Sunday, December 15, 2013

By Mansor Puteh

(The funeral of Nelson Mandela will be held at Qunu, where he will be given a state funeral today, after his body was placed in Union Building in Pretoria to allow the South Africans and others to pay their last respects.)

Malaysia is in such a bad and sad state. It is perhaps the only country in the world where the small Chinese and Tamil minority groups demand to be segregated from the mainstream society.

It is a segregated state – an apartheid state by any measure – or a self-apartheid state. But it happened by demand from the Chinese and Tamil immigrant populations and not imposed by the majority Melayu. But it is self-segregation – a self-apartheid kind of system.

However, in other countries, the Chinese and Tamils do not insist on being segregated; they demand to be allowed to assimilate with the majority White population as much as the Black or African-Americans who insisted on being allowed to study in the national schools. 

First the Chinese and Tamil demanded that they were given the rights to establish their own schools that offer education in Mandarin and Tamil.

This, however, had a negative effect on the creation of the true Malaysian society.

The world has not condemned Malaysia and the minorities for insisting on segregation in such a fashion, as the world looks at the racial issue in Black and White and not so much between the Chinese and Tamils and the Melayu.

The issue is also not compounded simply because the Chinese in Malaysia had been given legup by the British colonial masters because they mostly lived in the cities and urban areas, and also because the Melayu being Muslims took pity on them, so much so that they are economically sound and superior that they can afford to behave in such a fashion.

The Melayu supported Chinese businesses and trading to help prop their economic situation, because when they first came to the country known as Tanah Melayu, they were poor and had only clothes on the backs.

They were not fabulously wealthy when they were first here.

But what if the Melayu suddenly changed their attitude and say, enough is enough and they do not patronize Chinese establishments today? This can happen. And it is slowly happening by design and the change in attitude of many Melayu today.

But the real matter concerns their size which is comparatively large and how divided the Melayu majority is, so they are now the ‘kingmakers’ in politics in Malaysia; for without which their voice would be diminished and their demands could not be met.

This situation however, can happen as in the years ahead, when the size of the Melayu population increased to so large a number and with the creation of Melayu unity with the passing of the old leaders, the Chinese can find themselves in a difficult spot.

The Tamils now realize their folly; so they have turned their backs on the Chinese and are back in the Melayu fold, as in the last general elections showed.

The Chinese and also the Indians taking the cue from the Chinese demanded that they are allowed to operate their own schooling system.

But they are schools with the medium of Mandarin and Tamil and not of the other dialects.

Yet, the other groups in the Indian racial group cannot demand that they are also allowed to operate their own schooling system because their numbers are small.

The Chinese and Tamils are able to do so because their numbers are larger than the other groups.

That also explains why the Chinese and Tamils in other countries including America and Britain as well as Australia and New Zealand cannot demand such schools be operated to cater to the needs of their children; the majority there wouldn’t accept it.

However, the Chinese and Tamils are only allowed to have classes in their languages, if they wanted to but there are few takers.

They ended up being forced to assimilate with the larger groups. In fact, they also do not have political parties to serve their cause.

Whereas in America, the Blacks or African-Americans demanded that they are allowed to travel in the same bus and go to the same schools as the White kids.

And the Whites in America also did not demand that the Blacks or ‘Negros’ not to speak in English, since they are not White, but Blacks.

Herein lay the funny thing about the real goals of the White Supremacists in America in those days. They who did not allow the Blacks to assimilate, yet did not frown or make any attempt to stop them from using their language and their clothes.

But they were able to stop or bar the Blacks from buying properties in the White areas, even if some of them could afford to do so.

* * * * * * *

Nelson Mandela died on 6 December, 2013, twenty-three years after Tunku Abdul Rahman died in 1990. Mandela or known affectionately by his clan name of Madiba became the first Black president of his country, South Africa in 1992.

And two years later, he made his first and only visit to Malaysia, meeting the then prime minister, Mahathir Mohammed.

But he was never told of how Tunku, as prime minister of the country then, had called for the expulsion of South Africa from the British Commonwealth which met in Brisbane in 1961, a motion that was supported by Indian prime minister, Nehru, and later accepted by the Commonwealth.

It caused the Apartheid government of South Africa to suffer indescribable damage to the reputation internationally.

So Mandela would be aghast if he knows of any country which still believes in apartheid.

What would he have said if he learns that in Malaysia there is racial segregation by demand from the Chinese and Tamils?

* * * * * * *

Nelson Mandela would be amazed to see Malaysia, which had made it possible for the establishment or apartheid-style policies that the Chinese and Tamil had forced the government to do.

He would be amazed to see how such a system could become a national policy with the Chinese and Tamil minorities demanding that they are allowed to do as they please.

They ask the government to practice democracy by giving the option of sending their kids to their own schools, yet, demanding land and financial support from it.

In America, the Blacks demanded that they were allowed to study in schools operated by the government, even if it would mean that they would be assimilated with the White majority population there. 

They often used their political clout to make that happen.

In the west and other countries where they are in small minority groups, they were not able to do so; and those who insist that they do not assimilate with the locals stick with their own people in the Chinatowns and Little Indias, where they can believe that they are still in China and India and speak only in Mandarin and Tamil.

So no wonder, in Malaysia, there are many Chinese and Tamils and other Indians who still can’t speak in the national language of Melayu well, or at all.

Many of them are still able to manage themselves since they are the ones who do not move about, but who like to confine themselves within their own racial groups.

Yet, many of them are still able to get the driving licenses whose written tests are conducted in Melayu and sometimes in English, the two languages they are not familiar with.

* * * * * * *

Nelson Mandela would be confused if he knew about the true situation in Malaysia when he was here in 1994.

No one must have explained to him how the Chinese could get whatever they wanted simply because the Melayu had been fractured by design so that the Chinese voters including the Indian ones, could become the unnecessary ‘kingmakers’.

If there is true Melayu unity, chances of the Chinese and Indians being able to do much will be curtailed.

And their political parties such as the MCA, Gerakan, DAP, MIC, and what have you… would be turned into mere social and cultural clubs, while playing mahjong and selombong and watching films from Hong Kong and India the whole day!

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