What the Chinese in Malaysia Really Want Part III
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MALAYS IN LABOUR -WILL IT INCREASE WITH THE JOHOR CORRIDOR?
Malaysia (warts and all) remains an oasis in a sea of cultural chauvanism.
Thailand, Indonesia (till only recently) Viet Nam, Myanmar, Laos, Philippines and Cambodia all continue to prohibit the public display of Chinese letters (characters) names and other forms of Chinese cultural symbols displayed in any object or form within their borders.
These prohibitions extend by law to include the displaying of cultural icons or Chinese characters displayed outside shops, temples or other public places. The use of and the displays of Chinese cultural icons and language is limited or altogether prohibited by law. The Chinese are also prohibited from adopting or using Chinese names officially. They have had to adopt local names.
Malaysia (and Singapore) has remained outside this sphere of cultural intolerance. And for its tolerance it has earned the displeasure of the Chinese it would seem. The Chinese want more than cultural freedoms. They seek to appropriate to themselves the entire state and claim it as theirs alone.
Singapore on the other hand (a Chinese enclave in the region) has upped the ante. Not to be outdone in the field of racial discrimination it created a unique form of racial and cultural oppression all its own. In its attempts to subdue Malay Nationalism and to render the Malay culture subservient and subject to the will of the socially engineered Chinese majority, Singapore introduced Mandarin as its national language alongside the English language. In doing so Singapore achieved its purpose of rendering the entire Malay population culturally and politically impotent.
Removal of that ‘cultural ballast’ of language and social habits, which Lee Kuan Yew often spoke of, would render any cultural or racial group weak and vulnerable.
PORK AND ALCOHOL TWO NON TARIFF BARRIERS TO MALAY EMPLOYMENT
In Malaysia on the other hand as is the case in Singapore, there is significant though subtle discrimination in employment against the Malays even to this day. It manifests itself in non tariff barriers set in employment in one of the largest sectors of the economy and employment, the food, beverages and hospitality industry.
In the context of Asia, food and beverages remain one of the most important and lucrative industries and will continue to outperform most others even in times of economic distress. Food beverages and hospitality are two of Malaysia’s largest employers and contributors to its gross domestic product. Yet Malay participation in this lucrative field of economic activity is heavily and thoughtlessly stifled and curtailed.
Now here’s the trick. Most restaurants and hotels which are statistically in a majority are owned and operated by the Chinese. In it they sell or cook food either with pork or pork fat or some element of pork as an ingredient regularly. Alcohol and alcoholic beverages in its manufacture storage and consumption another multi billion dollar industry in Malaysia is also controlled mainly by Chinese operators. Excluded from participation in this sector are the Malays whose religion prevents them from direct participation.
Fully aware of the consequence to especially Malays and to other Muslims of the presence of these ingredients and material in food and beverages, very few previous or for that matter even the current government of Malaysia has ever advocated to find alternatives to redress the imbalance created by this non tariff barrier to employment of Malays. The result is that it has become a tool of exclusion preventing and excluding Malays from employment in an important and a vital industry in Malaysia.
Pork is not a life saving necessity nor something that cannot be suitably and painlessly substituted with say,soy substitutes, beef, mutton, venison or poultry. Yet it is conveniently and widely used in Malaysia by its Chinese population without protest or complaint by it Malays save in some minority quarters.
The fact they the Malays and their government have not taken any active measures to end Chinese monopoly of this highly lucrative of sector in the economy although harmful to their culture says a lot about Malay generosity the Chinese are not prepared to acknowledge.
It is examples such as these which conveniently get lost in the heat of arguments against the NEP and Malays. This level of inter racial tolerance is likely to be lost in a Singaporean Chinese dominated Johor corridor. Malays will be further driven into the hinterland or be reduced to being token Chinese like they are in Singapore today.
The consequence of all of the generosity of the Malays and their government is conveniently lost and conveniently forgotten by the Chinese. Whats not remembered is that the Malays in their own country are as they have been for decades, excluded from any form of meaningful employment or participation in an industry so large as the food and beverages sector to which they could contribute more significantly.
Food and beverage is an industry in which the Chinese have a stranglehold and monopoly over which for a long time has underwritten their individual and communal wealth. Entry barriers are low and turnover and profits high. The NEP and its extension must be measured and criticised against such a backdrop and not simply in black and white Malay and non Malay terms. There is more to the disparity between Malays and non Malays which are conveniently swept under the carpet by inept government officials leaving it instead to the articulate non Malays to advance their views in default.
In the earlier days before people like Mahathir intervened, the Chinese middle men reduced Malay rice growers of the north to poverty. It was a feat celebrated by the British as Chinese ingenuity over the Malays. The Malays could do well to demand their government impose a punitive tax on the sale of pork and alcohol in all its forms. It will achieve the necessary balance of allowing the Chinese the freedom to eat pork in public places and others to consume alcohol also in public places for a price. That price has to reflect the disadvantage to the Malay economy.
An opportunity to redress this imbalance where Malays are excluded from places where the the use of pork and alcohol is served can be achieved by imposing license requirements on all premises that sell pork and alcohol which would undoubtedly provide a windfall to government and redressing the imbalance in the process.
More importantly the government of Tun Razak Najib ought to publicly disclose the terms and conditions of the sale of water to Singapore and the sale of the Johor corridor to Singaporeans. And if necessary a referendum on these matters held. If they are found to be not in the interests of Malaysians it ought to be overturned.
The Chinese know that they will not be able to overthrow and set up in its place a non Malay led government. That’s not possible as long as there are sufficient numbers of Malays to constitute a majority in the population.
The Chinese alternative aided by Singapore is now to grab as much land as is possible under terms and conditions that have been kept a secret from Malaysians and to introduce large numbers of imported Chinese labour as has been the case throughout the developing world in Asia and Africa and to spread Chinese economic and cultural hegemony throughout the region.
It will happen. And Lee Kuan Yew wants it to happen before he dies. Bahasa Melayu will be replaced as the main language with Mandarin. If thats taking it the message too far, take a look at Singapore, a former Malay territory and prove me wrong.
Gopal Raj Kumar