Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Broken Record

How do we begin to measure the pain so many of us have felt at being told that we had a lesser right to be Malaysian than others.

***

I do not like any form of discrimination, I think it's very wrong.

As a secondary school student in the mid-80s, no matter how I tried, I could not get my mind around the fact that it was unjust, unfair and ruthless to hand out scholarships hand over fist to under-achieving Malay students purely on the basis that they were Malay when many well-deserving, very needful non-Malay students were being by-passed.

I could understand giving help to those who were less privileged and for whom, without a helping hand, the future was an inescapable cycle of despair. And I recognised that history had left some of us more vulnerable than others. But to inflict the pain of hopelessness on those as deserving, or even more so, purely on the basis of race was cruel and wrong.

I was lucky enough to be awarded an ASEAN Scholarship by the Singapore Public Services Commission in 1986. It got me a place in an extremely good school in Singapore where I did my ‘A’ levels. This was an experience that showed me not only how little I really knew about anything but also the fact that for so many of us opportunities for advancement and the kind of life that we deserved were not to be found in Malaysia. Many of my fellow scholars were leaving on what seemed to be for most a one way trip, a perception that time soon made a reality. Most of them are now all over the world, some carrying Singaporean passports, others having no vision of returning to this country.

In many ways this has not changed. I recently addressed a group of about 150 bright Malaysian students studying in top universities in the United States and I could see that uppermost in many of their minds was whether it was in their best interests to return home.

For, after all, what is it that they would be coming back to? A landscape shaped by ‘ketuanan Melayu’ in which it has become a rule of society that we must believe, and enthusiastically at that, the propaganda that would have some believe (I am not sure who) that the Government does really appreciate that all of us have our rightful, and equal, place under the sun?

I read law at the International Islamic University, commencing my term in 1989. I was called a ‘keling’ for the first time during my time there. I was also told that I shouldn’t be so sensitive to being called a ‘keling for the first time during the same period. Somehow, being told not to be sensitive just didn’t do it for me, didn’t make me feel any better.

Along the way, I have confronted my share of racism, both personally and in the course of my work as an activist and a lawyer. Exposure to it has not made it easier to bear; the increasingly bizarre justifications are just as hollow. And through it all, I have been haunted by UMNO’s obsessions with ‘ketuanan Melayu’.

***

The Prime Minister’s advisors don’t see to understand that ‘ketuanan’ by any definition means just that: supremacy. When put next to the word ‘Melayu’, it means the supremacy of the Malays.

Any notion of ethnic supremacy in a multi-racial country in which all are guaranteed equality as a fundamental liberty is misplaced. When articulated to defend preferential treatment, it is discrimination. When pushed to a point where other ethnicities are suppressed in favour of those who consider themselves supremacists by virtue of their own ethnicity, it is racism. A championing of ‘ketuanan Melayu’ and all that it connotes in this society is a championing of a racist cause.

The defence of ‘ketuanan melayu’ by the Prime Minister as being reflective of the need for Malays to excel is incomprehensible. ‘The Star’ (‘Pak Lah explains meaning of ‘ketuanan Melayu’’, 29.04.2008) paraphrased the Prime Minister’s explanation this way:

He said Malay supremacy meant that the Malays, as the indigenous people in Malaysia, needed to strengthen themselves to ensure they were successful and developed.”

It went on to quote the Prime Minister as follows:

If they are not successful and developed, then they are not tuan (masters), therefore they will be coolies. I am sure we do not want to become coolies who do not play any role in development because we are weak and not able.

“So when we talk about that (Malay supremacy), we mean we must be successful in many fields. It is never about ruling over others, or forcing our power upon them,” he told reporters after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting last night.

The logic, or lack thereof, underlying this explanation is of the same ilk as that which was advanced to justify the now notorious unsheathing of the keris. The explanations turn on an assumption that Malaysians will believe that all that was said and done should be accepted as it was merely intended to serve the Malay agenda in one way or the other.

