Apartheid without all the laws of the Apartheid

By Naragan N.

“If Malays are truly racist as alleged we would not have compromised on the cultures of other ethnic groups being practiced here …. We would also not have allowed vernacular schools to be established, …. The true meaning of racism would be like apartheid as previously practiced by South Africa..” said Najib in his UMNO general assembly speech last week.

So, is UMNO racist or not?

To answer this, let us take Najib’s suggestion and compare UMNO with what existed in the Apartheid regime of South Africa.

Here are some key features of South Africa’s Apartheid (Apartness) system:

1)  Central feature of the Apartheid rule was the categorization of all the South African people into Blacks, Whites, Indians and Coloureds – their Bangsa. Everything else was built on this categorization.

2)  Using this racial categorization, it decided where each category of people lived, who they married, who they had sex with, where they worked and how they moved about.

3)  They had the apartheid laws – The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act of 1949, Immorality Act of 1950, The Population Registration Act of 1950 and so on. And they had laws of repression, such as Suppression of Communism Act of 1950, The Public Safety Act of 1953 and the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1953, The Riotous Assembly Act, The Terrorism Act to name a few of the notorious ones.

4)  The Group Areas Act of 1950 partitioned the country into areas allocated to different racial groups. Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 created separate government structures for blacks.

5)  They segregated education, medical care, and other public services on the basis of this racial categorisation.

6)  They all had to carry Identity Cards which indicated their “Bangsa”, so to speak.

7)  To oversee the apartheid implementation, the bureaucracy expanded and by 1977, there were more than half a million white state employees.

8)  Blacks were not allowed to run businesses or professional practices in those areas designated as “white South Africa” without a permit.

9)  Each of the 4 categories of South Africans had their own education system. 

Now let us look at comparative situations in the Malaysian regime:

1)  A central feature of our system is also our categorization into Bumiputras, Chinese, Indians and Others from birth to death. Everywhere we go we have to declare Bangsa, Ugama – at birth, at school registration, in all the applications we make, at marriage, at death and in many many more situations.

2)  We all have to carry Identity Cards around.

3)  Large areas of most cities and towns are segregated not by law, but by practice and without the need for such segregation laws. A clear example is in Penang. The Island is mainly populated by Chinese, and the Malays mostly prefer to live on the Mainland. In Shah Alam it is mainly Malays. In Seremban it is mainly Chinese in locations like Seremban Garden, and Malays in Ampangan or Paroi areas. In Kuching you have South and North Kuching for the Chinese and the Malays. In practice but not in law.

4)  In several housing areas State Consent is required if one wants to sell the property especially if it is in a predominantly Malay area. It is quicker to get consent for inter-Bumiputra sale than it is for a sale across the Bumiputra/Non-Bumiputra divide. Again in practice, but not in law.

5)  Malaysia has repressive laws like the Internal Security Act to put away whomever UMNO considers trouble makers without having to go through the court processes; The Official Secrets Act to blot out all skewed decisions made by the UMNO controlled Administration from public view; The Printing Presses and Publications Act to control the print media from publishing too much anti-UMNO true news; The Seditions Act to shut people up from speaking up against the unjust UMNO policies – to name a few of the repressive laws that help maintain the current regime.

6)  The bureaucracy is entirely made up of largely Bumiputras – eight hundred thousand of them, all implementing UMNO Policy. The Police force is almost entirely Malay, the armed forces are almost entirely Malay. Again in practice, but not in law.

7)  Most Government businesses are off limits to non-Bumiputras. There is a complete system of screening vendors that limits vendors to almost entirely Bumiputras.

8)  Business licences are largely awarded to Bumiputras or must have mandatory minimum Bumiputra participation – Bank Licences, Educational Institutions Licences, Permits in the Transportation businesses and so many more.

9)  Participation in all government development schemes are entirely for Bumiputras – MARA, FELDA, FELCRA, RISDA, PERDA, KESEDAR, KEJORA to name a few. In practice, but not in law.

10) Educational opportunities in Public Educational Institutions are grossly in favour of Bumiputras.

11) Cross religious relationships between Non-Muslim Malaysians and Muslim Malaysians is a complicated affair, especially if a problem develops along the way.

Allowing the practice of cultures of the Indians or the Chinese in Malaysia or allowing Chinese Medium and Tamil Medium schools in Malaysia, or of allowing the use of Chinese and Indian names does not in any way define the character of the regime in Malaysia. Allowing all this actually now becomes a convenient argument for UMNO to take everything else away, it seems. It is the structure of the economic, social and political system that defines the character of our system. And it is blatantly racist.

I do not say the Malay people are racists. I am saying that UMNO, the political party is. It is indeed a blue blooded racist party – the entire cause for the racism that is so rampant in Malaysia.

Racism is “the domination of one ethnic group over other ethnic groups on the basis of some claimed superiority”. In South Africa – White Supremacy; in Hitler’s Germany – the Superiority of the German race; in the British Empire – the Civilizing Burden of the White Man; in Malaysia, Ketuanan Melayu or Malay Supremacy.

Unless UMNO changes at its core, it will continue to be a racist party and no amount of deception is going to change that.

No matter what NAJIB says, UMNO is a racist party.