Recently, Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar was interviewed by BBC's Hardtalk about the country's treatment of its non-Malay minorities. BBC's synopsis reads:
In a HardTalk programme first broadcast on Thursday 13 September 2007, Sarah Montague talks to Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Seri Syed Hamid Albar.Like a lot of other people, I couldn't get the BBC's Realaudio streaming of Syed Hamid Albar's Hardtalk interview to work on my laptop.
Malaysia has just marked fifty years of independence, and there's much to celebrate.
Living standards have improved immeasurably over the past five decades, illiteracy has been virtually eradicated and the economy is doing well.
But do Indian and Chinese Malaysians have as much to celebrate as the Malay population?
Sarah Montague talks to Dato Seri Syed Hamid Albar about whether the law giving preferential treatment to Malay and other indigenous groups is now outdated.
So, here's the interview on youtube. It comes in 4 parts.
So, what did you think?
Do you agree with the son of Albar Sr, the infamously anti-Chinese UMNO strongman in the 50-60s, that the NEP is justified if we look at the overall wealth of each race? Where the total wealth of Chinese exceeds that of the Malays.
My response to that is to simply reproduce Lee Kuan Yew's response to the same question nearly half a century ago, at the dawn of Malaysia.
"Of course there are Chinese millionaires in big cars and big houses. Is it the answer to make a few Malay millionaires with big cars and big houses?And that is what's making our blood boil. While 100% of non-Malays welcome the opportunity to assist ALL poor Malaysians (ie. that means poor Malays, and poor non-Malays as well), it's the rapacious enrichment of the rich Malays that anger us. It's the transformation of the concept of 'economic assistance' to 'racial entitlement' that makes us so apprehensive. It's the fact that a race-based NEP breeds institutional corruption that infuriates us.
If we delude people into believing that they are poor because there are no Malay rights or because opposition members oppose Malay rights, where are we going to end up?
They, the Malays, have the right as Malaysian citizens to go up to the level of training and education that the more competitive societies, the non-Malay society, has produced. That is what must be done, isn’t it? Not feed them with this obscurantist doctrime that all they have got to do is get Malay rights for a few special Malays and their problem has been resolved…"
Read the entire excerpt of this speech from his memoirs here.
So I ask again. Why not a means-tested NEP, rather than a race-based NEP (that does not discriminate between the rich and poor)?
In addition, since the "average" or "total" wealth of the races is used as justification... read Lesson 101: How to Justify Racial Discrimination about how I think that - as rich Malays get richer, they need to make poor Malays relatively poorer so that the "average" wealth of the overall Malay race does not exceed that of the Chinese... thereby ensuring that the rich Malays have an excuse to get richer and richer in perpetuity. Indeed, isn't the intra-racial wealth gap betweem the rich Malays and poor Malays getting wider and wider?
Do you agree that foreigners are misunderstanding Malaysia's circumstances and that the local non-Malays are actually happy and contented with the current situation?
I don't think so judging by the number of blogs and articles by disgruntled non-Malays. I think no civilised, educated and fair-minded person (non-Malay or no) can possibly condone it. Nuff said.