Saturday, September 15, 2007

Racial Tensions In Malaysia

My Malaysian friends cannot even discuss this issue publicly for fear of being imprisoned, but, fortunately, in the United States, for now at least, there IS a First Amendment and I can bring this issue to your attention.

A BBC reporter confronted Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Seri Syed Hamid Albar a couple of days ago about the really bizarre situation they have in Malaysia, where, if I understand it correctly, the MAJORITY Malays have various government contract set-asides whereas here in the United States, and of probably equal questionability, we have government set-asides for minority and women-owned businesses.

There's a great RealPlayer archive of this interview that I started to watch this morning and it really blew my mind the ARROGANCE this man was projecting.

There was one point where he said something like, if I understood him correctly, "Conditions are so bad in some areas it's even worse than the Indians."

I'm thinking, "Does this man have ANY idea how fast a riot would get started HERE if such language were used?"

Actually he was defensive beyond all recognition with this reporter. First he seemed to be justifying the disciminatory behavior of Malaysian government by making a comparison to Israel and THEN he starts going off on this riff about "you just don't know what conditions are like on the ground here".

He basically seemed to be saying that the Chinese and Indian ethnic minorities there are SO incredibly rich and the Malays are SO poor that they basically have no choice but to steal from the Chinese and Indians and give to the Malays.

I could buy it if they'd take the ethnic element out of it. MOST countries in the world today have a TERRIBLE problem with there being a very tiny handful of DISGUSTINGLY wealthy people and unbelieveably huge numbers of people who lack even rudimentary health care, and, in some countries, access to even to minimal nourishment and shelter.

If the Malaysian government wanted to pick the pockets of the rich and give to the poor - great - but what they seem to be doing is deliberately attempting to make the Chinese and Indians feel like sub-standard citizens and largely unwanted.

What did crack me up is that this Foreign Minister did admit that Malaysia is a very imitative country in some ways. They try to see what works in other nations and copy it, which of course might explain the flag, the hyperglycemia, the histrionics, and, most importantly, the music.

They did certainly seem to import a certain nationalistic pride. One of my friends over there once seemed to be expressing a thought, that, when translated into American terms, would be something like the current government is spitting on the Malaysian flag - that their racism was defiling everything that Malaysia was supposed to be about.

And of course the sad thing is that this friend of mine can't speak for herself or they just might throw her UNDER the jail.

It does truly make me sad. It really does seem like a special place - and it seems to generate quite intelligent, creative, articulate people who are treated like chattel and muzzled like animals.

I certainly hope they have the opportunity one day to stand up and declare their right on this earth to be human beings, to be respected as human beings, to be given the rights of human beings in their society, on this earth, in this day, which they will resolve to bring into existence by any means necessary ...



At September 15, 2007 at 4:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a minority.. i feel sad too. i hope there is a day where the minority will stand up and say "ive been staying in this countries for generations, i've been contributing to this country's development, but why are we still not treated equally?".. i can only hope.

At September 16, 2007 at 12:51 AM, Blogger Crankshaft said...

do you still live in malaysia? because what we seem to do is just pack up and leave.

At September 16, 2007 at 12:58 AM, Blogger Crankshaft said...

Now since everyone is talking about racial divides... and since the government is vehemently denying the existence of it..

The racial divide widens in Malaysia

And way back even in 2001, tensions were already building:

ETHNIC TENSIONS IN MALAYSIA : A wake-up call for the Malaysian Indian Congress

At September 16, 2007 at 1:41 AM, Blogger Crankshaft said...

And since I'm on a roll...

Al Jazeera - Race clouds Malaysia celebrations

Economist - Tall buildings, narrow minds

Even I didn't know there was so much being spoken about us...


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