Saturday, June 18, 2011

LIM: Racism Rules

Whenever I read of a country claiming "We are very tolerant towards X/Y/Z" I know there's a problem.

If they're tolerant about Christianity like the Egyptians were last week, it means they're burning down churches. If they're tolerant about freedom of speech like the Russians claim, they're shooting journalists.

So in the same spirit do I smile when West Malaysian politicians use their favourite catch-phrase "harmonious multi-culture" to describe our society.

The three biggest ethnic group that live here are the Malays, Chinese and Indians. We don't have many visible racial problems here but there is no doubt that West Malaysia is incredibly racist.

A national affirmative action policy means the Malays/Bumis get special benefits including a discount when they buy a home. If you read the newspapers, you can see ads, "10% discount for Bumis".

It's also common to see ads: "Chinese sales girl wanted" and "Indian cook wanted" not "Mandarin or Hokkien speaker wanted" or "Cook specialising in Indian cuisine wanted".

To my European eyes where mentioning race in this way is taboo because such talk is illegal in my countries - and in many other places.

However, after many years here I've picked up some of this attitude too. One of my firmly held beliefs is that when you're Chinese and male, you must be good with technical stuff.

So I'm talking to my mate Ong who runs the photograph shop the other day, and after picking up my prints I ask if he can fix my phone for me.

"I don't do phones," he says.
"But you're Chinese!" I say.
Ong gives me a long look. "And you're orang puteh and you're not rich!"
Point taken.

16 comments:

sully86 said...

double whammy!!!

MAYBL8R said...

It is what it is: Apartheid. The nazi's used it, the South Africans gave it the name (policy to set people APART), the Israeli government still uses it and it's clear that Malaysian policies are built along the same lines - a racially discriminating pathway for the benefit of the few.

Tolerance is a really bad word in my opinion. Tolerance and sacrifice; these two words are used to tell the repressed to "accept it and live with it". The correct word would be understanding and respect - if we can replace tolerance with understanding and sacrifice with respect; the world would be a very different place.

The fact that the country puts race in it's slogan "multi-racial community" means it's a country that differentiates them. I hope they will stop this dangerous practice and be common human beings for once.

dArtagnan Rumblepurr/Diego Hamlet Moonfur said...

It's always interesting to hear how things are in different cities.

Whisppy said...

Hahahaa! Well said, Ong! And that's not the only thing Orang Puteh's are known for in Asia. ;)

MoMo said...

Well put. Having lived and worked in a number of middle eastern and asian countries, I am more than appreciative of your writing.

SS
(Momo has nothing to do with this comment. As a cat she wouldn't care less)

BeadedTail said...

It's interesting how they say one thing and do another. We're also curious as to what Whisppy is referring to! :)

Brian said...

Sometimes I get lost in the whole different culture thing, I just wish everyone would get along with everyone else!

Katnip Lounge said...

Discrimination is everywhere, I think it's part of the human condition to dislike (or whatever) "others". I had to attend a workshop for my job on sexual discrimination; me, a women, who works with a hundred men! Crazyness.

The Cat From Hell said...

Grreat Post!
I think people don't like "different". There are hundreds of thousands of years of worrying about the "tribe on the other side of the hill", that can not be removed in a handful of hundreds of years.
I am multiracial but I have very white skin and have red hair. People don't realize and say some awfully cruel things about other ethnicities and are not apologetic at all when they realize they are saying those things about my grand parents.
I think it will take a long time before discrimination stops. In the meantime, if we beieve we are not discriminatory, we need to watch what we say and do and not propogate descriminatory behavior.
Nellie's Mom

Live Out Loud said...

I always thought it crazy in school to teach us all about prejudice and then say, "Don't be prejudice". Let's not teach it in the first place.

But we are all different, why does it have to be bad? We're forever embarrassing ourselves - every race, religion and color. We're all different and all the same.

GrammyMouseTails said...

I find it sad that in this day & age that people on this planet do not realize we are all the same race, Human... but even in the animal kingdom there is predators (Target seems to show this skill plenty lately, quite proud of himself! ) & prey, of the same species there is always the top cat/dog or head of the pack. Still sad... why can't we all just get along.... ppphhtt!

Mary said...

Very interesting and the bit of comedy at the end was really funny. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

lupie said...

Hahahaha - love the last bit!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Haha! Brilliant Ong! What sort of orang puteh are you, then, that you're not loaded, you don't walk around in a 2-piece swimsuit and you're not "loose" or "easy". Tsk. Whiteness is wasted on you. ;)

John Ling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Ling said...

There, there. Malaysians are just being honest about their racial prejudices. It's one of the things that make the country unique. =)