By Paul Chong
A Chinese by Descent
An Australian by Consent
Tuesday, 13 January 2015
I was born in Malaysia, a country I always refer to as the “Golden Chersonese” but have migrated to the “Lucky Country“ or “Down Under” (as it’s otherwise known). I have been away for 33 years, only returning briefly occasionally for family events.
Though I was born there, the government never consider any of us as “Bumiputra” – a term they use to distinguish people born there as “Sons/Princes of the Soil”. It’s a known fact that many of the so-called Melayu or Bumiputra are from foreign lands like India, Indonesia, Middle East & others. Discrimination & prejudices stare glaringly at your face, if you are a non-Malay. The unfairness & injustice cover every facet of your life – education, employment, opportunities & what more can I say.
A guided democracy practised without meritocracy.
Admittedly, I still have great sentiments attached to the country I left behind. My siblings & relatives are still living there. My grandparents, parents & two siblings including my parents-in-law are buried in the soil which the non-Malays cannot lay claims of ownership.
My alma mater in Taiping has an appearance alien to me. So is the premier
Anderson School in Ipoh where I taught for several years after my graduation from the University of Malaya in Pantai Valley, Kuala Lumpur.
I am grateful for the government teacher training scholarship at Kirkby, Liverpool, UK, and had served part of my five-year teaching contract in Flu Kelantan & Ipoh in Perak. Up to this point in time, most of us were happy & contented with our lives in Malaysia.
The scenario & political landscape took a drastic transformation after the May 13 Racial Riot & upheaval when the ruling UMNO lost their great majority. Tun Abdul Razak, father of the present Prime Minister Najib, ousted our beloved first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, set himself at the helm. He began to implement the New Economic Policy, switched the education medium of instruction from English to Malay, unjustifiably demanding 30% share of all businesses & enterprises for the Bumiputra “without any input of capital” . . . sheer daylight robbery…suffice for me to mention just a few. Tun Razak didn’t last long on the throne. His sudden death was quite unexpected.
Tun Razak started it all following up with Mahathir (someone who has lost his original root of descent) perpetuating the system & his supreme own brand of politics. Though much development has come about during his 22 years reign . . . much is best left unsaid. Abdullah Badawi, the Prime Minister after Mahathri, was an easy going kind of person, always caught sleeping at his job & in parliament. Najib, the five straight A’s Prime Minster, has developed “Najibism” apart from the existing Corruption & Nepotism. His slogan of 1Malaysia is appropriately replaced by such slogan as CNN (not the TV channel) but Corruption, Nepotism & Najibism.(Refer to my article on Najib: Straight A’s Malaysian Prime Minister (Thurs. 27 Nov. 2914).
The political landscape, economic management & the lack of meritocracy, law & order, media control all draw criticism from foreign press & commentators.
By & large the Chinese population which has dwindled to mere over 20% are complacent & unconcerned politically. As it is the Chinese are moist assiduous in their economic pursuit & are not likely to starve or be deprived of their business acumen, innovativeness & creativity in running businesses & enterprises.
As such, it was pointed out by past Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam who once said that the Chinese were themselves to be blamed for the present state of political situation. Needless to say, the less competitive Malays were kind of forced to be politically inclined & with political power, all other policies fall into their grip.
On the surface, everything seems quite normal. The Chinese work hard at their businesses, but only a sprinkle of them are ever found in government employment. They live well in suburbs sprouting up everywhere & having two cars in each home is quite common. But every home is gated with bars of steel for security – even though the suburb may have security in force. In some areas, even like Bungsa,
break-ins & robbery are common features that occur even in daylight. No one can really feel safe at home or in public.
Undoubtedly, Chinese feature in most economic activities, a vital link in the system from small eating stalls to corporate establishments. Not to be handicapped in other areas of human endeavour, they circumvent the system which closes all doors of opportunities available. Domestically, the best schools & tertiary education institutions are all reserved for the Malays. Nevertheless, the deprived non-Malays work hard to send their off-springs abroad & has often happened, after graduation, all these brainy graduates stay back to work & live in foreign lands. This brain drain is very evident. As Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore would say that the Malaysian government would sacrifice such losses in order to hang on to their political power.
There is a Malay saying: “Gaya mahu, lain lain tak apa” (meaning pride matters, others do not count). What a brilliant mentality.
The highways within the metropolitan Kuala Lumpur & the North-South link are both impressive. The alignment of the super highways, quite often choked with traffic jams especially during holidays & festive seasons, avoid passing through scenes of kampongs with their stilt attap & timber homes. Road houses & rest places are also impressive with businesses dominated & reserved for the Malays. But I have a lingering thought how much benefits really penetrated to the average folks living in rural areas. The political UMNO cows are well fed & enriched is a known fact.
The ruling UMNO-Baru knows how to keep the peasant Malays happy by building mosques everywhere. Religion is such a useful political tool. Votes are easily bought with monetary bribes, constitutional change of voting boundaries, importing undesirable immigrants so long they are Muslims or vow allegiance to the UMNO Party by voting to keep them in power. Politics is such a dirty game!
Malaysia with its wealth of resources such as gas & oil, should have stayed ahead in economic terms of its Asian neighbours. Instead it is lagging behind its immediate neighbour Singapore, only a City State without any natural resources. Malaysia pales in significance when compared to the Indonesians.
What is going to happen when the oil & gas run out? The greatness of a nation cannot rely just on its natural resources – more tangibly & important is the human resources. Therein lies the wealth of the nation.
The concept of “easy comes easy goes” will soon spells disasters. When the going is rough & tough, the tough get going, but for the weak & life-time of takers they will sink beneath the economic quagmire. After all survival is always for the fittest.
Gaya sampai poket kosong!