Thursday, March 26, 2009

Whither Race Relations?

Many people have much to say in blogs that usually reflects pretty much what’s on everyone’s minds. So I usually keep my observations to myself. But two unconnected events took place on two unrelated discussion groups that have driven me to put my thoughts down on paper.

The first event involves a Chinese guy in his late 40s, born before 13th May 1969 but growing up in a society colored by the fallout of that fateful event in our history. He had the good fortune to go to a school where he was able to mix with all races but, when he got into the employment rat-race, he had no godfather to turn to.

He struggled to cope in a world where connections meant more than qualifications. He learnt bitter lessons and arrived at the conclusion that “Malays could not be trusted.” His response upon reading Abu Bakar Sulaiman’s article “Cry my beloved Malay soul” was, “Find me a Malay I can really trust and I will show you he's a product of mixed marriage.”

My concern is that he is not alone. There are many more like him who were not insulated in the government service or in multinational employment, who had to cope on a day-to-day basis with business interactions. If he could deal entirely with persons of his own ethnicity, his frustrations would be different. But, being forced to deal with officialdom and business monopolies, and faced with blatant corruption, favoritism and poor delivery on promises, his bias and bitterness have set in firmly.

This is not going to end here. The children of people such as this will also bear these scars. For some, the anger and hurt may just be passed down, but for many more, the injuries will be first-hand. Those who don’t get to enjoy stigma-free racial interaction in their youth and only suffer the indignities and unfairness of race-based policies cannot develop any cross-racial empathy.

The second event involves a Malay girl in her 20s, a product of our racially polarized education system and a victim of the daily brainwashing by the mainstream media. She took exception to the movement to abolish the ISA. Her position was that this nation “would only be free of the British influence when the other races admitted that this land is the Malay home”.

She refused to examine history and understand why the ISA was established by the British. She was convinced that if the ISA were to be abolished, “our peaceful Malaysia would become a war of races”.

I don’t blame her. That’s what she has been taught. And she has been schooled not to find out facts by herself or to think on her own. She has been programmed to swallow wholesale whatever she is told by the proper authorities, no matter how illogical or unlikely.

And this is what is of concern to me – our youth have been separated by an artificial barrier created for the purpose of perpetuating political power. Bridging the divide of minds such as I have illustrated above will be a daunting task.

If today, UMNO is pushed aside and PR is allowed to take power, if the NEP is swept aside and a race-independent, poverty-based affirmative action put in place, how long do you think it will take for race relations to return to what they were pre-May 13?

Some of those who grew up pre-May 13 may be quicker to embrace those of other races. But those below 40 would have a different world view and are unlikely to tread upon unfamiliar turf. Those who are under 10 today and who will get to go to "race-equalized" secondary schools would still be taught by teachers with the old mindset. The indoctrination may be less blatant but, at home and in school, the race message will carry on in subtle ways.

Their children, who will start school some 30 years from today, may have a fair chance of encountering an environment similar to what the pre-May 13 generation enjoyed. The children of those children may enjoy a really race-equalized society.

This is what could happen if the NEP is set aside today and the affirmative action is aimed at poverty instead of race. But only the Malay people can set aside the NEP. If they truly desire a peaceful land, this is what they have to do.

It is understandable that even some of the moderate Malays are hesitant about the abolishing of the NEP and the equalizing of all races. There would be a sense of dread over what may happen. Malays have to ask themselves – what has the NEP really done for the Malay people as a whole?

Go to some of the low-cost flats in the cities and see how some Malay families are struggling to survive. Go to some of the poorer parts of these cities and take a look at some of the Malay enclaves that are almost slums. Look at the poverty still choking some of the rural Malays.

Look at the Malay students in schools and colleges, poorly motivated to perform and being spoon-fed simply to maintain passing quotas. Then look at the fresh Malay graduates being employed to meet quotas and then given meaningless tasks just to keep them busy.

And ask yourself, do your people still need a 10% discount on bungalows and semi-detached houses? Do your people really benefit because UMNO cronies are being awarded plumb projects. Are your people improving in any way while they remain in a protective cocoon?

The future of this nation lies in the hands and the votes of the Malay people. They have to wake up from the intoxication imposed upon them by the UMNO spin-masters. They have to see for themselves what 5 decades of race-based politics has done to this fair nation. They have to see for themselves that only an equitable system can truly set them free.

Do they have what it takes?

Silent Observer

1 comment:

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