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Malays should inspect and revisit real dignity

  • The Malays should be encouraged to work hard to lift their own ethnicity, keep abreast with the latest developments of our rapidly changing world and build up their confidence to win the respect of the world, and hence their dignity.

By Wong Tai-Chee

The so-called Malay Dignity Congress is nothing more than a totally meaningless farce.

Firstly, four public universities have squandered public funds contributed by taxpayers of all races in the country to organise a narrow-minded congress in the name of defending the Malay dignity, which is itself illogical and unreasonable.

What a university ought to do is to promote interracial harmony, advocate academic freedom, groom exemplary future talents for the country, and step up meaningful exchanges with established institutions of higher learning abroad to stay connected with the world in order to enhance its own teaching and research standards, among others.

Unfortunately, these four public universities have done something completely uncalled for and so undignifying without them realising it.

Secondly, the congress was obviously going off topic, not deliberating on issues that will effectively boost the Malay dignity, but exploiting the uniethnic occasion to reinforce the Malays' monopolistic religious, cultural and political strengths in an attempt to substantiate their oppression and control of other minorities in this country.

Some of the speakers threw in disparaging remarks questioning the legal and equitable status for non-Malay citizens without making the slightest mention of the many irregularities within the Malay community itself. They showed no remorse for the unfair and unjust racial policies instituted in this country.

As a matter of fact, they should have explored the causes for the widening income gaps between the Malays and non-Malays; the entrenched polarisation within the Malay society; poor academic showing of overwhelmingly Malay public universities; why Malays prefer to sell nasi lemak, goreng pisang and the like at rent-free makeshift roadside stalls; why holiday resorts run by the Malays on government loans have failed badly; and why Malay tertiary students defaulting on government study loans are spared punitive actions. There are way too many such instances for me to exhaustively tabulate here.

The congress still made mention of past history, blaming the British for bringing in Chinese and Indian migrants to the Malay Peninsula and causing the Malays to lose the land they claimed to be “entirely theirs”, hinting that these pendatang had posed insurmountable threat to their livelihood.

However, the speakers shied away from mentioning the tremendous contributions the local Chinese and Indian communities had made to this nation.

To be very honest, without those Chinese and Indian migrants, the economy of this country would not have been this good for sure, with a per capita GDP probably in the vicinity of that of Indonesia or the Philippines, and our UM professors drawing salaries probably half of what they do now.

It is sad that these ungrateful people have applauded and cheered the aggressively biased remarks made at the congress against their own conscience.

If we really must talk about history, perhaps the Malay radicals should be thankful to the early Chinese migrants for their strong affinity to their native country, as overwhelming majority of them considered themselves Chinese nationals without the slightest political will to establish a nationhood here. There was hardly any solidarity among early Chinese migrants of different dialect groups, save for some minor organisations or associations or even secret societies erected for self protection and mutual assistance.

To safeguard their commercial interests, the British colonialists forced the fiercely nationalistic Umno to accept MCA and MIC into an alliance on the eve of Malaya's Independence after World War II in a bid to secure racial equilibrium for economic stability. Such a decision provided a unique opportunity for the Chinese to be granted citizenship.

Back in those years, MCA indeed put in a lot of effort to convince those Chinese unwilling to receive their citizenship. And to this day the racist Malays still blame this particular part of the nation's history on the British for forcing Umno to compromise and concede, which resulted in “too many” Chinese and Indians being made citizens.

Over six decades now, the Malay Dignity Congress still relives the past, arguing that this land belongs exclusively to the Malays while the Chinese are pendatang or “squatters”. They have done this with the ill intention of monopolising the country's political resources on the grounds of “bumiputras' birthright to this land”.

These people should probably think about this: if not because of the political apathy among most Chinese Malaysians, given the almost comparable Chinese and Malay populations during the post-war years, wouldn't it be possible too for Chinese political parties to come up with all sorts of distorted theories and arguments to support their oppression of other weaker communities, if they were to take the reins of this country? But of course doing so would be an absolute disaster. As such, Malaysians from different ethnic backgrounds must exercise particular caution, and the only right way for us is to pursue a peaceful and harmonious coexistence.

The Malay leaders should come up with more substantial solutions to help the Malays and other indigenous groups in the country by offering incentives to encourage them to work hard to lift their own ethnicity so that they can keep abreast with the latest developments of our rapidly changing world and build up their confidence to win the respect of the world, and hence their DIGNITY.

While winning the respect of other communities in this country, the Malays should also work diligently alongside other communities to ensure a sustained, shared prosperity for this land.

(Wong Tai-Chee has his B.A and M.A degrees in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Paris, and earned his PhD in Human Geography from the Australian National University. After teaching 20 years in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, he retired in 2013. He then worked as Distinguished Professor for two years at Guizhou University of Finance and Economics, China, and as Dean and Professor at the Southern University College, Johor until the end of 2018. He was Visiting Professor to University of Paris (Sorbonne IV), Visiting Fellow to Pekin University, Tokyo University and University of Western Australia. His main research interests are in urban and economic issues, and more recently on Malaysian politics. Besides his 15 self-authored and edited book volumes, he has written over 100 academic articles and published widely in international journals..)


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