Sunday, 11 October 2015

Malaysian Race Relations - Stockholm Syndrome Emerged

Stockholm Syndrome in Malaysia’s Race Relations
“It is Better to be Dominated than to be Victimised.”

The recent spat between Malaysian opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) Tony Pua and Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan provides an interesting insight into Malaysian race relations in the mind of some in the “minority” Chinese ethnic group. Kausikan had argued as “delusional” what he saw as efforts by some Malaysian Chinese youths to change the Malaysian political system which has been built around the principle of Malay dominance.  DAP Tony Pua counter-argued that they were not against Malay “dominance” but against Malay “supremacy”.  Tony also accepts that “Malays will dominate Malaysian politics and economy since they comprise the majority”.

Tony is clearly being disingenuous in his feeble attempt to distinguish between Malay “dominance” and Malay “supremacy” in any meaningful manner. He did not elaborate.  Malaysian history bears the undisputed witness to the fact of Malay “dominance” which motivated and led eventually to the imposition of Malay “supremacy” in Malaysian politics, economy and social life.  Today, Malay “dominance” and Malay “supremacy” are in fact the same side on a man-made Malaysian political coin.  It is wishful and politically immature thinking to believe that one can change either “dominance” or “supremacy” without affecting each other.     

By accepting Malay “dominance” simply because “they comprise the majority”, Tony is obviously oblivious of the fact that in 1963 when Malaysia became independent, no one ethnic group, whether Malay, Chinese or Indian, constituted more than 50% of the Malaysian population.  That’s why Malay “dominance” has to embrace the non-Malay indigenous tribes to form the larger concept of “Bumiputra” – or “sons of the soil” – in order for the Malay political elites to claim political legitimacy by virtue of numerical majority. 

Historically, classifying Malays as “sons of the soil” together with the indigenous tribes also create other problems, since most Malays actually arrived in Malaya only from the 14th Century from Sumatra and Indonesia.  And if one prefer to go even further back in time, the very early Malays actually came with the very early Chinese from the same villages in Southern China, mostly from Yunnan. Truth is the Malaysian Malays are undisputably not the “sons” of the Malaysian soil.

The natural urge in many Malaysian Chinese to deny any “natural” Malay “dominance” or “supremacy” is therefore understandable. The political struggles in the early Malaysian years are between the competing and mutually exclusive visions of a “Malaysian” Malaysia based on multi-racialism and social equality vs a “Malay” Malaysia based on Malay dominance and supremacy. 

In 1965, Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia for her strong advocacy of a multi-racial and equal Malaysia.  History has proven the superiority of a multi-racial politico-socio-economic approach as practiced in prosperous Singapore instead of the racialist discriminatory model of Malaysia who continues to struggle in the doldrums of a devaluating currency and languishing economy.

For too long, Malaysian Chinese and Indians have been politically enslaved, economically oppressed and socially discriminated. Many non-Malay politicians are also reluctant to escape from the status quo political bondage and few nowadays advocate for a more equal treatment of their non-Malay constituents.  The reality of the political landscape of Malaysia has over the years evolved a class-based society very much in favour of the rich and powerful elites in all the political parties, who have much in common with each other the many privileges and benefits that should have “trickled down” to the poorer and lesser endowed segments in the population.        

For many non-Malay Malaysian politicians, however well-intentioned like Tony, they usually appear quite blinded to the reality of their own political enslavement after more than 50 years of subjugation to the combination of class and racially based political and economic forces.  Such is the Stockholm Syndrome nature in Malaysian race relations. For while they may complain and agitate against the extreme symptoms of her corrupt and racialist political system, the minority ethnic groups (as well as the vast number of poor Malays) seem strangely incapable of comprehending the precise nature of their situation so as to formulate feasible solutions to escape or reform the political-economic and social status quo.      







  4. Thank you for sharing the 3 well articulated articles. They have sadly misunderstood the main thrust of my post. Granted, the pursuit of visionary aspirations is never delusional. Such is the stuff of visionary and transformational leadership. However, I have great doubts that the visionary aspirations as expressed by the 3 authors would be feasible and achievable within Tony's rather oxymoronic framework of "Malay dominance BUT not Malay supremacy". I see the true political and social realities in Malaysia as multiracial and multicultural, NOT Malay-centric nor Malay-dominated. Like any Stockholm Syndrome victims "brain-washed" to embrace the false social reality and to accept bogus "fundamental" principles, the only effective and sustainable recovery therapy for a truly prosperous Malaysia is to recognize and embrace the actual social-demographic realities, and develop the new, necessary capabilities and social institutions to nurse your great country back on your potential road to eventually seize your day of glory and multi-racial acclaims. A like-minded Malaysia to Singapore makes for a safer and harmonious backyard; and our synergy then would multiply our well-being and mutual prosperity a million-fold, trust me. Basically, nothing short of radical constitutional reforms, perhaps even involving revolutionary political re-calibrations with a popular mass movement to dismantle the current man-made class-based Malaysian society, would be demanded to shift you from merely wishful and 'delusional' with regard to your aspirations to the point of 'achievable' and 'attainable'. Sincerely, my very best wishes and that of my fellow Singaporeans are with you.