The Malay Dilemma revisited

December 17, 2018

The Malay Dilemma revisited

 by Dennis Ignatius

Image result for mahathir mohamad

In what may well be a prelude to a significant policy shift, Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has taken to warning Malays that they are being left behind, that they are not on par with other races, that they are increasingly confined to the urban fringes where infrastructure is poor.

With rhetorical flourish, he even confessed to an audience at UiTM recently of being ashamed that “in our own country we are left behind….” It is an idea straight out of his ‘Malay Dilemma’ thesis.

Left behind?

But left behind? Is Mahathir really serious?

Image result for The Malays
The narrative that Malays are being left behind is, for the most part, simply a political construct that is being promoted to justify the continuation of race-based policies that essentially favour the elites at the expense of the poor and serve the interest of Malay power structures.”–Dennis Ignatius

Go into any government department or university, go to a cabinet meeting or to parliament, go to Mindef or Bukit Aman, go into the nation’s corporate boardrooms or banks, go to Damansara Heights, and you’ll find the Malays firmly entrenched there, and rightfully so, as homeowners, entrepreneurs, bankers, scientists, doctors, vice-chancellors, professors, engineers, architects, civil servants, etc. They are holding their own very well and are second to none.

If anything, it is the non-Malays who are falling further and further behind in many of these sectors as a result of skewered government policies.

Even the notion of urban racial disparity that Mahathir has used to justify not having local council elections, was disproved a long time ago. According to 2010 census data, Malays are in the majority in all but a few urban centres. In Kuala Lumpur, for example, the Malay population in 2010 stood at 49.5%, outnumbering the Chinese population, which stood at 43.2%. It is much higher than that now.

Simply put, a lot of these race-based assumptions may have been true twenty or thirty years ago but not anymore; yet they continue to be bandied around as fact and used as a basis to formulate policies.

Who is to blame?

And if Malay urban areas lack infrastructure, shouldn’t city administrators be taken to task for their failure to serve all the residents of the city? It makes no sense at all to somehow blame others for the unequal distribution of facilities and opportunities when the administration is itself overwhelmingly in Malay hands. Perhaps, if our politicians and city administrators were not so busy exploiting their own positions for personal gain, the poorer areas of our cities might get the attention they rightly deserve.

It is, in fact, mind-boggling that so many Malay politicians continually harp on how poorly the Malays are doing when all the power to correct the situation has been in their hands for more than 60 years. Instead of fear mongering and race-baiting, they should look at their own performance and their own policies and figure out how to do a better job of governing the nation to the benefit of all its citizens.

A political construct

The narrative that Malays are being left behind is, for the most part, simply a political construct that is being promoted to justify the continuation of race-based policies that essentially favour the elites at the expense of the poor and serve the interest of Malay power structures.

Of course, there are many Malaysians who need help – farmers, fishermen, rural and urban poor; no one will grudge them greater support and assistance. But let’s have a targeted needs-based approach that really works, that will make a real difference. A needs-based approach will do more to uplift the disadvantaged Malays (as well as others) than many of the current policies that only benefit the crony-elites.

Building a culture of confidence

Instead of perpetuating a siege mentality – that the Malays are about to be overwhelmed by other communities – the government should celebrate the tremendous advances that the Malay community has made in the years since independence and how Malays have taken their place as leaders and change-agents in every area of national life.

Creating a culture of suspicion, fear and envy of other communities might be expedient in the short-term but it is ultimately fatal to our nation’s progress. Surely that’s one of the most important lessons we must learn from the past 60 yeas of UMNO’s racist policies.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.


9 thoughts on “The Malay Dilemma revisited

  1. Who caused the Malay to be left behind? (If indeed they were left behind). If Mahathir continues to bugger the non-Bumis – there will be no behinds left.

  2. objectively, coldly say, nothing less than a class struggle will change any thing that sorely needs to be changed. of course, perfectly intuitive to understand, anything that harms the elites and power structures won’t do. it is a fact having nothing to do with instigation. just open your eyes to see it for yourselves.

  3. No Malay Leader even Tun dares to abandon This Malay First Policy. Some valid reason has to be found to prolong it for as long as it is needed to cajole the Malays . — Din Merican.

  4. Rural Malays of Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu have been left behind. Indians from the former rubber estates have been left behind. Orang Asli are the most left behind. East Malaysian natives have been left behind. Many Chinese working class people left it all behind by working in Singapore (live in Johor, and travel into Singapore to work by motorcycle. One should see the huge number of motorcycles and the horrible exhaust smoke at the Causeway during workday mornings) and by being illegals in Taiwan and Japan.

    We need nothing less than an end to neoliberalism policies, affirmative action for poor Malaysians from all ethnic groups, and the creation of a social democratic Welfare State (Islamic-influenced).

  5. If the Malays are (still) left behind compared to others, why is it so when they have the political control over the country? Islam teaches them to be less materialistic and share whatever they have with those who don’t have any. The downside of disproportionate attachment to religion is that it could undercut human effort and endeavour and to be content with less rather than more. How does this explain the early forward march of Islam leaving footprint in parts of Europe and the Islamisation of Spain to some extent?

  6. After Tun Dr, there would be no PM worth mentioning. Pity the educated Melayu. Damansara would be just another had been. The last of the elite Melayu. Cursed and doomed the poor rural Melayu.

  7. Reminder to non-Malay. The rise and fall of this country depended on Malay. So, if you don’t have much confident like me especialy learning about the spread of Wahabbhism/ Zakir Naik in perlis, incompetent education minister Islamist, etc I think we better start leaving this boat since non-Malay will never play any role for future of Malaysia.

    • “..non-Malay will never play any role for future of Malaysia.”

      True, true. Except the hypocritical Tokongs, of course. Useful for creative accounting up to “Trillions” and counting..

      Anybody has any idea what the blundering, blinking populist brain dead Pakatoon “Tabung Harapan” fund is up to? Pay folks like Teck?

  8. This is “Democracy” folks.

    In a democratic Planet of the Apes…..

    ….whatever gives you the idea I was comparing some people to apes?

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