Monday, July 14, 2008

Malaysia for Malaysians & The Special Rights of the Malays

I had an interesting discussion with a government officer today about the relevance of race-based politics and the Special Position of the Malays in the Constitution. Here is what Tun Dr Ismail said according to a book written by Ooi Kee Beng:

"I regard the special position of the Malays as a handicap given to the Malays with the consent of all the other races who have become citizens of this country so as to enable the Malays to compete on equal footing for equal opportunities in this country. That and that alone is the only aim of the Special Position of the Malays. But unfortunately the Malays themselves have tended to give the impression consciously or unconsciously that the Special Position of the Malays is a sign that the Malays are placed superior to the other races in the country. The biggest mistake that the Malays made of course was to coin the term "Bumiputra" because this term tended to convey an entirely different meaning to what was intended for the Special Position of the Malays. By coining "Bumiputra" the non-Malays suspected the Malays of wanting to classify themselves as first-class citizens while they were relegated to second-class (Letters 23 February 1970)".

"An UMNO man complained at a meeting that despite Malay rights, the Malaysian contingent preparing for the Munich Olympics was made up mainly of Chinese. "Where are Malay rights there?" he asked. No one knew what to say, and it fell on Ismail to answer: "Special rights are only in the field of economics, not in sports," he ventured. "Do you mean to say we should use strings to make Malays good at high jump?" At that he burst out laughing. That was one of the few times I saw him laugh so heartily (Interview with Tun Ghafar 16 Oct 2005)".

I argued that the dynamics of Malaysian politics have slightly shifted into a new direction since the last election. Race-based politics may or may not be relevant, if it's not relevant, it's a matter of time. Like-wise, if the other races want equality, all should compromise. If not, it is a big stale mate. I think we are seeing the start of the transition in the cities. It would be a long time until the rural folks would start thinking about it. Having said that, I still think that our country will remain a country with Islam as its official religion and the king is recognized as the Head of State. As long as that remains, the Malays will be in a slightly "privileged" position. That's just an opinion.

He also argued that we were never invaded by the Brits; we were merely consulted on administrative advice. The word he used was 'jajah' (conquer) and that the Brits never conquered us. I said, if you were right, somebody needs to change our history books and what we're teaching our kids.

For those who are second-guessing me, this is my stand: The Special Rights are there to allow the Malays to compete on a level-playing field. When that day happens, i.e. Malay has 55% of the economic pie (the term economic pie is also subject to discussion), the handicap should be removed, like the game of golf.


~ayoi~ said...

A message well conveyed dear friend.

The Special Malay Rights is indeed a handicap given is for the Malays to take advantage to be at par with the rest. It is not easy task to achieve the 55% milestone. It takes more than hard works, it takes a positive attitude towards achieving it. The support from the Gov is always there. I do hope there'll be no culprit trying to misinterpret this effort.

bats said...

what started out as "Special Position.." at the beginning of the article morphed (unintentional, i'm sure) into "Special Rights..." by the end of the piece, and there-in lies the problem.

while the idea is noble, the execution, as i've witnessed, is anything but. 55% of the economic pie is no small feat, but are we ever going to achieve that if the country's wealth is only distributed amongst the ruling elite? it has become a family business and since families never really die, we're going nowhere.

we all know of folks who latch on to politicians in hope of projects, only to sub them out anyway. so what you have is a small circle of bumis and non-bumis who feast on the proverbial pie, while the ones who really need a little love don't get any. 55% or whatever that number is, will remain a pipe dream. what you'll get instead is a group of millionares, even billionares, but that's about it.

it's a touchy subject. blood has been shed over it, sure. but if that's the approach, then status quo will rule for decades to come. we can all accept, sit down and get on with it. SOS.

there is no harm in Islam being the official religion and the King being the head of state. Our country is unique and its identity is its badge of honour. god bless our country for that. I am pretty sure that with good governance, Malaysians will be fine with that, as they have been for yonks now.

what we must acknowledge is the fact that not only underprivelaged malays need this help. underprivelaged others need this handicap too. if that is understood and accepted, we can then put an end to the hijacking and put our country's wealth to good use. you're right, we're seeing it in the cities, but again, those calling for the total abolishment of this policy, the very ones who gained from it, should calm the f*ck down and accept that it will take time to uplift the economic standing of the underprivelaged, be it malays or anyone else.

for a start, the clowns bitching about PSD's decision to increase scholarhips for non-bumis should be flogged. what's their beef with children of other Malaysians who share the same IC colour?