Dr M and Racial Based Politics


(Countdown – 326 days to “doomsday”)

Read These First

(Race based policies are as just as bad and cruel as open segregation of society and citizens based on the color of their skin seen here in an early 1930s photo. Image source: http://www.old-picture.com)

Now read this:-

It is better to slow down development than to scrap race-based policies and risk ethnic clashes in the country, Tun Dr Mahathir has said.

The former prime minister, in making the case for the continuation of such policies, wrote in a blog posting here that taking away racial consideration when doing business would not necessarily guarantee development.

Writing once in an earlier blog posting in 2010, Dr Mahathir had said: “I may be labelled a racist but fear of the label will not stop me from working for what I think is good for the country.

“Nothing will be gained by dividing the people of Malaysia into poor Bumis and rich non-Bumis. The time is not right for disregarding the disparities between the races in the interest of equity and merit.”

The country’s longest-serving former prime minister, who still wields influence in the ruling Umno, continued to stress this point in his latest posting.

“It is true that if the problem of race does not haunt Malaysia, development would speed up.

“But when the distribution of wealth is so wide between the races, there is a large possibility hostilities would occur between the rich and the poor,” he said.

(Source)

As much as we highly respect the 86 years old politician for “some” of the good things that he have done for the country, certainly after 55 years of Independence when people from different racial background and culture called themselves as Malaysians, it is high time we revisit the need for racial based policies. Race based policies have never been good to anyone – still remember Germany’s Aryan misadventures by the Nazis, South Africa’s Apartheid and once upon time, the white-black segregation in the deep south of America?

Dr M may have valid points – after all it will not be easy to scrap race based policies overnight – not when we have been governed by it for almost 43 years. But that does not mean we should harp on the very unfair policies for another 43 years. It has to go away one day and the sooner we do it, it is better in the long run (and we seem to have the first step of breaking down race based policies in 2008 by voting for more multi-race based political parties and sent at least one known race based political party into the wilderness). And in making his case for race based policies, Dr M embarks on 2 arguments. One – it will risk ethnic clashes and Two – all Bumis are poor and all non-Bumis are rich.

Sounds familiar? It is the same old argument (or variations of it) heaped on fellow Malaysians by the same race based political party politicians to keep themselves in power. Even if we were to take the 86 years old man’s words as the gospel truth, the question is what does we intend to do about it? After all, here is an ex-PM telling others that he rather throws national development down the drain for an unspecific period than to scrap race based policies that many have deemed unfair, flawed and open for abuse. The 2 arguments put forward by Dr M may be flawed as well.

Flawed because firstly it is not taking into consideration of changes that have happened locally and globally in recent times. It is no longer 1969 all over again. America for example has a President who in 1930s – 1960s would have been asked, sorry, told to buzz off from white only areas. The Apartheid in South Africa has long gone and buried and in Malaysia, we are no longer seeing prevailing race based industries or sectors – there is still perhaps in sub-sectors but it is not too obvious in main sectors.

These days, generally you can find all races in all sectors – something that did not happen back in a prevailing basis in 1960s. And there seems to be an even more effort put forward by Najib’s administration to liberate economy sectors. So at the point of such liberation taking place, not only in Malaysia and in the economic sector, one need to take a couple steps back and wonder if harping on race based policies is wise.

Secondly, it must be affirmed that poverty is a global issue and affects all races – both Bumis and Non Bumis. You will find both the rich and the poor at both sides of the spectrum. It is a fact that must be taken into consideration if one is to keep saying that race based policies is best for the country. If we were do that, then unfairness creeps in – you may end up leaving a section of society who are poor but at the same time is unable to find the needed relief under the provisions made by their Government. Think about it for a second.

National policies that work on eradication of poverty should never be made on the basis of the colour of the skin or ethnic background but rather must always be based on class of personal wealth. It is fair thing to do anyway. If we are to take the race based policies by it’s’ horn, will it at end of the day risk ethnic clashes? To answer this, we should look back at the basis of Dr M’s contention that it will – the so-called 1969 ethnic riots – an incident from which saw the birth of race based policies such as New Economy Policy.

That was 43 years ago – didn’t the NEP balanced the so-called imbalance wealth to some extent over those years (even with the glaring shortcomings)? One can crunch the numbers from the many sources available on the internet. There seems to be more than enough wealth to be shared and improve the standings of fellow Bumi Malaysians (read this excellent open letter on the issue). But what is not enough is the will-power and punitive actions to severely punish those who abuse the wealth in form of corruption and conflict of interest. And there seems to be an affirmation of abuse of tax-payers money when it comes to national projects or contracts especially after 43 years of the race based policies you still read this:-

The DAP has blasted the Najib administration for awarding a lucrative RM7 billion highway deal, to be tolled for a record 60 years, to a company known principally for making and selling granular and powder-activated carbon.

