Malay Mail Online
July 22, 2015
JULY 22 — More than a week after the “Saya Zahra” video went viral, people are still talking about it.
My social media timelines seem to be divided equally between the people who support what she’s saying and those who think she’s being whiny and entitled.
Sure, I can empathise with a lot of her struggles as Lord knows, it isn’t easy trying to survive in Klang Valley on very little. But when she called on the government to help and do more for the Malays, whatever sympathy I had for her disappeared where 1MDB’s money went.
Last I checked, Zahra, the Malays form the majority in Malaysia. Go to any civil service department and you’ll see very few minorities working there, much less leading it.
It’s not just the Malays who are poor. There are poor Chinese. Poor Indians. Poor non-Muslim, non-Malay bumiputera. Poor Malaysians of every creed and colour.
But that’s the problem when you keep getting fed the rhetoric that the non-Malays are rich and prosperous and the Malays are being held back by them. Just go to Ampang and TTDI; you’ll see plenty of Malays living in big houses, with fancy cars and drivers.
The refrain is getting tiring and I’m frankly sick of hearing: “I am Malay, I am struggling, the government owes it to me to help me. Because I am Malay.”
I am trying to imagine a white person saying that in the United States or Britain. “I am struggling, I can barely cope with living costs, help me, I’m white.”
How long are we going to continue to live with this bullcrap? “Tolong Melayu” (help the Malays) is the common refrain but all I can see are the richer Malays in power helping themselves. I’m sorry, Zahra, the rich don’t want to help you. They just want to get rich. Just in case you didn’t get the memo that the world is a terrible, unfair place.
It’s so easy for people like Zahra to supplicate the government, begging for more aid and justifying it with “I am Malay. You must help me.”
But would you be willing to supplicate rich people? Would you have the gall to go up to a privately-owned company and say right to the owner’s face: “You must hire me and pay me a high salary. Because I am Malay”?
No one owes you anything for the colour of your skin or for what culture you identify with. The government is not God, no matter how culturally ingrained it is locally to worship whoever is governing. We have replaced the royalty with the government, bowing, scraping, prostrating. Soon, we’re going to end up including politicians in our lèse majesté laws but I’d rather go to jail than stop calling our politicians idiots.
I’m not going to be like Datuk Ahmad Maslan and suggest you “ubah gaya hidup” (change your lifestyle) to cope. Well, you will have to make adjustments like the rest of us out of sheer necessity but I don’t want you to shut up, Zahra. Keep talking, keep speaking up, but stop making it about your race.
The economy needs to be fixed. Wages need adjustments. Whatever our deputy prime minister says, our education system is broken. Rather than weep in front of politicians and ask them to “tolong Melayu”, ask them to do their jobs better. Ask them to truly be our representatives, instead of our overlords.
All those who are poor, who are struggling, who are suffering, all of them need attention and help. God made all of us, didn’t he? So stop kidding yourself about your special status because that imaginary status is obviously not getting you where you want to be.
There’s nothing wrong with being Malay, or identifying yourself as Malay. But it is wrong to make it all about what race you are and being stubbornly fixated on just getting your own race ahead. Learn to say “tolong rakyat” (help the people) and maybe, just maybe, we’ll get somewhere. Because at the end of all things on Judgement Day at Padang Mahsyar, Bumiputera status isn’t going to matter any more and the angels aren’t going to ask: “Melayu ke?” (Are you Malay?)