Do you think the Malays care about the NEP?


The Malays are a proud race. “Tak akan Melayu hilang di dunia,” the Malays will tell you. The Malays are too proud to be called a race that needs charity to survive. And the NEP has been twisted to appear like charity and handouts.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

There was a survey once done by the Terengganu Education Department back in the 1980s. I think the Education Minister at that time was either Dr Sulaiman Daud or Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Anyway, I know it was just before the time of Anwar Ibrahim in 1986.

As you know, Terengganu is about 97% Malay and what the Education Department wanted to know was what was the Malay students’ attitude towards education. Hence the purpose of the survey, which someone decided should be published on the front page of the Malay newspapers.

Imagine our surprise when the survey revealed that 90% of the Malay kids stated that they did not wish to be in school and if given a choice that they would rather be somewhere else rather than in the classroom.

The problem is, and I discovered this later when I became the PTA chairman of two schools in Kuala Terengganu (one primary and one secondary), was that the teachers did not care. To many of them their job was just a means of earning money until something better comes along.

And to many, this something better meant a political career. And that is why at that time 70% of the Umno activists, branch heads, committee members, etc., were from the teaching profession (until Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad turned Umno into a party for businessmen and capitalists and the 70% teachers got replaced by 70% businessmen).

I do not know whether kicking the teachers out of Umno was good for the teaching profession but it certainly changed Umno into a party of ‘money talks, bullshit walks’, which resulted in Umno going downhill from thereon.

The point is the Malays were not really bothered about Dasar Ekonomi Baru or the New Economic Policy (NEP). They were not bothered whether the NEP meant the Malays were given better opportunities to further their education. In fact, they would rather not be in school in the first place.

So it is a fallacy to think that Malays want the NEP and depend on the NEP to get ahead or talk about the NEP all the time. Those who want it and depend on it and talk about it all the time are a handful of people, mostly politicians. But just 5% of the people talk about it day in and day out and you think the entire Malay race is sensitive about the NEP.

I did business for about 20 years from the 1970s to the 1990s and I travelled all over Terengganu and Kelantan to market my products in the kampungs and amongst the fishermen and farmers. I was practically on the road more than half the time.

So I met many Malays from what many would regard as the backward areas of Malaysia. None of these people talked about the NEP. Not many even understood the NEP. And none thought they needed the NEP or else they would not be able to make it in life.

If they did succeed and made some money they would pay zakat and go to Mekah to perform the Haj. They would be most grateful for having some extra money or for having a bit more than what their neighbours had but they never once thought they should be grateful to the NEP or that it was because of the NEP.

To these Malays they are fortunate, or more fortunate than others, because of Allah. This is Allah’s blessing. So they must be very grateful to Allah and spend the money properly: such as pay their zakat, donate to mosques, go to Mekah, etc.

The non-Malays make a big deal of the NEP as if the Malays depend on it and would die without it. Some Malays, as well, make a big deal of the NEP as if the Malays would be wiped out from the face of this earth without it. The Malays on the street could not care two hoots because at the end of the day it is Allah’s will whatever happens.

So stop reading too much propaganda. Go spend 20 years in the kampung like I did. Then maybe you can better understand the Malays and not make too many unkind comments about the Malays.

Yes, agreed, many Malays received education and employment opportunities because of the NEP. Not only the non-Malays but Umno also talks this way. But are you and Umno saying that the Malays are absolutely worthless that unless you had an NEP the Malay race would soon become extinct?

The Malays have been around since the beginning of time. Go study history to find out. The NEP has been around just 45 years. Even without the NEP the Malays would still be around today. And if you end the NEP tomorrow the Malays will still be around until the end of time.

But the politicians would not want you to know this. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad talks as if the Malays would not exist today if not because of the NEP. That is the biggest insult to the Malays. That is suggesting that the Malays are hopeless and the only way to save the Malays from extinction is through the NEP.

All the Malays want is to live a decent life and spend that short life serving Islam and obeying Allah. Give them a piece of land and as long as there is food on the table and a roof over their heads the Malays are quite content waiting for the day to come when they will leave this world.

But the whole NEP issue has been twisted and turned to make the Malays appear like money is all that matters in this world. Like I said, go live 20 years in the kampung like I did so that you do not misjudge the Malays.

The Malays are a proud race. “Tak akan Melayu hilang di dunia,” the Malays will tell you. The Malays are too proud to be called a race that needs charity to survive. And the NEP has been twisted to appear like charity and handouts.

If the government wants to help the Malays through the NEP the Malays will say “Alhamdulillah” and will accept that help. But if you tell the Malays you are hopeless and worthless and that is why you need the NEP the Malays would rather not accept that help.

That is the mind of the proud Malay race. So understand the Malays and cut out all that crap talk about if not because of the Chinese or because of Umno Malaysia would still be one huge jungle and the Malays would still be living in trees.

I sent my two daughters to UK universities with my own money. I set up the family business in Manchester — so that my three sons and their wives can earn a living and not survive on welfare — with my own money and not with any Malaysian government help.

I am one of those proud Malays who resent being called weak and who resent being accused of surviving on government handouts.