The Icerd-supporting hypocrites - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, February 02, 2019
Malaysiakini : “If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you
hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are
doing the oppressing.”
― Malcolm X
COMMENT | Malaysiakini columnist Zan Azlee’s latest piece is a response to Hafidz Baharom’s letter– and the discourse surrounding the hypocrisy of supporting Icerd but justifying the overt racism of certain property-owners here in Malaysia.
you, I do not think Zan understands the etymology of the term
“institutional racism” (which I will leave to readers to discover and
which is why I use the word “overt”) but I understand where he is coming
from. What he means, I assume, are the pro-Malay racist policies that
define the social, economic and political landscape of Malaysia.
do I think that Zan was justifying racism but it sure as hell comes off
that way when a couple with the means to pay for accommodation are
rejected based on the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs.
The last thing they would think is the landlord is “fussy” and I am sure
if you told them that this landlord supports Icerd, they would burst
out in laughter.
The idea that you can be in favour of something
like Icerd yet still believe that individuals are perfectly within their
rights to discriminate based on race or religion is exactly the kind of
horse manure that infects this country and which helps the political
class maintain power.
One “award-winning” journalist when
interviewed on a radio station actually said that while racism is a
problem, she did not believe the state had the right to legislate when
it comes to personal property. She made the distinction between the
“discrimination” of (and by) the state and babbled on about how
education would slowly ameliorate individual racism.
state is always legislating when it comes to individual property. The
state is always legislating when it comes to how we conduct business.
This idea for anti-discrimination laws when it comes to tenancy
agreements (for instance) and something the state should not get
involved in, is complete horse manure.
The central theme of Icerd is eliminating all forms
of racism and discrimination and while the legalese of this convention
is contextualised in support of certain race-based agendas, at the heart
of it, what its proponents hoped Icerd would do is put us on the road
towards reforming a system which is mired in the kind of racism and
bigotry detrimental to social and economic cohesion.
goes beyond to use Zan’s term “fussy” landlords but rather the poisoned
racial discourse in this country where certain types of racism are
accepted – nay, encouraged - but where people clamour for the state to
get rid of its racist policies. “Racial preference” is such a
quaint term. It’s like saying some of my best friends are people in my
non-preferred category but I just do not want to rent out to them.
Landlords having specific criteria that anyone could theoretically
fulfil is not racism. It becomes racism when the criterion is race, or
bigotry when it comes to religion.
Of course, people are blind to
some things in this country or worse, do not really care. This idea that
the state was racist, which created a separate space for the non-Malays
to compete, live and die in, has resulted in a discourse which not only
alienates people but also encourages a siege mentality in the non-Malay
It like people who scream that there is no
discrimination in the private sector and that the only discrimination
that exists is the kind carried out by the state. Or when they claim
that there is discrimination in the private sector but it is more
important for the state to handle the discrimination it perpetuates.
people fail to understand is that the political class in this country
benefit when people condone certain forms of racism instead of rejecting
them outright. Racists will make all sort of justifications for
their racism which will include prior experience with a specific race,
falling back on racial stereotypes, deep-rooted anger for the systemic
racism by the state or just plain, old-fashioned ignorance.
the political class likes this state of play. Indeed, when mainstream
politicians advocate some form of anti-discriminatory laws, what they
are really doing is inviting the non-Malays especially to call out the
racism of the state while defending the racial preference of the
individual which is spun to look like the preference of the community
even though many people would object to justifying racism in their name.
Or at least, that’s what I hope.
Why do they do this? Because it
helps their narrative that without the protection of preferential
policies, they would be at the mercy of the minorities who have no
problem – or so they claim – with preferential policies of their own.
get to point to the hypocrisy of these people who clamour for something
like Icerd but have no problem being “racists” when it comes to their
interests. This is why the majority need the protection of the
state and why the minorities want to strip the majority of this
protection or so the official mainstream goes. This whole idea that some
pundits like to propagate that, “We are Malaysians, we are all racists”
to support certain agendas while disavowing others is really dumb.
I hear this, I say, “Speak for yourself.” I am always questioning my
ideas when it comes to race and religion. I support legalisation and
ideas which address these issues and sometimes disagree with the
Imagine what would happen if a non-Malay
politician said that he or she supports something like Icerd but also
supports the right of landlords for racial preference. What signal would
this send to the Malay community? So it's easy under the cover of
anonymity to promote a racist agenda but not so easy to justify such a
stand either politically or morally when you are promoting a "new
All this goes back to the Bangsa Malaysia Kool-Aid.
That stupid idea that seeks to eliminate race from the discourse under
certain - political expedient – conditions. This has made an honest
conversation about race impossible. If people were seriously interested
in reform, they would support something like Icerd and condemn the
racism that is perpetrated through government policy as well as condemn
racism carried out by some of the rakyat.
The political class is
hypocritical and mendacious when they want to tackle racism in the
property market (for instance) but ignore the racism in the government.
However, the rakyat is hypocritical when they justify certain forms of
racism, but demand that the government confronts the racism in the