KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — A secular group condemned today calls at a conservative Muslim convention to limit public scholarships to Bumiputera, saying that government financial aid is funded by Malaysian taxpayers across race and religion.
Bebas spokesman Azrul Mohd Khalib said everyone had the equal right and opportunity to compete for the scholarships, after Datuk Raof Husin, representing the Malaysian Association of Former Education Officers, told the “Rise of the Ummah” convention yesterday that minority students should not receive government scholarships.
“To move forward, Bebas calls on Malaysians to reject the demands of this convention and to focus on working hard towards a future where we do not need to depend on racial discrimination and bigotry to succeed.
“We do not need to diminish others in order to become a better people and society,” he said in a statement.
Azrul said speakers at the convention who had indulged in revisionist history were desperate, such as Muslim cleric Ismail Mina Ahmad, “who try to diminish and erase the contributions of ethnic minorities during the Second World War, the struggle for Independence and the Emergency.”
At the convention on Saturday, Ismail, who is the chairman of the Ummah umbrella group for Muslim organisations, claimed that only the Malay community had resisted British colonialists and Japanese occupiers, diminishing the contributions of other ethnicities.
“They appear to be interested in only two things: making you afraid of real and imagined problems, and telling you who they think is to blame for them. These people are not interested in actually solving problems. They live in a bubble of conveniently blaming others for their failures.” Azrul said in response.
While nations across the world struggles to get rid of racism, Azrul said there were some individuals in Malaysia that continued to embrace it and sought to justify institutional racism to maintain dominance, supremacy and entitlements that would only benefit the few.
He said preferential treatment were expected by these individuals based on race and religion, which he said was witnessed at the convention where “they also have no qualms of wrapping racial bigotry in religious arguments.”
“How much longer should we be slaves to racism and live in the past? Rather than believing in and emphasising the value of hard work and meritocracy, this group prefers to play the victim.
“They blame other ethnicities and even things such as liberalism, K-Pop and hedonism for their inability to compete, to gain respect and to succeed,” he said.