Tackling racism in Malaysia

Dato’ Mohd.Ariff Sabri bin Hj. Abdul Aziz

For the past few days I have written several articles about racism in Malaysia. My objective is to see the extent of racism in our country. My report is, racism is extensive and it exists openly and subtly. We see things in our respective race-blinkered lenses. Every Malaysian has his quotient of ethnicity. We have to learn to live with this fact. We can’t purge our Malay-ness, our Chinese-ness or our Indian-ness that are in us.

But as long as our racism is not allowed to forcefully prevail onto another race’s domain, it is all right. Or as long as it’s not reflected in our daily interactions with people of other race, that is ok.

Which leads me to this conclusion. If we were to rely on human voluntariness to expel racism, we are bound to fail. I now believe that we require explicit laws which outlaw racism. We have to simply outlaw policies, rules, regulations that promote racism and discrimination. We have to outlaw all political parties that adopt race, religion or culture as their political foundations from competing in general elections. Only political parties that reflect the proportional racial mix of this country are allowed to participate in general elections.

Hence Barisan Nasional cannot contest in elections unless its candidates are 60% Malays, 30% Chinese and 10% Indians and others. Barisan Rakyat cannot contest in general elections unless its candidates are similarly arranged. This way ensures inclusiveness of all Malaysian races. Maybe, this can start Malaysia on the road to a two-party system.

Racism becomes a problem when its translated out into the open as a social policy. Rules, regulations and policies that seek to discriminate others on the basis of their racial background skin colour, religion, culture and language are racism. When you see a sign board that says dogs and Chinese are not allowed here- that is racism because it discriminates the Chinese on account of his ethnicity. If Christopher Wan didn’t make it to IGP because he is Chinese that is discrimination.

If I were to view Chinese as devilishly cunning, skilled, powerful and therefore evil, I am being a racist. If I were to see Malays and others as subhuman, beastly, and inclined to immoral acts, I am also being racist in my attitude. My focus is either someone is evil or inferior because of his racial background. Hence the Chinese is evil because he is greedy, wants everything, our wealth, our women, our children. The Malays are evil because they are lazy, violent and are interested in stealing our women. We adopt these views to justify our treatment of these people.

We justify excluding Chinese from political power because they are inherently evil, cunning, manipulative, greedy etc. we justify excluding Malays because they are lazy, incompetent, less humanlike, etc.

Racism is simply unqualified hatred of one race on another based on skin colour, language, religion, physical appearance and so forth. Racism takes place when one race views another as genetically inferior and having less human attributes. Hence when someone says, Malays are inherently lazy because of genetic reasons and because of that not qualified to participate in commerce, be senior executives and so forth, that is racism. When someone says, the other is a lazy bump and hasn’t got good work ethics because he is Malay that is racism. When someone says, TNB is tiu na bu because the workers there are mostly Malays, that is racism.

The basis for such hatred and anger or the only reason explaining the loathing is another person’s racial background, skin colour, culture and religion.

There is open and subtle racism. Among Malays, their racism is easily discernible as it is commonly held, that the institutions before us are all embodiment of Malay racism. By institutions, I mean and define them to be public institutions. A restrictive definition makes the concept, operational. This allows us to exclude having to discuss a wider field. As Malays dominate in public institutions, whatever actions these institutions take, are taken as representing the latent racism of Malays that operate at personal levels.

When Siti Inshah Mansor abused non Malays because of their ethnic background, that is racism. But what if Siti Inshah Mansor was verbally abusive because the students were vandals or were gangster-like, can she be classified as racist? Her choice of words were unfortunate but were her actions prompted by the students’ different racial background?

The other races are racist too. In non public institutions, discrimination against the Malays is widely practised. This is subtle racism. The capable Malay is often bypassed in terms of promotion in Chinese owned companies. Malays are suited to PR work only, arranging end of year dinner parties, soliciting GROs for the boss, ordering RM 3000 a bowl shark’s fin soup for the taikor, organizing sporting activities etc. The technical stuff?- that’s off limits.

Accessibility to supply sources is often restrictive to Malay businessmen. The retailing and wholesale businesses are practically off limits to Malays. Having dominance in these areas, surrendering accessibility is almost unheard of.

In other words, business policies define Malays as inferior people and therefore discriminated against.

The irony is racism in non public institutions is often disguised behind the concept of meritocracy, suitability, capabilities, efficiency and so forth. Hence its often bandied around, that because of commercial dictates we want Mandarin or Cantonese speaking candidates. Oh, the Malays are disqualified because they don’t have good work ethics. Come on- very often the work requirement in the relevant fields does not require a qualification in rocket science.

TNB is lambasted and verbally abused and assaulted not because its manned by Malays but because it is inefficient. See how clever the racism is disguised under the concept of efficiency.

Because the test is to look at the non Malays who are chosen to perform the tasks which are said to require meritocratic qualifications. A Chinese is equally inept at speaking and writing in English, he is equally lazy, equally mediocre in certain areas but because, the shots are made by non Malay bosses, the Chinese will get the job.

While the racism of the Malay appeared to be an accepted fact, mere mention of the possibility that a Chinese can be a racist too, unearth vehement protests. To me, the Chinese is equally capable of self denial as do the Malays. So don’t come down on us with all those patronizing clichés of what gives…your caliber is skin deep and so forth. Spare us the nausea please. Perhaps its your own racism that prevents you from acknowledging your own prejudices.

Hence we come to the sobering realization that racism is alive and pervasive in our society.

Have anyone given a thought as to why the majority of maid abuse cases involved Chinese families against Indonesian maids? Could it be that the Indonesian maids are looked upon as the Malay species and therefore subhuman and inferior? They are fit to eat with dogs, eat leftovers etc. And that all the cruelty and abuses imposed on them are but vengeance by the Chinese on Malays to compensate for their own perceived racist victimization?

When Namewe asks didn’t you read, who made Malaysia rich can be translated into we Malays owe the Chinese a living. That is precisely the basis of the behavior which Namewee exhibited when he hurled all the abusive and expletives on the TNB workers in Muar. Banana sucking Malays are just peons, security guards whose primary function is to slave it out so that people like Namewee will not experience blackouts. Malays are fit to be jagas, security guards policemen and soldiers ensuring this country is safe so that people like Namewee can make this country rich. What gave people like Namewee the right to speak in such arrogant manner to salary earning workers?