I do not think so.

The almost infantile structuring of the explanations is an insult to all Malaysians. There is no place nor is there a need for a separate and distinct Malay agenda. The Malays are the majority and not the minority. By their numbers, they cannot be victimized. A large amount of the total wealth of the population is in Malay hands. They do not need to be told that they are supreme in order for them to excel. The Nazir Razaks and other extremely capable Malays of this nation are testaments to this fact. They would not agree that they need ketuanan melayu not to be coolies.

It does not appear to have struck UMNO that saying that UMNO is playing to the Malay agenda is not a good thing, not even after the treatment the Barisan Nasional (and therefore UMNO) received on March 8th. ‘The Sun’ (‘Shahri defends UMNO’s ‘Ketuanan Melayu’, 30.04.2008) paraphrases Shahrir Samad in this way:

He said Ketuanan Melayu is something that exists under the constitution. What Umno is doing – in shouting for Ketuanan Melayu – is just defending the concept of Malay special rights as enshrined in the constitution that is.

I have great difficulty in swallowing this - hook, line or sinker.

The Constitution does not provide for the supremacy of any ethnic community. Conversely, it guarantees equality even as it provides for a means of protecting the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. To assert that the Constitution provides for ‘ketuanan Melayu’ would necessarily mean that the Constitution similarly provides for ‘ketuanan Orang Asli’. Is UMNO saying this? I don’t think so.

I resent revisionist thinking aimed at substantiating a political position. I resent it even more when it involves perverting and misrepresenting the Constitution. But then, I shouldn’t be surprised. It would seem that very little is sacred in this country any more.

The word ‘ketuanan’ or ‘supremacist’ should not be in the lexicon of Malaysia in this day and age. If at all, it should only be used to describe our Constitution or the significance of the rakyat.

And nothing that UMNO can say about it will change that. Birthrights can never be denied.

MIS

38 comments:

plebisitz said...

In my opinion, we can interpret the meaning/definition of ketuanan melayu any way we want to. It's all about our own individual perception of how exactly we want to view it. A maly might say this, a chinese that, and so forth. We can fight over and over about it but we cant force everyone to accept that OUR definition is right.

So, therefore, in Pak Lah's case, for us to understand HIS definition of ketuanan melayu, we have to look at it in a whole new mindset, something fresh. It's not about Malays being superior race anymore, it's about making the Malays hold the key to their own destiny.

April said...

I do not want to believe in this ketuanan melayu. To me, it smacks of discrimination through and through. It is a concept that should not exist in this day and time.
Does it mean that the Indonesian labourer given citizenship carries more weight then me, a 4th generation born and breed malaysian?
Although the defination of ketuanan melayu can be left to individual interpretation but our leaders should not use terms that would denote supremacy of one race over another, especially so in such a multiracial country like ours. Have they forgotten that this country will not be where it is if without the hard work and sweat of all the races put together?

donplaypuks said...

You have no doubt hit the nail on the head in identifying that by virtue of being the majority, the Malays cannot be victimized here.

This is more so true, since political control is also in their hands.

So, what does one do when the PM of the country, with the Party machinery rushing in with indecent haste to 'support him', continue with this execrable spin-semantics?

There is no doubt that this is the post-colonial 'divide and rule' policy which UMNO has embraced with a vengeance while cursing the British.

But, I reckon this is a suicidal policy that UMNO will continue to adhere to, at their peril.

PR and Anwar have announced a 'Ketuanan Rakyat' policy.

Politics being race-based as it has been in M'sia for the last 50 years, we will see the demise of MIC, MCA, Gerakan, PPP etc very, very soon in the immediately forseeable future. They will flock in droves away from BN.

UMNO will then also collapse or the remaining party faithful will maintain themselves as an ultra-conservative right wing racist Malay party. They have nothing else left to sell their hawk supporters.

But what is very, very clear with the passing of the events of the last few days, is that the line has ben drawn by UMNO, and there is no going back.

