This is again an excellent analysis by Mariam Mokhtar who had earlier written on her experiences atttending a BTN course. She has also written a host of other wonderful articles published in Malaysiakini.
Mariam Mokhtar, Malaysiakini
Malysians are living in an Age of Denial and fast speeding into the Age of Desolation. I hesitate to say the Age of Despair, for despair suggests loss of hope.
And I have faith. Faith, in my fellow Malaysians, moved by a groundswell of anti-racism sentiment.
Over the past few years, the voice of racism has reached a crescendo. Our society does not dare utter the R word. And I blame politicians for not addressing this issue head on. Each expects the next wave of leaders to tackle it. They didn’t or wouldn’t. So, now we succumb to conflict and confusion.
Malaysia is supposed to be the bed-rock of multiculturalism. But the horrid slogan ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) is throttling the other soundbite – ‘1Malaysia’. I don’t like the former and I dislike the latter even more.
Without qualifying ketuanan Melayu, the term is impotent. Similarly ‘1Malaysia’ remains another empty slogan – sounds good, but lacks substance and definition.
Our politicians live in a world pretty much divorced from reality. For decades, they used the race card to divide and rule us. With lives to lead, careers to pursue and mouths to feed, we simply ignored them and carried on earning and living. But things have come to a head. Many working and middle-class Malaysians can no longer contain their disgust.
Ketuanan Melayu = Malay supremacy; 1Malaysia = national unity and ethnic tolerance. You can’t insist on the latter while still persisting with the former. It is a contradiction in terms.
The world is getting smaller but not in the Malay universe. Other nations have dismantled their barriers for a more cohesive society, but we Malays are building our walls faster than we can mouth the words ketuanan Melayu. If we are not careful, we’ll build our walls high enough and thick enough to hem ourselves in. Bricked up from the real world.
It is all a question of perception. The Malays are misguided if they are convinced by the fallacy of ketuanan Melayu. The politicians who expound this idea are self-serving.
They sell this idea to the poor and poverty-stricken Malay, saying that an equal and fair Malaysia will only encourage the non-Malays to remove what little wealth they have. Recipients of this news become petrified, and cling on firmer to the farcical ketuanan Melayu.
As for the privileged Malay, it would be financial suicide to forego the status, prestige and recognition he’s accustomed to.
In reality, politicians are doing more harm to the ordinary Malay and all Malaysians. They only protect their own interests and the interests of those who pander to their wishes.
Cycle of discontent
The wealthy Malay probably constitutes only 3 percent of the Malay population. In relative terms, little, if any, wealth has filtered down to the ordinary Malay.
Gaudy mansions, fast cars, designer clothes, international schooling, holidays abroad, first-class travel, overseas properties, offshore bank accounts, private jets and helicopters are de rigueur for the wealthy Malay.
Of course, the poor Malay aspires to have all these and more. He assumes that the NEP has accorded the rich Malay his correct station in life and rightful place in society.
Can he be so gullible or naïve as to believe that corruption did not figure in any of these vulgar displays of wealth? Those at the top will never relinquish their position. At best, or when it suits them, they will appease those beneath them with a scattering of crumbs.
Thus, from the top and right down to the bottom-feeders, these people are content. But contentment breeds complacency. And complacency breeds contempt.
For every inch that the Malay is entitled to under the current rules, the non-Malay has had to fight for limited spaces in education, job opportunities and wealth creation..
Whilst the Malay has only to sit back and watch things land on his plate, his non-Malay counterpart has had to use his ingenuity to succeed.
Competition brings out the best in people and only the best get selected. But think of the others who are also able but are not chosen. They feel disillusioned and trapped in a system that is unjust and unfair. Disillusionment gives rise to discontentment, which in turn, raises discord..
For every argument that some errant politician makes about non-Malay Malaysians, patronisingly referred to as ‘immigrants’, the non-Malays feel immense betrayal.
No one doubts the allegiance of non-Malays to King and country. But when your sense of loyalty is questioned and tested, then those whose ideals are shattered will emigrate. Much talent has already been exported. It is Malaysia that suffers.. Malays too feel the pain of injustice and discrimination. Many have also jumped ship.
We need to strike a balance between a just and fair social system, economic growth and job creation. We cannot have one section of society maintaining a separate, inward-looking community that feels it is a cut above the rest of mainstream life and whose values are at conflict with it.
How can the marginalised be expected to inculcate a sense of pride in their national identity? Removing their dignity and worth, removes their sense of belonging. Is this the game plan then?
I fail to understand why our leaders refuse to acknowledge that mistakes have been made by others before them and also by themselves. Do they not comprehend that they too can be part of the solution?
There are signs that our politicians and certain institutions are strongly resisting change. They do not wish to inflame the hyperactive sensitivities of certain groups of people. But in doing so, they hold the rest of the country to ransom.
We need to get our country back on track – we need strong leaders. Not those who swan abroad on one pretext or another. We do not need international statesmen.
We need someone here and now, to address pressing domestic issues – maintaining good and harmonious race relations is no longer an optional matter for the majority group.