difference in Malaysia, but labelling people, "bumiputera", is not the way forward. After 60 years of sleepwalking, of which 40 were spent living in denial, Malaysians need to wake up. The term "bumiputera" needs to be consigned to the history books, immediately.

If the people want another reason to reassure them that "bumiputeraism" is wrong, and misleading, they need only look at the Orang Asli, and think, "Why are they, the original settlers of the peninsula, not considered "bumiputera"? The Malays are as "pendatang" as the non-Malays whom the nationalist Malays like to denigrate.

The word "bumiputera" is synonymous with privilege and division. It manifests itself in racism. It is divisive. It is unfair. It creates a lot of angst and builds resentment.

No parents would like to admit that any one of their children is their favourite. No teachers would like to admit that they have pupils whom they like best, and treat better than the rest of the class. Why should any Malaysian leader mark out a section of the population, to whom they give special treatment? Some of us complain about the west having a class system; we are no different.

For more than four decades, the Malays were told that as "bumiputeras", they were special. In reality, the term was only used as a feel good factor so that the majority of Malays could be manipulated, by Malay politicians, to harness Malay votes.

Rich bumiputeras benefit the most

The GLCs and bumiputera corporations, which have a finger in every Malaysian economic pie, are helmed by Umno Baru appointees. Rich bumiputeras benefit the most from "bumiputeraism".

Rich Malay children benefit from scholarships, when their parents could easily afford school and university fees. Rich Malays get a hefty discount on the purchase of luxury houses when by right, the discount system should only help needy Malays. Rich Malays benefit from share allocations, when in real life poor Malays have no spare cash to indulge in the buying of shares.

Affirmative action policies mean that the Malays are regularly spoon-fed and given bigger crutches to make them dependent on the government.

Sadly, the daily diet of Bir Tatanegara (BTN), of being told false stories that the Malay race and Islam are under threat, that the DAP, Christians and Chinese are going to undermine Malaysia, means that few Malays want to leave their comfort zone, and ditch their reassuring "bumiputera" tag...

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