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You can pick up a language, not skin color

  • We cannot choose, or change, our skin color. Consequently, quota set along racial lines is real discrimination. Photo courtesy: Bernama

Sin Chew Daily

TWO MEN WERE chatting at a coffee shop.

A: Did you sleep well last night?

B: Not too well, because of gastric upset.

A: You need to let go of your preoccupations and everything in order to get your mental problem solved.

B: What? I'm having gastritis, not mental problem!

A: Just the same! Gastritis is a kind of illness. So is mental problem. Both can be tackled the same way.

B: ....

IF YOU THINK the above conversation has a logical issue, read on:

Education minster Maszlee Malik was having a dialogue with the students during a Q&A session in USM.

Student: Why does the Pakatan Harapan government retain the racial quota for matriculation intake since it claims to be New Malaysia now?

Maszlee: We must keep the quota. Bumiputra job-seekers are rejected because they can't speak Mandarin. We'll only talk about the quota issue if we can solve the discrimination problem first.

Student: ....

WE'RE NOT EXPECTING exceptionally competent leaders in New Malaysia, but an important one like the education minister must at least have the most basic common sense and logical thinking.

Job market requirement and quota system are both problems, but they are hardly connected.

Just like gastritis and mental illness are both ailments that are totally unrelated.

Maszlee believes that it is discriminatory for a company to reject a bumi graduate who doesn't speak Mandarin, and that the government therefore needs to set aside the quota for them.

I can't see the correlation between the two, just as I can't see any correlation between gastritis and mental illness.

Knowing Mandarin is a language skill which to a largest extent constitutes part of the requirements for a specific job position.

An employee well versed in Mandarin can help his boss deal with the clients, hence more business opportunities for the company.

Language proficiency is an added advantage that has nothing to do at all with race.

The same goes for English. Almost all companies require their employees to at least be able to speak and understand some English. Weirdly, we don't hear anyone complaining about this “unfair” or “discriminatory” condition.

Similarly, overwhelming majority of companies in this country require their employees to know Bahasa Malaysia because they may need to communicate with people in this language in real-life work environment.

As for racial quota, including the one for matriculation admission, it is a patronage policy enforced by the administrators by means of political powers in their hands to eventually become an integral part of the institution.

The question is: providing privileges to a certain section of the society means the rest of the society is denied the opportunities and a platform to compete fairly.

Language is not a form of discrimination, as anyone can pick up a new language to fortify their competitiveness.

But we cannot choose, or change, our skin color. Consequently, quota set along racial lines is real discrimination!


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