Monday, 15 September 2014

Again, Malays Are Lazy - Dr Mahathir

Mahathir defends ‘lazy Malays’ remarks.

Dr Mahathir represents a good study of the racist mind.  Stereotyped notions block clear vision and crowd out imagination.  MAHATHIR THEREFORE SEES NO MORE THAN HE EXPECTS TO SEE.  What is needed is to establish new understanding by “reframing” something to transform its meaning or symbolism by placing it into a different framework or context than it has previously been perceived.  Solutions to the “problem” would generate themselves when we begin to conceive them in radically new light.

Dr Mahathir continues to see the “Malay” problems of intelligence, performance and social mobility by attributing them fundamentally to their “inferior” genes, as elaborated in his 1970 book “The Malay Dilemma”.

He had a few days ago vilified the Malays for being lazy, saying he was ashamed that they had been left behind by the forward-thinking Chinese community.

The former Malaysian Prime Minister continues to disparage his country’s Malay ethnic group.  He blamed himself for failing to transform the country’s ethnic majority into a hard-working race during his tenure as the 4th Prime Minister from 1981-2004.

“THEY ARE STLL LAZY”, he again told the Utusan Malaysia newspaper in an exclusive interview, citing the gender imbalance at institutions of higher learning where the majority were women as an example.

Utusan Malaysia is a UMNO-controlled newspaper.  UMNO is the United Malays National Organisation, the ruling Malay-based political party of Malaysia since 1951. For 22 years, Mahathir was also the (past) President of UMNO.

“The Malays are lazy; they are not interested in studying and revising. If we go to the universities, 70 per cent of the students are women, where are the men?” “They prefer to become Mat Rempit (Malay motorcycle gang members), that is why I said they are lazy,” Dr Mahathir told the newspaper. 

Dr Mahathir had said that although the Malays had been awarded places in institutions of higher learning, they did not make full use of their time to focus on their studies. He said Malays lacked good values and ethics and were not hard-working enough, leading them to trail behind the other races economically. “If anyone asks me today, I would have to say Malays are lazy,” Dr Mahathir was reported saying.

“I am ashamed when I see the Chinese students studying three different languages, but still have a better grasp of the English language compared with their Malay peers.

Well, Dr Mahathir.  If you changed the way you look at things, the things you look at will also change.

To single out one group of people ie Malays as lazy and shameless does nothing to improve the situation.  Dr Mahathir ignores the fact that many Indians and Chinese in Malaysia also lagged behind economically and the poorest of the poor can be found among all the 3 racial groups.  At the same time, many Malays, Chinese and Indians have also prospered ahead of many within their own race, particularly among the Malays who are the main beneficiary of the government’s pro-Bumiputra policies.   

And if he looked at Singapore and Brunei, Dr Mahathir would see, should he choose to do so of course, that many individual Malays in Singapore and Brunei performed exceedingly better academically, socially and economically. Individual Singapore Malays, for example, have performed well socially against many Chinese in a society of over 75% Chinese.  Individual Singapore Indians, an even smaller racial group than Malays, are in fact richer than the Chinese. 


Let’s reframe the “Malay” problem in Malaysia.  For over 22 years under Mahathir’s Administration, Malaysia has prospered much with the bulk of its wealth accruing to the political elites of the three major Malay, Chinese and Indian political parties in the ruling coalition.

Government and local authority contracts, permits and licenses are given to people who are linked to the major ruling political parties and other powerful Bumiputra politicians who in turn rent out their licenses and permits for a fee or a percentage of profit, thus depriving others of these lucrative contracts.  Perhaps, these are the “lazy” Malays of Dr Mahathir who take a huge cut of any privileged contract before re-awarding the crumbs to the mostly Malay contractors; since 80% of registered contractors are Bumiputra.

Economic and commercial policies favour largely the already rich with lucrative government contracts awarded according to cronyism and nepotism facilitated by widespread systematic corruption practices. The mostly Malay sub-contractors therefore earned little compared with the power elites. 

The poor economic attainment of many in the privileged Malay majority in Malaysia can now be better understood. Not in terms of their race, but in term of a class structure of social inequality created by their own Malay elites.

Under the leadership of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir over 22 years, his economic and business agenda has created a large number of politically connected Bumiputra rent seekers promoting a business system riddled with kickbacks and corruption.

Also neglected is a majority of the urban poor who are also Malays, and who hailed from other poorer states like Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak and Kedah and Indians who are pre-dominantly Tamils displaced from the plantations and estates during 80’s and the 90’s. 

For poor Malaysians, uncontrolled cheap labour from Indonesia, The Philippines and Myanmar also acted to suppress their already low wages. Most are from low-income families, and the majority of whom are also Malays.  Many simply give up instead of competing with the foreign labour. Those who did not quit would end up working in large government-own corporation for low wages, even if they are members of the privileged Bumiputra group.

The removal of English language as the medium of instruction in government schools has created a large number of unmarketable Malay-Bumiputra and non-Bumiputra graduates who are unable to speak and write proper English. This further hampers their employability and social mobility.

Failed economic policies, corruption, cronyism and class-based institutional practices have locked-in a large proportion of Malaysians in a perpetual low-income-low-productive social stratum which few could escape from.  As the largest racial group, more Malays have suffered despite the numerous pro-Bumiputra (or pro-Muslim) and other explicit privileges granted to them. 

No, there are no lazy Malays, Dr Mahathir, ONLY EXPLOITED ONEs.

It is wrong to single out one racial group of people as lazy and shameless, and blaming their social condition on their race, despite being the privileged majority. 

Malaysia needs to do away with the distinction between Bumiputra and non-Bumiputra and treat everyone “regardless of race, language and religion” as Malaysians and guarantee each and every Malaysian equal access to opportunities in education, employment, business and government procurement. Malaysia should celebrate success through meritocracy and motivate all to emulate them. Blaming race and gene-pool will not make any difference.

A racist mind sprouts racial statements as a matter of fact. The racist should be challenged and engaged irrespective of his status and position.  He must be confronted to recant since as the first person to “frame” a racist statement, he most often succeeds in capturing the public and changing a racist frame is extraordinarily difficult.

Dr Mahathir, the racist without his stereotypical clothes is not merely naked, he also has no shame when he repeatedly proclaim his racist views. The rest of us know that “a lie, repeated often enough, often becomes Truth”. 

Read More:
Again, Malays are Lazy - Mahathir
Lazy Malays? Blame Failed Policies Instead


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