Revisiting the topic of Malay rights from one side of the fence but in view of all.
We (and when I say we, I mean the non-Malays) often complain of the different privileges received by the different races. We condemn frequently organisations such as PERKASA, the “Ketuanan Melayu” mentality, and all the privileges that we see our Malay contemporaries get. We express disgusted disapproval of the inequality.
We whine that Malay is the national language and Islam is the national religion as opposed to our preferred language. Ah! We can also go on about how much sacrifice it is to go to a halal restaurant, because you have a Malay friend with the group.
So, one day say, the Prime Minister tells us that he has the mandate from the Malays and wants to negotiate a compromise. Mr. PM will ask of our dissatisfaction, and we will give him a long list: we want our children to be admitted to all public universities, we want to be given more business licenses, we want to either take away the Bumiputera discount or get the same discount, we want to be given the privilege to buy special shares so as to earn money, and the list goes on.
Mr. PM says, “Fine, we can come to a compromise and I can agree to at least half of your requests, but will you agree to give up vernacular schools and make our education system a one-school system?” Funnily enough, before he can explain how the individual vernacular language will be taught as an elective subject in all schools (private or public) and that it will eventually delete one of the many causes of racial disunity, the strongest protesters of that proposal will be the same persons who claim injustice in the first place.
If change is indeed a goal, there are sacrifices we have to make. We can argue until the cows come home that we are giving up our right to learn our mother tongue and our roots, but we are Malaysians and it is about time we should start acting like Malaysians. Our roots are all here in Malaysia, not in China or India. Do we really expect them to give up what they have been enjoying for more than five decades in the name of change without us making an effort at the same time? If we do, how then can we advocate for fairness?
As many would remember telling me in their wisdom to look at the big picture, and the big picture here is that giving up vernacular schools will mean lesser racial disunity. The usual trend is that the cliques are racial based and that barrier is language. Really, be honest, you would have used the excuse of not being able to have more friends of other races because of language. I have that problem.
The big picture is that if we can accept each other, we can learn from each other and the troubling PERKASA will not exist to protect the rights of the Malays. The big picture is that there is hope for change.