They do not care what the Constitution says or implies!!

donplaypuks said...

to plebisitz:

Your 'we can interpret black as white' based on definitions and perceptions, is a load of crock!

Yours is a sop to the spindoctoring of a very racist stance by an elected Government (and Judiciary)which refuses to adhere to the plain, clear language of our Constitution.

Hitler of course did not say blacks, yellows and jews were inferior; he only promoted the concept that blue-eyed blond Aryan Nazis were superior!!

What followed was a blood-bath of greater than Biblical or Titanic proportions.

No, let's not think that the average M'sian is stupid. They are far cleverer than you would give them credit for.

We understand the racism and in-your-face 'screw' you that 'Ketuanan Melayu' stands for.

And if by posturing and publicly preening in this manner, the PM and UMNO hope to win back 'lost' sheep, they could not possibly embark upon greater folly and political blunder.

It appears that BN & UMNO are still in a state of denial about voter revolt in GE 2008.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading Malaysia-Today since 12 elections. We the generation of the adopted citizen, are always reminded we must be thankful that they had adopted our grand-father. Once we start working we must give a portion of our pay as a token of saying thank you for taking us in.

Don't they see that this "Ketuanan" are going to make them bankrupt. As we the adopted children are leaving or finding had to make end-meet. It is just like in a family where the parent spoil their own children and the adopted are make to work. At the end of the day how the children fare when the parent have no way of supporting them.

I guess, they will wake up when it come to that situation.

chris choo said...

What "Ketuanan Melayu"?
If you are capable,you don't need to use this term to champion that you are superior.The Malay is as good and intelligent as any other race in Malysia.Why feel inferior? It is the mindset that you need to change.

rational thinker said...

well said MIS.

sometimes i wonder, why such eloquent is missing in our nation leaders? How exactly did they (the leaders) evoke emotions and passion in the people (apart from bribing them with money and contracts)?? Wonder.

All to the constitutioN!

but, it begs the question - "is the constitution still sacred, and still the same constitution in 1957/1963? I wonder.

Anonymous said...

Dear MIS,

It really grates to read AAB's explanation of 'Ketuanan Melayu'. It adds insult to injury, that he actually thinks any right-thinking Malaysian would buy this kind of BS.

It only shines a light on the man's appalling lack of sincerity or desire for reform.

Thank you MIS, for articulating this so well. Thank you so much for speaking up for the marginalised in Malaysia who have long been squeezed out of a public sphere already shrunken by its feudal values.

Thank you for pointing out that this "Ketunan Melayu" is really an exclusionary mechanism that continues to deny the the rights of the multiplicities in Malaysia

The recognition of such reality can only help us out of the feudal mindset and move us forward.

God bless you MIS.

-wan-

chickenfeet said...

Thank you, MIS.

Mr. Smith said...

A well written piece. You spoke for all of us who consider the person next to us as a brother or sister who is the child of the same God.
I have two children educated in the US. The elder one is back here and the other is still there in the States.
Within the first year of her return she is disillusion with the country's leadership and is now preparing to make a one way trip to US.
My advice to her was, "Hold for a while.
"If BN falls, then there is hope.
"If BN continues to rule then 'Go' since the country will go to the dogs."

cowboycaleb said...

CLAP CLAP CLAP

I too, am a victim of the racist policies and suffered a similar fate to yours in the 80s.

Am now abroad and am watching the political situation back home with enthusiasm. The diaspora may return one day.

dashini said...

i am a malaysian student studying overseas. I consider myself more than fortunate because my parents managed to scrounge up the bare minimum to fund my education. To do so however, they were forced to sell their rest,occassional indulgences and in rare occasions, basic needs to save up.To think that they are re-living the hardships my grandparents had to endureis heartbreaking. where is the malaysian dream? what do they want us to do next? sell our minds/souls?

