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Monday, March 10, 2008

Being Malay - Might May 13th History Repeat?

Surprise, surprise.

Actually, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. The time of Barisan Nasional’s absolute power has now been threatened with a bombshell result in which, in the words of PAS leader, Nik Aziz, ‘It’s a tsunami.’

Imagine that. Opposition won five states! Five! That’s more-or-less one third of the all states in this little cultural soup of a nation. It’s the biggest general election shocker since 1969 and the first real shaker for BN since the independence.

Granted, word on the news channel says that 4.9 million Malaysians didn’t join the voting society. Me thinks these consist of the youngest crew, the first-time voters of ages 22-30 fellows. Politics in the younger generation is just not so as serious to them as the forefathers did.

Ironic, considering it’s the younger crew that shaped the future.

With this attitude, 10 or 20 years down the line and I wonder how much will things change. Or stay the same. Without the 2/3 majority in the winnings, the ruling party now can’t make around new laws without inspection by the Opposition.

At last, a real parliamentary debate! Let’s just hope nobody throws any literal punches while they’re at it *cough*Taiwan*cough*. Not especially since most of the seat holders nowadays are newbies with good arms and small experience.

Well, yeah, call me a hypocrite if you wish. I myself am not so politically or nationally fancy (then again, I haven’t even got a job yet, let alone am qualified to pay taxes). So my opinion may not cover anything. But the truth is that I’m a bit... worried is too strong a word. Apprehensive? Anxious?

The last time an Opposition wins on this major scale was in 1969. DAP, aka, the Rocket Party, won a majority in Penang, just as they do now, this 2008 year. But... I don’t know what to think really, when I heard the news.

I just have to be thankful that each of all our races is now more open-minded than they were some 30 years ago.

Like I said, I’m not a political party member. I don’t have a real bias towards any party, no real vision to how the winning party might influence the way the country works in the next few years or so. Except that we should keep the peace.

I like the peace. I enjoy eating and not living on the streets.

30 years ago is nothing like Malaysia today.

There weren’t a lot of sharing of cultures like today, where Chinese, Indians and Malays can sit and eat the same restaurant in the heart of KL. Back then, there was a lot of racism. Polarisation in residential areas. The Chinese holds 90% of the nation’s economic business (freaking 90%!) because they’re good at it. Prior to the elections of 1969, those in Penang won’t sell anything to the Malays or the Indians.

Because that’s just the way things are 30 years ago.

There aren’t any Malay rights, no hak bumiputera back then. Malays, after centuries under the oppressive Western rule, suddenly found themselves with a freedom to build a nation. They’ve been farmers and miners for generations. There’s always some foreign ‘Resident’ to report to. Heck, now... they don’t know where to start. Blur and confused, and most sad of all, totally uneducated.

And that how the other races took advantage.

I hope I don’t offend anybody at this point. This was 30 years ago and we Malays are just damn stupid and confused people. Indians, those shipped in by the British to work, have families and connections back in their homeland. So does the Chinese, even more so because of their strong trading background.

But Malays are being left out. They don’t know how to develop big business, except being an underling.
Factory worker.
Office assistant.
Working class and big business all belonged to the Chinese and the Indians because they got the guts and the willpower to survive leaving their homeland and crave a niche in a young foreign nation. A nation they can help build. Opportunities beckons.

So when the DAP won Penang in 1969, there was a parade on the Penang streets. It was a very nice celebrative parade too. But racial tolerance was... pretty slim. Freedom of speech was more open then but less controlled. DAP was fully owned by the Chinese people. Penang was full of Chinese due to the multi-cultural society we got cooked in this trading archipelago.

As they celebrated over the BN, the Malay-majority party, it was not a really nice kind of celebration... for a Malay. The party took to the streets and called out racial slurs against the Malays.

They laughed at how much better they were and that all Malays ought to serve them. They even carried brooms, swinging and waving them, saying that they’re going to sweep the Malays back into the jungle where they belong.

Throw this group of happy-go-lucky people into present day Malaysia... I don’t know actually. Would today’s Chinese be tolerant of them? Were we Malays back then was that bad? Would the Indian community be involved?

I’m guessing yeah. Heck, proof was in the economy and the standard of living. The other races were way ahead of the Malays way, waaaaay back then. Malays, you see, are at the risk of losing what being Malay was.

In terms of education, economy, land rights and scholarships, the other races of very young Malaysia are making Malays the same way what the Americans had turned the Red Indians into today; a lost sub-culture.