(Source)

Or this:-

In comparison Petronas has paid RM 3,307 psf of pedestrian walkway – almost SIX times the psf price of a six star condominium in Mont Kiara.

I don’t think it is paved with 916 gold either. And there are no Jacuzzis provided in case the ever increasing number of KL’s vagrants who do populate some of the other walkways at nite, want to take a bath or have a water massage.

Petronas paid RM100.0 million or RM3,307 psf for a 30,285 sq. ft. pedestrian walkway. If you ask me, this type of costing is worse than the lembu condo. Someone had a very early Christmas.

(Source)

And despite Government and the Government linked companies blowing millions of the national wealth instead of pumping it for the benefit of Malaysians living in poverty and to make the industries, workforce and individual income more resilient, comes along an ex-PM defending the race based policies that will only perpetuates abuse and unfairness. It is only a mystery as to how scrapping of race based policies and speed up the effort on corruption and abuse will risk ethnic clashes – especially when the very fight against corruption and abuse is to return wealth back to those who in need the most – poor Malaysians who the bulk comprised of Bumis.

This is why, despite the misgiving that Pakatan Rakyat seems to be projecting, we should give it a run for the Government – at least to stop the leakages in national wealth and abuse of tax-payers money. The new Government should scrap all race based policies and promote more equitable based policies that will address any shortcomings, any imbalances in wealth and power and that is what as recent as 2012, Pakatan Rakyat strives to achieve in the long run. Not promoting fear of ethnic clashes and further abuse of power and national wealth.

And yes, for the time being, we need to ignore the 80 plus year old politician – age may be catching up with him but then again, at the same time, we should not lose focus of continuing to scrap the existing race based policies (and the aged, senile politicians that is tied to it). It has been in the system for far too long and it is not helping the country in the long run.

Advertisements

History In Malaysia


Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters. ~African Proverb

(I still remember this – the history book that I used when I was young and in school. Image source: Blues Riders)

To tell you the truth, the subject of history have always fascinated me.

I hated the subject when I was in school; somehow the subject was made to be so boring. It was nothing but memorizing boring facts from an equally boring text book, taught by another boring teacher. It was something that I did not expect from the subject of history – a subject which I loved when I was small and discovered a thick history book in English in my childhood neighbor’s house.

It was lying on the table – the cover half torn but something about it caught my eyes. I opened and immediately noted that the content was comprehensive and laced with old photos. I asked permission from the owner, the neighbor’s eldest son and excitedly brought back home and threw myself in going through the details. The history book was laid in simple but comprehensive English. It had several chapters covering the major civilizations in the world. It kind of kept in my possession for several years (the owner decided that it will be useful to me than him).

But still, at the time I was slogging through the school and was on the way to greater things, the content of history was still kind of balanced – a bit of everything but just enough for a stressed-out student in national schools.

Then when I was in Law School, there was a bit touch of history when I did Jurisprudence and it was interesting. Then the History and Discovery Channels came through Astro and that wiped out my whole understanding of what is history. I learned about the Romans better through the Discovery Channel than the time I read about them from the books. History is now comes in better visuals – almost CSI like investigative presentation and facts backed by evidence and more balanced insights. History is now backed by science, eye-witnesses and new evidences.

(Early Indians in Malaysia – it gives me the goosebumps whenever I see old black & white photos. I wish I can go back in time and see  how these people lived and interacted with each other. How was the surroundings and how deep their culture was? Image source:  CJ.MY)

Several years ago, I saw a school History book on my colleague’s table – it was his daughter’s and he had to bring it to work for him to get some photos from the net for her daughter’s assignment. I glanced through and I was shocked – after a long time I had not looked into the school books (still having the phobia), it appeared to me that the standard of learning history has gotten to a new low. The content was too simple, focused more on certain civilizations and the other equally rich background civilizations seemed to be made in the passing.

Perhaps it is why, this was raised:-

History textbooks are biased and littered with errors, claim two authors and academicians. Dr Ranjit Singh Malhi and Ng How Kuen, who write history textbooks for Chinese schools, say their experience with officialdom does not augur well for the teaching of history in our classrooms.

Ranjit, author of secondary school history textbooks since 1990, and adviser to the Ministry of Education (MOE) on history textbooks, said such materials were littered with factual errors and distortions. He said that when he pointed out the errors and distortions, a ministry official labelled him “anti-national”.

“Secondary school history textbooks have been used to promote political interests. It should be a scholarly pursuit and not politically-motivated,” said Ranjit who showed theSun history textbooks with errors and exaggerated facts.

“Five out of 10 chapters of the Form Four history textbook deal with Islamic history as compared to only one chapter in the earlier textbook. The intention of the earlier syllabus was to expose our students to World History,” he said when commenting on the announcement that the history syllabus is being reviewed and that the subject will be made a compulsory pass in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia from 2013.

