The Price of Malaysia’s Racism – Revisited
Written by John Malott, Malaysia Chronicle
EXCLUSIVE When my op-ed appeared in the Asian Wall Street Journal last February, all hell broke loose in Malaysia. My thesis was that the highest levels of the government were tolerating or even provoking racial and religious tensions in order to shore up their political base among the Malay community.
I also pointed out that there is an economic price to pay for that political calculation, namely, that members of the minority communities increasingly will feel unwelcome in their own country and continue to emigrate overseas, taking their talents and skills with them.
Now, three months later, I don’t think that there is any doubt at all about what I said. It’s not a thesis any more, it’s a fact.
A very comprehensive report by the World Bank has described the exodus of talent from Malaysia in great detail, pointing out the reasons for the migration and the economic consequences for Malaysia.
It is shocking to think that two out of every ten Malaysian college graduates now lives (and works) overseas. Malaysia’s loss is Singapore’s (and America’s) gain.
On racial and religious tensions, not only do they continue, but they seem to have gotten worse.
Najib says that Islam is superior to all other religions. Mahathir says that Malaysia is Tanah Melayu. Talk ofKetuanan Melayu – the Malays as the Master Race, rather than as a people with a special position, which is what the constitution says – has grown. The Home Ministry desecrates the Holy Bible with government stamps and serial numbers.
When Utusan undercuts the Prime Minister’s 1Malaysia policy and calls for 1Melayu, Muhyiddin says that Utusanis the voice of the Malays. Utusan then goes on to say that the Chinese are trying to take over Malaysia, and that the Christians are conspiring to abolish Islam as the national religion, and so on. All complete fabrications.
But Utusan – owned and controlled by UMNO – gets away with it. This is the clearest example of what I meant when I said that the Government – at the highest levels – is tolerating this in order to strengthen its base among the Malays in preparation for the next General Election.
I find all this very frightening. To strengthen its base, the Government is pandering to the basest elements – some of the most racist, least educated, most gullible, and most intolerant segments of society.
Those elements are constantly conjuring up threats – that the Malay race and Islam, which are the majorities in Malaysia, are under seige by the minority, which is a demographic impossibility.
And rather than say it isn’t so, the Government goes along with Perkasa, Pembela, racist bloggers, Utusan, and so on. – Malaysia Chronicle
John Malott is the former US ambassador to Malaysia