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Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

Why I reject Bumiputera-ism

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by July 28, 2017 General

JULY 28 ― I am a Malay. Constitutionally speaking. I am a Muslim, speak the Malay language and practise aspects of Malay culture so that makes me a Malay.

My birth certificate bears the acknowledgement of my Malay-ness.

Ethnically speaking, some may question my Malay-ness though.

That would be due to my Indian heritage. Colloquially and pejoratively, some may call me a mamak. Yes, I have endured jokes about my heritage since my schooldays.

The irony is, I am one of the few among the Malays of my school batch who actually loves Malay media. I can quote songs and lines from Malay movies and TV all the way from the 1950s till the early 90s when I left the country.

I actually do love my Malay-ness very much. However, there is one aspect of Malay-ness to which I must draw the line:

I refuse to be a Bumiputera.

Recently, when the prime minister said the government would study the request by Indian Muslims for Bumiputera status the community rejoiced. What about the rest of the rakyat?

While the mamaks become Bumiputera, joining the Indonesians, Myanmaris and Muslim Filipinos, the rest of the non-Muslim rakyat would never be accepted into that fraternity. This shows the political nature of Bumi-ness.

A Bumiputera is, in the peninsula at least, a Malay who is entitled to enjoy certain rights and privileges over the rest of the rakyat.

Every year, we read of non-Malay students who make stellar achievements in their school exams, were probably head prefects, presidents of this society or that club. Superachievers who cannot possibly achieve anything more but who were still denied courses of their choice. Why? Every Malaysian will know this – due to their race.

As a human being, I cannot possibly overlook the sheer pain and utter dejection of these students. Usually they go on to Form 6 or simply resign themselves to the courses they were given.

On the rare occasion, some private body recognises their talents and takes them on board. These lucky few usually would shine throughout their academic lives and future careers. One or two even invent new products in their adopted home countries.

Malaysia, on the other hand, chooses to waste their talent simply because they are not members of the chosen race. How can any thinking and compassionate person be part of that system? It would rip a hole in his conscience!

Supporters of Bumiputera-ism would point to our federal Constitution which states that the Malays’ “special rights” would be protected. This article, many would not know (including myself until recently), also exists in Singapore.

In both Singapore and Malaysia during its inception and early history, it was interpreted to mean that Malay culture would be continuously part of the fabric of the nation. There was no hint of any kind of economic provisions for the Malays.

If there was, the first Cabinet, led by Tunku Abdul Rahman himself, would have insituted it. Who better to have known what it meant than they? But they did no such thing. That in itself should be our first clue.

What has Bumiputera-ism done to our nation? It has created a race of privileged people with a sense of entitlement. People afraid of competition.

Remember the protest against non-Bumis entering a local university? What were those Bumis afraid of? That they would not be up to speed? What about the viralled video of a young Bumi graduate who whined that life was not surrendering her its crown jewels after only a few years of struggling? Where did that assumption come from?

No, I cannot be part of this. A species cannot evolve without some form of struggle. Being protected from the struggle merely weakens us and ultimately makes the nation stagnate.

We need to create equality in Malaysia. Only when the rakyat feel they are equal stakeholders can they give their all for the nation.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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