I had wanted to write about the above-mentioned title for many years but never brought myself to actually pen the article as it would show the worst of the worst side of the Malay society who always proclaim themselves to be ‘clean’, ‘morally upright’ and ‘incorruptible’.
The said article would probably offend the Chinese community and bring further divide in our quest for social harmony.
I have always never agreed with my fellow Malays about any of their attitude towards the Chinese, but a recent article by a veteran journalist in The Star has made me question my own personal position about that community.
The article in question argues and suggests that the recent Najib trip to the Chinese stronghold of Penang has brought the Chinese back to the BN’s folds under the promise of more economic goodies by the King of Cash himself.
Although I have never found reason to doubt the professionalism and integrity of the veteran journalist, I made some quick calls to my contacts to see if she was ‘influenced’ by other factors than professional integrity.
After much thought, I came to the conclusion that she was placing her own personal thoughts without any other influence and as I value much her insights into Malaysian politics, I had to reflect deeply about my own personal perspective of the Chinese in Malaysia.
Did the Chinese in Penang represent a majority perspective or was it just a few favors called and a few promises made to the few charlatans of the community bent on destroying not only Malaysia but their own race for personal gain.
90% of Malays believe that Chinese are dirty, immoral and corrupt.
This comes from professors in public academia, university graduates, high school teachers and head teachers, high ranking education officials, lawyers, doctors and businessmen. All are the crème de la crème of the Malay community…not just goreng pisang sellers or pasar malam vendors.
After ‘high’ university education, this is still their conclusion of the Chinese!
Chinese are perceived as ‘dirty’ because they do not wipe themselves with water after their nature calls; they eat pigs which are dirty animals and they keep dogs which are also dirty animals to the Malays.
The Chinese are perceived as immoral because they can drink alcohol, gamble with numbers and money and can do whatever activities as long as it brings in money.
The Chinese are easily ‘corrupt’ because in business dealings they can lie, cheat and offer bribes in the form of money, women and expensive holidays.
Apparently, Malay Muslims don’t do that because Islam is a pure and great religion.
I always want to laugh out loud when I am part of these kinds of conversations at universities, khenduris and kedai mamak. But because some of those who say these things are friends, close relatives and important personalities, I would always have to bite my tongue.
Before 1999 general election, my perspectives of the Chinese were all positive.
As a child growing up in St. Marks and Hua Lian, I had many good Chinese friends and teachers. My father, a police constable, never had any negative words against the Chinese.
Only when I married did I hear negative things about the Chinese from my wife’s family who were mostly public school teachers and strong supporters of Umno. But I never gave them any thought because all of them, despite their university education, had small minds and a narrow understanding of Islam.
I was an Islamic reformist who view Muslims as a morally upright person dealing justly to all mankind regardless of race or religion.
However, the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim and the dehumanizing way he was treated by Mahathir and Umno showed me a different side to the Chinese.
I thought that the Chinese would follow the high moral ground of the Malays that rebelled against Mahathir and Umno.
Barisan Nasional should have been defeated because of its blatant show of raw power of corrupt police, judiciary and religious institutions in the sacking, incarceration and mutilation of one lone individual.
Someone close to me said that ‘you cannot hope for the Chinese, Din, they are materialistic and think only of their own kind now that BN needs their vote to survive’.
For once I did not feel the urge to laugh at his words. No longer were the words sounded bodoh or bongkak.
This is how close and intimate I felt with the Chinese community when my own isolated me as an outcast because of my honest views.
However, the DAP Chinese politicians who struggled bravely beside good Muslims in PAS and Islamic NGOs managed to tamper my disillusionment with the Chinese community.
Later on, people like the brave Tian Chua and Teoh Beng Hock completely changed my disillusionment as I saw younger Chinese beginning to support the Reformasi movement to change Malaysia.
After my optional retirement from UTM, I began to be closer than ever with the Chinese community since my Hua Lian days.
I was rejected to be professor at two public universities because of my writings said to be damaging to the Malays and Muslims.
A non-Malay university headed by a Chinese man offered me the position of professor as he believed in what I was doing to change Malaysia for all her people.
I was grateful to be in a non-Malay environment with academics and students who were not of my community and faith.
The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall became my second home in many invitations to forums and talks as well as my book launching. There was no invitation from any Malay or Muslim group.
My third home was Dong Zong when I was appointed Academic Consultant to the whole of the Chinese vernacular Schools.
My fate, my career and my destiny seemed to lie with the Chinese community. This is how close and intimate I felt with this community when my own isolated me as an outcast because of my honest views.
In my private will, I left word to my wife and children a list of six names to go for help if I was no longer in this world. Five of these names are non-Malays.
So, when I read the article that seems to imply that the Chinese will vote BN back under the promise of more money and projects from China, I took a few hours to reflect.
Is what the veteran journalist says true, herself also a Chinese? Will the Chinese be the immoral and corrupt race that Malays have come to accept as a matter of fact?
After only an hour of reflection, I remembered an incident that resolved the issue I was struggling with.
Two months after PH was victorious, I suffered a mild heart attack. Two cardiologists who were experts in angioplasty both concluded that I needed a bypass.
The Subang Jaya Specialist Hospital prepped me for a heart surgery to be held two weeks later.
My cardiologist told me I should try to get nine donors for fresh blood for the surgery.
After informing some of my friends and UCSI students, six Chinese male and female youths who were friends of my students, agreed to donate their blood.
However, after they donated their blood, the surgery was put off because I had suffered another more severe heart attack five days before the surgery.
I was rushed to KPJ Kajang and a maverick doctor attempted an emergency angioplasty.
By the grace of Allah and the surgeon’s skills, I survived to write these words after almost four years.
I finally told myself that if six young Chinese who had never met me and knew me only through my writings and their friends at my university were willing to donate what was precious to them, I stand firm with the belief that the Chinese community has the moral, spiritual and political position to do the right thing for this country.
Our fate, all of us, are entwined with one another. Our nation belongs to us and we owe it to the six individuals that desired to give life to one that was not of their race or faith, but the belief that we as Malaysians must stand true for each of us against any ‘kings of cash’ or immoral leadership.
May Allah save Malaysia and all her peoples true to the vision and values of our forefathers.
(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at a local university.)