The same isolation in development had also suppressed and nearly destroyed the Australian aborigines by the Australian’s European descendants. New Zealand nearly killed the Maoris with polarisation just as the Spanish had destroyed the native South Americans (albeit, more literally).

Yet Malays were in Malaysia first.

By now I think I might have offended a few readers. I apologise if my writing had caused any harm to feelings to my fellow Indians and Chinese blog readers but I won’t retract my words in my blog. Because I don’t want to ignore or forget the significance what had happened in May 13, 1969.

Most of the youngsters of today in my age, toward the same said youngsters who didn’t came out to vote on 8th March 2008, might not be fully aware of what May 13, 1969 was. History books just said ‘racial riots’.

Now with CNN, Aljazeera and BBC exposure, we can pretty much guess that May 13 incident was as black as a day in any 3rd world country riots. Car bombs, makeshift weapons, Malays versus Chinese in a 24 hour murderous frenzy of Kampung Baru.

Hundreds of the Chinese were going to take a step too far into the heart of KL, into Kampung Baru, on May 13, 1969. Heck, they're still waving their brooms.

My dad was nearly in the middle of it. He was a Mara college student then. There were no cellphones nor SMS texting. The wider public didn’t know the Malays youths were planning a fight because of... yes, the polarisation attitude.

Nobody spoke to the Chinese or the Indians community, thus very few were warned of the riot. Those who were warned didn’t think Malays had the guts to do it.

Ayah and a few buddies was told by total gossip to hired the college bus, a mini bus nonetheless, and take part in a gathering or sorts. Maybe a speech. Maybe somebody important might turn up. He was a just a student and the most trouble he’s ever been in was smoking in the college library.

They were there at the spot, late afternoon. Just a whole lot of Malay people hanging around like a large scale lepak-ing guys. He knew something was super-wrong when, after getting out of the bus for a while, some of the present Malays, big rowdy roughnecks, started to single out some of the Chinese folks that were just passing on the outside, trying to get away.

Ayah knew it was becoming a really messy fight when some of the present Malays started to swing makeshift weapons. Parangs, knives and a whole lot of wooden sticks. Some of the rioters were damned well prepared.

He and his friends high-tailed out of the group and ran for the bus. He described to me of his shock when a car near him caught on fire and burst into flames. He also saw a Malay policeman beating up a Chine motorcyclist trying to escape the riots. A policeman, mind you.

The bus driver of the college also brought a weapon it seemed, but maybe it was compassion for the college kids, namely my dad and his friends, that he changed his mind and got them back on the bus. I like to think that way. Ayah was defenceless. The college students thought it was just a speech gathering.

For the rest of the bus trip, the driver had used this big wooden stick to jam the doors shut and drove the mini bus of the area. Ayah said that all he remembered were stones at the bus windows because he kept his head down. The riots had started at 5pm and the bus safely got back to Mara college at 7pm. At this point, all Ayah could say was the fear he felt during the 2-week curfew imposed by the government.

I never heard the May 13 incident being told that way. The last time it happened, Tun Abdul Razak formed some sort of a National Counsel appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and for 2 years, there was a semi-emergency state in Malaysia.

All gatherings restricted, freedom of speech suppressed and anybody suspected of racial violence, even the hint of racial violence... well, I can only imagine. Maybe there’s something in Wikipedia I can read about. It’s a shame, me being a Malay in Malaysia and not knowing the event that nearly tore up the honour and dignity of being a Malay.

Stupid Malays.

Those who are aware and felt concerned to be in the know, I like to think that we have more harmony today in 2008 than back then in 1969. A lot of Malay rights were made clear and acted upon. Rights given to your heritage as a Malay had already been voiced in the Constitution. Land rights, job rights, education rights.

Of course, these acts severely limited the rights and opportunity of the Chinese and the Indian community. They are Malaysians too. In fact, they practically built most of the country in its first few years and before that, more so while under the British rule. I’m not surprised that the Hindraf gave out voice about ethnic cleansing... and it could be very true, at the rate of how so much Malay rights are imposed.

Really, why should Malays have more rights in economy, politics and education anyway? What’s so great about Malay sultans and why should we even have them? Why should every Malay have to be a Muslim?

And makes a Malay anyway? After all, aren’t all dark-skinned Equatorial mongoloids come from the Indonesians Isles? There shouldn’t even be a Malay race anyway. Let’s just throw away the silat culture, the heritage of the monarchy and the Kongsi-Raya/Deepa-Raya nonsense.

