THE stereotyping and bashing of Malays, or any other ethnic group for that matter, must stop.
Derogatory comments about any group should not be made if Malaysians are really serious about national cohesion and unity. We repeatedly stress the importance of interracial interaction and harmony, and reaffirm that they are necessary for the country to become a truly progressive nation. Why then is one ethnic group, the Malays, singled out and denounced again and again?
Lately, there has been a spate of name-calling. The Malays have been slapped with an array of unsavoury descriptions including the colonial-inspired cry of “the Malays are a lazy people”. There are also more current labels such as “unproductive”, “corrupt”, “dishonest” and “parasites”. An interesting point is that these words are being uttered by the Malays themselves. A disconcerting outcome is that the other ethnic groups are listening and nodding in agreement.
Malay derision is gaining ground as the media publishes reports and writings and posts videos which individuals pick up and make viral. Then ensues a blubbering of comments, many given without a thought that they might be hurtful or unfair. While Malaysians seem civil and polite towards one another on the surface, the deep dislike and prejudice is becoming more obvious in their remarks.
This verbal persecution of a community and people is unprecedented in a country that professes to be multiracial and multiethnic. When it is sanctioned by people in high places, it becomes a contradiction of the national aspirations they seek to inspire. They urge the rakyat to forge national integration and unity on the one hand, yet have no qualms about singling out the Malays to demean on the other.
The rationale behind the continuing negative assessment amounting to outright condemnation of a people is that it will jolt them into changing for the better. That is, if you continue to remind the Malays that they are lazy and unproductive, they will become hardworking. If you say they are dishonest and corrupt, they will stop their immoral and unethical conduct and behaviour.
A socio-anthropological explanation is that the socially disadvantaged and economically backward are inclined to admit their failings and failures more than those who have achieved a measure of success. Psychologically, people with low levels of achievement would have low self-esteem, making them easy targets for the more powerful to inspire or exploit. It is as if the Malays are being fleeced of their socio-cultural attributes with their psyche laid bare for the promised prosperity and greatness ahead.
Is this why in Malaysia we see the Malays themselves demeaning one another while the Chinese and Indians watch with great interest, albeit tight-lipped about their own negative traits and idiosyncrasies?
By all means, single out particular groups of Malays to berate. However, it is unfair for anyone to berate the Malays as a whole. The repeated condemnation does not go down well with the majority of Malays who lead clean and honest lives and work hard to earn a living. Those of us with a conscience and a sense of shame – segan and malu – with a sense of integrity and uprightness – amanah and suci – do not commit the abhorrent deeds which the Malay, Chinese and Indian crooks and criminals are guilty of.
No, it is not the Malays alone who are corrupt and dishonest. The vicious cycle of corruption perpetuated in this country involves every person out to make a quick buck or bundles of money. Some are more sneaky than others and conceal their corrupt practices by keeping a low profile. Some are naive and get caught showing off their handbags and cars.
Racial and ethnic profiling must stop. Movers and shakers of society must show exemplary behaviour and spew constructive ideas, not destructive attacks. Tell the Malays to focus on educating themselves and their families. Tell them to gather information and knowledge to improve their skills. Inspire them to be efficient and effective communicators to detect the untoward intentions of others and speak up. Tell them to be alert and aware that they owe it to themselves to do the best they can, socio-culturally, ethically and economically. And tell the Chinese and Indians these things too.