- From: "sclee" <sclee@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 7 Feb 2009 16:48:41 +1100
Cry my beloved Malay soul
AB Sulaiman | Feb 6, 09 10:51am
When Alan Paton wrote 'Cry The Beloved Country' he was lamenting over the
inhumanity of man over man, of how the whites can devise, construct and
implement race- and colour-based social and economic injustices over the
blacks in apartheid-era South Africa.
The whole world had condemned this practice; we were among the loudest
screaming against it.
South Africa has moved on since then, and today it is one shining example of
an emancipated, open and progressive country, enjoying a respectable place
in the community of nations. It has thrown apartheid into the bins of its
Here in Malaysia, yes we condemn apartheid, and quite rightly so. But in the
same breath we were and are still its major proponent our version of
We do not call it apartheid; of course not. We call it instead 'Ketuanan
Melayu' under the guise of 'championing Malay rights,' and implementing it
under the New Economic Policy. It's smart, right? In none of them does the
word 'apartheid' appear!
Yes, we are smart. We do not blatantly call it apartheid, we merely
perfected the process of social separation. First of all we ensure the great
majority of civil servants, the police, and the military are manned by
Malays (the target benefactors). We give them good salaries, good perks and
assured employment. We then devise rules and regulations, and even laws, to
ensure the NEP's easy implementation.
We then brainwash our Malay brethren with the notion 'untuk agama bangsa dan
negara' that there is a higher ideal beyond performing a duty with
professionalism and dedication, and that is doing things in the name of
religion and race.
We devise rules and regulations, and even laws, to ensure the NEP's easy
Then we design and implement social and economic policies like channeling
lucrative government contracts, separate education streams, housing rebates,
banking and financial support, in favour of, you guessed it, the Malays.
It does not stop there. We devise measures to prevent the people from
raising too much objections to all these by introducing or continuing
legislation and religiously implementing them.
The Sedition Act for example stops people from talking too much about
language and religion. The Official Secrets Act prevents people from gaining
access to government files.
Students and lecturers are not allowed to discuss and make public any
subject that would appear to be critical to government (yes, government, not
political) policies and philosophies.
All publications must, first of all, get operating licences. Newspapers must
not only get a licence before publishing but it must be renewed every year.
Sacrifices conveniently forgotten
The king of all of the suppressive and oppressive laws is the Internal
Security Act, when a citizen can be put under detention without the benefit
of any charge!
All said and done, we sacrifice the rule of law in favour of rule by private
individuals. To show that we are really smart, we pooh pooh the loyalty and
patriotism of the non-Malay segment of the population.
We call them pendatang or immigrants bearing the stigma that they are social
discard from their original country, similar to rogues, rascals, refugees,
mercenaries and scoundrels. We just ignore their proven talent and ability
in wealth creation and economic productivity, as well as to their
demonstrated loyalty and patriotism.
Many of such pendatangs have made the ultimate sacrifices as military
personnel defending its security, during the Emergency, the Confrontation
period with Indonesia and as policemen while policing the social
They have contributed and are continuing to, in sport and the arts. Their
record as loyal and patriotic Malaysians is quite impeccable. But we do not
The perplexing thing is that despite these attributes and positive records
of the non-Malays, we are still going about championing and implement
apartheid principles. In this new year, perhaps we can do with a little
reflection: why are we doing all this?
We do this apparently to recover our lost soul. We perceive that we have
been victims of colonisation when the Portuguese, Dutch and British
colonisers all but butchered the Malay entity, psychology and culture. In
the process we perceive that we have lost our Malay identity.
With independence, we thought we could recapture the lost glory of Malay
becoming masters of all facets of a nation, especially its commerce, and
economy. We found out that the Chinese community had beaten us to it.
We felt the Chinese had capitalised on our weakness and captured the
economic initiatives (and wealth) as well as the social characteristics of
the country. We lost 'face'.
Now we want to regain the mertabat or dignity and pride of the Malay race!
Yes, we feel that we have to recover our soul and it is here that we are
reminded of Paton's book title, but in this case suitably paraphrased to -
cry my beloved Malay soul.
Our Malay soul needs to cry for doing the right thing for the wrong reason
or the wrong thing for the right reason; even for the wrong thing for the
wrong reason, but not for the right thing for the right reason.