And now, they coin up the 'ketuanan melayu'phrase to send yet another spurt of chill up in the air. THey gloss over the meaning, but the message has been delivered. i have not met a bigger bully.

truthfully, if theres any way i dont have to live in msia, im going to grab it and RUN. although i LOVE my birth nation,the relationship is toxic.so long as the ruling party manipulates the contents of the constitution for selfish gains, i will feel like the bullied/abused wife. you try and try, but one day you learn that sometimes giving up is the wisest course of action.


moving on to the possibilites of a certain race becoming mere'coolies' for other races. YUp, that course of action is brilliant.- shove a 'ketuanan melayu' phrase into their conscience and everything will be okay.

if we have a poblem with ANYONE being marginalised or treated unfairly, we need to remedy the problem at grassroot levels. In this case, build schools, train teachers(increase their salaries). teach children the virtue of ambition , the value of a dream,but most of all, teach children to believe in themselves.

elie said...

Great article I must say. I am deeply saddened by the way our country is being governed by people like AAB who keeps on playing the racial card.

Even the Malays are beginning to shun him, as his "Ketuanan Melayu" only benefits the elites (aka his cronies).

I left this country last year, for a better future in a neighboring country, because it has failed me, by shutting all doors of opportunity to me, that I deserve, just because I am of a different skin color than the "tuans".

Muda said...

I've seen sdr in action in court quite a number of times and also read your blogs . To be honest ,while I do not share some of your views but in matters of Ketuanan Melayu , I would agree to the concept of Ketuanan Rakyat as proposed by Anwar Ibrahim and PR . I'm a malay proffessional and have to struggle in life before reaching to my present status now . You are lucky to be awarded the ASEAN scholarship award by Singapore to pursue your studies sdr Malik . My malay status means nothing to UMNO and have to start from scratch coming from a below average malay family . At times we have to get by merely on crumbs.

Alhamdullillah that I've managed to make my family proud of what I've become . No thanks to Ketuanan Melayu , UMNO and DEB ! Ketuanan Rakyat is HERE TO STAY !!

cruzeiro said...

Hi Malik,
Bravo!
These were precisely my sentiments!
This was what I was getting at in my comments as well!
AAB, Shahrir and the rest of UMNO are trying very hard to give their racist ideologies a fresh coat of paint.
====================
"Redefining, Respinning, Repackaging "Ketuanan Melayu"."
http://cruzinthots.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Dear Plebisitz,

"So, therefore, in Pak Lah's case, for us to understand HIS definition of ketuanan melayu, we have to look at it in a whole new mindset, something fresh. It's not about Malays being superior race anymore, it's about making the Malays hold the key to their own destiny."

- If we, the Malays, need it to "hold the key to [our] own destiny", I truly feel sorry for ourselves because we are constantly being treated as weak and dependent on such assistance to excel.

In fact, I feel insulted by the concept of 'Ketuanan' Melayu and how it's used to deceive all Malaysians for the selfish purpose of UMNO (NOT MALAYS).

vox said...

'ketuanan melayu' sounds a lot like 'white supremacy'.

I never understand the need for this 'ketuanan melayu'. Look at the Japanese who are at par if not more advance in almost everything the west did and they don't even shout 'Japanese supremacy' to show what they are made of.

I think only those with inferior complex tend to do that with Umno leaders leading the way.

plebisitz said...

Dear people, all i'm proposing is that we please do not politicize and sensationalize this "ketuanan melayu" concept. For us to understand the whole definition put forward by Pak Lah, we have to have a really open mind to view it (which some people dont seem to get anyway, hence the endless bashing).

So therefore, Pak Lah can say whatever he wants and he wouldnt be able to please everyone anyway (there is NO way you can do that). So might as wellhe just keep quiet about the whole thing as he did before. Oh no, but wait, if he keeps quiet people would say that "Pak Lah is so lembik, not giving response to issues". SO theres no pleasing everyone.

Put yourself in his shoes and stop this unfairness towards him.

Yani said...

