Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ketuanan Melayu: A case for UN Security Council to consider?

- Joe Fernandez

The name-calling has started again over that neo-Nazi ideology called Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy). Perkasa, the extreme Malay right-wing movement, is firing on all cylinders against PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for her take over the weekend on Umno’s “Ketuanan Melayuism”.

Congratulations to her for taking the bull by the horns in recognition of the stark reality that the urban Malays in particular accept that Ketuanan Melayuism is an elaborate cover for the ruling elite to raid the public treasury and the banks at will.

Media pictures of Perkasa leaders – many looking more Indian than Malay – vividly depict the fury on their faces, their eyes flashing as if possessed by demons on the loose.

Patently, it’s a sheer waste of time to engage with Umno poodle Perkasa or like-minded racists on their sick version of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution and the unwritten 1957 social contract, which allowed political dominance for the Malays to compensate for Chinese economic dominance.

The rhetoric, polemics and endless debates on Ketuanan Melayuism will be a dead ender and a contradiction in terms considering the mountains of sanctimonious pontification on the 1Malaysia concept.

The time has come to bring the Ketuanan Melayu issue to the United Nations Security Council. The world body must consider whether Malaysia is following in the footsteps of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and the Apartheid regime of South Africa.
Some years ago, the UN put India on notice that it must end the caste system. The Security Council even invoked the spectre of economic sanctions against it after intensive lobbying by social activists.

Ketuanan Melayuism is no different from a caste system in that it benefits a handful of leeches, parasites, bloodsuckers at the expense of the overwhelming majority through institutionalised racism. Furthermore, there are shades of Nazism, Fascism and Apartheid in Ketuanan Melayuism.

An inconvenient truth

The Umno government will not be able to explain at the UN Security Council why it has not abolished Article 153 but has instead even extended it outside its four limited areas, applying it to every aspect of life in Malaysia in a deviant, distorted form. In addition, the second prong of Article 153, which covers the legitimate aspirations of the non-Malay communities, has been ignored by Umno as an inconvenient truth.

To complete the living nightmare, the New Economic Policy (1970-1990) has been applied selectively throughout the country and institutionalised to circumvent its 20-year shelf life. This has seen, among others, the emergence of the Licence Raj, which reserves permits, quotas, concessions, licences and the like for certain people only. In short, it’s a licence for them to print money in perpetuity.
We can see the sickness that is Ketuanan Melayu from any number of angles.
Education is one field that has deeply divided the country and polarised it as never before.

Peninsular Malaysian law graduates from foreign universities are not allowed to practise their profession in the country unless they pass the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) examination conducted by the government.

Of the nearly 2,000 law graduates who sit for the examination every year, only 10% get the right to practise. This 10% is subject to a racial quota that remains a state secret. The unfortunate majority have to repeat the CLP, as many as 10 times or more, before they get a chance to make it, if at all. Not all have the patience to run the gauntlet; they give up after two or three attempts, depressed, traumatised and suicidal.

Subjecting a critical discipline like law to a racial quota is the height of idiocy and a refinement of Ketuanan Melayuism to a degree that has no parallel anywhere else in the world.

Medicine, another critical discipline, has likewise been taken over by the Ketuanan Melayuists. A strict racial quota regulates entry into government-owned universities for medicine. Even getting there for a shot at a medical seat is easier said than done since the race-based marking system for government-run public examinations is a closely guarded state secret.

Tip of the iceberg

There’s no escaping the government even if one attempts to get a medical degree at a foreign universities. Many foreign universities with an unusually high number of Malaysian students of Indian-origin vis-à-vis the Malays have had the recognition of their medical degrees withdrawn. This happened to the medical degrees awarded by the Crimea State University in the Ukraine after a visit by the then prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Like the CLP students, medical graduates who return to Malaysia with unrecognised degrees have to run the gauntlet before they can win recognition for their qualifications.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in education.

There is no 1Malaysia in administering pre-university examinations. Malay students take the easier matriculation route to enter universities while their non-Malay counterparts are bogged down by the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM), which Wikipedia describes as the most difficult pre-university examination in the world. Yet, the matriculation and the STPM are considered as equal in standard.

Not even one of the vice-chancellors of the 20-odd state-owned universities is non-Malay.

It’s the same situation in the civil service, which is 90% dominated by one community, as is the teaching service, the police and armed forces, the judiciary, the governrment-linked companies, and the diplomatic and foreign service, among others.

In keeping with Ketuanan Melayuism, proxies of the ruling elite run Sabah and Sarawak.

In Sabah, in particular, the influx of illegal immigrants continues and they have overtaken the locals in numbers, resulting in the latter’s virtual disenfranchisement. Of the 3.2 million people in Sabah in 2005, 1.7 million were illegal immigrants. About 600,000 of them have acquired MyKads via the backdoor and been placed on the electoral rolls, according to Suhakam annual reports.

The federal civil service in Sabah and Sarawak has not been Borneonised, as pledged in the 1963 Malaysia Agreement. Instead, the Ketuanan Melayuists stepped into the vacuum created by the departing British colonial civil servants and continue to hog almost all posts.