To start with colonisation is really not an excuse for our psychological
malaise and ineptitude.
Colonisation has been a feature of human history and felt all over the
world. There are very few countries that have not been colonised in the
It is thus a neutral concept in human social and economic development. It is
certainly not an impediment to social or economic progress as we are wont to
portray it. We should dump this notion that we hold dear into the bin of
Rethinking our way of thinking
Just look at the records. The Koreans were once colonised by the Japanese,
but today Korea is an industrial power house. Singapore was once colonised
by the British and was indeed a part of us, and today we see this tiny
country being a solid financial, trading and industrial entity.
Most pointedly of all, the US was once a British colony and today it is the
mightiest nation in the world. Our second grouse - that the Chinese have
cornered the economic sector of the country also needs re-looking into, on
First, the Chinese did not become successful based on any conscious and
concerted economic programme to economically marginalise us.
We did this self-inflicted wound ourselves. As proof, we have to note that
most of the Chinese came to our shores with only their feet, hands, guts and
brains and perhaps a bundle of clothes, nothing more.
They become successful for their hard work, both physically and mentally and
for the sacrifices they were prepared to make and had undertaken. They were
successful for having the mental fortitude to seek opportunities, grab those
that come along and worked extra hard to realise the potentials of these
Secondly, we have been given a chance to be equal with them, both under
numerous 'special privileges' enshrined in the Constitution, as well as
under its NEP implementation programme.
The special privileges have always been in the constitution while the latter
began in 1970. In short, we have been given the chance - the opportunity -
many times over, to better our Malay polity.
Whereas the Chinese had to struggle just to find and identify the
opportunities, in our case they were handed to us on a silver platter!
Thus far we have failed to capitalise adequately on them. It rather shameful
we missing out on these chances specially created for us in the first place.
Either way the root cause of our weaknesses and the strength of the Chinese
lies in two words - positive thinking. Our thinking is mired with so many
dos and don'ts, so many musts and musn'ts, so many cans and cannots, may and
may nots, plenty enough to created and internalise doubts and fears in our
So much so that we have doubt over what we can and what we can't do, what is
allowed and what is not. We spend a lifetime looking for these highly
complex cans and cannots, musts and must nots, that we have hardly any
mental energy left to develop and self-confidence to get on and face the
realities of life.
Let's refer to this case as the 'can't don't and won't syndrome'. The
Chinese by the way are not encumbered by such syndromes.
What appears to have happened is that this syndrome has affected our mental
ability to conceptualise. We see things on the straight and narrow. We
accept wisdoms handed down to us by our elders as the gospel truth.
Blinded by sentiment
We do not see that things can be seen and interpreted in many alternative
ways. We feel we have the monopoly on truth; we therefore think that we are
right all the time and other people are wrong all the time. Witness the way
we see religion for example.
We think that we as Muslims are right and other people who profess other
religions are wrong, all the time.
We need to cry for thinking that we can and have doctored the way the people
think and do things. We have been intimidating the people with what they can
read or write or think and do.
We seem to be saying "you can think anything, do anything, write anything so
long as it does not criticise or condemn the government".
Soul-searching and resuscitating is not or should not be about pointing
accusing fingers at some bogeys. That would be a most negative thing to do.
It would be better for us to be open-minded and be able to identify our own
strengths and weaknesses.
We improve upon our strengths and dump our weaknesses. Mainly we must be
able to develop the awareness that we have both the strengths and weaknesses
in the first place.
To illustrate, the NEP has proved many time over as a failed strategy for
our socio-economic advancement. Let us be aware of this in the first place
and move on seeking other ways with better chance of success.
How about secularising the Malay mind? It might make for a good start for we
can see many of the don'ts, can'ts, musn'ts dissipating into the wind.
In the meantime, here we are in the early days of a new year. We should
begin by realising that whatever 'smart' moves we had undertaken all this
while have not really been that smart after all.
The joke is on us. Everybody says so - the liberated Malays, the non-Malays,
our neighbours and the rest of the international community. Only those of us
basking in our closed mind and benefiting from the profits of the status quo
say it's alright.
Happy New Year all the same and here's hoping this year we can get a good
perspective as to what propagating a good mertabat really means. It's long
In the meantime, cry my beloved Malay soul.
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