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Reasonable requirement is not discrimination

  • We must get the differences between discrimination and reasonable commercial requirement right, before calling an employer racist.

Sin Chew Daily

A recent survey by Center For Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) showed that Indians and Malay are facing hiring discrimination.

The conclusion nevertheless drew tremendous controversy. Unfortunately, minister in the prime minister's department Waytha Moorthy Ponnusamy appeared to be happy to dance to their tune, arguing in a statement that the Department of National Unity and Integration would come up with an action plan aimed at addressing the issue of hiring discrimination against Indians and Malays.

He pointed out further that all Malaysians were entitled to equal employment opportunities and that discrimination of any form must not be allowed in the country,

The minister seemed to have agreed to the conclusion of the Cent-GPS study even if the integrity of the report remains questionable.

DAP's parliamentary research team said the study was methodologically flawed with critical discrepancies. In other words, the outcome of the study might not necessarily reflect the reality and there was no need for a knee-jerk reaction from the government.

Undeniably racial discrimination is still very much alive in this culturally diverse country of ours. That said, there is a need for the society to have a further understanding of the so-called racial discrimination in order to differentiate between real discrimination and reasonable commercial requirement. Generalization should be avoided lest it would hurt the delicate racial relationship in the country.

Prior to this, recruitment advertisements listing the condition of "Mandarin proficiency" have also been subjected to a similar destiny, being branded discriminative by some.

The opponents claimed that the advertisements were discriminative against non-Chinese, but as a matter of fact, it was just reflective of the skill requirement for that particular position, and should be seen as a condition determined by a company's operation mode which has nothing to do at all with sensitive racial factors.

Going further, the so-called "Mandarin proficiency" requirement is itself not racist in nature, as any non-Chinese well versed in the language is eligible to apply for the same position.

Private sector companies have specific requirements from their employees, including certain academic qualifications and language proficiency which are reasonable commercial requirements not targeting any specific ethnic community.

As such, it is hoped that all quarters will look at this issue in a more rational way and not to deliberately brand an employer "racist".

While a healthy society must do everything to stamp out any form of discrimination, it is imperative that we get the differences between discrimination and reasonable requirement right before we start calling people racist. This is to avoid unnecessary conflicts that may jeopardize our otherwise harmonious interracial relationship.

Similarly, the government must also handle similar issues soberly and rationally and not to be led by the nose by irresponsible politicians, so as not to sink the country into the quagmire of racial confrontation..


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