Thursday, September 03, 2009

I am sad when i see a news portal like Malaysian Insider publish news of a proud Singaporean Malay. i too could get a few friends of mine who are non malays who are proud to be Malaysian. I am happy that the Malay shows her pride to be a Singaporean but it does not deserve her the right to belittle our nation. Singapore is unique and so is Malaysia, Both had her own idiosyncrasies and both can claim success in bridging the gap between the races. But beneath the rhetoric both have fail to provide equality to all her races. The success of Malays in Singapore is abysmal. They constitute the second biggest group at 13.6% but sadly is way behind in many areas vis avis the other races. It has been acknowledge so by all the Prime Minister from LKY, Goh and now Hsien Loong.

Marginalization of Singaporean Malays in Singapore is real. It permeates all the sector be it private and public. Only recently that the Singapore Government appoint a General from among them. In the armies most are assign to desk job or departments where using arms are limited. LKY belief they cannot be trusted and might rebel against the government because of religion. The Government view Islam with trepidation, wary and always guarded. LKY saw first hand the riots of Natrah so to him the Malays emotive must be kept in check. The Armies receive training from the Israelites and have a siege mentality. They are taught that they are surrounded by Muslim nations and thus must be always be vigilant.

The Malays kampong were systematically destroyed and in the land acquisition act Malay land were confiscated and wakaf land were ask to be develop and not to remain idle. Under rehousing under HDB concept flats were built and portions of flat owners would reflect the demographic position of the races. Thus limiting and destroying Malays political strength. So when a Malay is voted in as an MP he would subscribe the believe of the Majority i.e. the Chinese instead of fighting for the Malays.

Because of the so called meritocracy that Singapore follows, I said so call because to me it is a fallacy, many minorities don't stand a chance to be voted in and thus PAP decided to give Malays a chance to be an MP, under the minority clause. Is this not affirmative policy or what? I have always maintain there is no such thing as full meritocracy. Humans will always practice Nepotism whether it is race or family. Here in Malaysia DAP like PAP cannot deny the father son dynasty. We can blame Razak as a practicer of nepotism or Dr Mahathir but to me it is like the pot calling the kettle black.

Malaysia is not perfect, so to is Singapore. When I talk about Singapore I will look at Penang. The only State Government run by the Chinese. If the federal Government was not Malay you will not see a Malay man in an executive position and is reflected surely in the factories that exist in Penang. Most executive positions in the private sector in Penang are Chinese. The Malays are needed in sectors that require the dealing with the Government of the day and mostly are kept in check with a Superior officer above him. Most Factory Vendors are own by Chinese and if not for the halal requirement the canteen too would be man by them.

But in the mainland things are different. in the Capital Kuala Lumpur factories by GLC are mostly Malays or AliBabas. And it is reflected through out the Peninsula yet I love Penang. I love feeling to be a second class citizen thus I could emphatise with the Chinese and Indians in the Peninsula. It help to understand clearly and thus whether we like it or not race does matter. we need people like Yasmin to give us hope that someday it might not matter anymore but then breaking the barriers is a two way street.

I am sad that they are Malays like Nurul Izzah who clamour for fairness, who believe in equality but it is naive to think so. She has forgotten like many Malays that without the NEP policy many Malays would not climb the ladder of success. I know it is cliche but to those who understand what was like prior to 1969 would understand what I said. Parity among races could only be provided if there is economic parity. I do subscribe to that belief. From economic parity one could indulge in the pursuit of fairness and equality but if there is none we have riots that occur as recently by the Indians. I have cover most of these topics before in my past blog. Affirmative policy must be maintain but perhaps in a different form. It should cover all marginalized communities. This should have been done before but in any good idea they will be chink in the amour as the implementer are humans.

I detest what I see the superior race facade of the Malays now. It is like we are teaching them the idea of Nazi Germany. Rallying call of Melayu Boleh, Ini Tanah Melayu lead Pewaris made me cringe in loath. Tanah Melayu cease to exist when Indonesia and we achieve independence. What we have is the constitution that safeguard the Malays. And it is only in Malaysia that Malays are Muslim which is an anomaly. For me it means if you apostate you cease to be a Malay but not Bumiputra. I will comment it later in the meantime Singaporean has no right to comment on our country and we have no right to comment on theirs unless provoke.

They have their baggage and we have ours please read both articles in question. To Nurul Izzah we have the right to fear although we have the numbers but without economic independence we will never be free

Proud to be a Malay Singaporean — Khartini Khalid

SEPT 3 — I am a Malay Singaporean and I am proud of it — though the label “Malay Singaporean” often seems to make little sense to people outside of South-east Asia.

In my travels to other countries and in my current place of residence in the United States, I am often quizzed as to the meaning of this label. “You mean, you are Malaysian?” I am asked. Or: “I thought Malays are Malaysians?”

