“If you're going to say what you want to say, you're going to hear what you don't want to hear.”
― Roberto Bolaño, 'The Insufferable Gaucho'
COMMENT | The resignation of Maszlee Malik as the minister of education has brought out huge helpings of schadenfreude amongst a certain section of social media.
In his resignation speech, Maszlee listed all the positive things his ministry had accomplished and perhaps they are valid but what has clouded the issue is his adherence to mainstream racial and religious narratives which is the agenda of all mainstream politicians. This made him the whipping boy of a certain segment of Malaysian society because our education system for decades has been a petri dish for the worst excesses of racial and religious politics.
When Maszlee linked the matriculation quota to a Mandarin-speaking requirement of certain jobs, he more or less buried whatever was left of his credibility. Partisans were quick to point to the “bigoted” nature of his comment and Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy – the conscience of Pakatan Harapan – commented on Maszlee behaving like an Umno clone, missing the point that the whole system was corrupted and Harapan did not really have an agenda to change it.
Systemic discrimination in the public and the private sectors is not mutually exclusive. Talking about the discrimination of the quota system and the discrimination in the private sector, either overt or crypto, is not something that can, and should be, had separately. It is part of the grander, systemic dysfunction brought upon by years of governmental and commercial manipulation.
I may not believe in that mythical "social contract" but an argument could be made that the social contract of discrimination and racism is a social contract between political and commercial interests.
Some people have this misconception that I am an advocate for vernacular school education. Nothing could be further from the truth...