Really, if we had just let the Chinese rule the nation, like how Singapore is today, we’ll rule Asian’s trading economy. If we gave more rights and opportunities given to the Indians, their high-tech skills and company productions maybe even trumps over Japan.

But most of the rights had been given to the Malays. Sons of farmers, former colonists, fishermen’s blood and even (very sadly) carrying legacy of rioters. We open universities, give hundreds and hundreds of scholarships, no matter how undeserving they are.

30 years after the 1969 incident and the Malays still doesn’t even own 30% of the Malaysian economy. Even with all the hak bumiputera, we’re still so damn slow; we’re dragging our own feet and at times, even trip over them. I think half of us still feel like former colonists, just waiting for the next 1st world nation to eat our resources and spit sh**.

Granted, we did cough up a few international medals with the current BN ruling *cough*Twin Towers*cough. But... I hope times had changed. With the win of the Opposition and with the better and more open-minded between races, I hope we can prevent single-mindedness, close-mindedness and xenophobia.

Did BN actually think they can rule the land for another 50 years? Puh-leez!

In fact, the very proof of the Opposition winning shows that after 50 years of independence, we are growing more mature. Mature as voters, mature as fellow Malaysians, mature in terms of community between races. Mature as in we stand up for rights, for benefits, for stop-brainwashing-our-puny-little-minds-with-your-media-control-and-wasteful-banners-because-they-didn’t-work.

We need other races to teach Malays how to be more vigorous in having rights and making real use of those rights to support the other races. We need to knock the Malays on the head and tell them to stop being so lazy, backward-minded and stand up for themselves.

So the truth of the results of the General Elections 2008, I’m pretty okay with it. I’m not enthusiastic, but I’m more hopeful about the future than I was in 2004. There’s a lot of new people in the seats, new faces, new ideals and more importantly, exposure to other races based on harmony. Maybe there’ll be a real security of the Malay future and all rights will equalize for all races. For all those who need them.

30 years is 360 months ago, more-or-less 10,950 days in the past. Have we been more tolerant of each other since then? Less hostile and more community sharing? If something happened to one of the 3 races, will the other races help?

Someday we can really say the 3 major races can parade together, not in a bloody riot, but as Malaysian. True Malaysians.

Heck, we might even be friends.

I guess I’ll stick around to find out.

Peace Malaysia,

PS: For more info on the May 13th 1969 Incident, read Wikipedia article here.

11 Minds bloomed here too...:

KaV said...

quite a good read u have there...

personally, I abhore anyone who uses racial connotations when speaking to others. Hence, my grumpy attitude towards the BN government.

After 50 years, we still stereotype one another by race. Too bad. The one's who walk in the corridors of power fail to realise that no ONE race can move a nation. It requires the cooperation of all races.

All races must realise that they depend on each other. Until evryone can depend on ethical virtues rather than racial virtues, it's gonna be a tough ride.

All we need is a realisation that we need to be there to hold each other's hands. Sometimes, the solution for the biggest problems are from the simplest of ideas.

Anonymous said...

I think we still need to work on our racist mindsets, as brainwashed as we are by BN.

Whenever someone says, "Chinese owns 90%, or 70%", etc, I cringe.

Because that is a RACIST statement. How can it not, based on RACE as it is?

The reality is that, a FEW people who might happen to be Chinese own maybe 90% of that figure.

Because as sure hell as I am Chinese, I am not sure as hell not swimming in money like some of these rich businessmen. Be they Chinese, Malay or Indian, in their S-classes and Bkt Tunku mansions.

I have to pay 5-15% more in housing, my kids probably can't get into local universities.

So where did the hell did this use of race come into play?

Only those cronies of the BN are getting very, very rich. The ordinary Malays, Chinese and Indians are not seeing much of it.

Please stop quoting racist statistics.

Anonymous said...

Let me clarify: We should not focus on RACE!

We should focus and help and concentrate on whoever is poor and needs help to a comfortable life!

No more race-based statistics of any sort! Remove those racist Melayu, Cina, India or Dan Lain-Lain sections on all those borang-borang! There should be more statistics on how many MALAYSIANS are poor!

Jasraj Sandhu said...

I'm very much in agreement with what Anonymous said. We REALLY have to stop playing the racial card, statistics, breakdowns ... and etc.

Whilst the younger generation today are slowly moving away from the racial based mentality there are still a while lot of people out there who can't move out of this lurch. It's not exclusively their faults as this has always been the way it was and was continually perpetuated by the government.

Yet the move away from racial based politics and governance is a matter of crawling inch-by-inch. We are not there yet and still have a ways to go.

