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LETTER | Finally admitting loyalty means total assimilation

LETTER | How can Indians be considered “first-class citizens” when they are discriminated against and marginalised?

If former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad thinks Indians are not completely loyal to the country, then I think the actual situation is completely the opposite.

Despite whatever he thinks, based on his convoluted logic, Indians (for that matter Chinese) are loyal citizens of the country.

It is not just the national identification, but they have contributed immensely to the development of the country.

Can he deny this?

Mahathir and other narrow-minded nationalists might not give credit to Indians, but this is the sad truth.

He claims Indians are not loyal because they have not fully identified with the Malays in terms of speaking their language, Malay, and adopting their customs and religion.

Is he saying that the absence of complete assimilation with the Malays means Indians are disloyal?

How is loyalty to be measured?

It is strange that Mahathir, once the longest-serving prime minister of the country, forgets he was the prime architect of the divisive racial and religious policies that kept the ethnic groups apart.

On one hand, he bemoans the lack of integration or assimilation but on the other hand, he forgets that divide and rule policy in the country was his making.

It was unfortunate that the cancer of divisive racial and religious politics could not be reversed by other leaders who came after Mahathir.

Even the synthetic philosopher Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim lacks the statesman qualities to steer the country away from the racial and religious divide.

The ancestors of the present generations of Indians migrated to this country during the British colonial period. They were under the impression that their stay in Malaya was temporary.

At least this was impressed upon them by the British colonial authorities, that they were the sojourners. It took decades before they decided to make Malaya their home.

Yes, Indians visit India, keep in touch with relatives, but they also visit other countries. They have maintained their language, customs, and religion. The vast majority of Indians are citizens, the younger generation might be more fluent in Malay than their mother tongue, Tamil.

More than 85 percent of Malaysian Indians are Hindus and of Tamil origin. However, if they are discriminated against in public service and government employment, then the problem is not them but the government policies and measures that keep the races divided.

After political independence, racial policies were introduced to create distance between the Indians, Chinese, and Malays.

It is the government in power that wants to prolong the separate cultural and religious identities of not just the Indians but also the Chinese.

Indians are loyal to the country, however, it is politicians like Mahathir who continuously question and ridicule the loyalty of Indians and Chinese.

Since the rights and special privileges of the Malays are defined in relation to the political and cultural subordination of the non-Malays, then what kind of equality and justice are there in the country?

If Indians are constantly reminded of their inferior political status in the country in respect of the Malays/bumiputera community, then who is responsible for preventing the complete participation of non-Malays in the mainstream of Malaysian society?

If more than 90 percent of employment in the public service is reserved for the Malays, nearly 80 percent of admission into public universities are Malays, and 90 percent of admission into the matriculation programmes are Malays, it makes no sense even to lament the lack of loyalty among non-Malays.

Mahathir should be ashamed of himself even to suggest that Indians and Chinese are disloyal to the country. His ancestors from Kerala, India, might have assimilated with the Malays. But why should this formula be applied to others?

Finally, the cat is out of the bag. He has admitted that loyalty to him means nothing less than complete assimilation with the Malays, in terms of language, culture, and religion.

Strangely, the assimilation theory, which has been rejected and thrown into the dustbin of history, is being invoked by him.

To Mahathir, as long as Indians and Chinese maintain their separate identities, they cannot be fully loyal to Malaysia. Here, loyalty is equated completely with identifying with the Malays.

Such a chauvinistic view can only come from him, the person responsible for the present divisive politics in the country.

It is not that non-Malays are less loyal than Malays, but the “apartheid” policy of divide and rule by the Malay nationalists like Mahathir prevented them from fully identifying with the needs of the nation.

The fate of non-Malays in the country starting with the administration of Mahathir was the fate of second-class citizens.

They are discriminated against because they are not Malays, yet they are expected to behave like first-class citizens based on rights and privileges.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.