Thursday, July 20, 2006

Racist tendencies in our universities?

Seems like our Malaysian universities are getting more than their fair share of the spotlight recently. And none of the attention is positive!

Initially, it was the "Ethnic Relations" textbook, oops 'teaching guide' which apparently singled out the Chinese opposition parties to have caused the 1969 May 13 race riots and Indian youths having caused the Kg Medan incident some years back. Learned professors whom the text was attributed to suddenly all backed away, denying that they were ever involved in drafting it. And all fresh after returning from his holiday, PM Abdullah Badawi today said that the text will be withdrawn.

Then in reaction to the above textbook becoming a public issue, local university students revealed that there were other compulsory subjects they had to take in university like Malaysian Studies, Islamic Civilisation, Malaysian Citizenship and languages.

According to The Star, a fresh graduate of UPM said she had encountered biased content in the compulsory Islamic Civilisation unit when she was studying. “I found the textbook very condescending towards the other religions, and the lecturer would highlight these parts,” she said.

A Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia graduate too said how his lecturer handled the Islamic Civilisation class made him feel very uncomfortable. “He made me hate going to the class. In the end, I skipped the class and because of that I lost credit points, which affected my overall results,” he added.

And now, the latest is a video that's been circulating on the internet recently. It depicts a bunch of Malay boys, presumably students, chasing out a few Chinese boys and girls, presumably students as well. According to, this occured in a cafeteria in UPM (University Putra Malaysia) on the 17th of July 2006. The video clearly shows the racist remarks and actions verging on violence.

Whatever the provocation, tens of students from single race against a few from another race is simply racial bullying. The government needs to put its foot down and show the people that they are committed to national unity. I hope the belligerent students will be persecuted to the limits of the law and given a public flogging. Make them an example that racial bullying will not be tolerated.

I think it's very clear that race relations are deteriorating in our schools and universities. Even the curriculum is subtly promoting a brand of racism. The national education system, with its emphasis on only one race and one religion and racially lopsided teacher and student populations, has clearly taken our young generation down a very dark road. Something needs to be done, and it needs to be done fast. Too bad the keris waving, ultra Malay, Education Minister has no interest to do so. Pak Lah, the ball's in your court. I hope you do your best to reign it all in.

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