Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Racial divide a myth as racialism is not the cause




Racial divide a myth

by Ajit Singh Jessy 

SCANNING the various websites and the comments from readers, one would think that racialism pervades our society and daily life. It is also made out to appear that we are about to have racial riots and that there is an insurmountable racial divide.

In my view, this is far from the truth and largely exists in the minds of the writers and may, in fact, be reflective of their own racist views and upbringing.

The issue of scholarships and comments by Datuk Seri Mohammed Nazri Abdul Aziz that Ibrahim Ali is a clown and so forth, are twisted to imply that racialism is the cause.

Scholarships, of course, must be offered to those with good academic results, as well as deserving cases, who may not have the best results but need assistance.

I am not aware of any time in our history where scholarships were given automatically to those with the best results only.

Other factors have always been weighed in and it is not possible for scholarships to be given to all.

In the United States, too, at one time, African-Americans were given special consideration in education and jobs. In India, this is widespread, with some so-called backward classes committing suicide to ensure that they are given special privileges in education and that places are reserved for them in institutions of higher learning.

When Nazri said Ibrahim was a clown, he probably meant that Ibrahim should not be taken seriously.

We still go to Malay weddings, kenduri and lunch with our Malay colleagues and they attend the functions of others. We should not make accusations of double standards at the drop of a hat.

Such accusations imply that others should be allowed to make similar sensitive statements. What would be the end result?



Tension and fear. How does this help the cause of nation- building? These racial critics talk about fairness but are blind to the fact that continuous tit for tat does not serve any purpose.

The views of people like Ibrahim should be ignored.

This talk of a threatening racial divide does not exist in our daily life. You can go to any government department, where the Malays form the majority, and yet, they will not attend to a Malay first but to everyone by turn.

I go to a Malay stall for lunch and there is always a long line of customers from all races and yet, the woman will serve you by your turn. She does not ask the Malays to jump queue just because they are of the same race or religion.

So, what are these critics complaining about discrimination being institutionalised?

You can walk down any street and no one will call out by your race but address you politely according to your age or gender, such as adik, kak, pakcik or makcik. You will not find this if there is a racial divide.

My legal firm has Chinese, Malay and Indian staff. I see them going out for lunch together, celebrating birthdays and visiting one another's homes during festivals.

In fact, we feel most at home when we go to some homes for Hari Raya because the family will attend to the non-Malay visitors first and even remove the beef dishes from the table.

This is the reality of multiracial and multireligious Malaysia and the said behaviour reflects how we live together and not accommodate or tolerate one another, as these misinformed racialists will have us believe.

I think it is time for these mischievous and self-appointed experts on racial issues to come down from their ivory towers and lead a normal life, by sincerely intermingling with one and all.

These writers are in fact creating problems by passing off their prejudiced views as those of the majority of Malaysians.

To compound matters, there are former Malaysians who give their opinion about how this country is headed for racial and financial disaster, and their views are given wide circulation through the Internet. While I welcome different views, it is not proper for these ex-citizens to behave as though only they know what is best for our country.

Leave that to us, and please, take care of your adopted country, where you probably cannot even stand for elections and do not have the numbers to make a difference to the election outcome.

AJIT SINGH JESSY
Penang