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Kampung Compass Points Current Affairs The truth: Racism is rife in Malaysia
The truth: Racism is rife in Malaysia PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 22 August 2010 23:12

SABM-RACISMBy Qayum Rahman

First published in Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: From housing to jobs, education to citizenry, bigotry in Malaysia is a simmering cauldron.

Since MCA’s boldly brazen demand last weekend for an end to the 30% bumiputera equity, it’s not only the politicians and NGOs who are openly slamming each other over a broad range of unfair policies but the man-on-the-street is also spewing his disgust.

In Kuala Lumpur, a recently married engineer, who declined to be named, said he had trouble renting a double-storey property in a housing estate in Old Klang Road because he was Indian.

“It’s not the first time I have faced this problem. A Chinese landlord is not likely to rent you a room or house. It took me three months to find a landlord who would rent a house to us and even then we had to reassure him many times... I had to show him my payslips!” he said.

In Penang, Nabriza Ghazali, a private sector employee, said racism was rife in the commercial sector which is controlled by the Chinese community.

She said the situation was so bad that it was difficult for Malays and Indians to secure high-paying jobs in certain sectors although they had the right qualification.

“Many Malays and Indians who have been in employment for years and who are qualified for higher posts don’t move up. This is mostly because the Chinese who are less qualified and with lesser experience are given priority.

“I have had the experience of going for a job interview and the first question they asked me was if I knew Chinese. The employer said their company was looking for someone who was fluent in Chinese to liaise with other employees,” she said.

Another employee, Edmand Steven Grumach, echoed Nabriza’s views.

He said many private sector workers in Penang had problems “even getting an interview” because many of the large companies including the manufacturing sector required employees to speak Chinese.

“This condition is not applicable to low-paying jobs… it clearly shows the racist attitudes by employers. As a private sector employee, I hope that companies in Penang will not be bias and provide all with equal job opportunities,” he said.

Now an open truth

According to Penang Malay Association deputy chairman Azmi Merican, racism in the job sector was now an open truth.

“It has become so extreme that it is denying Malays and Indians of opportunities in the private sector. Race has always been a priority with the Chinese and the majority of Malays and Indians have been deprived of employment opportunities for irrational reasons.

“Among the reasons made mandatory in the Penang private sector is that applicants must be fluent in the Chinese language and most of the positions are limited to the Chinese community.

“Many of the positions advertised in the papers carry this condition. It is a subtle oppression of the Malays and Indians in Penang,” he said.

Azmi said even if there were Malays and Indians who met the criteria, the salary scale offered to them as compared to the Chinese, was different.

“Now it's the new Chinese community which controls the private sector in Penang. But what was once a subtle practice of racism was now open and obvious. The Chinese are always touching on bumiputera equity but the Malays don’t complain about their (Chinese) racist practices in the commercial sector,” he told FMT.

Azmi said although it was understood that the Chinese community practiced double standards it had never been raised as an issue but now they (the Chinese) were openly voicing their dissatisfaction with the Malays and the policies enshrined in the constitution.

"If the Malay and Indian communities don’t voice up to the way the Chinese treat them than they will continue to be sidelined,” he said.

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Dharmalingam  - Public sector must lead in fighting racism |2010-08-24 00:30:06
Racism is not unique to Malaysia - I've encountered in Hong Kong, the US, India, Sri Lanka and Singapore as well. Perhaps it is part of the nature of human beings - what you would find in the early stages of the civilizing process.

What can we do about it? You can't change social attitudes quickly. But what we can do is not to fight racism with racism. Instead we should acknowledge its existence, highlight it, talk about its implications so that those who have eyes to see and ears to hear can reject racist attitudes that they may harbour.

This is an indirect approach and only such an approach will work if you want to deal with the racism shown by one community to another.

If we want to deal with racism quickly and directly, then we should first deal with racism in the public institutions that we have set up in our country. We should change the policies that divide the nation by differentiating between races instead of recognising all as equal citizens.

If racism can be eliminated in the government, it would have the moral power to enforce laws to get rid of racism within the commercial sector and to take to court the employers who discriminate.
Jeremy |2010-09-13 08:28:48
I heard about SABM in the radio today and came here to check it out. This article truly disappointed me. For a movement about spreading the idea of one people one nation, this article is mostly about the bashing of the Chinese in Penang. Dear author, what about the racism against the Chinese and Indians in almost all other aspects of Malaysia in all other states? Education, finance, and etc.

Also there is no one arguing about the special "position" of the bumiputera in Malaysia as it is mentioned in the constitution. What is being argued about is the special "privilege" that is not mentioned in the constitution. This is mentioned by SABM's founder on the radio today, whose name escapes me at this moment.

The article should be renamed to racism is rife in Penang. And then another published titled racism is rife in states besides Penang as well. Also to the author, China is fast becoming the number one country in the World economically and thus speaking Chinese is not only feasible but necessary for business. I myself am not able to communicate in Chinese but have plans to take it up.

If this is what SABM and free Malaysia is all about; there really isn't any hope for Malaysia after all.
Logic Think  - Penang |2010-09-30 17:23:53
I totally agree with Jeremy. If we are to expound 1 Malaysia, let us stop bashing one community just because they demand certain requirements of their employees.

The Employer has the right to decide what kind of employees they want as they are paying the salaries.

In New Zealand, they will not give you a good paying job no matter your qualifications if you do not have what they call, "Kiwi" experience, which is translated as, the experience of working with people of NZ origin. Is that racist? Maybe but they may also be worried about racial and cultural integration. Once you prove yourself, they have no qualms in giving you what is fair. They will not withold what is due to you, which is more than what can be said here.

Over here, despite the bumiputras being Millionaires, they still demand their 5% to 7% (sometimes more) discount for their housing. Is this enshrined in the constitution? Of course not but a hue and cry was raised when this matter was brought up.

For Government scholarships, the other communities have to appeal despite being better qualified.

What about Government jobs? Who gets to be Head of Department and Director?

For your information, in the early 1980's, banks were advertising jobs with the clause in the public newspapers, Only bumiputeras need to apply (or Bumiputeras only). Today we will say that they are racists unless one realises that they need to fill the required Bumi quota (whether or not the best person gets the job or not, does not matter).

The list goes on and on, so please do not harp on Employers wanting certain type of employees, they have aright to.

So I suggest that the Editor or Webmaster be a bit more circumspect when you raise such issues on the website in public as there is a never ending chorus from the other side as well.

Let us truly put this at the back of us and wherever we can work towards building bridges.

The workforce in Malaysia must improve and move with the times. Go learn English and Mandarin if you are deficient in such areas as whatever you learn is for your own benefit.

Don't blame others when you cannot get a job. It may not just be the color of your skin

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