28 February 2015

Part 1: The Question about Malaysia Under the Rule of the Malays


Naturally, they (Malays) will use that 70% power (majority population), which is the only power that they have, to balance the 80% economic power that non-Malays have. In the end, it is the game of equation in the name of equitability, but at the expense of equality..... if this makes sense at all.

ALAYSIAN Chinese and Indian colleagues who are living overseas have lost their hopes in Malaysia. They had migrated to other countries on the basis of the 2nd class treatment they claim they had faced in Malaysia. What does this "2nd Class Treatment" really means? Many of them are 3rd generation Chinese and Indians and they are as Malaysian as any Malays who are also of the same age group. The underlying current that drives the river is very much a sensitive and taboo aspect of the Malaysian multicultural society - The Question about Malaysia under the rule of the Malays.

It is very difficult to unfold the rationale and logics of this matter. However, it is possible to identify the various elements that had led to this situation as well as the continued status of the situation. This opportunity (identification of elements) was presented to me when my Chinese colleague, who has migrated to London, recently emailed me with 5 questions surrounding this topic -  The Question about Malaysia under the rule of the Malays. It took me quite awhile to answer but I managed to give some of my thoughts as extracted below:

QUESTION 1: So do you think Malaysia will become a developed nation by 2020?  
ANSWER 1: My hopes are high. Despite the economic turnoil, Malaysia closed 2014 with at least 5% GDP growth, 3% fiscal deficit and record foreign investments of whatever the figure is that was reported just yesterday. Ringgit at USD3.5 is good to boost exports. To achieve 2020 target we need more development expenditure. As we speak, the Government is devicing the 11th Malaysia Plan 2016 - 2020. Hopefully there will be enough development expenditure to have a quantum leap. Although 2015 has or will be dampened as Malaysia spends a lot to recover from the great 2014 floods that destroyed half of the Peninsula. 

QUESTION 2: How is the Malaysian economic position now under the rule of Barisan Nasional (BN)? 
ANSWER 2: Continuing from the above, Malaysia has the strongest economy after Singapore for ASEAN despite the popular believe that Vietnam was supposed to shine as the emerging market. At the moment a good chunk of the economy is sick because of the oil price impact to Petronas but on a net basis, Malaysia is a net importer of oil. So low oil price should not have too much impact. Lower dividends from Petronas to the Government will however dampen the Government's coffers for development expenditure. But hey, that is a world phenomenon, not Malaysian centric.  

QUESTION 3: So is Malaysia still going to be ruled by a puppet coalition democracy? 
ANSWER 3: Even if the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wins, it will be another puppet coalition. If fact, not only puppet, it would be disastrous trying to harmonise Islamic PAS with Secular DAP. DAP cannot win on its own but PAS can win a lot of seats on its own merely because of its mass Malay and Islamic appeal as represented by the majority of the population. If PR wins, it will be a weak coalition because its component parties lack congruent ideologies. When the Government (assuming under PR) is weak, everything will collapse even worse that if a collapse is to happen under BN. On absolute measure, both sides are evil. On relativity preference, I'd go for those with track record that had managed the country through the heydays of 1980's and 1990's average 8% p.a. growth. You must understand that 70% of the population is Malay and Islam. They will either support UMNO, PAS or PKR. It is in the best interest of the non-Malays to not be imposed with Islamic laws. So non-Malays wouldn't want to support PAS. PAS is stronger than PKR who has now lost its will because its President is in jail. DAP and PAS will never get along. In short, they will always be an opposition front, like it or not. 

