A Stranger in His Country of Birth

By Paul Chong
A Chinese by Descent
An Australian by Consent

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Pernas Twin Towers
Pernas Twin Towers

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.


Malaysia Boleh

Gaya sampai poket kosong!

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

This article is not an academic exercise, but plainly written for the man in the street – a truthful presentation of facts & events. – Paul Chong

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

A Tribute with Repute

A once-upon“goreng pisang” seller who would be king.


ivanchong_tun_mahathir_2Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, the man who authored “The Malay Dilemma”is sort of in a state of dilemma with his own retirement after 22 years in power. Initially, he was sacked from the UMNO Supreme Council by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the inaugural Prime Minister, and his book (1970) was banned. That was after the racial riot of May 13, 1969. However, a shrewd, cunning & clever politician that he is, he maneuvered his way back from the political wilderness, and on 16 July 1981 established himself as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. What sort of epitaph awaits him? Only time will tell . . . as it is, his political chess game is not over yet . . .

A doctor by profession, he was born in Alor Setar, Kedah in December 1925. Now 83 years young, he’s still mentally alert & physically fit, except for his heart. The youngest of nine children, his school teacher father was a half Indian, son of a Malayalee muslim from Kerala. Mahathir’s own mother, like his own father’s, was a Malay. In Malaysia, we refer these people of Indian-Malay mix as “Mamak”. He graduated as a medical doctor from King Edward VII Medical College (the present National University of Singapore) where he registered as an Indian. Dr. Siti Hasmah binti Haji Mohamad Ali, a fellow doctor & former classmate & a Malay, became his wife. Together they have four sons & three daughters – all filthy rich. To survive during the Japanese Occupation years, he once sold “goreng pisang” (banana fritter).

He is a bit confused about his racial origin, and like all the other migrants from Indonesia & the Arab world, he claims himself to be a “Bumiputra”, which literally means “sons of the soil” – the kind of status that enjoys all the special rights & privileges conferred by law & legislation. For all other racial components, though similarly born & bred in the country, they are denied of the same status, let alone to beget the entitlements.

People who are not native Malays in Malaysia are generally more ultra & extreme in their outlook. I guess they need to prove their loyalty, so to say. Generally too, they are more aggressive, competitive & able than the average lay-back & traditional easy-going Malays, who are largely confined to the rural areas or on the fringes of towns & cities, which historically were established by the Chinese. The Indian component, apart from those involved as labourers in the rubber estates, are also urban in nature engaged in trade & commerce to some extent or as professional.

During his time of political wilderness, Mahathir wrote and published his little book “The Malay Dilemma” in 1970. It was a political exercise & brilliant ploy to attract attention. In it he was attempting to explain as to why the Malays were lesser off than the Chinese, their lack of economic progress, the reasons for the racial riot of May 13, the contributory factors of incest, in-breeding, heredity & also the environment. He even criticised Tunku Abdul Rahman for favouring the Chinese in his administration. The crux of the matter was he wielded a lot of support from the UMNO & he was back on the political road. The rest they say is history.

At different points in his political life, he was & is a figure of great controversy. He used & abused his political associates, criticising & condemning them once their usefulness was over. His political saga with his former deputy, Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, is the famous or infamous one. There had been others like Tun Musa Hitam, also once a trusted deputy, Tun Ghaffar Baba, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, affectionately known as Pak Lah, the Prime Minister preceding the present Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak. The present one, raised & supported by him, now appeared to be going on his own way – not listening to him as like Pak Lah. All his big proposed projects have either been shelved or ignored completely. Mahathir is not standing by idly looking on. He is really fuming.

