I lay the blame on people with shallow liberalism and those who unknowingly or deliberately belittle and demonise natives, an attitude that did not disappear with the end of colonialism.
These people would not spend a moment to try to understand the natives. Every community in the world, whether states, ethnic groups, football clubs, etc. all have their inherent and natural interests and concerns which we have to understand. And, more so if the community is in its ancient homeland.
The Malays or Rumpun Melayu, including the Orang Asli who share the same ancestry, according to DNA studies, have been in the Malay peninsula for more than 60,000 years, since man first set foot in Southeast Asia, having migrated from Africa. Just 500 and 150 years ago respectively came the Europeans, and Chinese and Indians.
The Europeans brought colonialism and Chinese and Indians dominated the economy, professions and administration. A similar situation developed elsewhere in the world where the native populations became dominated politically, administratively and economically by colonialists and immigrant populations.
For the vast majority of these countries, when independence came the natives failed to free themselves from the political, economic and administrative domination of those who came from other lands. This was the case even in countries where the natives still formed the majority of the population, such as in South America.
Ask the liberals, whether it is fair that these natives should remain subjugated in their homelands even after independence? Are they being just to the natives when they call for meritocracy and equality?
Just because the liberal elites dominate institutions such as the United Nations, World Bank and international media, does not mean that the natives have no justifiable interests that should be protected by special provisions in the constitution.
In the case of Malaysia, the Malays rightly sought to reclaim their position in their own homeland. They did so, not because they were racists, but because it was their just and inherent right. Natives in a similar position anywhere in the world would have done the same.
Even the Han natives of China reclaimed all their positions when the Manchu Empire ended.
Hence, provisions were placed in the Constitution of Persekutuan Tanah Melayu and later Malaysia to ensure that the Malay/Pribumi natives regained their positions.
These provisions are not a case of institutional racism. Racism is a case of crude discrimination with no justifications whatsoever, except skin colour, as was the case in apartheid South Africa.
The constitutional provisions recognise the special position of the Malays and other natives that even the British recognised as the basis of their administration in Malaya.
There is nothing racist about this. Additionally, those who care to truly know the Malays should understand that, even during the British colonial era, the Malays were not a racist people.
I find it odd that Tan Sri is suggesting that we recognise racism. Why straightaway castigate the Malays, but nothing is mentioned about the others!
Historically, the Malays have always had a very open culture and were hospitable to other people.
. Delegates showing support for party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the Umno general assembly last year. File pic
The Malays have a saying — Dagang lalu ditanakkan, anak sendiri kelaparan (To put the interest of others above oneself or one’s family).
In the 150-year history of Chinese and Indian migrations to Malaya, there was not a single incident of Malays attacking the immigrants.
On the other hand, the Malays were attacked, as in the case of the Lukut massacre in 1834. At independence, the Malays agreed to share political power but no provisions were made to share economic power. It is precisely because the Malays were not culturally racist that there was a need to insert constitutional provisions (the so-called institutional racism) to protect them.
If they were culturally and inherently racist, why did they feel the need to show it openly in the form of provisions in the Constitution?
They could have practised racial discrimination quietly, like many culturally racist ethnic groups in the world. It is easy to deny that one practises racism when it is done quietly.
Just be sure to accuse the other party of being racist first and do so regularly. To accuse the Malays of supremacism is to spread falsehood. Ketuanan Melayu is not Malay supremacism.
Malays have never made this claim. It is their detractors who say so. And critics, including liberal Malays and foreign commentators, choose to listen to them rather than allow the Malays to explain the meaning of the term.
If Malays are racists, Malay supremacist organisations would have appeared as soon as Merdeka was proclaimed in 1957. Only in the past few years have some Malay rights groups — not supremacists — appeared and these have to do with the serious provocations and insults against the Malays.
And, it is precisely these provocations and insults that we have to pay attention to if we are to safeguard the future of the country.
The Malays recognise non-Malays as citizens with rights and legitimate interests, as provided for in the Constitution.
But, equal rights should not cause the Malays to lose their homeland as has happened in many South American countries.
The rights of the natives of the world have to be recognised. Without constitutional provisions to ensure that their interests are protected, natives everywhere will be helpless against meritocracy, equality, etc. because the descendants of the colonial and immigrant communities have a vast advantage over them.
As Socrates, the Greek philosopher said, don’t be duped into thinking that you are courageous when you go into a contest where the other side has clear advantages. That is foolishness!
Thus, we do not need liberals to urge the Malays to be dignified, stop being racist and instead go headlong into a meritocratic contest, and end up like Socratic fools.
Pure meritocracy where the stronger has advantages, and in the Malaysian context this is associated with race, would just be a legitimised and institutionalised form of racism, but a subtle and respectable one.