The Ugly Malaysian

March 24, 2008


Raja Petra Kamarudin

In the old days it used to be called “The Ugly American”. Today, it is The Ugly Malaysian, at least as far as this country is concerned.

Malaysians, just like Americans, are racists; there is no doubt about that. But while Americans will accept the fact that they are racists, Malaysians will deny it and will instead claim to be very tolerant of the other race or races.

You can always tell when a person is a racist from the opening statement when a Chinese says “I have a lot of Indian friends”, or a Malay says “I used to mix with Chinese at school”, or an Indian says “Actually, Malays in the kampong are very nice people”, and so on. This is the Malay, Chinese and Indian way of giving their ‘stamp of approval’ to the other race. Why do you need to emphasis the word ‘Malay’, ‘Chinese’ or ‘Indian’? Is this your way of showing tolerance? Does the emphasis on race mean you are ‘tolerant’ of those not of your race? Is this to give an appearance of magnanimity or generosity on your part? See what a great guy I am. I tolerate the other races— as if I need anyone to ‘tolerate’ me.

Look at Malaysiakini’s latest report on the Selangor State EXCO line-up. Malaysiakini reported that out of the ten EXCO Members, six are going to be non-Malays and four of them women. Who the hell cares whether six are non-Malays and four are women? Are these people being chosen to run the state because of their race and gender? Should they not be chosen because of their qualifications and capabilities? Who are these six non-Malays and four women anyway? Are they the best of the lot? Will they outperform and outshine the previous Khir Toyo administration? Are we going to see Selangor grow and prosper by leaps and bounds? Is Selangor going to be paradise on earth?

Who cares? What matters is that six are going to be non-Malays and four are going to be women. That is what matters and that is what is going to guarantee a great future ahead of us. The calibre of the ten EXCO members was buried in the consideration of race and gender. That is the main focus and that is what appears to be the deciding factor. Woe to this country when race and gender override all other factors.

Are Malaysians ready for an all-women EXCO line-up? What if all ten EXCO Members are women? If all these ten women are the most capable of the lot and none of the men can better their credentials would this be so bad? Should not that be what matters? What if all ten EXCO Members are Chinese, or all ten Indians, or all ten Malays? Would this be so bad as well? No, Selangor is 52% Malay and 48% non-Malay. Furthermore, 52% of the voters are women and 48% of the voters men. So the ten-member EXCO line-up must reflect this racial and gender breakdown. Oh? Is that so? Well, since 40% of Malaysians are non-Malays and 51% are women, how can we have just one Prime Minister who is a Malay man? What about the 40% non-Malay Malaysians and the 51% women Malaysians? A Malay man Prime Minister means that the 40% non-Malays and 51% women are ‘not represented’.

This argument of ‘equal’ representation according to race and gender is ridiculous. This means gays and lesbians plus Portuguese, Ibans, Dayaks, Kadazan, Sikhs, Ceylonese, Siamese, Javanese, Bugis, Burmese, Vietnamese, etc. can demand and should also be given ‘representation’ in the government since they too are Malaysian citizens. If men and women are a criteria, then gays and lesbians should equally be a criteria. And if Malay, Chinese and Indian are considerations, then ‘others’ not Malay, Chinese and Indian should also be considerations. Or are the minorities not important, as Nazri Aziz said a few months ago?

It is most upsetting to read news reports, even by those ‘alternative’ and more progressive sources like Malaysiakini, playing the racial card. It would have sufficed if Malaysiakini had reported that ten EXCO Members (though it was wrong as it is actually nine) had been decided without stressing on the six non-Malays and four Malays (which is again wrong). What is the purpose of bringing to the readers’ attention the race of the EXCO Members and stress on the fact that six are non-Malays and four Malays (which in the first place is wrong)?

This has been what has delayed the swearing-in of the EXCO members although the elections were held two weeks ago. It was because of how many Malays and how many non-Malays should be in the EXCO line-up. Furthermore, the three opposition parties that had agreed to form the new coalition government in the state could not agree on a 4:4:2 or 5:3:2 or 4:3:2 formula. That one extra EXCO seat resulted in a ‘deadlock’ of sorts. Who cares who gets that one extra seat? I don’t! Most of the voters don’t! But the three opposition parties do and what the political parties want count, not what the voters want?

You see, the state is ‘owned’ by the political parties, not by the rakyat. It is the political parties that won the election, not the rakyat. The rakyat do not matter. What the political parties want does. When the political parties came before the rakyat during the election campaign, they spoke about Barisan Nasional’s racist policies. They asked the rakyat to reject Barisan Nasional because Barisan Nasional stands for racism.

