Fight For Your Rights Or Lose Them

A good friend from Australia recently wrote to me this: “I hope all goes well. I note that Malaysian politicians have finally decided that the brain drain has become critical.
“As I’ve mentioned several times before, if one examines the postgraduate departments of any Australian university, one will encounter Malaysian students, including increasing numbers of Malays, whose expertise will never be enjoyed by Malaysia. A few anecdotes:
“Yesterday I attended a specialist appointment regarding possible glaucoma, of which I was cleared. The specialist, ethnic Chinese, was the daughter of Malaysians who migrated to Australia.
“A cardiologist whom I consulted, now a professor of cardiology, was born in Malaysia. Similarly, a hearing specialist who diagnosed my hearing loss, both ethnic Chinese. My dentist, an ethnic Indian, is of Malaysian birth.
“The son, ethnic Indian, of my former KL amah, is a taxi driver in KL. He ensured all three of his sons excelled in school. All of them received results that should have gained them places in Malaysian universities. They were offered Singapore scholarships and have been lost to Malaysia.
“Our ‘adopted’ Malaysian daughter - ethnic Indian, daughter of a close friend - gained three degrees in Adelaide and now has a senior appointment. Her brother with an honours degree in engineering, obtained in Australia, plans to remain here.”
Another good friend responded:
“These real-life stories of migration illustrate your point about no option but to leave. I underscore the same point.
“Your commentator also says something else of real consequence: ‘No remedial action about the brain drain will have any effect at all. That horse bolted years ago.”
Well said. Cosmetic remedies no longer fool anyone. Part of the magnificent irony is that the very Malay elites who created the racist policies that triggered the brain drain and continue to feed it will travel overseas to get their specialist care from Malaysian Chinese and Indian specialists who have migrated.
The political climate in Malaysia has long been such that you cannot have a rational debate about such issues in Malaysia. Burying your head in the sand may work well for Malays. So be it.
Further strengthening of racial policies
On the nation’s future, the following warning was sounded by prominent Malay blogger, Yusuf Abdul Rahman:
“The Malay elites will do anything to stay in power & to maintain/increase their wealth & positions of influence, even if it means creating racial & religious strife.
“They have absolutely no conscience. Feudalism & feudal thinking is just another tool to them.”
In the immediate future, we can expect that the growing majority population and voters of Malays and bumiputera will provide justification for the retention, and even further strengthening, of racially based political, social, and economic policies.
Non-Malays and liberal bumiputera have to live with the fact that the government, whether the present political coalition or any new one based on the opposition, after GE16, will reject any dismantling of the system of preferential policies for the Malays.
Talk about it will be labelled as unpatriotic, anti-national, or seditious.
What this means is that non-Malays who choose not to migrate will have to resign themselves to second-class status as citizens unless they fight back.
A less difficult dilemma faces liberal Malays who are in opposition to the restrictive religious environment that has come with ketuanan (supremacist) Islam.
Political change through the ballot box is possible as shown by current Harapan rule. But political change alone as we see from the coalition government is not enough if not accompanied by a mindset change and more importantly, policies and practices.
The following are actions that non-Malays and concerned bumiputera have to undertake in the fight for an equal, just, and secular society:
Put the issues of ketuanan Melayu and ketuanan Islam into the forefront of public discourse. There should be no sector that should be regarded as taboo or improper in raising objections and opposition to, including against the conduct of religious bodies, judiciary, and other agencies of the civil service.
Openly challenge the culture of racism and religious politics and discuss how best the public can fight it.
There are at least five important groups of voices that can shine their light on ketuanan and racism and lead in fighting it. These are:
- The religious institutions by raising the consciousness and voices of their religious congregation in rejecting racism, religious supremacy, and extremism.
- The academic community through the exposure of policies, practices, laws, and institutional structures that create or perpetuate racial and religious division.
- The print and social media through news coverage and fearless analysis of everyday happenings on the racial and religious front, in particular those that impact negatively on Bangsa Malaysia.
- The think tanks in identifying ethno-populist and ethno-supremacist ideologies and ideologues and rebutting their interpretation of policies and conduct.
- Civil society organisations through rejection of race-related policies and programmes and continuously advocating for a truly multi-racial and multi-religious inclusive society.
Before the next general election, concerned public members should pressure the nation’s political parties to declare their stand on ketuanan Melayu and ketuanan Islam.
There should be a demand for parties to publicly state in their manifestos the party position on institutionalised racism and the covert encroaching religious state as well as their plan on how to counter them.
Ultimately, the fight against the ethnocratic hegemonic state will rest on the shoulders of the present and younger generation who choose not to migrate.
They will have to fight much harder than their parents have done. - Mkini
LIM TECK GHEE is a former senior official with the United Nations and World Bank.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT

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