Friday, August 01, 2008

Dua Kali Lima

I've been meaning to write an entry about a particular sickness that affects our otherwise fine country for ages now.

That sickness is racism.

I've been thinking about what exactly to write. It's a difficult subject. One wrong word or misconstrued sentence and the whole post could come off as being incredibly crass and biased.

I read blogs and forums and of course I read the papers. In forums for example, it depresses me to read arguments and accusations of racism by both Bumi and non-Bumi people. Somebody brings up "ketuanan" and "hak istimewa bumiputera" and another will accuse that of being oppressive. Then someone else will bring up the "social contract" and how some people are ungrateful. Then somebody else will bring up NEP and how the playing field is not level and later someone else will rebut saying a "level" playing field will destroy bumiputera people.

After that, the whole thing degenerates into slanging matches and people asking other people to "go home" to their "mother/fatherland" and some other people will say that certain people are lazy and only depend on handouts. Some people insist that if God forbid Malaysia goes to war, the non-bumi people will abandon the country and won't defend it.

For the record, I think that's really stupid. But that's not the point of this post. The point is the disease of racism itself.

Many people believe that the government is responsible.

I say it's not really 100% true. Yes, when comes to unity and stuff like that the government could do more. But as is the usual case, that's only half of the story.

Racism is a social problem and it all boils down to perception. As usual, there's two sides to a story.

Some people, non-Bumiputeras especially accuse the government of being racist due to policies such as NEP and quotas in public service and education. They say it's almost impossible for a Chinese person for example, to work in the government sector. Even if that person gets in, it's nearly impossible to get promoted.

The government don't play fair and only favour Bumis. They won't help non-Bumi at all.

I've heard many, many tales of discrimination involving the government and the public service.

So is it true that the government discriminates against non-Bumi? Or is it just perception?

I'm going to stick my neck out and say, yes it is actually true and not just perception. Having seen and experienced it myself I'm going to say it does happen.

Anyone who reads blogs and/or has non-Bumi friends/relatives will have heard this a million times. So are Bumis and the government the bad guys? The boogie men?

No. Not just them.

Bumi people also got their stories of discrimination by non-Bumi. Many of the Dayak and Malay people I know accuse non-Bumi of being racist, Chinese people being the villain in many of these stories. Not surprising since there aren't many Indians in Sarawak.

Bumi people accuse Chinese people of being racist due to the way they conduct their business. They say that's nearly impossible to find work in a Chinese company. Even if you do get hired, it's nearly impossible to get promoted.

The Chinese business community don't play fair and only favour Chinese. They won't help Bumis at all.

So is it true that the Chinese business community discriminates against Bumi? Or is it just perception?

I'm going to stick my neck out and say, yes it is actually true and not just perception. Having seen and experienced it myself I'm going to say it does happen.

See what I did there? What's the conclusion?

We like to blame other people but how often do we look at ourselves. We say "the other people" started it first? Is it true?

We like to say the politically right thing and say we want to be united and together as one people. Really? Or is that just poppycock.

We aren't united because we are all bloody racist. All of us. Pot and kettle, both black. Or yellow. Or whatever.

How about you? Are you racist? If you open a business will you hire someone who doesn't speak your language? If you work for government would you recommend someone for promotion without looking at religion/race?

Will you be fair? Are you able to make friends across racial/religious lines? By that I mean REAL friends whom you will gladly die to defend. Not just window dressing.

Everyone will say yes because we are Malaysians and we are all nice people. In reality, most people will only look out for their own. Because other people can't be counted to be fair to us.

Isn't it? That's a reasonable excuse. Right? After all, the "others" are more powerful/richer/bigger/cleverer/etc than us. "Other" people are all rich towkay/have NEP benefits and free stuff from government. Not fair for us. No need for us to care about them. Right?

We like to blame "the other side" and accuse them of making life difficult for us.

But look deeper. Our country is fucked up because of us and all the racist biases and prejudices we inherited from our own respective cultures.

When is it going to stop going round and round?

So what do we do now? Your first instinct is to insist the "other people" change first isn't it? In that case, no need to talk about this anymore. Nothing changes then.

This needs to stop and immediately. Look at ourselves. Do we have the guts to do it differently than those before us or are we just passing the buck along.

Don't depend on the government and don't depend of NGOs, organisations, business people etc.

Only WE can do something about this. Yes. Us. Not politicians. Not some big wig. Not some rabble rouser.


Ask yourself. Are you going to stop being a racist asshole today?

We only have ourselves to blame for supporting and empowering the divisions that we see in our country today. You decide what kind of society you want to live in and answer that question yourself...

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