Dear Mumtaz,

I totally agree with you. I'm a Malay and I don't believe in 'ketuanan Melayu'. I believe that human beings become superior because of the things that they have achieved.

We are all in control of our own destiny and you have proven just that when you won the ASEAN scholarship. I wished my friends (who still believe in the ketuanan BS) would wake up and smell the coffee.

Anonymous said...

why can't you jokers see that what Pak Lah is doing is to use the concept of ketuanan melayu to motivate the Malays to be lords of their own destiny without depending on other communities.

Anonymous said...

The explanations of these so called leaders are truly an insult to any thinking person, either they are of 'questionable' intellect (thus don't get it themselves) or they actually beleive the rakyat will swallow this rubbish, Either way these are not the qualities of LEADERS we the rakyat need.

Anonymous said...

sic. Reading this is like having a session with a shrink.

Going thru' that surreal feeling that day after the STPM results were released, I bumped into two Malay classmates (err...not many left in my missionary school. Few months after we started Form six, almost all they Malays rec'd their scholarships to US'lah and every'lah).

Asked how did they went in the STPM. They replied "Pass ekonomik and Kertas Am". We continued talking and the subject ended to "what you are going to do now".

Both said they rec'd a scholarship to go to Japan to study economics (Look East policy u see). Not sure if they are telling me the truth but the the bus came and we parted ways. No, I'm not angry with them at all, just envy, for we have all learned to accept life for non Malay is not fair.

As for me, I didn't even applied for local uni 'cause I failed Kertas Am but passed the other four. Very good considering that I studied last minute, as usual.

That Kertas Am is another story. My first exposure to TDM's Malay Dilemma was in the form of a question in my Kertas Am. Boy was I mad. I was @%$#$#$#&%$*$ fuming. Always thought "if that question was not in my paper, would I have passed it?". Maybe not. Though I speak and sounded like a Malay (no joke, polis always ask if I'm Malay or Chinese, at night in Taman Jaya), I don't think my written Malay is all that crash hot.

Thank God, I managed to migrate based on my trade skill and thereon completed uni and post grad. Had I stayed I wonder how I will fare.

Anyway, enough blabering. My sincere "thank you" you to Malik Imtiaz for this free shrink session.

David BC Tan said...

I cannot agree more with your own disquiet and disdain at the PM's shameful attempt at doublespeak. ketuanan melayu is divisive and indefensible, more so in this day and age.

Anonymous said...

I believe all Malaysian loves this country and will want to stay and die here. The problem started after the May 13 incidence, where the Umno leaders started to change all the policy with a vengeance to discriminate against the non-malays. They grab all they can in a very unscrupulous and daring manner believing and knowing no one can touch them. I remember reading a head lines Tun Mustapha of Sabah challenged the Federal Government to investigate its own Minister for corruption before investigating him.
Non Malay students have suffered for 40 more than 40 years now under the unfair policy of the UMNO control government and I think this will continue for another 20 - 50 years if we don't stand up and do something. The future generations of non Malays will suffer and what percentage of us can migrate or go oversea for an education an stays there to work under a fair system? For all those who are staying, stand up and vote the UMNO control government OUT, get PR in and make sure that a fair system for all Malaysian is implemented for the sake of our future generation.

Anonymous said...

I think the concept of Ketuaan Melayu is really a joke. On what basis are these UMNOPUTRA trying to claim Ketuaan? If the Chinese and the Indian, with their thousand of years of civilization, are living in a humble manner and keeping quite I think all right thinking Malay would feel ashame to hear UMNO leaders shouting KETUAAN MELAYU!!! Isn't this the same as kissing and waving the KRIS? What is the matter with these people. This chest thumping just makes me sick to hear all this proclaimation

plebisitz said...

ketuanan melayu or not. it is just a term and we can take it any way we want it to.

just like the term "ketuanan rakyat" coined by pakatan rakyat. Should and if Anwar gives a definition of this, will everyone here plainly accept just because it's not coming from Pak Lah's mouth?