My answer, each time, is “no”. Regardless of how often I have to repeat myself, I try, each time, to explain the differences between Malay Singaporeans and Malay Malaysians. I say that history had united us and then separated us. Political leaderships and national policies have made us very distinct from one another.

This was not always the case. For many years after Separation, the racial and religious identities of Malay Muslims in Malaysia and Singapore took precedence over their national identities.

However, things have changed drastically over the past few decades and much of that has to do with how politics shaped the two communities.

I first realised how different I am from Malay Malaysians when I stayed in a kampung in Negri Sembilan for a week. I was there for a mini research project with some students — a mix of Chinese, Malay and Indian Singaporeans, plus a few foreigners. We stayed with host families in a Malay village.

After the first four days in the village, I felt something was amiss. I could not put a finger on what it was. It was only when I was hanging out at a roadside stall and saw a Chinese man that it dawned on me what I was missing: I had not seen a single non-Malay person (outside of my student group) for four whole days!

The Chinese in the area lived in a separate village across the street while the Indians lived in yet another village near some plantations. In Seremban, I saw a building for a Chinese leisure club and another for Malay games or social activities.

Singapore was once like that. But over the decades, it changed. Every day now, when we step out of our flats, we see our Chinese, Indian and perhaps Eurasian neighbours. We share the same lifts, corridors, void decks, community parks and common spaces. We go to the same schools and workplaces. Our parliamentary representatives are multiracial. Malay Singaporeans are as much a part of the everyday realities of Chinese, Indian and Eurasian Singaporeans as they are of ours. This cannot be said of Malay and non-Malay Malaysians. In short, Malay Malaysians and Malay Singaporeans live in different political and social realities.

In a recent column published in Utusan Malaysia, former Malaysian information minister Zainuddin Maidin said that Malaysia’s current racial controversies mirror the issues that surfaced in the country during the May 1969 riots. He also said that Malaysia was right to remove Singapore as it had been a thorn in Malaysia’s flesh. The “poison...spilled by Kuan Yew more than 40 years ago,” he suggested, is the reason race relations remain fraught in Malaysia.

I wonder how wanting a system that promises equality for all, as compared to one that is biased and discriminating, can be “poison”. Well, perhaps one man’s meat is another man’s “poison”. Thanks to the “meat”, Singapore has become a city state where different races co-exist peacefully and all benefit from a meritocratic system.

Should Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew have ruled Singapore using the Malaysian “model”, with discriminatory policies favouring one racial group over others, people like me might have failed to enter university though our grades are good while people of another race are admitted though their grades are poor. We would then, understandably, have felt aggrieved and over time this would have manifested itself in unpleasant social tensions.

This brings me to Datuk Seri Zainuddin’s comment that “Singapore sticks to a Third World democracy despite having a developed world mentality while Malaysia has a Third World mentality but a developed world democracy”.

I accept his point that Singapore has a developed world mentality and do not deny that Singapore’s democracy is not like that of other First World countries’. Whether we will be better off having such a democracy is another debate altogether. However, I think Singapore has greater political, economic and social democracy than Malaysia. There is no money politics here, and our system of equity based on merit pervades almost all sectors of our society.

Singapore has changed phenomenally since its separation from Malaysia. There are still challenges to overcome in the different communities, including among Malay Singaporeans, but we are at least at peace with one another.

History teaches great lessons – but only to those who want to learn from it. — The Straits Times

Malays speaking without fear

By Nurul Izzah Anwar

AUG 31 — I can’t say that I know Datuk Zaid Ibrahim very well. Our past encounters have been limited to a fleeting hello in front of the steps of my alma mater, the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in 2006, another chat during a reception in honour of Datuk Ambiga Sreevanesagan in June and, most recently, at the PKR’s recent EGM. It’s amazing, but perhaps unsurprising that he has in these three years evolved from an ambiguous reformist in Umno into the conscience of all Malaysians.

I had always been impressed by his outspokenness, and his willingness to fearlessly voice out his views on issues of national importance is nothing short of inspirational. Zaid does not mince his words where many hesitate to call a spade a spade, especially where it matters the most.

An articulate Malay speaking out for a multiracial and progressive Malaysia is terribly important in this current political climate. For our own community, Zaid epitomises how the Malays might redefine ourselves, to re-imagine a world where we do not think that we are inferior or threatened but are rather confident in whom we are.

In reading Zaid’s book Saya Pun Melayu, I sense the need for Malays to embrace a new paradigm on what it means to be Malay. Many indeed are doing so and this is a heartening. “Malay” need no longer carry connotations of dependency on the state, insecurity or the crippling feeling alienation and the lack of self-worth.

