BY UMSU PRESS
Racism is a hot topic in Malaysia, both in and out of politics as the talk of institutionalized racial discrimination is deeply embedded in the country. Stories of race-based job opportunities, real estate rental choices, and even education scholarships are not uncommon in this country, even if societal backlash is just as common. Anyhow, it’s essential for us as the Malaysians to have consideration that racism is a prevalent issue in our country! With that, the Portfolio of Current Affairs, Universiti Malaya Students’ Union has taken the initiative in discussing the racism issues along with the invited panel members through a live broadcast on the UMSU PRESS Facebook page.
According to the panel member, it is common for a multiracial country like Malaysia to face some racial conflicts. The most serious racial conflict in our history is the 513 incident. According to the Global Peace Index, Malaysia is one of the top 20 most peaceful countries in the world. Thus, although our nation is not perfect, we are still considered as a normal peace country. The panel member did mention that our vernacular schools are great, however, we need to instil the students the importance of Bahasa Melayu. Thus, there is no point to straight away close the vernacular schools, instead, just make efforts to increase the Malay proficiency among the students.
According to another panel member, our constitution does state the importance of Bahasa Melayu as our national language, however, other languages are allowed to be spoken as well. If we can communicate in Bahasa Melayu, and understand each other, it is already enough. There is no requirement for us to be super fluent in Bahasa. We need to respect those who do not understand our own mother tongue when we are not staying in our racial zone. 70% of the population of The United States spark English as mother tongue, yet still have greater racial barriers than us. Thus, speaking mother tongue will not increase racial barrier. According to the constitution, there is quota for selections of public servants but no racial discrimination is allowed for promotions. In 2009, the Malaysian government claimed that our civil system is merit based. However, the non-bumiputera only make up few percentages out of the total of public servants in the country. Thus, the panel member does not think that statement is true since we do not have freedom of information.
According to one of the panel member, the racial discrimination is existing in private sectors. According to the statistics of Centre of Governance and Political Study, the Chinese applicants could get jobs more easily than the Indian and Malay applicants and the Mandarin speakers could get jobs more easily than non-Mandarin speakers in the sectors. However, he does not agree with the statement "Chinese are rich". That is because according to the report of the Department of Statistics, 70% of the Chinese belong to working class. In 2019 there are more bumiputera households who earned RM 10, 000 per month than the non-bumiputera, and quite a big number of bumiputera households who earned more than RM 5, 000 per month than the non-bumiputera. Thus, the statement is just a political rhetoric by certain politicians to create an illusion that Chinese are exploiting the Malays to gain more votes.
According to one another panel member, the Sarawakians bumiputera are really marginalized as people might look down on Sarawakians in some industries. The employers might ask whether Sarawak is ok and finally reject their applicants. He states that the racism in West Malaysia is very obvious. For example, the Muslims and non-Muslims cutleries will be separated due to the Allah issue in alkitab. In Sarawak, when there is no parking place in the mosque, the adjacent church would offer parking lots for the Muslims as well but in West Malaysia, he found that the people only mix with their own ethnic groups most of the time.
Here is the detailed information for the session:
Title: RACIAL DISCRIMINATION: THE OBSTACLE OF NATIONAL INTEGRATION
Hours: 9.00pm - 10.00pm
1. Muhammad Amirul Fahmi (Exco Kenegaraan Persatuan Mahasiswa Selangor)
2. Kaviarasan Veerayah (Mahasiswa Fakulti Undang2 dan Ahli aktif Persatuan Bahasa Tamil UM)
3. Anson Liow (Pengarah Kelab Perlembagaan UM 18/19)
4. Lawren Empaling Jacob Edward Gara (YDP Persatuan Mahasiswa APM)
Tan You Zi (Portfolio Committee of Current Affairs, University of Malaya Students’ Union)