The opposition parties campaigned on a platform of non-race-based politics. They argued that we are all Malaysians, one nation of Malaysians, not a nation divided by race. Malays, Chinese and Indians are one, they screamed. Let us unite. Let us look at each other as brothers and sisters. Never mind who you vote for. Never mind if the candidate is Malay, Chinese or Indian. Never mind if the political party the candidates represent is DAP, PKR or PAS. Just vote opposition. Just vote any race. Just vote any political party. But after they win they argue about which race, which political party, which gender, and what the sexual preferences of each candidate is in deciding how to form the government.

When the rakyat chose the government, race, religion, gender, and whatever else, were furthest from their minds. They did not care which party you were from. They did not care which religion you believed in. They did not care whether you are Malay, Chinese or Indian. They voted for you regardless whether you are man, woman, or gay man/woman. Do you think they now want to split hairs over just one seat because the politicians want a Malay, Chinese, Indian, man, woman, etc., majority?

Just form the government and form it quick. While you haggle, valuable information and crucial evidence are disappearing. So what if we get an extra Malay, or extra Chinese, or extra Indian, or extra man, or extra woman, or whether that extra seat is Siamese and gay to boot? Did not DAP, PKR and PAS scream that it does not matter whether it is a white cat or a black cat, the most important thing is that the cat can catch the mouse? Now that you won our votes, you forget about this black cat and white cat crap. Now that you are in power, you are fussy about the colour of the cat and argue about what God that cat believes in and whether this cat comes with a pussy or a dick.

Aiyoh, what is wrong with these politicians? Barisan Nasional and Barisan Rakyat are both the same. At the end of the day, party interest comes first. At the end of the day, your race and religion matter. The ‘one-Malaysian’ and ‘all are brothers and sisters’ is only raised during the election campaign and when they want our votes. After that, they put that all away into the closet, to be raised only during the next election campaign.

My wife and I voted in Subang USJ and we both voted for an Indian man and a Chinese girl. We did not vote for them because they happen to be an Indian man and a Chinese girl. We also did not refuse to vote for them because they happen to not be Malay and Muslim. We voted for them because we support the opposition. And their race, religion and gender did not matter one bit when we voted for them. Why, then, should it suddenly matter now? That is what baffles me about the Malaysian mind.

10 thoughts on “The Ugly Malaysian

  1. A child, studying in a Malay medium school. Been a library prefect since year 3, a diligent and hardworking, no bad report, not a bully, in fact always a respectable one amongst friends regardless creed and colour.. and a class above average student, as a matter of fact, a boy.. but when it came to a preference by the shcool for a head library prefect, muslim girls were chosen for both head and head’s assistant..

    Is this happening in every malay medium school?

    Thank you.

    I do not know whether this is widespread or not, but suspect that there is discrimination against other Malaysians. We have to stop it.—Din Merican.

  2. Totally agreed with you! Malaysia has obtained Independence for 50+ years and today we are still squabbling about races running for government. Its is the fault of our leaders in dividing and ruling the people. BN with its component party formed with each party looking after its race interest is wrong in the first place. All the talk about unity and solidarity will only works when the Political party address its ra’ayat as Malaysian and not Malay, Chinese, Indian or others will in long run unite the people as one.

    Look truly into the MALAYSIAN issues and get to work as one heart for the benefit of the Nation and stop all the squabbling for Power for each political party interest. As Malaysian, we must show to the world that Malaysia Boleh! and not Malaysia Bodoh!

    Loong, boleh is linked to unethical and corrupt practices of the UMNO-BN government. But I agree with your views.—Din Merican.

  3. I am Malay and a Muslim as well. I voted for a DAP candidate, a sweet Chinese lady for my state constituent and a Chinese young man from the PKR for my parliamentary representative.

    What is there in a ‘race’? I see no big deal in it. All of us are human after all.

    Say NO to RACISM!

    Najwan, we need more young and confident Malays like you and then things will start to change. The Malays can compete and will perform well if they are not discriminated against according to political affiliation..—Din Merican

  4. It will take more than a change of government to break down the racial segragation we have been brought up with. Apart from the political representation at the highest level, there are many formidable structures and institutions in our society to promote and protect the division of race and religion. We must dismantle these obstacles while preventing new ones from emerging.

    As a minority, we have been warned not to meddle with all matters pertaining to race and religion . Given the fact that those in power are still using selective enforcement of the law against certain sections of the community,I can understand why we have thread wearily .

    To have a complete change of mindset, the majority must take the lead and speak out on behalf of the minority. Given time , space and encouragement , I am sure many more fair minded Malays will come out and promote a new civil society where every Malaysian will be treated fairly .

    While it may be a bit optimistic to hope for a colour blind Malaysia within the next decade, I am hopeful that the next generation will be proud to be Malaysian per se ..dropping the race and religion prefix.