It would be interesting to hear what the UN Security Council has to say about the manner in which Umno has been running the country since 1957. There is even a case to be taken up, as a class action suit, at the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ketuanan Melayu (Malay Supremacy): A Risky Experiment

By Mariam Mokhtar

I was born Malay and was hardly conscious of my race, either at school or at home. Race hardly cropped up in conversation except when we had form-filling to do – like applying for an identity card. Religion was something sacred and the only time we’d be aware of our racial and religious differences was deciding what to wear for a wedding or whose open house to visit, during the various festivities.

Thus, the recent clamour for “ketuanan Melayu” is destructive and damaging – not just for Malaysia but more so for the Malays, the very people that the “ketuanan Melayu” concept is supposed to protect. It is wrong because “ketuanan Melayu” is a dangerous experiment in social engineering.

Our neighbours were both Chinese and Indian. As children, we studied and played with each other, even hitched lifts to school when necessary, whilst the adults shared garden produce, swopped certain special dishes for the various ‘open houses’ and practiced their own version of ‘neighbourhood watch’.

Today, the Wongs are living out their twilight years away from their children, who have now settled overseas. Their children were willing to pay for them to live in a gated community, but they refused. In gated communities, they said, people hardly know one another and lives are conducted behind high walls and electric fences. The Wongs are unwilling to trade their relative freedom for living in secure isolation.

Mrs Pillai is now a widow, living on her own. Both her son and daughter have emigrated and she is loathe to leave Malaysia. She tells me, her children saw no opportunities in Malaysia. Her daughter is particularly bitter at having to leave her mother and especially angry that she was denied a place at a local college, and denied help by a local political organisation who refused to recommend her for a study loan.

Several thousand non-Malays have left, but many Malays have also gone. Families are torn apart or wrecked by a false belief in so-called superiority. Our country has not benefited from the wasted talent.

Where’s the sense of equality and justice?

When will Malays understand that the call for “ketuanan Melayu” creates antagonism at best, and violence at worst? There is open hatred toward non-Malays. The Malays have become arrogant; and non-Malays have been forced to be compliant. But for how long? Perhaps, it is the Malay who has more need of change. Where is their sense of equality and justice?

If “ketuanan Melayu” is supposed to benefit the Malays, why are the majority of Malays poor? If politicians had genuinely wanted to help Malays, the majority of Malays would now be wealthy, after 53 years of Umno rule. But this is not the case. The majority of Malays are poor.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad warned that the Malays will “lose their power” if Pakatan Rakyat were to come to power. He labeled Pakatan leaders as a bunch of self-serving and racist politicians.

What “power” is he referring to? Is he referring to Umno’s potential loss? Will the loss mean no
more abuse of power and enrichment of family, friends and cronies? Is he lamenting the lack of control over the media, police, judiciary and the parliamentary rights and privileges committee? Did he also mean the inability to detain those who dare speak out against injustices?

Malay extremists claim that Pakatan’s alternative call for “ketuanan rakyat” goes against the Malay rulers. However, no one objected when Mahathir clipped the wings of the royals.

Mahathir and Najib Abdul Razak have sought to suggest that Umno/BN is a caring party, but despite 1Malaysia, Malaysians probably feel less united today.
Perhaps, the Malay extremist politicians promoting “ketuanan Melayu” can rightly be called “Children of Mahathir”.

Why will the extremists not deal with the social ills that beset the Malay youth – drug abuse, abandoned babies, under-achievement, and Mat Rempit? They have been fed propaganda and expect instant rewards but soon become disillusioned. They then fall further into the trap that ‘non-Malays are robbing them of their rights’. Is it any wonder they are bitter and have little aspiration?

The same group of extremists expects other faiths to respect Islam – but they fail to reciprocate this. It is alleged that in some mosques, the sermons preach unbridled hatred.

Many loopholes and obstacles

Last Saturday, a 14-year-old girl and a 23-year-old teacher were married at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, after a religious syariah court approved the union. The teenager said, “It has been hard trying to juggle two rôles – as a student and a wife – but I am taking it in my stride.”

Can no one else see that this is wrong? How does the state protect children from paedophilia? Has the child’s health and maturity been considered? What about her mental and maternal health, when she undergoes repeated childbearing at a young age? What about her education?
Muslim men can remarry easily. So who will support her should her marriage fail? Or if her husband leaves her for a younger woman or fails to support her when he remarries? Our syariah law and welfare system has many loopholes and obstacles. Some women claim it works against them.

Look at how Malay men perceive of their women. Despite equality in Islam, women are given short shrift. Nurul Izzah Anwar’s request for a debate with Ibrahim Ali was rejected. He called her ‘small fry’ and told her to contact the head of Wiranita, the Perkasa women’s organisation, instead. This demeaning attitude towards women is replicated in many Malay households..

When will the champions of “ketuanan Melayu” talk about success, progress, innovation, creativity, harmony, sharing and excellence instead of alluding to the “only my rights matter” mentality?

We Malays must face up to our insecurities so we can live at peace with ourselves. The non-Malay is a convenient scapegoat for our failures. We need to admit we have problems and face up to them.

Our religious leaders must make a clear stand against polygamy, paedophilia, child-snatching and intolerance of other faiths. Our Malay leaders must learn to respect other non-Malay Malaysians and treat them as equals. Only then do we have the right to ask others to respect us. We must stop the hypocrisy and madness that is called “ketuanan Melayu”.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real-speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist