Why is everybody acting like racism is a new thing? The two teachers that made racial remarks towards their students weren’t the first to get the ball rolling, and you can almost definitely bet your life savings that they won’t be the last to contribute to nationwide hate and distrust.
What surprises me is how these two teachers are being brought to task so rapidly by the men-in-charge. If preceding cases are anything to go by, some politicians have said equally terrible things, if not worse, at public rallies and talks with the media but these morons get off with nothing more than a brief telling-off or minimal fines.
How did racism come to be so prevalent in Malaysian society today, to the point that it defines every aspect of our personal lives?
The Beginnings of Racism in our Political System
Whereas other countries’ political parties are divided along ideological lines, ours are divided along racial ones (and to a lesser extent, religious ones as well). This can be traced to the time before we became independent as a nation, when our forefathers established communal-based parties.
Rather than divide society into the major racial groups, these parties were set up with the objective of fighting for the rights of the racial group that each represented. Eventually their leaders realized the mutual benefit of uniting these disparate parties under one banner to strengthen our drive towards independence.
Thus, the Alliance was born, and later became the Barisan Nasional (National Front), combining the United Malays National Organization, the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress.
Our forefathers must have had noble ideals for this Alliance. When men are united in pursuit of a common goal, whole mountains can be moved and seas parted to pave the way for the seemingly impossible.
A Destructive Shift in Priorities
Today, we find our politicians (I refuse to call them leaders) working not to provide the best for the people, but to fish for the biggest number of votes. Instead of meaningful long-term blueprints to develop racial integration and push our country to higher levels of achievement, we’re left with vicious infighting, unsolvable scandals, and numerous “large-scale” development projects of questionable value.
On top of all that, we have people “up top” “reminding” us Chinese and Indians that we are “not welcome”, being nothing more than “illegal immigrants” who should “just pack up and leave”? Lyrics from a favorite song spring to mind:
So if you’re pissed like me
Bitches, here’s what you gotta do
Put your middle fingers up in the air
Go on and say “Fuck you!”
– Theory of a Deadman, “I Hate My Life”
Of course, such a course of action wouldn’t be very productive at all.
What can we do as Malaysians about racism? Where do we start? Would you emigrate simply to avoid having your children deal with such blatant distrust as they grow up, or is there a practical solution we can effect to curb this unity-breaker? Is this problem even solvable at all in the first place?
Additional note: Some people would also indicate the historical roots of racism and “Malay supremacy” lie in the New Economic Policy (NEP) and Article 153 of the Constitution. They argue that the NEP and Article 153 have become perverted by unscrupulous parties for their own gain. What do you think?