by Azly Rahman
17 Sep 2015
In conjunction with Malaysia Day, I have these brief messages of peace to both leader and the people led.
Mr Malaysian Prime Minister,
Help all Malaysians not just Malays if you and your coalition ruling party are going to redesign strategies for peace, equality, and social justice.
We are all bumiputras now and that the generation of today’s Malaysians be they from Chinese, Indian, or Malays have been here long enough to call this land no longer Tanah Melayu but Bumi Bangsa Malaysia. We’ve toiled for the soil.
And you must remind yourself that you are prime minister for all.
Poverty now cuts across racial lines, with an increasing number of those in the middle class now falling below the poverty line.
There is no strong rationale any more, after more than 50 years of independence and being a country called Malaysia, to continue policies based along racial lines. Continuing this will guarantee another 50 years of race and class antagonism.
In the field of education especially, scholarships need to be give based on merit, talent, and needs, not because one is a bumiputra or a Malay or because of the birthright of one’s race.
Many of those in the elite and privileged boarding/residential schools such as in Mara Junior Science College (MRSM) are not from families that are poor or who could not afford good and quality education. Many are from wealthy families.
There are deserving children from all races must be given all the opportunities to excel, just like how the Malays from even the abject poor were given the chance back in the early 1970s when the MRSM system first started its first three schools.
Mr Prime Minister, you must be fair to people of all races.
For example, open up the privileged schools such as MRSM to more children of all races. Open all mono-cultural educational institutions such as Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) to Malaysians of all races. It will be better for the nation.
Look at the plight other Malaysians. Promising a billion or so ringgit in educational, entrepreneurial, and economic aid to only one race defined by one-dimensional construct is a wrong political act done with ill intentions.
Be wise, in the remaining political time you and your party is given.
Reverse the trend of apartheid-isation of education – for the sake of the future of our children. As you know, during your tenure as education minister. Education is one best means of social reproduction to ensure the evolution of a just and progressive nation.
The New Economic Policy has been replaced with the New Economic Agenda which promises fairness for all, not just the Malays and bumiputras. Honour that.
In concluding my short plea, I’d say this: For our country, There is enough to go around for everybody’s needs and not just to feed the greed of the few.
Better focus on raising your children
To the red T-shirt Malays who do not represent the Malays, here is my message:
I can understand what has happened and how this is an unhealthy development that goes against the hopes and aspiration of a nation wishing to move forward. But here is my advice, especially to those who have children:
It better focus on raising your children well in adjusting to a changing, globalising, and very diversifying Malaysian and global society.
Teach them to focus on ways to understand others, improving their English language skills, perfecting their moral compass, encouraging them to think well and good about children of other races and religion, to encourage them to make friends with people of other races, to be grateful that schools offer the great opportunity to love and respect teachers of different races.
Teach them to learn about the dangers of generalising, stereotyping, and projecting hate that would lead to mass deception, to encourage each child to learn about other cultures and religion, and to teach them that all of us in Malaysia are now Malaysians and not this or that group of immigrants.
We all are migrants in time and space and in history and that all of us are human beings with emotions, struggles, challenges, history of joy and despair, memory of pain and pleasure of living, and that all of us are merely of differing skin colour tone and born to speak different languages and to believe in different things about salvation and that we are all travelers in this life.
We are all these and will not need moments of history where we cultivate hate for the bigger picture of oppression we do not understand. We may all be pawns in this great political game of big-time plunderers and multi-ethnic robber-barons skilled at mass deception and distractions.
We should be grateful that we are still alive and breathe daily and that we must think happily and joyfully like Malaysians in order for each and every one of us to prosper in peace.
Come back to our senses. Our strength as Malaysians will still come from diversity and the respect and cultivation of talent. On Malaysia Day, we should have rejoiced and celebrate the achievements of this nation for that beautiful concept of unity in diversity; not a rally that spew hatred and invoke the horrors of the May 13, 1969 tragedy.
Let us design a safer journey towards a progressive and harmonious Malaysia, beyond this red T-shirt red-river of blood march of some mangled manufactured propaganda of Malay dignity.
DR AZLY RAHMAN grew up in Johor Baru, Malaysia and holds a Columbia University (New York City) doctorate in International Education Development and Masters degrees in the fields of Education, International Affairs, Peace Studies and Communication. He will be pursuing his fifth Masters in Fine Arts, specialising in Fiction and Poetry Writing. He has taught more than 50 courses in six different departments and has written more than 350 analyses/essays on Malaysia. His 25 years of teaching experience in Malaysia and the United States spans over a wide range of subjects, from elementary to graduate education. He has edited and authored six books; Multiethnic Malaysia: Past, Present, Future (2009), Thesis on Cyberjaya: Hegemony and Utopianism in a Southeast Asian State (2012), The Allah Controversy and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity (2013), Dark Spring: Essays on the Ideological Roots of Malaysia’s General Elections-13 (2013), a first Malay publication Kalimah Allah Milik Siapa?: Renungan dan Nukilan Tentang Malaysia di Era Pancaroba (2014), and Controlled Chaos: Essays on Mahathirism, Multimedia Super Corridor and Malaysia’s ‘New Politics’ (2014). He currently resides in the United States where he teaches courses in Education, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Political Science, and American Studies. His forthcoming book, One Malaysia, under God, Bipolar, a joint project between Gerakbudaya and World Wise Books of New Jersey, USA, is his seventh compilation of essays on Malaysian Cultural, Creative, and Critical Studies. He is currently working on his eighth book, on Gifted and Talented Education in Malaysia, honouring a prominent educator. Twitter, blog.