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Who ruined our Vision

  • Mahathir and the scholars were right when they said the New Economic Policy and Vision 2020 had ended in failure. The question is: who messed them up?

By CHONG LIP TECK
Sin Chew Daily

The shock waves from the Malay Dignity Congress which has adversely impacted our multicultural society have now spread to one of the event's co-organisers, Universiti Malaya.

The racist remarks made by vice chancellor Abdul Rahim Hashim at the congress marked the start of the catastrophe. Students began to slam the VC, and the university authorities responded by creating some sort of a white terror in dealing with dissident students, instead of initiating a candid dialogue with them. A string of disasters keep happening and it is a matter of time politics will eventually take the brunt.

Abdul Rahim's speech at Malay Dignity Congress was utterly shocking for instilling racist thinking into the heads of young university students who made up the bulk of the attendants.

Abdul Rahim is not himself an academic by training, but more of a business manager. From Petronas University to UM, his mission has been to lift his organisation's business, not academic performance. That said, his performance as business manager is unsatisfactory both at the Malay Dignity Congress or in the way he has handled criticisms from his students at UM.

At the congress, he said the Malays had lost political autonomy after the change of federal government in 2018, arguing that the gap between Malays and non-Malays in the areas of education, equity stake and economy was widening, and hence the need to reclaim the dignity of the Malays.

In no way should a pre-eminent academic or confident business manager make such nonsensical talks openly. Abdul Rahim has not only verbally hurt the feelings of non-Malays, he has further bruised the Malays' dignity instead of winning back their dignity as intended by the congress.

When Tun Mahathir was prime minister for the first time, I began to feel the explosive power of his policy aimed at helping the Malays, while I was studying at a national secondary school. I felt strongly that the Malays had eventually recouped their lost confidence.

Back then we started to see celebrity anchors at TV3, the country's first privately run TV station. People in the likes of the late Mahadzir Lokman and Wan Zaleha Radzi were overflowing with confidence, and their professionalism in front of camera as well as their accomplishments elsewhere were perfect manifestation of Malay dignity.

There is no question Mahadzir Lokman was well versed in Malay and English in addition a number of other languages. He was conferred an honorific award by the French government for his effort in promoting the French language and culture. To his friends and people who had worked with him, Mahadzir was always beaming with confidence.

The Majalah 3 anchored by Wan Zaleha Radzi was one of my favourite TV programmes, and a major source of information and inspiration for high school students at a time information was not as readily available as today. And Bulletin Utama of which both Mahadzir and Wan Zaleha were presenters, was everyone's primary source of news.

Unfortunately the refreshing and conducive ambience for confident Malays to freely perform themselves was only momentary. Both Majalah 3 and Bulletin Utama were subsequently reduced to a platform serving the needs of emerging racist and religious politics. Conservative Malays, like those organising the Malay Dignity Congress, have been serving their different political masters over time, hijacking the budding liberal reforms and destroying our cherished ideals.

They are no longer willing to compete with others in hope of making themselves better and more confident people. They reject competition on an equal footing, and refuse to share their resources with other people so that they too have the opportunity to exert their potential. They refuse to accept the facts, and be more tolerant, open-minded, humble and receptive to challenges so that they can gain more. They refuse to move forward and as such have lost even more. The Malay Dignity Congress is the crudest manifestation of this.

I personally feel that the government's patronage policy has indeed given rise to the “crutch” culture, causing some Malays to keep relying on government assistance instead of working hard.

Having said that, there are many diligent Malays who appreciate and make the best of government resources available to them, and constantly equip and upgrade themselves. They are never afraid of competing or sharing with other people and will never be contented with just being “kampung champions”.

There are many among the Malays who refuse to be looked down upon or jeered at by other people. They want to prove their worth through their own effort and ability. There are many who think independently and will make plans for their own future. They are well aware of how far they can go with their ability, and believe that not everyone can be a leader or someone at the topmost tier of social status.

It is the politicians and some others who are serving the political authorities in their own interest to ensure their positions or status who have spawned panic and a sense of insecurity among the Malays with the motive of controlling how they think and behave.

Mahathir and the scholars were right when they said the New Economic Policy and Vision 2020 had ended in failure. It is equally true that the Malays have lost their autonomy and hope under “New Malaysia”. But the question is: who have messed things up? The answer is the Malay elites who have the administrative powers in their hands and who have failed to implement government policies and the Vision 2020 spirit in a more tolerant, open-minded, liberal, confident and fair approach. To cover up their failed policies, they make repeated attempts to create imaginary enemies and a false sense of crisis among their own people.

I am upbeat that such tricks will eventually lose their appeals and effects. The thing is, how should open-minded and confident Malaysians come in unity to defeat the outdated mentality and when we will eventually see a farsighted leader for all Malaysians irrespective of race.

 

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