This is biased in my opinion.

Set aside our differences, and I'm just giving another perspective, I will not go all the way to force anyone to accept it.

sikkigoh said...

As the saying goes "A rose by any other name is still a rose". Like wise Ketuanan Melayu can be package in any other way is still Ketuanan Melayu. Ketuanan Melayu or Malay Supremacy sounds very familiar ..... heard or read about White Supremacy not much different. Both preach extreme political views in order to get extra political mileage within the race it represented. We will be spending our energies and resources fighting and out doing each other at the cost of slowing down the progress of our beloved country. We should work together as equal towards the development of our country rather than fighting amongst ourselves. Aren't we'll Malaysian.

To foster and encourage the principle of Ketuanan can be very dangerous. This principle shall only create polarization in the long run. Go back to the history of countries like Germany, US, Australia, South Africa just to name a few where the principle of race supremacy had raise its ugly head. Everyone loses in the long haul.

I pray that one day we can come together as a nation of Malaysian.

Anonymous said...

How true, Malik.

The term "ketuanan" means exactly what we understand by it. It is the "tuan" ie the "lord/master" vs "servant/serf" type of relationship and I have absolutely no doubt that the UMNO goons actually mean that when they go round Shouting "ketuanan Melayu" ie they are the lord/master and they want to dominate and lord over the others.

The PM's attempt at spin doctoring that disgusting term is pathetic and appears almost moronic to me.

Dhahran Sea said...

Salam Malik. I do share your views about this "ketuanan" issue, and I do agree that having the PM making it "explicit" & thus "implying" Malay supremacy (its all about the perceptions of what the term means to "other" Malaysians, as you rightly said) makes it worse. However, from my observations, its the same for many other countries, even those that claimed to be "developed & civilised": you have the same thing in Singapore (nicely veiled as "meritocracy", of course, but in reality, you & I know, the "preferred" group there); I don't have to elaborate on the "preferred" group in the so-called "advanced" countries of France, UK, Germany and the US. Many of these countries professed to be "fair to everyone" as they say its in their "constitutions", but obviously if you happened to be of African-origin, or Algerian, Arab, Cambodian, etc., and worse still (post-9/11) if you happened to have a name with "bin", then you know the sort of "fairness" that you are ACTUALLY going to get from their "fair systems" as enshrined in their lofty constitutions? I've yet to see the real world "Utopia" with regards to racial fairness on this earth?

Anonymous said...

MIS, again, you've spoken for a lot of us. Thank you.

I went to a private college to do my "A" Levels instead of the STPM because I did not believe that even if I fared well in STPM, I'd be allowed to pursue a degree of my choice in the local universities. Too many of my peers (non-Malay, of course) felt that way too.

Subsequently I had to scratch my plans to do my law degree in the UK because of the 1997 economic crisis. So I opted for an external degree with the Uni of London instead. Of course, all this was funded by my parents' hard-earned money.

Now, while I deeply resent the discrimination here, I do not think fleeing the country should be an option. This is where I belong, NOT just because I feel sentimental about it, but because it is my legal right; the Constitution says that I am entitled to THRIVE on this land, for it is as much my Malaysia as it is for the Malays.

suaramalaysia said...

as far as most non-Malays and non-Muslims are concerned, many would agree that "ketuanan melayu" is a racist policy not much different from apartheid or nazsm.

one can go to great lengths and prose to shroud it in "hadjari-like" double-speak, but most malysians are not as ignorant as presumed by Barisan Nasional mental midgets.

let us have the courage to stand against such diabolical and supremacist tendencies among us. it is a time to circumcise the evil within so that we can embrace a future of hope and equality.

Anonymous said...

