‘Face reality’, Cent-GPS tells critics of study claiming pro-Chinese hiring bias

Cent-GPS researcher Zaidel Baharuddin speaks about the result of a recent survey entitled ’Racism in Recruitment: Racial Bias For Entry Level Jobs’ March 7, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Cent-GPS researcher Zaidel Baharuddin speaks about the result of a recent survey entitled ’Racism in Recruitment: Racial Bias For Entry Level Jobs’ March 7, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) has defended its controversial survey that purported hiring bias against non-Chinese job applicants, a conclusion it insisted was real and one critics must “recognise”.

The Umno-linked group suggested most detractors were in denial who resorted to “pointing fingers” in their criticism against the study.

“The first step to fixing an issue is recognising there is one in the first place,” Cent-GPS said in a statement.

“The reality can sometimes be scary for some, but we need to start questioning ourselves if our first response to these findings is to point fingers.”

Cent-GPS’ study found that Malays and Indians were more likely to experience discrimination when applying for jobs in the private sector, especially men of the two ethnicities who received the lowest number of calls for interviews.

Cent-GPS also denied the study was politically motivated, or that it was intended to foment Malay hatred towards the Chinese.

It said the allegation came as a surprise, since the study also found Indians to be the most discriminated against, a point critics of the study never raised. Cent-GPS claimed its survey was the first to measure discrimination against Indians. 

“Our study included Indian candidates and it showed that the Indian candidates, for both genders, were worse off,” the statement read.

“Everyone seems so focused on the lack of opportunities given to the fictitious Malay candidates, they forgot that Thivakar (the Indian male) got the worse rate of callbacks.”

Earlier today, a DAP leader accused the think tank of racial incitement by putting out a biased survey on hiring discrimination that appeared to target Chinese employers.

Faiz Mustafa, a member of the party’s parliamentary researcher team, said the study was methodologically flawed with critical discrepancies that led to a dangerously misleading result seemingly aimed at furthering a “racially charged political agenda”.

Among the discrepancies raised were the inconsistencies in the applicants’ qualification background could have added to other factors to contaminate the findings. Faiz said where applicants study could have a significant effect on their employability.

But Cent-GPS disagreed. It said the study was only meant to evaluate whether certain candidates could secure an interview based on their ethnicity despite having similar qualifications.

“Employers are not restricted to call just one candidate. Employers, especially when presented with similarly qualified candidates, are free to call these candidates to see which of them would best fit the job,” it said.

“The problem is that candidates such as Thivakar and Kavita were not even given the opportunity to prove themselves and make their case,” the statement added.

Cent-GPS also said it listed down participation in different local colleges in Malaysia in the candidates’ applications, although it did not address criticism that the place of study could also have an influence on employers’ decision.

The study sent 3,829 job applications to more than 500 jobs. In each of these 500 jobs, it said seven nearly identical résumés were submitted, but represented by different fictitious ethnic group candidates — three Malays, two Chinese, and two Indians.

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