“The coverage of important historical events such as Renaissance and Industrial Revolution has been reduced by more than half,” he said.

He also said certain historical personalities, such as Yap Ah Loy (the third Kapitan China of Kuala Lumpur), were not given due recognition.

Yap played a major role in the development of Kuala Lumpur as a commercial and tin-mining centre, particularly after the fire of 1881,” he said, adding that the Form Two history textbook had only one sentence on Yap as “one of the persons responsible for developing Kuala Lumpur”.

(Source)

But then again, I only looked at one book and have not been following on the “evolution” of the history contents in school books since I left school. In the age of broadband internet and satellite TV, learning the history is no longer confined to school books. There is more than one avenue from where one can learn what had happened in the past.

And when it comes to what need to be taught as history in our national schools – we are indeed at a cross road.

Do we strip away the wealthy facts of history from the other civilizations and the original immigrants and only focus on what happened in Malaysia long, long time and the people who been here before the British? Or we look deeply into what we can learn from history regardless of civilizations and the people behind the key events in history (like Mahatma Gandhi or Lawrence of Arabia)?

(What if the Japaneses had won the war in the Pacific? How our history would look like then? Image source: http://www.worth1000.com)

It only seems right that the young ones learn about the history of Malaysia and its people first before we can start exploring on the history of the world. But at the same time, the history of the country should not politicized or distorted or allowed to be factually incorrect. Yes, history has been written and rewritten by the majority, by those who have won over major conflicts, by those in power and those with the money. Just imagine how our history books would look like if the Nazis have won the Second World War or if Parameswara have not decided to escape from Singapore and founded the Sultanate of Malacca? So, certainly the content of the history books would be “adjusted” accordingly.

But what is not desired if even the known event in history has now been riddled with factual errors and major distortions. Setting aside the factors of biasness and racial tone of the argument, that is the point that Dr Ranjit is trying to make is valid.

It does not matter that “5 out of 10 chapters of the Form Four history textbook deal with Islamic history” – it is still part of our history but what is needed is that history (no matter which area of the civilizations or era) is presented as whole and in a truthful manner, as close as possible. We should not let the young ones to look back and see things differently.

Read Also

Confusing History with Racial Prejudice

Hari Ini Tiada Sejarah

Racial Policy Mis-fired?


This is indeed scary…

(Sometimes people forget why exams are held in the first place. Image source: http://dailymail.co.uk)

Remember when a certain political party controlled media, blasted the non-Malays for questioning the Malay’s special rights? Or when some politicians played the racial card to garner the support from one particular race? The problem is and very often, the same media or politicians failed to mention as to why there has been some strong voices questioning on the said policies.

No one from the ruling front, although they know this is true, has admitted openly that sometimes, in order to make things better, certain things must be questioned and criticised.

Certainly any ideal policies that promote equality, improvement of quality of life and elimination of poverty is worth to be pursued aggressively. But the thing is, as with any “good” policies out there, good implementation and strict enforcement is something else to be desired. It is certainly something to be questioned when the same policies are abused and mismanaged to enrich a very few.

The concept of “Ketuanan Melayu” which has been actively pursued by the ruling political party, for example,  has been in question for many reasons, simply because it’s meaning of the concept has not been conclusive, especially when the same people who are promoting this concept are also promoting other concepts (such as 1Malaysia) that are in direct violation of the first. Sometimes people get so confused.

But that is not what I wanted to elaborate here.

I don’t know why but the “Ketuanan Melayu” concept crossed my mind when I read Citizen Nades’s column titled “Learning the law the wrong way” and the part that got me concerned is this:-

The sad end to this saga is that the examiner who failed this student and 17 others was ordered to re-mark and make them pass. She refused and is now on the streets because her conscience refused to allow her to do so. She had set her own grading criteria which was approved by the university and stuck to it. One student got just four marks out of a possible 60 and for doing her job religiously, the examiner was labelled a “pengkhianat” (traitor).

The column did not say for sure why the examiner was asked to remark the failed students and make them pass. It could be due to certain constraint in the law school’s standards and quality.

Citizen Nades talked about law students and highlighted the scary thought of having these failed law students handling multi million contracts for the government in future. What happens if the same thing is happening in medical schools? Failed medical students who one day might be doing an open heart surgery on you or your loved ones.

In the case of the law students in Citizen Nades’ column, what should have happened is that failed student should have left failed and booted from law school. They never had the right qualities to be lawyers in the first place. They should not been forcefully passed, just to show the “right numbers” on some statistics.

At the very extreme, allow the retest several times but if in the end, these students still fail, then leave them failed. Their destiny lies elsewhere.