QUESTION 4: How long will you people (Malays) need the Bumi policies? If it does not work, don't you need to change strategy?  
ANSWER 4: The policies are set based on majority parliamentary proceedings. Generally UMNO + PAS + PKR will vote for it. Non-Malays are never going to be able to get rid of it. Unless, of course, if Malaysia takes IMF package and IMF imposes prohibition of affirmative actions. Bumi policies are affirmative actions. It is never an equality principle but instead an equitable principle. Very much like a 7 yr old that is left to walk by himself but a 1 yr old is carried by Mommy. The question is, when is the 1 yr old going to reach 7 years old? The answer is when 70% of the population owns 70% of the country's wealth. Various methods have been used in the past. They may have not worked. Hence Prime Minister Najib had abolished the 30% bumi equity rule - which is a really big sacrifice that many non-Malays fail to give credit. Now he (Najib) is getting Malay professionals to buy and manage assets under Malay management under Ekuinas. You asked about change in methods. This is a change.

QUESTION 5: So non-Malays will remain to be "tolerated visitors" forever?  
ANSWER 5: Many non-Malays question why they are treated like 2nd class citizens when they are 3rd generation Malaysians. This is the consequences of what had been agreed between Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun Sambanthan in 1957. In order for the Chinese and Indians to remain in the Malay Peninsula as citizens, they had to agree to the Malay privilege. Had Mr Tan and Mr Sambanthan disagree, they would have had to bring their people back to mainland China and India. Now, is that fair? Well, fair to the 1st generation but not fair to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations. For the younger generations, if they are to amend such social contract, they need to address 2 big ticket items. No. 1: Whether they have the political inertia to change the constitution. With 70% of the population being Bumi, non-Malays do not have the inertia. How would they then persuade that 70% to feel for them and get the political inertia? Well, that brings us to No. 2:  Economic disparity. As long as the Malays are not economically on par (with the non-Malays), they will always be disadvantaged and the feeling of being slaves in their own country will re-emerge like how they felt during 1800's when the economy was architecturally biased towards Chinese as designed by the British (whether intentionally or not). So without No. 2, which is equitable, you cannot get No. 1. Without No. 1, there will never be equality. Is it fair? Well, many ethnic groups in the past have lost their local economic significance and, later, their sovereignty to foreigners who become citizens. Examples are Fijians to the Indians; Aboriginals to the Caucasians in Australia and New Zealand; Blacks to Caucasians in South Africa; Singaporean Malays to Singaporean Chinese; Red Indians to Caucasian Americans; Palestinians to Zionists; and many more. In those cases it is not fair to the those people. So, in Malaysia, the Malays will do everything in their power to not allow that. There are indicators read by the Malays that had led the Malays to believe that once lost (their sovereignty) to the Chinese, they will never recover. This is not helping. What are the indicators? Chinese control over prices of supplies as they control majority supply chains in almost everything except petroleum. Every time Malays try to enter (the supply chain), the Chinese will cut prices to the point where the Malays go bankrupt. They (Chinese) have the stamina to create barriers to entry. The Chinese also monopolises some imports that the exclusivity that they posses gives them that power. Not only imports, even the local produce such as rice, cattle, vegetables and fish (except for Syed Mokhtar related businesses). The Malay fishermen, farmers, etc, have no choice other than to follow because their livelihood is controlled by the Chinese wholesalers. It is racist to stamp wholesalers and supply agents as "Chinese" but that is the reality. If reality is not addressed and hidden under taboo, then how else are you going to address this Malay Dilemma? The Malays who roamed this land for hundreds of years with 9 Sultans but own nothing of this land (hypothetically) is a recipe for inter-racial war. The only solution is to address economic disparity. Religious intolerance that we see today is just a consequence of that. As long as this (disparity) is pervasive, the Bumi policies will remain. It is an equation. The left will equal the right. If you reduce one side, the other side will reduce. They saw how Malays in Singapore lost their island to Chinese. They are seeing how Chinese in Penang continuously making the island like China rather than Malaysia (increase in open non-halal food stalls and mainland China activities imported for festivals, etc). They see how Chinese are unwilling to let go of Chinese schools for Kebangsaan schools - refusal to assimilate. When they see or saw all of this, naturally they will use that 70% power, which is the only power that they have, to balance the 80% economic power that non-Malays have. In the end, it is the game of equation in the name of equitability, but at the expense of equality..... if this makes sense at all. 

* kopihangtuah

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