If plebisitz is right in his interpretation of the prime minister's definition of "ketuanan melayu" then he should perhaps try using the words "impian melayu" and not proffer some word with strong connotations of superiority that is inherent in the ordinary meaning of the word "ketuanan".
But he obviously misses your point. One's individual perception no matter how it is held, cannot hide the fact that the non-Malays in this country are discriminated against. Your example is but one. Every year a good number of non-Malay Malaysians (who incidentally also pay taxes) have to fork out thousands of ringgit just to make sure their sons and daughters have some tertiary education overseas.
And these are the ones who can afford it. What about those who simply cannot do so? Surely plebisitz can see this wrong.

abgtua said...

Assalamualaikum,
It doesn't really matter what term we use to describe one race's dominant over the other races.In Singapore the Chinese majority do not use the term Ketuanan China but from the actions of the Singaporean leaders, we know they are applying the concept of ketuanan cina.Who can deny the facts that the Singapore Malays (and other minorities)are marginalized over there.

Anonymous said...

plebistiz,

While I agree with you that concepts should be looked at from various perspectives, your statement on how most of the comments here are biased, therefore shows that yours is also undoubtedly biased with its tone that is 'pro-abdullah'.

Try to be more critical in justifying your stand and perhaps your argument will be more convincing.

Perhaps analyzing the word 'ketuanan' would be a good starting point.

Anonymous said...

I would like to share a story:

Consider a place where the people found an abandoned ship: large, beautiful and inexplicably drifted to their shore. They were excited but over the days, months, they realized that some missing parts and fuel was not there and so the ship was beautiful but remained at shore. These people (A) have been subjugated by some colonialists, and really wanted to be in charge of their own destiny.

As chance, destiny, whatever, would have it, some strangers who were also in the same land, began to discuss whether together they could get this ship going. And, yes, these strangers (B) managed to get hold of some of these parts and some fuel, and after working together on the ship that A had found, the ship was ready to sail! So A+B got on board and decided that this way, they could decide the destiny of this new ship (M).

At first, everything was hunky dory, friendly, each realizing the role of the other.

But after some years, the A people began to resent the presence of the B people: why are these people on OUR boat, and don't bow to US as Masters?! How dare they threaten us?! (Now it must be known that 100 people were on that boat: by this time 65 A people and 35 B people). The A people had the captaincy of the ship, 80% of the lieutenants, and was in charge of the maps, steering, etc. But the B people had the knack of engineering, and could read the stars and so you'd think these people would learn that they all benefited, provided the ship was going somewhere GOOD! But no, the A people screamed, this is our ship! You stowaway! While the B people retorted: What stowaway?! We got on board fair and square - just treat us as co-sailors; after all, you all are the captain, the lieutenants, etc, we just want to eat the same food and not crap, and please don't let the officers on this ship short-change us all! We gotta be cooperative to get to the GOOD PLACE! If we keep getting treated as stowaways, then more of us will be forced to jump ship; and we love this ship, too - wasn't that why we got together in the first place?!

Meanwhile the 2nd generation of Officers indeed had started enriching themselves and had secretly sailed the ship in circles, going nowhere, just so they could keep control of all these 'dungu' sailors (both A&B)! They had lost sight that other ships were sailing quickly to the GOODLAND, and instead keep on raising these resentment between A&B so that no one would notice that the ship was just drifting!!
Ah...but eventually some of the sailors began to smell the bad fishy smell...and now some are blaming the Officers, some blame A and some blame B...will these people ever sail the good ship M to the GOODLAND? Will 5 other ships reach there first and all the people on M become servants of these other peoples?

Stay tuned to see the next Episode of A,B,M and the Circles!

darmok said...

I think racism in inherent in any part of the world as long as there is human ignorance. It is part of our imperfect nature. Institutionalised racism however is unacceptable.

I wonder how prevalent the concept of ketuanan melayu is, and more so special rights (or other variations of similar meaning) in the bumiputra community. Is this simply a rhetoric that resurfaced every now and then by certain factions to strengthen their political relevance and greed?

