Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

A Modest Proposal: The New Voice Policy

Written by johnleemk on 2:53:18 pm Aug 21, 2007.

For far too long, the plight of the silent majority within our community has been ignored. For far too long, a community has controlled a vital sector of our public life, their numbers overflowing completely out of proportion to their size relative to the other components of the Malaysian population.

Why have our leaders, our government, remained silent on this issue? Are they afraid of touching on "sensitive" issues, causing disharmonious sentiment? Are they willing to lie low, while tensions build towards another outpouring of violence in our nation?

As far as anyone can recall, the Indians have dominated the disc jockey and emcee professions in this country. Everywhere you go, changing the channel to an English radio station will almost certainly yield an Indian accent.

At dinners and dances, the emcees are almost invariably from the Indian community. There are token appearances from those of other communities, but their performance is shockingly poor relative to the Indians', suggesting sabotage.

The Indian domination of this industry has gotten to the point where non-Indian DJs end up, of all things, adopting an Indian accent and slang.

In this country, a country where the Malays and Chinese make up about 90% of the population, why should the Indians with their measly 8% dominate this field?

This is a pressing problem, for it indicates clear discrimination against non-Indians, something that cannot be rectified by simply leaving things to the vagaries of a free market.

What this situation demands is nothing less than a government that will step up to the plate and implement a policy to provide non-Indians with adequate representation in the DJing and emceeing fields.

This New Voice Policy (NVP), as I call it, will ensure that this discrimination cannot harm the prospects of budding non-Indian entertainers through a quota system.

At every event, at least 30% of the emcees should be Malay, and another 30% Chinese. Radio and television stations should employ similar policies or risk the withdrawal of their licences.

Only when we have such a system in operation can the Malay and Chinese races move forward. It is an absolute slap to their face by the Indian community to continually deny them the chance to speak and entertain Malaysians.

Of course, the naysayers will have all sorts of reasons to propose why this cannot be done. They will argue that the Malays and Chinese should be given more training to prepare them for public speaking, rather than giving them a "crutch".

To these people, I say that it is a question of pride and honour. We know that the Malay and Chinese races have certain birthrights in Malaysia, unquestionable birthrights.

To not assert these rights would be nothing short of abdicating our hak-hak istimewa and losing face, losing pride. Why should the people of our races have to go for training and preparation, and be forced to slog it out competing with other DJs and emcees, when they are fully able? Only a quota system can rectify the wrong that has been done to us.

Others will argue that this will only become a mechanism for cronies of the government to have their favourite DJs and emcees, such as their wives (e.g. Paula Malai Ali), advance in their careers.

To these petualang bangsa, all I can say is — do you love your race, your people? If you do, then why do you complain when one of our kind moves ahead in the world? Is this not something to be proud of?

Some others will point out that even within the Indian community, not everyone has an equal chance to enter the industry and entertain people by picking tracks and chattering over a microphone. After all, most Indians remain poor estate and plantation workers, removed from any employment opportunities outside this narrowing sphere of the economy.

So what would these complainers propose? That we implement a New Auditory Agenda which would provide quotas, or God forbid, training and capital, to potential DJs based not on race, but on economic standing?

Has it not been established that if we love our bangsa, we must do what we can to defend it? Why would we want to give ground to those of other races by implementing such a songsang policy?

The arguments for establishing my proposed NVP are unassailable. We must end decades of discrimination in the entertainment industry — it is nothing short of shameful that when I turn on the radio on our 50th independence day, it is all but guaranteed that I will be tuned in to either an Indian DJ, or a Chinese or Malay DJ who sounds like an Indian. For the good of our race, and our country, we need a New Voice Policy.

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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.

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