Thursday, March 29, 2007

Racial Integration?

Like most Malaysians, I can sniff out a real problem out of all the problems posed in the daily news. Like this headline in The Star, this is a real concern for the future of the country.

I think this is the first time I've ever touched on racial issues, so I'm gonna make this a slightly longer post expressing my views.

We already know that racial integration is a problem in adults, an issue faced since the formation of Malaysia. This problem roots from an array of scenarios, be it from the social, economical or political points of view. I even learn from history text books during my time in secondary school that
Malays lead lives as farmers and fishermen
Chinese lead lives as businessmen
Indian lead lives as rubber tappers
Believe me, it is in the old History syllabus whether you like it or not, and that's history, one which nobody can change. I also grew up with a perception that Chinese are rich, Malays are not that rich and Indians are downright poor.

I couldn't be more wrong. One just couldn't associate professions from wealth, not anymore. I know of Malay businessmen, just take my fellow Kedahan Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, no matter what people say about how he acquired his wealth, you just couldn't argue the fact that he is damn good a businessman. Money doesn't lie.

I also know of chinese who lead lives as farmers, fishermen and even rubber tappers. You wouldn't believe me but rubber tappers now earn plentiful, enough not only to feed the family but to invest into other businesses as well. Of course there are also quite a lot of them living in lives of poverty, I know of some like that as well, but they are still happy.

The same thing goes for Indians as well. Look at the "official" second richest man in Malaysia, Bina Tegas owner Ananda Krishnan, again money doesn't lie, no matter how he acquired all those wealth.

Youngsters not concerned with racial integration?

Just why are these youngsters not concerned with racial integration. The reason for this is that there is no motivation or incentives in doing so. We live in a country where choice of school is based on race and religion. We have Islamic colleges, Mara boarding schools, even secondary schools are chosen based on one's race. Unless you put them all in a same school instead of segregating them into schools based on race and religion, the situation wouldn't improve.

Blame it on their parents for sending their children to vernacular schools, blame it here and there. Why not blame it on yourself? I'm sure the percentage of students in vernacular school is pretty small compared to those in national schools. Even so, why not send malays to these "vernacular" schools?

I understand that the government tried to forge unity through the various vision school programs. Failure or success of those programs I can't tell, but there's one thing for sure that the government is reluctant to do, and that is to accept the fact that they are just taking the wrong approach.

With textbooks and syllabus teaching kids like what I mentioned above, I don't see youngsters forming any sort of respect towards other races.

From a political point of view, there is also the infamous ideology of Ketuanan Melayu or Malay Supremacy looming around the air. With this, how can a non-Malay bear the thought of sharing the burden of the country when they don't get to share the wealth. Ask this to any secondary school student and they will tell you that they dislike the bumiputera special rights rule. Yet, they are forced to accept this as a fact.

Now you should understand why they think it is not an issue. To them, getting good grades is most important. It is already a "fact" that racial integration can never be achieved with the current ruling. After all, they don't have to pay for taxes, nor do they have to worry about financing a house, yet.
Only 52% of the teenagers said they had a friend of a different race. [Source: The Star]
That is actually quite a high number, I actually expected a much lower figure. How about the percentage of teenagers who have friends from all three major races? That should be more clear right?


No solutions to this. I believe that one should live out their student life fully without the slightest worry in the world. It is only later in life that they will start to realize and experience these issues. Hopefully by then, we can resolve this matter once and for all and leave a better country for our children to take on the world together as a nation.
  1. Survey: Many youngsters aren't concerned about racial integration, Simrit Kaur, The Star, 29 March 2007.
  2. Education system blamed, Mazwin Nik Anis & Ee-Lyn Tan, The Star, 29 March 2007.

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