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YOURSAY | Untangling racism will require a system overhaul

YOURSAY | ‘The system is entrenched, and bolted with support from the elites…’.

Do we sit back and watch another generation suffer or do something?

OceanMaster: Author and think-tank founder Chandran Nair, you have analysed such a broad spectrum of social and economic issues and advocated so many ideas. This is definitely an article I would like to revisit.

One issue that you pointed out and decided is the "make or break" fate of many civilisations is education.

Indeed, education is the initiator of change. If education in Malaysia had been driven by secular policies and on the merits that you have pointed out, this gifted country could have been one of the most advanced nations in Asia and competing with Western countries, hands down.

Yet it was education policies that were perpetually butchered by previous BN-led governments for short-term political mileage.

1. First came the switching of the medium of instruction to Bahasa Malaysia, limiting students' access to the fast-changing world out there.

2. The exclusive full residential schools, where the brightest of the Malay students were segregated into homogeneous cohorts, often without any sort of active effort for them to be exposed to the plural society of Malaysia. They go on to fill top civil service and political positions with little inkling or regard for the country’s multicultural society.

3. The pivoting towards a parallel religious education system that was a political zero-sum game, countering the fundamentalist insurgency by the likes of PAS’ Abdul Hadi Awang and his generation of so-called "Islamic scholars" whom themselves were educated in the Middle East and Pakistan.

4. Hard decisions driven by Umno with a Malay nationalist and Malay supremacy agenda.

5. Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who in his perverted and convoluted racist ideas, promoted “at any cost” policies that would go on to ravage the country and, probably for many of us, our lifetime.

I don't think today's Perikatan Nasional (PN) government is being led by a single soul at the top who gives two hoots about this fate-deciding issue of education. The racist and incompetent PN government has to go before anything can change.

Exercise your vote diligently is all I can ask for such changes Chandran proposed to come about anytime soon.

Hrrmph: Ask most persons to work hard to improve themselves but present an easier route where they do not have to but still get all the trappings of materialism, what do you think they will do?

The Malaysian system is an institutionalised preservation of the rights of the majority at the expense of the minority. In a democracy, the majority always wins.

Perhaps if we have many leaders who are courageous enough to shout out the right of the matter, so as to shame most into doing what is right, we might start to reverse the injustice.

But most of the time, we hear only those justifying why the rights of the sensitive majority should triumph. It is so easy to silence the nagging conscience when our selfishness is being loudly hailed as the right of it.

Still, I salute those who persevere against the odds. The world would be stuck in the feudal era were there no persons like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and all the great figures of history.

Hang Babeuf: “Along the way, all Malaysians must avoid being racist when discussing the issue and keep long-held prejudices and resentments in check. Most importantly, the young need to be taught so that they reject it - and that starts at home with their parents," said Chandran.

Yes, all very true, correct, and high-minded. But how? You can't just ask, urge, teach, or require people "not to be racist". In this context, that is simply inadequate.

The only foundation upon which it can be done is if Malaysian history is taught and presented (from the primary and secondary levels to the university and research-institutes levels) clearly and honestly, comprehensively and inclusively and in an integrated manner: meaning not as one partisan/sectional "narrative", imposed by a majority "hegemon" and not in the "promiscuous, everybody gets a go" form as "your narrative" and/or/versus "my narrative" in a dangerous cocktail or broth of flawed and even nasty "narratives".

There must again be - it must be sought and pursued and formed, thoughtfully - some sense, some revival, a recovery and reconstituting of the sense of "totality", the national totality, "the nation as a whole", beyond the "everybody-has-his/her/their-narrative" nonsense urged by the uncomprehending post-modernists and the "my narrative is the only narrative" doctrine ("Malays on top, now and forever; this is Malaysia - love it or leave it, that's the only deal on offer to you "others"/"pendatang"!) ideology in its more stringent and also softer forms of the "Ketuanan True Believers" crowd.

And also, alas - it must be said - of the National Unity and Integration Department too, among others; as well as of all the contending, now floundering and flailing and failing and roiling "Malay political parties" - who together, through their mutual opposition and reckless contention, have reduced Malaysia to disgraceful "shambles", a slaughter-yard of human/cultural diversity.

The Wakandan: “Not towards raising standard but towards race quotas” is a Mahathir’s 2020 legacy. Everything was to be done artificially to achieve the race quota - in demography, education and economy. It was done with glaring inequality and corruption.

Nobody, at first, complained or protested. The Malays loved it; the non-Malays were just too scared to complain. Then, it seemed to be tolerable because there was a timeline - for a certain duration.

However, affirmative action coupled with corruption, which led to easy life without really struggling for it, was like a drug. It can cause lifelong damage.

That’s why nobody did it that way - not the Blacks in US because one can get addicted. Once that’s happened, there is no escape. The withdrawal syndrome is just too painful; addicts needed to be sent to rehabilitation centre. Nobody wants that, thus ensuring perpetuity.

I can’t see how we can address the situation, Chandran. It is culturally entrenched in the psyche. Sixty years of conditioning is nearly a person’s effective lifespan. You cannot reverse that.

The fact that you, being a non-Malay, tried to highlight this, speaks volume. Malay politicians, like opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who tried to suggest doing away with the New Economic Policy (NEP) and affirmative action, was quickly demonised at the sacrificial altar to be disdained as an outcast.

Clever Voter: Nothing works so long as elected representatives have an agenda that does not serve public interest.

It is true after decades of trial and error, politicians get elected to parliament on the tickets of lies, deceit and false promise. Race is a convenient vehicle, and often cheap excuse to justify their ends, and the legitimacy is justified through institutional rules and policies proposed and approved by the very people that benefit the most.

Racism has been institutionalised through education, practices and even religion as a reinforcement. Untangling these require an overhaul of the system that is so entrenched, and bolted with support from the elites, establishment and the politics.

Words matter little when in reality there are no unifying bonds to encourage collectivism that pose threats to establishment. In other words, racism is unfortunate, and a victim used to perpetuate an unequal world and serve a few while the rest will just have to fight for the crumbs.

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