The lazy Malay: syndrome or fallacy? (Updated)

But Mahathir does not like the Malays to be like most natives of many countries all over the world. Mahathir wants Malays to be millionaires and billionaires. Only then can he proudly claim that Malays are successful. To Mahathir, success is measured by wealth. The more money you have the more successful you are.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

In the 1930s, the British and Americans did not think the Japanese would become good pilots because Japanese are too short, so they would never be able to fly planes properly. In December 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour and demonstrated that height had no bearing on one’s ability to fly a plane.

Just before that, the Japanese attacked British Malaya from the north. It took two months for the Japanese to reach Singapore by bicycle. The reason it took (as long as) two months for the Japanese to reach Singapore was because they were pinned down in Perak, Selangor and Johor by the Malay Regiment or Askar Melayu.

One of the officers of the Malay Regiment that delayed the Japanese in Johor to allow the expatriate British officers and their families to escape to Australia was a member of the royal family. He helped many British soldiers escape to safety and for that “crime” the Japanese executed him by beheading.

The Malay Regiment delayed the Japanese two months from reaching Singapore to allow the Orang Putih and rich Chinese to escape to the safety of India and Australia

It was reported that some of the fiercest fighting was where the Japanese faced the Malay Regiment, the British Gurkhas and the Sikh Regiment of the Indian Army. Many died so that their colonial masters could escape to safety. And those not killed in the fighting were executed when the Japanese captured them.

The purpose for including these first four paragraphs into this article is to show how dangerous stereotyping can be. The British and Americans stereotyped the Japanese and the Japanese stereotyped the Malays. The Japanese were a more formidable enemy than the British and Americans thought, while the Malays did not run away but stood and fought (as did the Gurkhas and Sikhs) when the Orang Putih retreated.

So, are the Malays really lazy and useless as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says? No, the Malays can be as loyal and brave as their Gurkha and Sikh comrades. Many died so that others could escape to safety. And after the war many Malays spent years in the deep jungles of Malaya to prevent the country from falling into the hands of the Communist Terrorists or CTs.

The Malays fought the Communist Terrorists in the deep jungles of Malaya so that today the country can be rich and prosperous

I have read many comments by non-Malays saying that without the non-Malays the country would not have developed. They say it was the Chinese and Indians who worked hard to develop the country so that Malaysians today can live comfortably in a prosperous nation.

That may be true. But if the Malays had not fought and died serving the country, today there would be no prosperous nation for Malaysians to enjoy. Many of the prosperous Chinese families you see today once supported the Malayan Communists. Some of their family members even died fighting for the Communists against the Malays. Robert Kuok is one example, but there are more.

Mahathir says the Malays lack skills, lack ambition, are lazy, and want to receive something for nothing. Malays would rather receive free money than work for it. “Why can’t the Malays be like the Chinese?” Mahathir once lamented.

Mahathir wants the Malays to be like the Chinese

In what way does he want Malays to be like the Chinese? 97% of the Chinese vote for DAP? Does Mahathir want 97% of the Malays to vote for Umno-PAS? In that case why not change the name of Pakatan Harapan to Pakatan Cina and form a new Umno-PAS coalition called Pakatan Melayu. Then the Malays would be just like the Chinese: racists.

The fact that the Malays are divided into five groups while the Chinese are almost 100% united under a pro-Chinese group shows that the Malays are better than the Chinese. The Malays are more diverse and not so parochial as the Chinese are. So why grumble?

The Chinese only want Chinese education while the Malays can accept any form of education system — English, Malay or Chinese. (There are many Malays in Chinese schools). So, who is better, the parochial Chinese or the more accommodating Malays?

The day the Malays become just like the Chinese, as Mahathir wishes, will be bad news for Malaysia. That would mean Malaysia has now become 100% Chinese on one side and 100% Malays on the other side. And this will be the recipe for a civil war. So be careful with what you wish for.

Successful Malays are millionaires, if not you are considered a lazy Malay

Now, why are the Malays not successful, as Mahathir says? The Malays are not successful because the Malays own only 3% of the economic pie while the Chinese own 60%. True! But at the time of Merdeka the Malays started at 1% while the Chinese started at 30%. Hence the Malays tripled their wealth while the Chinese only doubled theirs. In that sense are the Malays not more successful? (The fact the Malays were aided by the NEP is another issue altogether and we are not denying that helped).

Of course, the Chinese dominate the Malaysian economy. But they also do so in Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines (and of course Singapore). At one time the Chinese also dominated the economy in Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, etc., until they were kicked out. Remember the ‘Boat People’ of the 1970s and ‘The Killing Fields’? Most of the Chinese then moved their wealth to Singapore, wealth they made in Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, and so on. (Hence there is more behind the story of Singapore’s “success” than meets the eye).

It has always been the Chinese culture to migrate in search of wealth (they even migrated to America for the same reason). The Malays, however, stay put. (The Malays have a proverb that goes: even if it rains gold in someone else’s country and it rains stones in your own country, your own country is still better).

Those who say Malays are lazy have never been to the East Coast

And that is the Malay mind. They are not greedy in search of wealth even to the extent of migrating for the sake of money. But when Malays are not greedy Mahathir calls it “lack of ambition”. When the Malays are easy-going and laid-back Mahathir calls it lazy. I call it “cool”. Malays are like the hippies of America. Good music, good weed, and sleeping under the nice warm sun. What more do you need from life?

But Mahathir does not like the Malays to be like most natives of many countries all over the world. Mahathir wants Malays to be millionaires and billionaires. Only then can he proudly claim that Malays are successful. To Mahathir, success is measured by wealth. The more money you have the more successful you are.

And this is where the problem starts. When you want Malays to be motivated by money and wealth you turn Malays into a greedy and corrupt race. “Money, money, money, it’s a rich man’s world,” as the song goes.

Malay gentlemen of the old days, a different breed of Malays

Those born before Merdeka will know that the Malay civil servant of the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s were real gentlemen. We used to call them “Brown Englishmen” because they were not only British trained but adopted British values as well.

Then, in 1970, along came the NEP which focused on wealth-generation. Then, in 1981, along came Mahathir who scolded and insulted the Malays and told them that unless they become just like the Chinese, and made plenty of money just like the Chinese, they were useless.

Mahathir even cried at the Umno general assembly and, in 2002, resigned as Prime Minister because the Malays refused to change. In 2004, Mahathir said his greatest regret in his 22 years as Prime Minister is that he failed to change the mindset of the Malays.

Failed to change the Malays to what? To money, money, money Malays?

Mahathir keeps complaining that Malays want free money without having to work for it. Then stop giving Malays free money! Retain and increase the highway toll charges. Increase the price/charges for petrol, water and electricity. Abolish PTPTN. Abolish the quota system in the government service and in universities. Open UiTM to the non-Malays with no quota for the Malays. Bring back the GST and increase it to 20% like here in the UK. Set up the Chinese Regiment and Indian Regiment since we already have the Malay Regiment (so that non-Malays can join the army and not complain about discrimination as the reason for not joining the army). Make the minimum income tax payable at 20% for every sen you earn even if you earn just RM100 a month (with 60% for the top earners).

Yes, Pakatan Harapan is the government and Mahathir is their Prime Minister. So stop complaining. Just end Malay privileges and quotas and tax the Malays to hell. Make the Malays pay and pay dearly. Implement meritocracy. And those Malays who are lazy will have to sleep on the streets and beg for food. In time, the Malays will be just like the Chinese and will work hard to avoid starving to death.