    You have to blame the UMNO nationalists and Islamists (post Khomeini Revolution) for the mess. They were too concerned with so-called Malay exceptionalism and were overzealous in the implementation of the NEP policies through the creation of a Malay(UMNO crony) ersatz capitalist class. Privatization and negotiated tender system were the means to restructure the economy. At the same time, UMNO leaders used Islam to outIslam PAS, and today we are trapped in a system that sought to preserve Malay coherence and hegemony at a cost of national unity, which was supposed to be the rationale for the NEP (post May 13, 1969 thinking).—Din Merican.

  5. Din

    i dont blame Umno so much i do MCA – in fact every right thinking Chinese despise them. They are the ones who give UMNO legitimacy to institutionalise racism right from the top to the very bottom. UMNO can at least claim they are doing it for the Malays albeit a selective few

    At present, MCA are doing a bit of soul searching. It is a complete waste of time since those who are still in power are only worried about how to loot from the system during their remaining tenure. There was an email circulated by an MCA Dun before the election; he said- MCA will never disagree with UMNO- during the 12th election, he stood for parliament and lost to the guy whose main campaign material was a poster featuring him holding a camera. To add insult to injury, this guy wasn’t even a registered voter.

    While i dont really want to see a witch hunt, unfortunately , there is no other way than to put several of these crooks in prison and let them rot in hell.

    May the force be with you.

    Yes, Rat60. MCA failed to stand up for what is right for Malaysians. They just accepted “Ketuanan Melayu” which I reject in favour of “Keilmuan Malaysia”.Thanks for the Yoda speak. The Force is here in Pkr.—Din Merican

  6. I totally agree with you. We should be Malaysian without difference of race, colour and religion.

    Jaya, we cannot wish race, colour and religion away, but we can respect the dignity of difference and work for the benefit of all.—Din Merican

  7. in this world racist exist because human face value towards color,race and religion.however most of us divided by religion.malaysian wont be call as bangsa malaysia as long as religion play a part in every political parties.every cunning politician will use this to garner support.the loser is malaysian.brain drain and brain dead due to our bn policy.the majority will will use religion for support,the minorty will use race for political gain.thanks.raj raman.religion;my problem to anwser to god.race;dreaming to be malaysian putra.

    raj raman, don’t be cynical.—Din Merican

  8. For as long as people who look different, behave different and think different, walk this earth there will be racism. When power both political and economic coincide with race, and artificially reinforced by law that passive racism is transformed into racial discrimination.

    Democrat, democracy is pluralistic and inclusive. Education and social interaction form the glue to tie people together with stakes in what we do. So I beg to differ.—Din Merican

  9. I agree with Din. Democracy is pluralistic and inclusive. God created this varied world for us to appreciate and learn from it is – not for us to fight each other. The positive thinkers will say focus on the similarities and the differences will fade away. I do believe in that. The differences are just challenges for us to surmount. It builts our character and improve our spirit. We learn from it so that we become a better human being. Focus on differences and all we see are only differences. Just focus on similarities as we are all children of God – those that keep on talking about our differences are the real purveyors of evil and immorality.

  10. BN is a multi racist party which ruled the country for 50 years.The racism in Malaysian society today is the result of their teachings in the mainstream media.

    Race is only skin deep. When you look inside the body of a Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban you will see that they all have one heart, 2 lungs, 1 liver, one stomach, 2 kidneys, etc.All races and religion belong to the same cosmic energy(God). It reminds me of the story of the man who went searching for God and could not find Him in the temple, mosque or church.

    At last he went home and discovered that God is within him. In his heart. It is the subtle vortex of electrical energy that keeps the heart beating and the circulatory system functioning within each human being regardless of race or religion.

    jerry, thanks for the religious perspective. We make Malaysia our home. Here I want to quote what Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the author of “The Dignity of Difference”, said in his latest book, “The Home We Build Together” (London: Continuum UK, 2007) as follows:

    “Society is the home we build together…It is about collective belonging…it sees diversity not in terms of self-enclosed communities, but as an enrichment fo the culture we all share. It is about bringing our several contributions to the common good…There are, and will continue to be, Christains, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and all the other shades of the rainbow. But what we make, we make together.” (p.22).

    That is enlightening. But listen to Kerismuddin, Khairy Jamaluddin and the UMNO Youth and we will have mayhem in our beautiful country.We must think and act as Malaysians, not as Malays, Indians, Chinese, Sikhs and others. We should also talk to the Jews and we can learn a thing or two from them, if we have open minds.

    50 years of ethnic politics should be enough. “Malaysia as our home” which we build together for posterity should be the way forward and we in PKR are committed to that goal in our Malaysian Economic Agenda and our 2008 Elections Manifesto.—Din Merican.

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