kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,
kheru2006
kheru2006

Labels should not be applied generally

IFIND the opinion expressed by Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim “Institutionalised racism is scary” (NST, July 21) fascinating, if perplexing. There is no reason to doubt what was written.

Not least from a respected former civil servant with vast and eminent experience in public service, which is now alleged to be part of the “institutionalised racism”.

This is certainly a “new” label with “loaded” ramifications, going beyond the usual lamentations of “overzealous bureaucrats and little Napoleons imposing their social and religious values on Malaysians”.

The dubious choice of words: “institutionalised racism” has catapulted the issue to a new high, rightly or wrongly. While nit-picking on the public sector, practically nothing is said about the private sector.

Are we to deduce that the latter is racism-free, let alone with no “institutionalised” form to talk about? Or is the omission deliberate due to the acute lack of information or experience in dealing with them.

Whatever the reason(s), the article has given a rather distorted view of the so-called “institutionalised racism”. This is further worsened by generalising it with reference to the “New Economic Policy, special position of Malays and Islam” as an “excuse” for the racist actions. Implying those who are not beneficiaries of the above, in one way or another, can be safely regarded as non-racists!

The article seems to be oblivious to the entire partisan politics that is racially based. How this escapes the storyline is quite puzzling, especially when politics in Malaysia almost always cuts across all ethnic lines and religious beliefs.

In fact, there are those who even claim that racial politics are the root to chauvinist policies not only in Malaysia but the world over. While it is apt to urge “those who walk the corridors of power to discard racial and religious ideologies” — the question is how to do this effectively unless the offending political undertones are dealt with just as effectively?

Many are anxiously awaiting to be enlightened on ways to dismantle the political overbearance, which in turn will do away with many of the concerns of “institutional racism” as claimed. For instance, how do “our leaders (must) start with educating the civil servant, government ministries” and what have you, given the dominant political realities?

Yes, the police are doing their level best admirably, but is this not the same force that is allegedly being “shunned” by the “non-Malays” for fear of racism.


 The low numbers of non-Malays/Bumiputra in uniformed service has more to do with cultural perceptions.
In other words, admittedly, the police force (as represented by the IGP) does not exhibit the said “institutionalised racism” after all!

Now, let me take just three particular issues raised based on my university experience.

FIRST, Biro Tata Negara (BTN). Whatever has been said, it is important to point out there are other clandestine BTNs.

While in the university, without fail, students of different ethnic and religious groups were taken out by different proxies of political entities for “retreat” or “camp-out” programmes periodically.

Those who were uncomfortable with such programmes related what they went through, and it was not unlike what the BTN has been accused of. The observations and arguments put up in the article, though having its merits, are at best myopic!;

SECOND, the police and military force being shunned. Based on the experiences for the recruitment of reserved officers (Palapes) or police cadets (Suksis) as part of co-curriculum in the universities, the low number of non-Malays/Bumiputeras has more to do with cultural perceptions.

For the Chinese and Indians, Palapes and Suksis do not list high on their priority. They would rather opt for other uniformed groups such as the Red Crescent, St John’s Ambulance and the like. Not the military-type.

These groups are considered more representative because they are not biased by issues of salary scale, or safety and security (as in real life situations) even though Palapes and Suksis do conduct military-type training as part of the course. So the implied racist factor is indeed very minimal, if at all; and,

THIRD, the word “pendatang” which has been raised yet again. No doubt, it is insulting for any citizen of a country to be called as such.

As cited, a black “African-American” being called “nigger” (which somehow is equated to “pendatang” in the article) is unwarranted.

However, the point not to be missed is that they are all “Americans”. It is equally important to highlight that they are not American-Africans or American-Chinese which conveys all together a very different connotation of who they are.

Unfortunately, the latter is the Malaysian case, a very fundamental issue which can be traced back to racial-based realpolitik! This is the Malaysian tragedy that must be urgently addressed.

However, this should be by selectively applying jaundiced labels resulting in the entire public/government sector being irresponsibly tarred by the broad brush of “institutional racism” for some sinister reasons. Indeed, it is this act that is exactly scary!
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