So I to say - STOP racializing everything and every issue. Look at the matter from the Bangsa Malaysia standpoint!

ahmog said...

Hi friend,

Malaysia isn't growing to its full potential because of the following, to name a few:

1) Old people still cling to racial segregation

2) Young people are still influenced by the old-timers about "their place" in the country.

3) Children are not educated about human rights history like Martin Luther King Jr (so what if its in USA, it applies to everyone)

4) Children are not educated to mix around. Children are our future.. We need to change the teachers, parents and children mindset.

I remember I was frequently threatened by malay boys in groups because I was different during my high-school days. How sad. I am a Chinese for that matter. However I did mix around with my malay and indian friends.

5) As long as there are still racially biased policies, there would still be tension between races. The rich becomes richer the poor becomes poorer and this is regardless of race. We shall still be fighting poverty by 5050 because of this skewed distribution.

5% discount for bumiputera for housing.. do rich bumiputera still enjoy 5%? Its not fair because the rich buy up all the lots (because they can afford it) then rent it out to the people. Who gets richer? Who gets poorer? Plus prices soar because of demand.

How does this help those bumiputera that are truly in need of assistance?

I think it would help if that policy was changed to only give discounts to those who's income fall below a certain range.. after checking with LHDN.

Frankly, I doubt the people will agree on that because they are not willing to let go on such perks.

Generally people are selffish. I don't see many people giving up their seats (in public transport) to pregnant ladies or disabled people these days.

Indeed there is a lot to be done.

~YM~ said...

A very good post I would say.

The fact is, racial unity as emphasized by the gov does not really make the cute. I'm a KL guy raised in the urban city where all the races work and live together. But when I enter local University, where most students are from outstation, racial polarisation is even more obvious, since they had not been in 'contact' with other races. My Chinese friends had even asked me how am I able to mixed with the Malays when what he saw was just me talking to my other coursemates!

And I find those Chinese who blame the government for the Bumiputra rights are those who couldn't survive. To me, I don't mind giving aid to the poor, but from what I can see, the rights are mostly enjoyed by the politicians themselves and not for those who really deserve the aid! If the aid were given as intended, there wouldn't be any problems now and Malaysia would be a developed country.

I do support BN, but I would prefer fresh and young faces in the government to make a change. Perhaps it is time for us youngsters to make an impact to change Malaysia, for a better Malaysia, for all Malaysians.

Quickening said...

@everybody: I'm glad that this issue had been highlighted. Thank you very much for commenting here. :)

No matter how peaceful our nation gets, the benefits had to be equally shared. We can't keep saying that certain aspect in building a country is for this race and that race.

But most of all, as a Malay, we need help. We had becoming so used to aid and benefits, we're no longer know the true meaning of what hak bumiputera also demands sacrifice, hard work and elbow grease.

Are we so afraid of going forward, in case those rights might be reduced? Then I say we've been sitting on our baby stroller long enough...

oliviasy said...

i hv to correct u... the orang aslis were here 1st :P but anyway, msian citizens hv matured tremendously in terms of politics. and this time around, the pendulum didn't just swing for the chinese votes, but also other ethnic races in this country which we all share. it's very clear this election is not about race at all. it's about being treated as a Malaysian equally. we'r all malaysians and we deserve to be treated fairly. now if only our politicians stop harbouring on race! everyone works hard for a living! blek! we'r ALL MALAYSIANS! :D

suangyee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suangyee said...

good post...

i am currently studying in oversea. when asked about my identity, i would proudly say that i am a malaysian. no one really bothers what race i belong to. they know me as a malaysian.

each race is trying to preserve own culture, fearing that it would be swept away. but when my foreign friends asked about what is malaysia culture. i would say that we are a multi-cultural country but share the same identity. we have varieties of food, language, dance, celebrations etc.

kyels said...

Definitely lots of comments there. As much as I'd love to write about politics I think I should not. Anyway, it is not wrong to support BN for sure but the issue here is how much have they helped and are they not only benefiting their own people at the end of day (politicians and their cronies I mean)?! Truth be said I'm really happy w/ the election results b/c it was mirror of the 1969 General Elections excluding the riots b/c it is time for the people and politicians to wake up and critically analyze and research on what have they done wrong and also their decision making for the country.

Pointless to start a debate over the results b/c if the rakyat thinks that the Opposition can do a better job (I'm waiting w/ bated breath) then it's their choice and time for the Opposition to actually prove their worth in this win.

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