Monday, July 25, 2005

Are The Malays Able To Catch Up? part I

NEP = Nine Elegant Potatoes

As of late, the newspapers have been plastered with reports regarding UMNO's general assembly. Why, you can't even turn a page without coming across yet another article on yet another reason why the NEP should be revived, why the Malays are still lagging economically and on why there's no way a 62 year old woman could have possibly given birth at the age of 10.

Ahhh, the NEP. The source of such controversy, the catalyst for endless debates and the reason why Malaysia is stagnating/progressing (depending on which camp you're in). What are my thoughts on it then? Before I begin, let me just share with you a quote by Benjamin Franklin which I feel is really relevant to our current situation (politicians take note).

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"

Benjy Franklin sure knew what he was talking about.

NEP = Not Enough Panadol

Just how far are the Malays lagging behind the other races? Pretty much, if the local newspapers are to be believed. It seems that on average, Chinese earn a monthly income of RM4,200+, with the Malays only averaging RM2,800+. That's a pretty big gap by any measure. Also, Malays make up more than 50% of the population, yet only 18% of our nations equity are in their hands. Even after almost 30 years of 'specialist' policies tailored to assist them.

What about education then? Surely all races are on almost equal footing since we came from the same primary schools, the same secondary schools, have access to the same libraries, facilities and colleges/universities? Not quite so, according the The Star, Malays are beginning to disappear from our colleges/universities ever since meritocracy was introduced. There is even talk of setting up a local medical university which caters solely for the Bumis (a pretty dumb idea if you ask me, but more on that later).

Please bear in mind that I'm saying all this not to 'hentam' the Malay race. I'm merely repeating what was reported in our local (government sanctioned, mind you) newspapers. Sooooo, after so many years of help from the government, after billions of tax payers money have been expended and after numerous contract hand-outs, we find that we are still struggling with the same problem as our forebears.

I wonder why?

NEP = Now Enjoy Protein

Let me first state that I do not truly believe that Malays are an incapable race. I do not believe that they suffer from any genetic disposition which prevents then from learning, working and succeeding in life. I do NOT believe that they do not harbour dreams and ambitions, just like any other race, or any other human being for that matter.

I believe that all these articles in the newspapers (although sprouting from good intentions) regarding how badly the Malays need help are just plain detrimental to the race as a whole! I know the government wants to highlight the socio-economic situation in our country, but please be careful with the words that are used and the tone in which they are presented.

Imagine with me....

Imagine this for a moment, you were born in a loving family up north in Malaysia. Your childhood was a blissful period. A happy period spent in the company of your siblings, parents and relatives. As you grew up, you began harbouring dreams and ambitions. Being young, you thought that the sky was the limit. That there's nothing that cannot be attained if you worked hard enough. However, as you grew older, you also began to notice that not everyone shared the same optimistic outlook on life as you do. You read in the newspapers that the your race is languishing behind, that the only way that your race could succeed was by relying on government hand-outs. You hear your parents whispering about it in the dark of the night. In hushed voices, they talked about how unfair the situation is, about how other races are striving forward at the expense of your race.

Needless to say, your confidence takes a hit. Your dreams and ambitions begin to look like silly, diaphonous childhood fantasies. You begin to develop an inferior mindset. Your drive to succeed fades away as you grudgingly accept this so-called reality which is shoved down your throat. You find yourself thinking, it must be true if everyone is talking about it, it must be true that my race is somehow lacking compared with others. You begin to feel defensive towards to other races. You suspect that they look down on you, that they are laughing at you behind your back.

Imagine if you grew up in this kind of environment. What would you be today?

It affects all races

If I were put in that situation, I definitely would not be as optimistic as I am today. The above scenario which I just described can apply to any race. However, due to the well-meaning but misguided speech and actions of some of our promiment politicians today, the Malays are the ones who are affected the most by it.

I believe that what the government should and must give to the Malays more than anything else, is a sense of self-worth, pride and confidence. Yeah, they try to put individuals such as Nasimuddin and Nazir Razak on pedestals, hoping that they would serve as a beacon of hope for all the Malays. But what about the Malays who are not as well-connected as these individuals? What do they have to hold on to?

