Malaysiakini : “The search for Nirvana, like the search for Utopia or the end of
history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous
one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There
is no escape from anxiety and struggle.” ― Christopher Hitchens, ‘Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays’
COMMENT | Pakatan Harapan grand
poobah, Dr Mahathir Mohamad when referring to the mid-term review of the
11th Malaysia Plan (RMK11) said that while the bumiputera agenda was
still the focus, the Harapan regime would launch programmes to uplift
In particular, he claimed that specific groups within the Chinese and
Indian communities would be targeted for uplifting, in line with this
Bangsa Malaysia nonsense. Notice how when it comes to these so-called uplifting programmes,
“specific groups” within the Chinese and Indian communities are targeted
but when it comes to the bumiputera agenda, no such distinctions are
made? I mean, it is not as though the government is targeting certain
groups within the bumiputera community, right?
By specific groups, I take it to mean “poor” people, in whatever
economic or social definition the government of the day comes up with.
And why not just say, that the government is going to help poor
Malaysians instead of these grand pronouncements of targeting specific
groups in a particular community and the bumiputera agenda? I always assumed that a poor person is poor person, regardless of
race and gender. This is not entirely true. Gender and race, of course,
plays a part in a capitalist system. I am sympathetic when fellow Malaysiakini columnist Nathaniel Tan writes
that a poor Malay has more in common with a poor Chinese than either
have with a rich Malay, but I would argue that a poor Malay often has it
worse than a poor Chinese or Indian.
Think about this for a minute. A poor Malay has to work against the
very system that purports to champion his or her race. Some jobs you
can’t take because of it goes against your religious dogma and if you
work in such places, the religious authorities come cracking down on you
and this means certain establishments don’t want the hassle of
employing you. Then, of course, there are all these syariah compliant
measures, which the average non-Malay does not have to contend with.
If you are a poor Malay woman, it is worse. More so, if you are
divorced. The system is not going to go after your husband for child
support but it is going to go after you if you engage in professions
deemed immoral. Your children may get an education in one of those
religious schools, which indoctrinates them, and what you are left with
is envy that the “other” races in Malaysia are enjoying themselves while
your community is hurting.
Meanwhile, all those rich Malays who are most probably politically
connected or are the beneficiaries of post-1969 affirmative action
policies have to deal with the scorn of the other races, who have had to
work very hard for their success. The so-called Malay middle class
borne out of quota system and preferential economic treatment meanwhile
has to contend with a self-sustaining non-Malay middle class, which
advocates leaving the country for better treatment.
Did the world end?
Non-Malays have to build their own educational establishments because
public universities do not have a place for them. They have to start up
businesses which in order to succeed most have to have political
connections. The system creates its resentments which serve the
political elites of this country, Malay and non-Malay.
The non-Malays treat the political system as a luxury because they
are not dependent on it. No non-Malay political structure is not going
to advocate on their behalf because this would inconvenience their Malay
partners. So they talk about “class-based” solutions but the reality is
that they are saying nothing new in terms of advocating an egalitarian
Is so difficult to say that the government for the people and by the
people is going to look after the nation’s poorest citizens regardless
of race? I mean when Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida
Kamaruddin said that bumiputera quotas will be reviewed - "Basically,
the people will be assessed based on their income and not race; if we
set the affordable homes for only those earning RM3,000 and below, we
will use the guideline regardless of religion and race" – did the world
A Malay friend of mine who is a big-ish player in the property market
said, finally some sanity from the government. I mean each state has
apparently its own quotas and state governments operate like cartels
when it comes to affordable housing for the poor. Apparently depending
on the political climate, they change the quota system without
consulting the stakeholders.
The prime minister said “there shouldn't be too wide a gap between
the rich and the poor, between one race and another”, but the reality is
that a poor non-Malay is not going to feel envious that another
non-Malay is richer or better off. What they are going to do is try to
work the system to get to that better-off position. This, of course,
comes from the fact that they are not dependent on the system but
realise the benefits – economic – of working the system.
Meanwhile, a poor Malay is going to be pissed off that the system
which is supposed to be working for him, enriches the other races when
the facts point to the ruling Malay political class which is getting fat
feeding from the system.
Nobody wants class warfare especially within the Malay community when
a racial clash based on the inequalities of the system which
disadvantages the very people it is supposed to champion, is a more
convenient outcome for a political class intoxicated by pecuniary
corruption and narcotised by religious imperatives.
So the prime minister is wrong. Blame it on the old conservative in
me, but the true meaning of development is not its contribution to a
construct like Bangsa Malaysia, but rather when every Malaysian
regardless of race is not dependent on big government.