Malays gain nothing from always blaming others

The government, dominated by Malays since independence, has done everything possible to improve the economic status of Malays. It has devoted efforts that are many times more than what was done to help people of other races. The unceasing blame game will not help Malays.

Moaz Nair, Free Malaysia Today

Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister and being a Malay had the right to attend the recent Malay Dignity Congress held at Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam on Oct 6. His speech was generally fair, except perhaps for one or two phrases he used by coincidence to describe why the ancestors of the non-Malays came to this country and formed the labour force.

The congress, however, became a platform for blaming other people for the economic shortcomings of the Malays and instilling a feeling of insecurity among the Malay community.

What irked non-Malays was what transpired in some incendiary speeches at the congress, which was perceived to be quite offensive in multi-racial Malaysia. The prime minister probably did not foresee that this could happen.

The congress indirectly ended by stirring up sentiments that could have sparked racial hatred instead of delving into the socio-economic issues such as corruption, abuse of power and the economic inequality within the community.

They should have raised the fact that there are people of the same race who are instrumental in damaging their own people through corruption, misappropriation and dishonesty.

Instead of seeking the continuation of economic policies that have failed the Malays, the congress should have been committed to seeking a needs-based economic policy to tackle Malay poverty.

The politically motivated Malay supremacist rhetoric by some speakers cannot be accepted by moderate Malaysians. The congress unnecessarily became a DAP-bashing forum, although the DAP, for that matter, cannot be blamed for the Malays lagging behind economically.

Describing other ethnic communities as “foreigners” further peeved the non-Malays. The speakers at the congress had forgotten that Malays are not the only people classified as Bumiputera. There are over 30 ethnic groups who come under this category.

Fair to say that there is nothing unusual for a Malay to identify himself with his community and express concerns about their social and economic condition. However, forever blaming the non-Malays for their own faults will not alleviate their social or economic grievances.

However, suggesting that Malay “supremacy” is under threat from Chinese and Indian Malaysians is just another figment of their imagination. There is no evidence that Malay rights are under threat from non-Malays or have been trampled by them.

The non-Malays for their part have not questioned Malay rights as prescribed in the Constitution, being aware that their own rights are also guaranteed by the Constitution. Furthermore, after decades of independence, they are still classified as non-Bumiputera and cannot enjoy some of the benefits given to the Bumiputera. Despite that, many of them have risen in life through hard work and resilience.

After all the contributions by people of other races in prospering Malaysia, they should not be unfairly reminded of their ancestors who migrated to this country back when the country needed them as the workforce. The descendants of those migrants are not freeloaders but have contributed significantly to the country.

It is the political system that we have adopted which has stopped them from being fully assimilated into the culture of the majority community. And it’s the religion that has stopped them from getting integrated, unlike in many other countries.

Obsessive focus on religious matters has alienated non-Malays, and not many are willing to trade their religion to become assimilated in society.

The Malay Dignity Congress would have been more appropriate if it had kept focus on the value system that has caused the Malays to lag in a country where they constitute the majority.

No doubt, the national school is an ideal solution for national integration. However, some congress speakers resorted to a quick-fix resolution that vernacular schools should be phased out, instead of suggesting ways to improve national schools into becoming the school of choice for all Malaysians.

The speakers fail to understand that the existence of vernacular schools was not the reason that Malays have been left behind economically. Abolition of vernacular schools would not lift the economic and social status of Malays if they themselves are not willing to change their value system.

Nor have vernacular schools been the cause of the many social issues plaguing a segment of the Malay community, such as corruption, drug addiction among youth, high divorce rate and so forth, despite them being taught religion in school.

The Malay-Muslim community constitute 60% of the country’s population. The 22% Chinese and 7% Indian population can never be a threat to the Malays.

The Chinese are economically robust and successful through hard work. Instead of blaming the Chinese and making DAP the “bogeyman” the congress should have come up with solutions on how to make the Malay community become more resilient and able to compete with others.

The government, dominated by Malays since independence, has done everything possible to improve the economic status of Malays. It has devoted efforts that are many times more than what was done to help people of other races.

The unceasing blame game will not help Malays, but can only become political fodder for some political opportunists who themselves cannot change the mind-set of their own race.

As the prime minister mentioned in his speech, “the Malays must work hard and strengthen their position in order to be strong and respected by others”. He aptly quoted this verse from the Quran: “Indeed, God never changes the condition of a people unless they strive to change themselves.” (13:11)

Overall, the congress has only bolstered some politicians in driving a divisive agenda even further. But after six decades of independence, It is high time the Malays stand on their feet with pride and dignity, to consider all other citizens not as adversaries but as Malaysians, and to treat them as equals.