It’s not about being Malay, Zahra

Erna Mahyuni
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?)

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  1. #1 by drngsc on Thursday, 23 July 2015 - 12:02 pm

    Dear Zahra, poverty is color blind. There are many many Malaysians who are poor or poorer than you Zahra. I often cannot understand when certain keris waving UMNOPutra say that the Malays are disadvantaged. Just take a look. 95% of government jobs are held by Malays, more than 50% of MPs are Malays. The PM and DPM have always been Malays. 9 sultans and the King has always been Malays, Since 1974, the Finance minister have always been a Malay. Other than Penang, all the chief ministers are Malays. 80% of Uni quotas favour the Malays, The NEP was designed solely to benefit the Malays and after umpteen years they still need the NEP. All GLCs are controlled by Malays. There are special discounts for houses and stock purchases given to Malays. Top post in all sectors and branches of Armed Forces and police and held by Malays. And all this 52 years after the formation of Malaysia. And yet there are some who say that the Malays in Malaysia are disadvantaged and poor. Malays, like Zahra must think what happened when Malays have been given so much? Just for arguement sake, can anyone imagine what would have happened if these same terms and condition have been given to non-Malays? Unimaginable. Anyway, I disgress. Zahra, poverty is color blind. There are many non-Malays who suffer the same as you. You are not alone. You must ask yourself after 52 years, with so much given to the Malays, why are you still facing such difficulties. What about the rest who were given nothing?

  2. #2 by john on Thursday, 23 July 2015 - 6:55 pm

    They just using ‘Malay’ for their agenda and benefits. FULLSTOP.

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Thursday, 23 July 2015 - 10:37 pm

    Life has been good n great 4 her, but she did not realise how lucky n privileged n wants MORE, MORE – more easy life
    Education fr cradle 2 university – quite certain paid 4 by taxpayers $$ (MRSM – fully residential, nice nice)
    As a member of d privileged grp, can enjoy buying houses with a guaranteed discount (others don’t have – she still complained)
    If she felt poor (even though can pay RM500 a month 4 car), pls lah BLAME d corrupt UmnoB/BN, enriching certain grp of Malays n their cronies
    Remember 2 VOTE correctly in d next GE

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