Malaysiakini Yoursay

Yoursay: Ordinary Malaysians not racists, just the politicians

Yoursay
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YOURSAY | ‘We are at their mercy as their actions could go uncontrolled and destabilise the country.’

Yoursay: Malays are not racist, nor are Chinese, Indians and others

MS: A laudable piece from former law minister Zaid Ibrahim which is mildly reassuring and optimistic.

The problem, as he has rightly pointed out, comes almost entirely from leaders who have pushed and are continuing to push their supremacist ideology as if there are no safeguards and guarantees in the Federal Constitution.

The prescient Lee Kuan Yew once lamented in the Malaysian Parliament: "Malaysia - to whom does it belong? To Malaysians. But who are Malaysians? I hope I am, Mr Speaker, Sir. But sometimes, sitting in this chamber, I doubt whether I am allowed to be a Malaysian.

“This is the doubt that hangs over many minds, and ... [once] emotions are set in motion, and men pitted against men along these unspoken lines, you will have the kind of warfare that will split the nation from top to bottom and undo Malaysia."

Seeing where the country is today, years after those words were spoken, what can we conclude other than quietly nod in agreement?

But Lee was not alone in saying what he said then. Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman told Parliament that "both the Alliance and the PAP subscribe to the concept of a Malaysian Malaysia," but differed in their methods.

Ismail characterised the PAP's approach as "non-communalism straightaway," while the Alliance required "two steps. First, interracial harmony; second, and ultimate state of non-communalism."

In hindsight, the optimism of Ismail was misplaced. The country, even after all these years, is still struggling with the first step.

Davis Dass: Malays were warm and hospitable to migrants. The Chinese and Indians were brought into Malaysia in large numbers by the British to clear the jungle and establish infrastructure, tin mines and plantations.

In the urban areas, and in the government service, there was interaction. English schools were mixed schools, and the government service and armed forces attracted all races.

After 1969, it was felt that the laissez-faire approach to development resulted in uneven development of the communities, and that in turn produced tension.

The New Economic Policy (NEP) was formulated. It was not objectionable in the formulation. But in the implementation, the non-Malays were not only excluded, but were also discriminated against.

That resulted in the civil service and the armed forces becoming more than 80 percent Malay, and the setting up of institutions that were almost exclusively Malay. Mara, UiTM, Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN) and Felda to name some of them.

In time, what was meant to be a temporary policy to correct historical imbalances became regarded as a perpetual right. Minority communities were marginalised. The system did not respond to their needs.

The politics that evolved to defend and justify such exclusion and discrimination is what is described as racist. Not the feeling of superiority of one race over the other.

There are many who would argue that the fault lines are not race, but class. That wealth is unevenly distributed within communities. That a large segment of each community struggles to make ends meet.

That a large segment of each community - almost 35 to 40 percent of the population - struggle to make ends meet. Our politics tends to obscure the truth about race and class.

Wira: Zaid, whatever theory you expound, never forget that any preferential system which discriminates on the basis of race is inherently racist.

Malay politicians exploit this racist system to secure their voting base. Thus, anyone who supports this system supports racism for personal benefit or political expediency.

Anonymous 2413471460628504: Unfortunately, all humans thrive on being superior to another. Be it by race, wealth, religion, intelligence, even in fashion and food, we think we know/are better than our neighbours.

The trick is being aware of our failings, and managing them in a way that is not harmful to another. Hence, we have laws and, indeed, religion.

I agree with Zaid and his proposed methods to manage the race schisms in Malaysia. Just not on the premise that people are not racists. We cannot help ourselves from being, in large or small measure, racists.

Anonymous_6939cb47: Indeed, Zaid's article says it all - the policies are racist, and they are one of the major reasons which cause the unsettling in people's hearts.

What is more, the policies only benefit the elite and cronies.

True Malaysian: PAS and Umno are bent on fanning racial and religious hatred because that's the only way for them to unite the Malays and vote for them. The politicians are the ones who are abusing their positions and powers in the name of protecting their communities.

We, the rakyat, are at their mercy as their actions could go uncontrolled and destabilise the country. Then all will suffer, socially and economically.

The authorities must not let this happen - not another May 13. The Agong has reminded everyone, especially the politicians, not to overstep their words and actions.

Across The Straits: As a Chinese businessman selling traditional Malay costumes to mainly Malay clients over a decade, I find most Malays are gentle, polite, well-mannered. Hardly any racism that I can discern.

It puzzles me how come there is so much racism in politics.

I believe it is a very small minority who exhibits racist traits for their political needs to be relevant, using it as a tool to create a rationale for their survival in the harsh political arena.

Zaid has pointed out the difficulty in tackling this animal called racism.

I pray for a leader who can transcend racial, communal, religious, class lines to take this country forward. May the Almighty bless us with such a leader in the future, as I do not see any in the current crop.

New Hope: It is true that the average Malay, Chinese, Indian and other communities are not racist most of the time.

It is the politicians, particularly from Umno and PAS, who are using race and religion to try and grab power by stirring up the majority race at the expense of the other communities, that creates a lot of blowback by communities that feel threatened by these race and religion tactics.

A very good example is that they claim "Islam is under threat" when no one is challenging the authority or the status of the sultans.

Many of the big conglomerates in Bursa Malaysia, as well as the government-linked companies (GLCs) are controlled by bumiputera. The narrative that Malay interests are being eroded holds no water and the government has to put a stop to this narrative.

Everyone is fallible and policies can be discussed if there is dissatisfaction or wrong perceptions that need to be clarified. There can be improved communications between the government and the people, as well as tweaking of policies to take into consideration the concerns of the various communities.

When pressure groups are formed and they add insult to injury, everything ends up being racial and religious in nature.

I agree that some of the statements made by Dong Zong are racist, as prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has stated, but this is the blowback as a result of racist allegations by Malay parties. This tit-for-tat does not contribute to nation-building.

The communities just want an environment where they can earn a living and bring up their families peacefully, and a future that they can look forward to for their children and grandchildren. Malaysia is a blessed country and we all want it to prosper for the benefit of all.

Ipohcrite: Kudos to Zaid for a very enlightening essay.

However, I beg to differ from his claim that "DAP and MCA are the same, in that they are just political parties fighting for the interests of the community."

DAP accepts members of all ethnic backgrounds, but MCA only accepts Chinese members. To put both parties on the same level is to demean the principles, good work and accomplishments of DAP.

The only achievement that MCA can rightfully claim is creating Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar).

Dizzer: Zaid's argument is flawed because he starts with an inaccurate premise and a faulty definition. Racism is not about one group feeling superior to another.

Obviously, the Malays do not feel superior to others; in fact, quite the reverse - it is a feeling of inferiority, which is why they are always crying out for assistance.

Racism is generally defined as power and prejudice, so our bumi-controlled system fits the definition perfectly.

Newday: It is a very tough job to remove racism from the rhetoric. It is ingrained in all Malaysians to refer to race when referring to other Malaysians. "That bumi, Indian or Chinese" gets into our conversations in an unconscious manner.

Racism has since been pumped up through religion. Now, the two cannot be separated.

Falcon: I am not worried about my brethren - Malays, Chinese, Indians, Dayaks and Kadazans.

I am paranoid about those who use race and religion, and the arrival of foreigners with this ideology, virtually offered safe haven here and monopolising the narrative in domestic politics.


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Malaysia's dangerous racial, religious trajectory

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