Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Non-Racial Words in A Racial Tone

Written by johnleemk on 2:49:27 pm Jun 15, 2007.
Categories: ,

One of the most annoying things to me is how bigoted Malaysians are, and how unwilling we are to acknowledge this. The Bible tells us to not to take the speck out of someone's eye before first removing the log from our own eye, and yet hypocritical Malaysians are more than eager to criticise racism without criticising their own racist thinking.

All Malaysians profess to be advocates of equality. It sounds surprising and counterintuitive, but it is true — although the precise kind of equality is in dispute.

The Malays are stout supporters of economic equality. Their gripe is with how their economic opportunities have been oppressed by the racism of colonialist government and the clannish mentality of the Chinese who once dominated our economy.

Meanwhile, the non-Malays champion political equality. They resent being treated as second-class citizens under an apartheid system in their own homeland.

Reading the statements of those from both sides of the divide, a neutral and objective observer could be forgiven for thinking these people are committed to equality. But the reality is, most Malaysians who claim to fight for equality are just as bigoted as those they criticise.

Most Malays who claim to want economic equality demand policies which do nothing but further economic inequality. They first divide Malaysian society into Bumiputra and non-Bumiputra, and then segment the Bumiputra community into the haves and have-nots.

What good is a 7% discount on a house purchase if you are starving to death? What use is the chance of a scholarship if you have to drop out of school to work to support your family?

And, of course, the other problem is that these people are unwilling to accept that there is no trade-off between economic and political equality — that it is possible to divorce affirmative action policies from the ideology of Malay supremacy.

Meanwhile, the non-Malays are almost as hypocritical. They demand political equality, but what they really want is a laissez-faire economic system where their economic muscle can fully assert itself. They are all but blind to the fact that Malay poverty must be addressed, except when this fact is convenient for buttressing their demands for dismantling the current affirmative action policies.

Many also put forth utilitarian reasons for supporting the currently segregated public school system. But I cannot help but ponder the possibility that they are coming up with justifications for an ideological decision — there is, after all, reason to think that the academic superiority of vernacular schools is slightly overrated.

The simple fact is, nobody is thinking of Malaysia or Malaysians. Nobody cares about Malaysia or Malaysians. All we care about is our race, and about getting back at the other race. We may talk the non-racial talk, but our tone and our actions give away the reality of our racial walk.

When we rail at the inequality of the present, the subtext is that we want an unequal system which favours "us" instead of "them". Nobody wants a fair shake for all Malaysians. Nobody truly wants a level economic and political playing field. Everyone is obsessed with capturing both playing fields for their own, and obsessed with denigrating and putting down the other.

Call me an idealist, but I am fed up with how the tone of almost every debate or discussion on Malaysian political issues boils down to racism, and worse, putting down some other race. Everyone wants to call the Malays stupid and lazy, the Chinese greedy and kiasu, the Indians loud and violent. Nobody wants to pull up all races; nobody wants to uplift all Malaysians; nobody wants a better future for everyone. They just want a better future for "us" and worse future for "them".

I know I am not completely non-racial in thinking; everyone has racist thought patterns. But acknowledging and controlling one's racial impulses is better than denying and refusing to get a grip on such archaic thinking.

There's no particular reason to think me saying this is going to change anything. But I'm going to say it anyway: Malaysians, stop being hypocrites. Stop being liars. Face reality. If you want equality, you must accept wholesale equality, political and economic. You cannot pick and choose; you cannot live in denial.


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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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