I am all for positive racism

Let’s be honest, Malaysians are racist. We have a race base governing system, we have a race base upbringing and we also have race base statements drumming into our minds day in day out. Is racism bad? Are cars bad? Well, cars maim and kill more than guns in Malaysia but when used properly, automobile bring enormous benefit to Malaysians. If man (and woman) conquer hostile environment since the caveman ages and turn adversity to advantage, racism is just another issue to be dealt with in the same way.

First of all, Malaysians should not take racism too seriously. It is not a unique Malaysian problem. Last year, when I was immersing myself in chest-deep level seawater, I had a 30 minutes talk with an Australian woman in bikini about racism in Australia. (Don’t laugh at my apparent ineptness at striking up the right kind of conversations with women in bikinis).

Australians have a more diversified population than us hence Malaysia is not that unique. Although North and South Korea are technically still at war, some of the things I have read in mainstream media seems to suggest that the De-Militarized Zone is located on the wrong peninsular.

Other countries suffered worse form of racial discrimination and came out stronger and better. Africans were kidnapped and sold as slaves in the United States since the 1600’s. They were whipped, burnt, raped, castrated and god knows what else. Yet white men fought along side the blacks to liberate them. The process was long and painful; from the Civil War in the 1860’s all the way through to the 1960’s civil movement.

2 TV shows in the 1970’s speaks a lot of the Americans’ desertion of racism. Roots highlighted the suffering of blacks and the immense injustice perpetuated by the white slave owners. The book by Alex Haley makes more painful reading than the TV series. The Jeffersons showed a rich Negro businessman taking funny liberties at his gentle and not so bright white neighbour. One series highlight the injustice and cruelty of their forefathers so that such act should not be repeated while the other uses humour as a tool of reconciliation, if I interpret correctly.

Another TV series that Malaysians enjoy immensely is Mind Your Language, where we laugh at non-English students struggling to pick up English and the suffering of Mr. Brown the teacher.

But can you imagine any TV series, books and movies of similar message can be made by Malaysians amongst Malaysians? The fate of “apa khabar orang kampung” can be used as a reliable gauge. There was a poor imitation of MYL but it was hardly worth a second look.

We can make serious viewing or laugh at other people’s racism but not our own. Gordon Banks, one of the greatest goalkeeper in history said something to the effect that he did not work too much on the strong part of his game but concentrate working on the weakest parts of his game.

One of the best phases I have heard while working in multi-national corporations is “Diversification and Inclusion”. People from different countries, religious background, sexual orientation, and cultural upbringing are not to be discriminated on these basis. Mutual respect and acceptance is the call of the day. I would add that for our society, inter-racial “tolerance” is a bit on the negative side. I prefer the words “accommodation” and “acceptance”. We should celebrate the diversity and richness of our culture. Malaysia can attract English and Chinese speaking investors and tourists, or Middle East investors with citizens who can interact better with them.

We should emphasize on the similarity of different races rather than, at present, emphasizing on the differences of different races. There is nothing wrong with other people who have a different lifestyle than yours so long as we understand each other and let things be the way it is. Life would be too boring, isn’t it? Mukhriz spoke about closing down Chinese and Indian language schools but then he did not talk about closing down Chinese and Indian restaurants did he? The richness of language skills in Malaysia should be celebrated as much as the variety and taste of our food.

Of course, I can hear people pointing out those problems that resulted in NEP. Don’t get me wrong. I am all for special programmes tailored to the needs of different races. Chinese don’t have the same problems as Indians who also don’t have the same problems with Malays. We can have special programmes for particular segment of the society and also have nation-wide, homogenous programmes for all.

The concept we must abandon is the zero sum game. Help the Chinese and the Malays will be at disadvantage blah blah blah. CRAP. I once read in Readers’ Digest where a little girl who had 3 siblings asked her mother, “Mommy, how do you divide your love between the four of us?” The mother replied,” dear, my love is multiply, not divide.” Malaysia has enough resources, I strongly believe, to look after all races properly. We are that resource-rich, hard working and intelligent enough to do so. Thinking otherwise is downplaying the potential and capability of your own country and that’s not very patriotic isn’t it?

I am not really in favour of having race-base party talking and fighting for their own race only. I prefer a Malaysian base party who is able to view all of us as one and also have the intelligence to analyze and compartmentalized issues affecting citizens base on different race, geographical areas, physical disability, income level and whatever. Life is no longer simple these days.

A good government and administration should be good at identifying and solving problems whether it is specific to a racial group or physical disability attributes, or confined to a age group or addresses. If base on the zero sum rule, if the government allocate funds to the blind, the deaf should protest because their interest is compromise and if the government allocated funds to the deaf then the blind would protest also.

So you see, race is just another way of compartmentalizing our beautifully diversified country. That’s all.

1 comment:

  1. We started on the wrong footing since the 50s. We have, for generations been told that Malays are always behind time and other non-Malay races must give way in order for the prime race to 'catch-up'. This race card UMNO, MCA, MIC capitalizes with glee. It's not right for a race to openly admit they are under achievers nor is it right to claim another one's race to be of superb class. This is Nazism, eh. However Barisan Nasional politics follow these lines closely- UMNO has continually plays the racism card to gather its flock because of the lack in skill set of its members.

    Yes, right, we should let go of racism and not take it seriously. It's getting in the way. We should concentrate on economy-building. However I'll only let it go if UMNO lets it go.