Monday, November 18, 2013

Race and religion matters ....

Lim Kit Siang came from a Bintang Tiga area in Batu Pahat

The punchline "Why is it always about race" by Guan Eng to respond to Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin remark should not be left unanswered and continue to be discussed. [Read the exchanges here and here.]

In addition, the debate between Lim Kit Siang and Tun Dr Mahathir on Mahathirism [read our response here] should continue to occupy Kit Siang's time and mind, who never fails to try to pretend not to be racial and draconian. Let Lim Guan Eng defend his father's draconian ways in the selection of DAP's Central Committee.

Kit Siang's latest act is to try to pretend that he is suprised to be called a Communist [read here]. The usual response will be to look back at history and DAP's recent adamant call to allow the return of Lim Chin Peng. Communist Bintang Tiga had a colonialist intention to assume power in Malaya.

To those from Batu Pahat, they know Kit Siang came from an area called Lim Poon and MCA leaders are aware not to talk of past communist stories there. During emergency era, Batu Pahat was a hot-bed for the Bintang Tiga that no Malays can enter Bandar Penggaram safely.  

Most Malays, with the probable exception of the less historically conscience younger set, see DAP leaders' surmon for multiracialism as pretensious and down right hypocrit. DAP's adamant claim is merely a ploy to claim the universally perceived high moral ground. [Read out take on CHOGM at Sri Lanka here.]

Wenger Khairy had an article of his in Rembau Times published in The Malaysian Insider. It does not mean all that was written is agreeable, but this Indian, which used to torment our blog till he got banned, had interesting thoughts worthy to be shared.

Why race matters – Wenger Khairy

November 16, 2013

If there is one issue that is sure to get people worked up, it’s the issue of race.

In Malaysia, as race and religion separates quite nicely, with Malays being Muslims and non-Malays being non-Muslims, it is sometimes difficult to characterise an issue as being either a racial or religious issue. Mathematically, we would say that race is highly correlated with religion. We could also make a stronger mathematical statement, that race causes religion as under the Malaysian constitution, all Malays are by definition Muslims, and non-Malays could chose to profess any faith they want. Technically, to test the latter hypothesis, we could use tools like Granger's test of causality.

But aside from the mathematics, people outside Malaysia may be at a loss to explain why so much time and effort is spent on focussing on the racial and religious issues. For example, we have an issue of a Hindu temple / shrine that was demolished in downtown KL and the issue of students being racially segregated when sitting for the matriculation examination. We also have another issue of a Malay billionaire being the subject of much negative press write up, which quite reasonably provoked a reaction from Malay Muslim bloggers who felt that this had its roots in racial profiling.  To add to this issue, we also right now have the question of whether Malaysia should boycott CHOGM , following the actions of several other countries, who are protesting the Sinhalese - Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka.

In fact, we can state unequivocally that racial (and thus by definition religious) issues will continue to grab the headlines. This statement should not be looked at lightly because there are many other issues which deserve public attention, the murder of a tourist off the seas of Sabah being a prime example as it touches on the issue of national sovereignty and Malaysia's capacity to protect its own borders.

The question still remains - why?

One answer is that Malaysians are a highly pious lot, who are so stooped in religious fervour that issues concerning faith suddenly makes everybody wake up and listen. The argument behind this is that since race is highly correlated with religion, the fundamental issue is not racial, but rather a religious issue.

Our conclusion would differ.

In fact, by any measure of any of the tenets preached by any of the major faiths in the world, Malaysians by and large would fall way short of those. From practising basic safety for oneself and others by driving properly to treating the poor, the weak and the defenceless with dignity and respect -- all these values are ignored on a national level. In fact, given a choice most Malaysians would put money above many things, but surprisingly the same do not profess belief in the pursuit of money and wealth as their primary religion.

If it is not religion, then maybe its race.

Race perhaps has a much stronger traction than religion. Race is a strange kind of animal. We cannot choose our race - it is in fact chosen for us. So after race has been chosen for us, we then spend the rest of our lives trying to fit this racial mould. It seems that race is the defining characteristic that separates Malaysians neatly into Malays, Chinese, Indians.

