Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Who Are the Nation's Heroes?

Written by johnleemk on 12:30:41 pm Jun 4, 2007.
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Following up on my recent critique of Malay supremacists' hypocrisy, I thought I'd share an interesting tidbit of information. The greatest honour that can be conferred on any person by the federal government is the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa — holders outrank Datuks, Tan Sris, and even royalty who have been conferred the Darjah Kerabat Diraja Malaysia which only royalty can receive.

I am firmly a non-racial person in how I view things; I do not look at skin colour or ancestry. I recognise that this is not how most people view the world, but as George Bernard Shaw said, the unreasonable man does not conform to the world but attempts to make the world conform to him; being such a person, I normally don't indulge in petty racialist thinking.

However, were I such a nasty human, I would gleefully point out that if we want to measure loyalty to the country in terms of military service, the vast majority of the recipients of the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa are non-Malay. (Even if you consider the Bumiputra recipients, about half the total are non-Bumiputra.)

These are people who have been recognised by the federal government as having rendered a great service to their country. Indeed, their service must be immense, for this is the highest honour any Malaysian can hope to receive from his or her country.

Were I a racialist thinker like most (if not all) Malay supremacists, my immediate response would be to declare that since the majority of the recipients of this award are non-Malay, non-Malay citizens should be seen and treated as first-class Malaysians, with Malays relegated to second-class status.

Fortunately, I am not that sort of unreasonable man. Rather, the question I would pose is, is there any reason we should not recognise these great Malaysian citizens and at least exclude them when we callously throw hurtful insults like pendatang asing, kaum pendatang and balik tongsan around?

Can we not at least exclude these people when we threaten to "question the rights" of non-Malays under the Constitution? And maybe, just maybe, could we consider these people as indigenous Malaysians under Article 153 of the Constitution, seeing as how they have earned the right to be called Malaysian through their efforts?

You could perform some incredible mental gymnastics to worm your way out of this situation if you are of the ketuanan Melayu persuasion. You could argue that foreigners are eligible to receive Malaysian awards too, but that does not entitle them to citizenship.

Correct, of course. But foreigners are just that — foreigners! If they came here and willingly adopted Malaysian citizenship, is there any reason they should not be considered first-class Malaysians, having done more for this country than the vast majority of Malaysian citizens?

Sadly, it seems that most Malay supremacists, no matter how educated or articulate, are not even capable of such acrobatic feats of the intellect. Instead, when logic fails them and exposes their blatant hypocrisy, they turn into frightening caricatures of racist apartheid.

Take one debate I have been engaged in. When confronted with the same evidence you have seen — the list of recipients of the greatest honour a Malaysian can hope to receive from his nation — and the chilling quotation of our present Deputy Prime Minister, who threatened to spill the blood of Chinese Malaysians with his keris, this Malay supremacist eagerly and openly declared his support for genocide.

One Malay supremacist is of course not an indictment of the whole ideology behind ketuanan Melayu; certainly, anecdotal evidence is not to be trusted.

But in case you are ever tempted to doubt the case for some semblance of equal treatment for all of Malaysia's sons and daughters, I would exhort you to remember that simple list of Malaysian men and women who have been accorded the greatest honour Malaysia has to offer.


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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.

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