FEBRUARY 20 — It’s rather sad when one sits down to think about it, the way that this beautiful country has become. We have racial discord everywhere, whereas a lot of us who grew up in earlier times remember a better era; one where there was a sense of unity. However, we have also been marred by generations of systemic racism, which only got worse and more politicised under Najib Razak’s rule.
Six decades of Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) rule have not done us any favours. A change of government has been somewhat welcome, but where is the real change?
The Youth and Sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman recently said that any employers who require certain language requirements for employment should be probed. This is rich, for someone whose political party only allows his own race to be accepted for entry. Sure, he has mentioned his disapproval of this practise, but why join a party whose principles don’t align with yours in the first place?
At a town hall meeting in Pahang recently, he was asked by a member of the public about employers who advertise for Mandarin speaking workers, he said that “such actions are a form of discrimination and should be investigated.”
That is akin to investigating an accountancy firm for hiring only people with accountancy degrees. It is ridiculous beyond belief, considering the amount of discrimination this country has perpetuated against non-Malays ever since this country was formed.
If a job requires a Mandarin-speaking person, then how would a non-Mandarin speaking person possibly fulfil that role? In my lifetime I can count on one hand the amount of Malay people that speak fluent Mandarin. “Ni Hao Ma” alone is not sufficient for a complicated role. We should be more forward-thinking than that. This is not solely the fault of the Malays however, this is the horrid fault of the identity politics game that Malaysia has been playing from the beginning, and sadly, continues to play to its own detriment.
The question I really want to pose to Syed Saddiq is this: Why is it that when you visit states like Pahang and Perlis, Terengganu and Kuantan, that when you try to rent an AirBnB place, they tell you specifically Muslim only. Why is THIS not being investigated? Sure, we can all understand that Muslims do not appreciate pork being cooked in their homes, but if you allow for that, you also allow a whole raft of discrimination to fester in the minds of Malaysians. A few years back, there was talk of even shopping trolleys being segregated, as ludicrous as it sounds.
Why punish people who are trying to hire a certain skillset, but at the same time, don’t allow people of another religion, or lack thereof to even rent a place to stay? That makes absolutely no sense, especially if you are truly aiming for a better, more progressive Malaysia. If we did away with all of these ridiculous ideas, we would be more of a Satu Malaysia than ever.
As much as we may hate it, one must admit that all of us have been complicit in this kind of thinking, to varying degrees. I say this as a Eurasian, and I have seen all sides. I have suffered racism all my life and yet, I am still proud to stand up and call myself a Malaysian.
As former US President Barack Obama so beautifully put it, there’s “not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”
We were a beautiful nation before, full of so many different cultures, ideas, beliefs, and yet we coexisted peacefully. Sadly, we’ve all become so segregated. This isn’t the Malaysia I was born in. It’s not just up to the YBs and PM. It’s our jobs to fix it. We have a big job in front of us, so let’s get started.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.