I don't mean to imply that all Malays are suffering from self-esteem problems. I believe that by nature they are a very optimistic, positive and proud (in a good way of course) race. What I am saying however, is that no matter how confident an individual intially is, being exposed to such things will definitely take its toll. I know it will definitely take its toll on me. To say that you are not affected at all by such things is just pure denial.

So how do we go about helping the Malays and our country as a whole? More on that in my next post. Watch this space...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderful insight into the whole 2 cents
give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime..
it is time to stop 'spoon feeding' the malays and allow them to struggle and work their way all other races in malaysia or they will forever expect hand-outs..and not develop

11:29 AM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

I agree with you on the man and a fish analogy. I do think that we should help the Malays however. We can't just leave them high and dry, but I think its high time we look into our NEP policies and fine-tune them a little. Whether this fine-tuning results in less benefits, or even more benefits, I don't know. All I know is, we cant keep doing the same thing and expect things to change.

After all, Malays are just as capable as succeeding. Now if only they themselves would realise that...hmmm.

11:35 AM  
Blogger pooh said...

Once upon a time in high school, I knew a Malay-Chinese girl who had to wear a tudung but she didn't want to because she looked Chinese anyway, fairer than us chinkies.

However, she was rather hateful towards her dad because he was a Moslem and her hatred for her 1/2 parentage caused her to hate every Chinese girl around her. She called them all kinds of names and stuff.

She told me a funny story tho, some theory of her own. The Malays are so poor in the kampongs that after perikanan, pertanian and dinner, they would have intercourse because they dont have enough money to buy TVs, PS2 or what-nots. That's why they have alot of kids. And they can't afford contraceptives ^^

Silly story but true at times. Hmm.. I wonder where did she go, that lil Chi-lay girl.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how can they realise their capabilities and succeed if they are degraded by receiving hand-outs by their government...who happen to be their own people!!some help is ok but come on, if the chinese and indians and the 'lain-lain' can become industry giants without any life-line, why not the malays? they cannot be that lacking... perhaps if they stop racing on the streets/'lepaking' at dataran merdeka every saturday night etc.. they can realise their potential.. aahh...just to think, one of them could be our pm one day...
poohs story is interesting..she/he forgot the part where the father rapes the daughters cause they live in a 1 bedroom house where all 7 of them sleep together and cannot control their 'nafsu'...
yes, the NEP sure does benefit them malays...

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello, i'm a malay and really i dont give a .... about this NEP thingy, because seriously, as far as i'm concern i've never got any help from the government i.e biasiswa or anything of that sort. i went to school, went to private college (have to work part time to pay for the fees) and now i got myself a decent job. to say that ALL MALAY depends on the government is so totally wrong. it hurts to read other people's comment on our race though. not all malays get help from the gorvernment, as some of us DO NOT come from rich family i.e Datuk ke, Tan Sri ke....some of us work our butt out to be where we are please stop talking as if all of us are being spoon fed. just because the malays are given the privileges does not mean all of us gets the share from the pie.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Bernard Yong said...

2nd anonymous : I get what you mean. I never meant to imply that ALL Malays are living off the government. What you said however proved me right, there are a lot of Malays who are not fabulously rich and who could benefit from some form of govt help (if you don't feel the need for govt help, then my props to you. However, we have to realize that there are people who are less fortunate than we are :)). The thing which annoys me is when policies which are meant to help the population as a whole gets abused and ends up fattening the wallets of a select few. Now that's something everyone should get worked up about. I don't mind seeing my tax money spent on something worthwhile, but to see it go towards greedy contractors, middle-men and businessmen? Argghh!!!

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to the malay chappie who felt he has in no way benefited from the government hand outs. We need more people like you, but with all due respect, it is a reality, that there is preferential treatment, and though it is hurtful to have insensitive sods hurl general accusations, we should all try to look at things from different perspectives. True, you may not have benefited directly, nor may you be linked to any Tan Sri or Datuk, but don't forget the little everyday "privileges", like preferential IPOs, bumi discounts for house purchases, etc. that are yours for the taking, should you wish to exercise that right. Affirmative action is a good thing, when properly executed. It is good for the country that the gap between rich and poor is narrowed, regardless of race. Some of the most brilliant and hardworking people I know, are Malay. You shouldn't feel hurt at these generalisations, as the next generation of young malaysians, you and others like you should make your voice heard, and make it known that you can live without these handouts, rather than just sitting back and feel you're being unfairly persecuted. You are our future.

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