The word “Malay” can and must eventually mean a call to embrace a broader Malaysian identity, along with a true, inclusive nationalism that is proud of who we are individually but also in what we have accomplished together. We can be sure of our identities and yet still be a part of something greater than all of us — and this is something all the ethnic groups in Malaysia ought to aspire to.

Zaid’s book highlights that fact that we need to look beyond the stereotypes and take an objective, albeit positive look at our community’s accomplishments. We have made great strides in business, the arts, education and the professions. Our success extends from Lembah Pantai where Malays own vibrant businesses selling products made by Malays to the flourishing nasi lemak stalls in Kota Baru.

We attend leading universities throughout the world, increasingly through our own merit. We can count internationally recognised choreographers, painters, cartoonists, writers, and film directors amongst our numbers.

Beyond these markers, our success can more often that not be seen at home through our everyday acts of compassion and sensitivity to others, which spread to our fellow Malaysians to become a national virtue. The kindness shown towards our children, parents and neighbours is perhaps one of the most important signs of who we Malays are as a community. These are real achievements that no one can or would want to take from us.

I’m not denying that we still have a long way to go in moving our community forward, nor am I unmindful that a lot of our successes would not have been in possible without the NEP and its institutions. However, it has become patently obvious that these structures are now holding the Malays back, and that the world has changed since then.

The Malays and, as a-matter-of-fact, all Malaysians need to change as well if we want to remain relevant in this world. We need to step away from our obsession with all things racial and realise that the project of nation-building is not a zero-sum game. Malaysia can never succeed until and unless its entire people feel like they are truly a part of it.

Why then does the old paradigm of ethnic insecurity persist? Why does suspicion and acrimony towards our fellow Malaysians and they towards us still linger? Why are mainstream newspapers calling for ethnic conflict, accusing minority communities of all sorts of ludicrous plots?

The sad reality is that these myths are being perpetuated by Umno and Barisan Nasional for their own gain. The fact is that Umno wants to keep the Malay community under its suzerainty forever. They do this by focusing on what we have supposedly not achieved, rather than acknowledging our gains and potential.

They claim to want to protect and uplift the Malay community, but all they have been doing for the last few years is playing on their fears and prejudices. The same can be said for the Barisan components with the non-Malays. This glass-half-empty mentality is being used by Umno/BN to protect each other and to ward off challenges to their stranglehold on power.

We’ve seen from the case of Zaid of how Umno demonises anyone who steps out of the pattern of complete loyalty to the party and who have different ideas on how to improve the livelihoods of Malays and Malaysians. We have also as of late seen their scare tactics in action. They have labelled people as “traitors” for calling for a new path of development for Malaysia. They prefer to protect their interests rather than allow the Malaysian people — especially the Malays — to benefit from reform, less corruption and more inclusion.

Umno also regrettably perpetuates the myth that the Malay community is perpetually under threat from their non-Malay counterparts, and that Umno is the only party that can save them from this supposed “servitude”. This, rather than anything else, is why race relations have gotten worse in Malaysia.

You cannot expect harmony in a country where its largest ethnic group is constantly bombarded with the message that the minorities are supposedly out to get them and take away their rights. Yet, they chose to follow this tactic since they believe in the short term this will strengthen Umno and bring Malays back to the party.

They use these “attacking” tactics because they cannot offer anything else. They have shown that they would prefer to entrench those in power rather than allow new ideas and reforms to increase our chances for greater success. There is a real danger that their short-sightedness may cost future generations of Malaysians dearly.

The fact is that Malays have nothing to fear. We are demographically the largest ethnic group in Malaysia and the birth rate is going to keep it that way. Our position in the constitution is enshrined and this isn’t going to change either.

That is what Umno and the Malay extremists do not get, and what the community as a whole needs to understand. The non-Malays and Malays who challenge Umno are not seeking to reduce the position of the Malays in anyway, but to defend and uplift all Malaysians. We have to understand that we are all tied together and that we all have a stake in the land. We cannot survive individually as Malays, Chinese or Indians but as Malaysians.

Our non-Malay fellow citizens are not “challenging” our rights or “insulting” or culture and religion — rather they are calling for our nascent nationhood to be allowed to achieve it’s full potential than for us to remain stuck in our ethnic and mental ghettos. The liberals and moderates amongst the non-Malays also suffer from the depredations of extremists within their own communities — they deserve our support as well. The wave of reactionary politics that is engulfing us can only be turned back if progressive Malaysians stand firm against their threats and untruths.

While it is true that much more needs to be done to address those who have not benefited — for all Malaysians — the focus on what we don’t have rather on what we have accomplished only undermines us. We need to imagine a better future, for Malays and Malaysians — this will incidentally make it easier for all of us to achieve what we might lack.

The Malaysia of tomorrow cannot be one in which we are blinded by fear and negativity. The first step in imagining and defining a better future for all of us is to open our eyes and speak out like Zaid and others like him.



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