They look the same, sound the same, but they are not the same. Correct! Correct! Correct! Ethic is different from ethnic but unfortunately, in Malaysia, the latter is misused to camouflage or even suppress the former.
Some clear examples include the debate on the New Economic Policy (NEP). The opposition alliance is actually questioning the ethical reasoning behind the implementation of this policy and want it revised to benefit all, regardless of race, instead of an elite few.
However, many others are trying to divert the issue of ethics by bringing in the Malay supremacy issue.
Ethnic was also used to camouflage the rationale of Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim’s two suggestions, namely reserving 10 percent of places in UiTM for non-Bumiputera students and foreigners, and the appointment of Low Siew Moi as acting head of PKNS. Recent suggestions regarding education from various parties have been instantly met with an ethnic-sensitivity-roadblock without proper debate.
Negative effects of deteriorating ethical standards, results of political plays on ethnic and religious sensitivities, are ample and recent: Malaysia’s high ranking on the Corruption Perceptions Index, the low ranking of local universities, alleged misbehaviour of some rescue personnel in the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy, a tarnished judicial system, the Lingam case, the resignation of Zaid Ibrahim and the proposed ‘toothless’ Malaysian Commission on Anti-Corruption (MCAC).
Despite the significant reduction in petrol prices and the looming economic crisis, prices of goods have not dropped. Materialistic attitude and greed seem to have successfully orchestrated an invisible consensus among local sellers to maintain higher prices as well as attract investors to continuously bet on the stock market and encourage the over commercialisation of the education sector in Malaysia.
Ethical standards in Malaysia have dropped to make way for the rule of might based on the power of politic and money. This situation needs to be reversed as soon possible.
I hope the process of healing the country can start with the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the restoration of a transparent, empowered judicial system. The quality of our academic system must also be improved, to educate Malaysians on the importance of ethics and the need to think beyond ethnic lines.