Mahathir is also known to be an outspoken critic of the Westerners. His tongue is either very lose or he’s a big mouth. His quarrels with George Soros, our former Prime Minister Paul Keating, the American or British never failed to hit the headlines. Even across the causeway, he’s not too friendly with Lee Kuan Yew. Here you can sense a tint of jealousy. Mahathir is far from his Singapore rival’s league in terms of recognition, respect & honour. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew still commands attention in Singapore, he’s a much sought after speaker internationally, & he’s got his name edged in perpetuity in NUS – Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Singapore, without any natural resources, was doomed to fail after its separation from Malaysia, has outpaced & outrun Malaysia in more ways than one – all attributed to Lee Kuan Yew. Mahathir has a great distrust & distaste for the West – definite big critic for Western globalisation.

In all fairness, Mahathir has had some pluses & credits due to him:

  • longest serving Prime Minister in Malaysia – 22 years

  • longest serving political leader in Asia

  • accredited with setting up the first motor industry – Perodua

  • the building of Pernas Twin Tower, then tallest in the world

  • also changing the skyline of KL with Telekom Tower

  • the building of the North-South Freeway for ease &

    speed of communication

  • credited to engineering the rapid modernisation of Malaysia.

These are some of the mega projects at tremendous massive costs to the country. He’s a real successful family man in that his offspring are “fabulously rich”.

When it comes to the question of cost, the public coffer could do without the notorious CCN (more prominent than the CNN of the media world, which came into prominence as a consequence of 9/11 & the Iraq War). However, this CCN, sounds ambiguously like CNN (please confuse them not) stands for Corruption, Cronyism & Nepotism, which are so rampant & deeply rooted that even the most reputable international audit firm wouldn’t dare to handle. This outrageous practice, among those UMNO connected, has & is creating a filthy rich class of people at the expense of the general population & worst of all the poor & deserved society at large, discounting colour, race or creed.

The racial riot of May 13, 1969 marks the water-shed in the history of Malaysia. Prior to this date, there was the unspoken giving & taking that stood at least on a bearable proportion. Since then all hell broke lose and everything of economic value was forcefully ripped off by law & legislation (NEP). Tun Abdul Razak, the second Prime Minister, father of the present Prime Minister, initiated the move with new national education program of language switching from English to Bahasa Malaysia, and the introduction of NEP (New Economic Policy) doing away with the supposedly outdated 5-year Plan.

Of course, the political & economic woes of Malaysia are not attributed entirely to Mahathir. After the initiation launch by Tun Abdul Razak, it was followed by Tun Hussein Onn, & Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (1999 -2003) who came to power after Mahathir’s retirement. Each had a hand in implementing & perpetuating this grossly unfair & unjust practice of sharing the economic cake & other privileges.


The Telekom Tower featuring Mahathir on its

facade during Merdeka Celebration in 2004.

Mahathir, without doubt, topped them all with his brand of politics. He was the supreme leader – anyone not with him would be deemed to be against him. He ruled with iron fists, did away with the independence of judiciary, the separation of law, law & order completely under his belt . . . the list just goes on.

The once “Goreng Pisang” (Banana Fritter) seller became the king of kings.

For twenty-two years he reigned in glory & supreme.

His reign is over but he is reluctant to let go. He expects to be listened to by Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak, the son of Tun Abdul Razak, the man who started it all & who died untimely due to cancer. Najib was really groomed & supported by Mahathir. At the height of May 13, Najib returned from UK as a fresh young inexperienced man & followed his ailing father into politics. He has had an easy ride without an ounce of effort or accomplishment. Opportunities just placed him & fitted him in. His abilities & capabilities have never been shown or exhibited. It could come to pass, as they say, “easy come easy go”.

Democracy as practised in Malaysia is laughable. It’s communal & dominating in style with the Alliance Party in power since independence from the British government. Though the Alliance Party is composed of the other two major communal components the MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) and the MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress), it has been UMNO (United Malays national Organisation) truly holding the power. The other two are but stooges, plainly standing by without resistance or opposition seeing to the giving & freely taking of all the rights & privileges, while self-fulfilling their own personal agenda at the expense of the population.