If genuine concerns about such rights exist, it must be addressed and challenged. What ‘rights’ are felt to be needed protection? Being the significant majority, they cannot be victimised, as you pointed out. Political rights? There will always be sufficient political representations and Malay rulers would continue to remain as head of states. If socio-economic rights are of concern, I believe this is a sentiment shared universally across all races. If anything, the current unfair system only perpetuates the growing inequalities in all levels of society, which would be better solved with a more distributive policy based on need to achieve equity. If the rights concern special privileges awarded by virtue of being the original inhabitants on this land, does these entail racially based policies, decision-making and mindset that is endemic in all sectors of administration and society? How does one explain the uneven application of such privileges in a portion of the bumiputras?

It can be argued that this special rights issue and NEP may have its relevance in the past during the early formative years of our nation. However, these seemingly well-intended actions have evolved beyond recognition to ensure protection of a selective few and their relevance is now long overdue. An argument I found intriguing: inequality in action to produce an equal outcome versus equal opportunities leading to outcome inequalities - the end justifies the means or ethically driven actions irregardless of consequences. In this case, this line of reasoning cannot justify discriminatory based policies. (The outcome achieved isn't exactly desirable either)

One last note: Ketuanan - I think supremacy in all forms is wrong and misleading. Even the concept of ketuanan rakyat eludes me. Supremacism as I understand is a belief of one's superiority over another and entitles those who identify with it to rule over those who do not. People's ketuanan over what - their rulers? It makes more sense if it is synonymous with people's power. For argument's sake as well, I hold the Constitution sacred, but to use it along with supremacy can be misleading because it is no more superior than the Hippocrates Oath or the Universal Declarations of Human Rights. I think this view of supremacism simply undermines the concept of equality.

Anonymous said...

I’m a fellow Malaysian working in United States always long for my homeland, Malaysia. Me and my friends always discuss the outright discrimination by UMNO policies. For instance, the topic that we’re most passionate about is the treatment of the government towards our brightest students. We are amused why the government does not appreciate these students. Is it because UMNO do not see them as Malaysians? Don’t UMNO sees how these students could have also help to build the country?

I was watching one of Lee Kuan Yew interviews on Youtube. In the interview, he stated that the government selected the top 5% of the university students to teach in schools and universities. He believes that the quality of the teachers is very important in order to create educated citizens that ensure the country remain competitive in this global economy. Hence, I think Malaysia government should tap into the brightest Malaysian students regardless of race or religion. By having high quality teachers teaching in schools and the universities, don’t the Malays will benefit from it since they’re the majority in the country.

china-pek said...

As has been commented, 'ketuanan Melayu' may well translate 'Malay supremacy' which sure reminds us of 'White supremacy' and the like. Plebisitz notes this might be interpreted differently by different people. That's obvious. White supremacy has both its detractors and supporters. If 'ketuanan Melayu' is not to be likened to such racialist ideologies (w/ images of the KKK, lynchings, apartheid, etc), surely a different phrase can be used to describe Badawi's aspirations for the Malays.

At the same time, aren't such aspirations the aspirations of all Malaysians - and is he not the Prime Minister of all Malaysians and not just the Malays?

Someone has commented that racism exists in all countries (Singapore, the West, etc). While that may well be true, that is of course no excuse. Everyone might be cheating on their exams, but does that mean I should cheat? Most everyone at one point believed the sun to orbit the earth; did that mean that Galileo should have believed the same?

In addition, generally the norm in most societies is to strive towards becoming less racist. Most of us recognise that there is something wrong with favoring or discriminating against another because of the colour of their skin. The problem with throwing around slogans like 'ketuanan Melayu' is that such racist thinking is legitimised. Sure, some like plebisitz might give it a different spin, about it holding the keys to their destiny. But not everyone will buy that. And not all leaders will hold that. Literally and most straight-forwardly, this is akin to the suprecamist ideologies we've seen in the past in the USA, South Africa, Germany. And if carried out to its logical conclusion, things would definitely not be pretty.

Peace,