Keeping Paranoia Politics Alive…

…is among others, Utusan Malaysia’s Firdaus Abdullah.

The issue at contention here is the government’s decision to do away with the “race” column in some government issued forms way back in August. The Star was a bit more cautious with with the story, going on to get it from the DPM’s mouth.

Here’s Muhyiddin’s rationale.

“There is a need for us to look at Malaysians not from the perspective of race,” he said.- The Star.

Of course there are exceptions to this policy. The race thingie will continue to be a category in cases where the special bumiputera privileges are concerned. This too was categorically stated in the Malaysian Insider report.

The public reaction, as far I as I could see, ranged from “Yay! At Last” to “Ye ke ni?” to “cannot be lah. Too good to be true.” I for one was pleasantly surprised to see a policy that might start to address the communal divide in this country.

Maybe it is too early in the day for cynical old me to buy into this 1Malaysia baloney. So far what I’ve seen are just phoney regurgitations. Maybe the PM has some desire to do the right thing, who knows.

It is rare for the government to come up with a policy that will have such wide positive repercussions, that we sit up and take notice. Lots of people have been for this move, including Mukhriz Mahathir.

Then comes Mr Firdaus Abdullah with this article. Here are the first three paragraphs.

Wajarkah ruang pengenalan “kaum” dalam borang-borang dan dokumen rasmi kerajaan digugurkan? Apakah implikasinya kepada bangsa Melayu?

Bagaimanakah hendak memantau perubahan nasib (kemajuan?) orang Melayu dengan ketiadaan pengenalan kaum itu?

Bagaimanakah langkah-langkah affirmative hendak dirancang dan dilaksanakan untuk membantu orang Melayu yang serba-serbi masih ketinggalan itu jika tidak ada data yang lengkap?

My answer: There is already exception made to forms dealing with these bumiputra privileges. Firdaus either didn’t read that part when researching for his opinion, or he chose to ignore it. Hard data can still be compiled by statisticians even without a clearly stated “Melayu” in those forms.

Adakah pengguguran yang dicadangkan itu benar-benar boleh menyumbang terhadap matlamat gagasan Satu Malaysia? Atau adakah itu, tanpa disedari, hanya akan “mencairkan” jati diri Melayu untuk menjadi lebih “Malaysian” sementara jati diri pihak-pihak lain semakin kental dan menebal dengan sikap perkaumannya yang semakin eksklusif?

Now this is very naughty. I suggest Firdaus goes and reads the 8 values of 1 Malaysia. Those aims are noble, at least on paper. For Firdaus to infer that for my Malay friends will lose their esssential Malay-ness if they were to see themselves as Malaysians, is such a pathetic assertion it ain’t funny.

Now the next part about “pihak pihak lain” will strengthen their racial integrity with greater consequent racist and exclusive behaviour, is a malicious generalisation. Furthermore it won’t be true. Not in this day and age.

Everyone’s culture will get diluted somewhat, especially in a melting pot. What you will get in return, is assimilation of some ways and customs. It is only natural when people of different cultures live together. Now wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing to embrace our diversity? How else do you explain the many pretty Chinese girls I saw at an event last Sunday, looking demure and sweet in their baju kebaya, or the halal Pau stall that’s doing thriving business here. Neither party were coerced to adapt, I’m sure.

“Bagi data yang beribu dan berjuta banyaknya, bagaimanakah ia hendak diproses untuk mengetahui profil atau taburan mengikut kaum dan agama? Tanpa maklumat seperti ini, bagaimanakah hendak menggubal dasar dan program yang berbentuk affirmative action seperti membasmi kemiskinan dan membetulkan ketidakseimbangan ekonomi mengikut kaum, selaras dengan konsep 1Malaysia?

The above quotes Senator Akbar Ali. I think he knows better that where bumiputera equity in the economic pie is concerned, other policies are already in place that clearly states the race status of relevant groups or individuals. As regards poverty eradication, isn’t poverty an issue that transcends race and religion?

Affirmative action was meant to correct an imbalance in distribution of wealth and progress among the various communities. There are a lot of people who are still below poverty line, some living in painfully squalid conditions. They are not just Malays, but also Indians, Chinese, Dayaks, Penans, Ibans, Temuans…in short, Malaysians.

I Malaysia should be about restoring dignity to all Malaysians, and ensuring they get their basic rights as citizens. Properly implemented, it will not compromise Malay rights or bumiputera privileges. As it happens, greed and insecurity has a lot to do with the inequality we see today.

Firdaus chose to look at the negative implications of this very simple proposal, taking his cue from Senator Akbar Ali. But Akbar as a member of the Upper House surely could have had access to the relevant information regarding the abolition of race in government forms. That he chose to raise questions first, points towards the kindling of a pressure group, to pre-empt what he calls “ura ura” but has already come out of the DPM’s own mouth.

Of course, fresh in the wake of the triumphant win in Bagan Pinang, Umno folks can afford to be just a little more cocky in their strut, but then, tomorrow some other dude might die and another by-election might be coming. Utusan’s relentless fear-mongering might just trigger a blacklash then.

It may be a smart thing to think together as Malaysians, to ensure our future survival as a nation in a changing world order. But what can I say, if the opinion shapers choose to peddle fear and stop the citizenry from thinking beyond the “Aku Melayu” premise. What happened to Najib’s “Glokal” Malaysians?

Tu lah, korang ni, dah lah mudah lupa, cepat pulak melatah.


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