Tun Musa Hitam, the then Deputy Prime Minister in the 1970s, had warned the Chinese when addressing a group of us in ADMO (Alliance Direct Members Organisation – long defunct, was only a window dressing organisation for true equality that transcended racial line). Nobody heeded the warning to be more politically involved instead of wholly concentrating on the economic side of affairs. The less competitive Malays wisely seized the political power & thereby established their standing. Everything became to be stamped & controlled by them. The dawn arrived frightfully sooner than imaginable. They have been taking 30% share of everything, without any monetary input or talent, that which you’ve been building through sweat & blood dwindled in size & significance overnight. Even all trading & commerce with China have to be through Pernas, the Malay controlled government agency. Progressively, marginalization set in for the Chinese & the Indians in all spheres of livelihood in the country – education, employment, business, government contracts and others. This they did & are still doing – all in the name of fair & equal distribution of wealth. But is it?

History has a way of repeating itself. Like the majority of the Germans, they were not bothered by the smaller group of Nazis, but then what happened? The Nazis took control of the country & before long history was in the making. History also pointed out to the fall of the great Roman Empire. The house that failed to stand together would soon yield & collapsed. History has proven this from time to time – it has never been proven otherwise.

Be warned about being a frog in the well, for there is such a swell world out there! In this age of globalisation, expect not to be living in political isolation. In the name of international justice, polarization, discrimination, marginalization must not be if men are to be free. “All men are born equal” is globally accepted as the guiding light in the practice of fairness for mankind. No man is an island. We are interlinked & interdependent upon one another. The connectedness of life is obvious between people in the country, also country and country.

It’s obvious that the NEP breeds only an elite class of super rich, benefiting only those with the right connectedness with UMNO. These people have become to be famously known as “UMNOputras”.

Let’s look at the list below, and then you’ll be the sole judge & jury as to what is fair & just or who is being marginalized . . . these among others are under the power & control of UMNO:

  • Land rights & ownership

  • Special rights & privileges as provided by NEP

  • Army, Police & government civil services

  • Political power in Malays’ hands

  • All economic policies & law-making

  • Tertiary education & scholarship awards

  • Public building contracts

  • Job availabilities & employment opportunities

  • Oil companies & banks

There has been an unprecedented brain drain from Malaysia when the brilliant & talented class chose to work & live in foreign lands rather than to be denied of job & promotional opportunities – to be downright discriminated in their homeland. It is a glaring fact, for instance, the Chinese students would need to possess 13As & above to qualify for top university places or awards for scholarships, whereas a Malay could get in with Bs & Cs. All top posts in every field are held by them – and not on meritorious ground.

The list of unfairness, discrimination & dissatisfaction is far too long to state here. Suffice for me to say that the time has come when we say “Enough is enough”.

The NEP was initiated back for an agreed span of 30 years. That period limit has come & gone. It is too good to be giving back that privilege – for the small privileged group never had it so good. Democracy must be practised with meritocracy. Everyone, born & bred in the country, must have the same privilege & opportunity of competing for the expanding economic cake. It’s their birthright!

The shine on the land of the Golden Chersonese is being slowly & surely rubbed off. Lesser land like Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore with less or no natural resources are doing better than Malaysia. There’s got to be a new direction in all fairness to all – a change to be brought about for growth & progress of the nation. Together the nation must stand united as one. It appears the “One Malaysia” slogan has been adopted by Dato’ Sri Najib, the present Prime Minister. However, it is in the proper implementation that will generate the right stimulation. For a starter, all discrimination, polarization & marginalization must go, then work together for the greater goal.

This “Bolehland” is the “Shangril-La” for the “Bumiputras”

where the minorities subsidise & enrich the majority.

Together Malaysians will prevail

Asunder the nation will fail

Look at the global big picture

Strike out of the political quagmire!

Paul Chong ©

A Chinese by Descent

An Australian by Consent

22 August 2009