Monday, September 25, 2006

Something To Think About

Better to call a spade, a spade - KIM QUEK (Todayonline, 25th Sept 2006)

IN the chorus of protests against Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's recent remark that Chinese Malaysians have been marginalised, one simple question remains unanswered.

If there has been no racial marginalisation, why has the word meritocracy been a taboo in Malaysian politics ever since the racial riots of May 13,1969?

A few more simple questions: Why has there been a massive and unrelenting brain drain since then, resulting in many Chinese Malaysians excelling in many fields in foreign lands? Why has there been a virtual monopoly by one race in the whole spectrum of the public sector, from the army and civil service to the judiciary and universities?

Why have there been, year after year, top Chinese Malaysian students barred from universities, only to be admitted later (for some) upon begging by Chinese Cabinet ministers?

No doubt Mr Lee may be faulted for lacking diplomatic niceties in his remarks, but he has spoken the truth. And I think every Malaysian knows that, at least in the deepest part of his heart.

Yes, we have been practising racial discrimination, and that is a zero sum game. When race A is barred so that race B can get in, it is one side's loss and another side's gain.

It is sheer dishonesty and hypocrisy to deny that no race has suffered a disadvantage as a result of this policy.

But the real question is: Is such policy justified? To answer that, we have to go back to where such policy started — the New Economic Policy (NEP), formulated after the racial riots in 1969.

In its original concept, the NEP's prime objective was to achieve national unity and the strategy was two-pronged: To eradicate poverty irrespective of race, and to restructure society so as to eliminate the identification of race with economic function.

There is nothing wrong with such an affirmative action policy, but the tragedy is that over the years, through racial hegemony, it has been transformed into a policy synonymous with racial privileges.

There is no question that in spite of the misapplication, the NEP has achieved its limited objective of elevating the status of Malays to a respectable level, compared to that of other races.

But such anachronistic and regressive policy has no place in the globalising world or in any civilised society. As it is, the pressure to dismantle such policy does not come from within — as the deprived races seem powerless to redress this wrong — but from the whole world who are our trading partners.

Our trade negotiators should be able to testify how tough the going is when it comes to negotiating free trade agreements — whether it is regional marketing pacts or bilateral agreements — due to the presence of Malaysia's race-based protectionist policies.

These NEP-inspired policies stand as stumbling blocks to the opening of a wider window for two-way trades and investments.

Even worse is the loss of Malaysia's economic competitiveness in the face of rising competition from abroad.

Our prime minister has correctly diagnosed this malaise as the prevalence of our third-world mentality, but he has not done enough to correct our uncompetitive culture or to stamp out our worsening racial and religious divide.

Mr Lee's comments have understandably riled many Malaysian leaders, but it should also have struck resonance among many who have silently put up with these unjust policies all these years.

The great silent majority should now ponder what would serve their interests best: To save face by angrily rebutting Mr Lee, or to stare at the ugly truth and institute changes that will put the nation on the right path?

We have reached a stage in our history critical enough to warrant caution in putting too much trust in incumbent leaders. The fact that we have scraped through as a nation despite such policies does not guarantee we will be similarly lucky in the future.

Internal and external circumstances have so altered that we can no longer commit such major errors without putting our future in peril. From this perspective, Mr Lee's bitter medicine may yet work to our advantage, if we are humble and brave enough to do some serious introspection that may lead to our common good.

The writer is a political commentator and author of the Malaysian best-seller, Where to, Malaysia?

MM's comments reflect reality in M'sia - Todayonline, 25th Sept 2006

Comments made by Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at a forum last week reflected the reality in Malaysia — but it was an issue the Chinese parties in the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition did not dare bring up, said Malaysia's doyen of Chinese-language education Shen Muyu.

Mr Shen said the country's ethnic Chinese should thank Mr Lee for his comments that the "Chinese are being marginalised" in Malaysia, Singapore's Chinese- language Zaobao reported yesterday citing an interview with the Chinese-language China Press.

Answering a question at a forum in Singapore last week, Mr Lee had reportedly said it was vital for the Republic to stand up to Malaysia and Indonesia.

He said the attitude of Malaysia and Indonesia towards Singapore had been shaped by the way the countries treated their own ethnic Chinese minorities.

Mr Shen said there were a number of policies that were disadvantageous to non-bumiputras but this was something the Chinese were afraid to talk about and silently acquiesced to.

What Mr Lee said reflected the feelings of Malaysia's Chinese, he added.
Mr Shen said the response of the Chinese leaders within Malaysia's ruling coalition to Mr Lee's remarks did not "come from the heart".

Mr Shen urged the Malaysian government to treat all races alike, saying that both bumiputras and non-bumiputras pay taxes and contribute to the well-being of the country.

The presence of a quota system with respect to a number of government policies, as well as the policy of not allowing the creation of new Chinese-language primary schools, are evidence that the Chinese were being marginalised, he added.

Speaking to the Chinese-language Nanyang Siang Pau, Mr Shen said Malaysia's Chinese should take up on what MM Lee had said and make their views heard through proper channels, Zaobao reported.

In a poll on blogsite MonsterBlog, hosted by Malaysia's New Straits Times, 42 per cent of respondents agreed with Mr Lee that Chinese in Malaysia were marginalised, 18 per cent disagreed, while the rest had other opinions, according to a report by

Malaysian government leaders have criticised Mr Lee's comments; Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on Saturday that his words were "very dangerous" and could amount to "instigation".

"I will write to him and seek clarification why he had said it," media reports quoted Mr Abdullah as saying.

"This act is not fair at all, made by a leader of our neighbouring country. Mr Lee Kuan Yew should have understood that our relations with Singapore must always be nurtured with care.

"He would want stability on our side because if we are not stable, Singapore will face problems because of its many interests here."

Something to think about, is or isn't there a marginalisation of non-Bumis? I believe for fellow Malaysians, we do understand "those we do not speak of" (quotes from movie, "The Village").

Link: Backing down, finally, Lagging or not lagging, Malaysians should not question, A chess game, LKY is sorry, what about UMNO?, More statistics, anyone?, Bumiputera Equity at 45%, 43 more to go, A marginalisation?, Migration issue, Contradiction: Let the voice of people be heard, Customer is always right, Misleading? By who?


Post a Comment

<< Home