But the above statement is perhaps misleading. Malaysia includes other races such as the Iban, Melanau, Kadazan, Bidayuh and the orang Asli - the Senoi and the like. We rarely hear of their issues with each other, maybe its because our East Malaysian cousins live in a sparsely populated country and do not have to face each other, or perhaps maybe because they were born into a laid back culture that doesn't give a shite if your black, blue, green or yellow.

However in West Malaysia you would be foolish to take racial differences lightly. In fact, we ourselves put on a thinking helmet when dealing with other races in Malaysia, so that we do not offend the other party because we look different or have different sounding names. Inter-racial interaction must be a carefully managed affair akin to to when warring tribes of nations try to negotiate a peace settlement in the UN. In fact the quicker this episode of interaction ends, the better it is for everybody. Talk too much and you are bound to offend or be offended by the other party.

This is because racial stereotyping and racial identity is enforced since childhood and the current population is highly polarized that there exists almost no common identity among the major races. To paraphrase, it is like chicken and duck talking to one another.

Now, please do not get us wrong.

We are not advocating a utopian Kum-ba-yah society where race does not matter. Neither are we even remotely suggesting that Malays, Chinese and Indians forget their cultural programming and interact with one another as citizens of the same country. At the same time, we are not proposing that the culture of racism which is programmed into citizens be adopted. We believe that the decision on whether to stick to the programming or to reject it is a decision that should be made by each individual.

We would however add to those who chose to reject the programming should not suddenly think that all Malaysians are their brothers and sisters. Instead, we would strongly advise that those who reject the racial programming should immediately view with extreme suspicion each and every other person who holds a Malaysian identity card. Rejection of the racial programming does not mean that one should suddenly be accepting of everybody else.

On the contrary rejection of the racial programming should just mean three simple words – don’t trust anybody. That is something we 100% advocate to each and every one who professes to be a citizen of this country. -, November 16, 2013.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
While Wenger believed in the ideal of rejecting racial programming, he is not hypocritical and pretensious like DAP. Pretensious is not quite accurate, deceiving will be a closer description of DAP.

Let us not be hypocritical to admit race and religion matters because each of us are associated to a religion or race. It is sesitive to everyone, even to those individuals claiming to be liberals and open minded. They too have their threshold of tolerance and acceptance.

Talking of liberals, those so vociferous in their attack on bigotry and racism can either unrealitic in their understanding of the matter or

If we all believe that it is fine and natural to accept race and religion, this constant demand by Chinese for their sekolah cina, Malays for their special rights and their heritage acknowledged, Indian for fairer share, and Bumiputera of Sabah and Sarawak to be acknowledged as equal to the Malays in Semenanjung is not a bad thing.

It is natural and sincere, democratic even.

Where in the world but in Malaysia, do we find discussion and debate on matters of race and religion done openly without trying to swept under the carpet but the dirt is budgeoning into a mountain?

In the "orang putih" countries, they shun and keep under lid any issues with any inkling of racism but their history as colonialist, slave traders and plunderers under the banner of race and religion is an embarassment and the psychology still prevail.
Only thing Malaysian need to do is to be responsible and sensitive in our deamnds and debate because others have rights, interests and concerns too. Before arriving to any demands, do not be selfsh of one's only needs. Ponder what the other sides feels.   

Good one, Wenger!


mr x said...

Salam Bro

The Non Bumi should start integrate themselves and stop being accomadated just because they control the economy.

And the Bumi should stop accomodating these Non Bumi. Thats include Najib and his advisors.

Otherwise more anwar kit siang guan eng and karpal will emerge in our country...

Anonymous said...

Because racism and religious barriers are so strong in Malaysia, it only goes to show Malaysia is still a 3rd world mentality country.

So Malaysians who keep on giving their reasons why like that and like this, stop bluffing the rest of the world and just accept that deep down, Malaysia is just a 3rd world pariah nation.

Of course it exist in also developed and progressive nations but comparing the scales, it's not so obvious and rampant among their citizens.

Go travel and find out for yourself instead of being a frog under the coconut husks.

Anonymous said...

Hello there Mr Brick.

Nice of the mention . its not everyday I get mentioned on a national blog.

Have a nice day.

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