"Late last night I was watching a TV discussion on the marginalising of the Malays in Penang. It was quite interesting to follow the discussion where at the end more than 80% agreed to the fact that the Malays are indeed being marginalised. ...
Let us first go back into history to begin our journey. The real Penang settlement was started with the coming of the Mainland Chinese and East India Company Indians. These settlers started to build their empires, buy property and slowly started to monopolise the economy. But the Malays were at the outskirts, fishing and farming and eventually lost to the Chinese and Indians economically. This is evident in the towns where you can hardly see a single building owned by the Malays.
Again it will be food for thought if we are to breeze through the ‘Malay Dilemma’, written by the former Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. According to him at the beginning the Malays lacked the opportunities to develop and become successful. They lacked opportunities for educating themselves, opportunities to earn enough to go into business, opportunities to train in the required vocation, opportunities to obtain the necessary funding, licences and premises. If these opportunities could have been made available to them, then they would have succeeded.
The attitude then changed. Getting scholarships and places in the universities at home and abroad is considered a matter of right and is not valued any more. Indeed, those who get these educational opportunities for some unknown reason seem to dislike the very people who created these opportunities. Worse still, they don't seem to appreciate the opportunities that they get. They become more interested in other things, politics in particular, to the detriment of their studies. In business, the vast majority regarded the opportunities given them as something to be exploited for the quickest return. They learn nothing about business and become even less capable at doing business and earning an income from their activities. They become mere sleeping partners and at times not even that. Having sold, they no longer have anything to do with the business. They would go to the government for more licences, permits and shares.
Why has this thing happened? The answer lies in the culture of the Malays. They are laid-back and prone to take the easy way out. And the easy way out is to sell off whatever they get and ask for more. This is their culture. Working hard, taking risks and being patient is not a part of their culture. It should be remembered that in the past the Malays were not prepared to take up the jobs created by the colonial powers in their effort to exploit the country. Because the Malays were not prepared to work in rubber estates and the mines, the Indians and Chinese were brought in. At one time, the migrants outnumbered the Malays.
But the Malays have apparently learnt nothing from the near loss of their country in the past. Today, they are still unwilling to work and foreign workers are again flooding the country. And because they are not equipping themselves with the necessary education and skills, they have continued to depend on others. Their political dominance will protect them for a time. But that dominance is fading very fast as they quarrel among themselves and break up into small ineffective groups. Their numerical superiority means less today than at the time of Independence.
To succeed, the Malays must change their culture. They must look towards work as a reward in itself. They must regard what they achieve through work as the true reward. Changing culture is far more difficult than changing the policies of government. It is easy enough to propose affirmative action but it is not easy to implement it. The recipients must have the right attitude if the results are going to be obtained. Unfortunately, their view is that their crutches are symbols of their superior status in the country. The sad thing is that they are not even using the crutches properly. As a result, they gain nothing or very little from the availability of these aids.
So what is the new Malay dilemma? Their old dilemma was whether they should distort the picture a little in order to help themselves. The new dilemma is whether they should or should not do away with the crutches that they have got used to, which in fact they have become proud of. There is a minority of Malays who are confident enough to think of doing away with the crutches, albeit gradually. But they are a very small minority. Their numbers are not going to increase any time soon. They are generally regarded as traitors to the Malay race.
There will be a host of protests over this generalisation about Malay attitudes. We read almost every day about blind Malay people and other handicapped Malays graduating with university degrees or driving cars or doing all kinds of work. This does not prove that the generalisation that I make is wrong. These are exceptions. They only prove that if the right attitude or culture is adopted, even the handicapped can succeed.
The dilemma faced by those few who want to build a strong, resilient and independent Malay race without crutches is that they are most likely to end up becoming unpopular and losing the ability to influence the changes in the culture and the value system which are necessary. It seems that they should not try and yet they know that without the cultural changes, the Malays are going to fail.
But again there are Malay leaders who make use of these poor Malays to promote their political careers. These leaders are only interested to reap what they can as long as the sun shines. They make sure that their relatives, cronies and even friends who are beneficial to them get the share allocated to the actual Malays. In the end the needy don’t get anything but mere peanuts. Places allocated to the poor in varsities are given to their children, relatives and cronies.
As a teacher I have come across deserving poor students who are deprived of a place in institutions of higher learning just because of some shameless leaders who use their power to recruit students from the back doors. Not only these leaders allow them to enter through backdoors but also employ them. This is one reason why our education system is rotting.
The Malays need proper leaders to guide them. It is no use telling that the Malays have not improved when in real fact the Malays who are getting the share are the relatives, cronies and friends of powerful leaders. Look at the rich Malays, see their roots and I bet you will find shocking revelations how they become rich.
In Balik Pualau where I stay, the once Malay dominated areas have now been bulldozed to give way for wealthy settlements. It is beyond the means of even an average Malay to buy property here. The Malay politicians themselves are against the Malays rising up. I read with regret a comment by a local politician who questioned the proposal of Malay leadership to Malay dominance by the UMNO youth leader- Khairy Jamaluddin. If these are the kind of leaders the Malays want to choose, then the end will be not far away for the Malays to give up their identity.
Lastly I would like the Malays in Penang to wake up, throw away the differences for the sake of trace and future generations. Let us heed to the warning bell sounded by FB Farid and let us become united for the sake of our community, race, and country. I have full trust and confidence in the leadership of YB Farid. Let us support him to achieve a common goal which will benefit all of us ."