Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy Independence Day

Vagus Says:
As we celebrate our 49th independence day, let us take a moment to reflect on what we've achieved, and where we are going. Although we've certainly achieved a lot in the last half century, we Malaysians cannot take things for granted. We need to realize that Malaysia owes its success to all its citizens; no one race is is more important than the other.
However, if we search the deepest parts of our soul, many would admit to thinking otherwise. I suspect many harbour feelings of envy, competition or resentment, to be exposed occasionally when hotheaded political leaders speak before thinking. For how many of us truly consider ourselves to belong to the Bangsa Malaysia? Instead, as noted on our drivers license, or IC, or even school report cards, we are either Bangsa Cina, Melayu, India or others. Political parties, schools, universities, even some medical centers (Pusat Rawatan Islams, Chinese Maternity Hospitals, etc) are racially divided. It's all a sore reminder that we're different, and that our practices promote disintegration.
As my American colleagues quite accurately put it, we practice controlled racism. Where skin colour matters in issues of politics, education, economics and every integral part of our nation's machinery. From buying a home, to even reporting a burglary. When political groups are divided by race, looking after one's race becomes an interest even before that of the nation as a whole.
Some argue that affirmative action (aka 'special rights') is still needed to safeguard the rights of certain races. However, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, if affirmative action over 50 years of independence and 2 generations still has one race lagging behind others; is this truly something of benefit, or is this merely a crutch for people to walk with? For, if the latter is the case, one may become so dependent on the crutch that one is unable to ambulate without it.
The concept is simple. Protectionism, whether we apply it to race, or the car industry (take Proton for example), or education (pseudomeritocracy via the matriculation courses), in the long run does more harm than good. It decreases competition, efficiency, productivity; promotes laziness, inflation, corruption and abuse of power. It weakens a group, and makes it so comfortable that it strives less. As Charles Darwin put it, it's all about survival of the fittest. If you artifically promote the weak and not teach it to be strong, that species never betters itself, and outside of its protected bubble that species will never thrive. Recently, a leader reprimanded a group for relying too much on handouts. In the same papers, some groups were accusing a state leader for marginalising and not giving enough to a race. No one wants to admit; if you're gonna keep handing out candy for free, why should I work for it?
"I don't care if your company does better work. All I'm interested in is helping my people, even if it costs more. If your company wants this contract, sell away your shares."
To think that this blatantly racist comment was said at an official business meeting of a certain industry. Such is a consequence of protectionism and segregation. And our PM is wondering why our projects are delayed or incomplete, cost so much or are of poor quality.
Even young people these days have this overpowering sense of entitlement, being born with a silver spoon. Even though they were born in the same country, on the same soil, to the same citizens, in the same hospital, as I. My blood boils when I recall that Malaysian Studies class in college (something private colleges have to do these days); the teacher had a humorous way of poking fun at the subtleties of the Chinese, Malays and Indians. Until this one chap who got offended stood up and shouted at the 'Cinapeks' that we should consider ourselves "damn lucky that they let us stay here." Like my grandpa swam over from China illegally. How does that make me feel? Like a 2nd class citizen in my own country.
We talk big about 'towering' over others, or being 'glocal' (a word some politician coined, of being global yet local), but yet Malaysia is never seen as a serious competitor in the international world of research, medicine, education and the arts. Looking south towards our neighbour who is a younger nation than we, we wonder why we lag behind so much when we should be the older sibling, showing them the way. We wonder why most foreigners have heard of Singapore, but not of Malaysia. Why is it surprising? When we can't compete within our country without bias, how can we compete internationally? Thus we come up with fancy slogans and words to convince ourselves everything is fine and dandy.
Don't get me wrong; I love my country, its people and cultures. I miss it dearly, and for this reason I wish to see things improve. Being patriotic sometimes doesn't mean singing the anthem louder, or faster, or forcing people to hang flags on their homes. It isn't shutting up and accepting things as they are, for if we do not admit our faults, we can never improve on them. Sometimes the patriot is the one who truly puts the welfare of his nation above those of his personal biases and agenda. I'd like to see more patriotic leaders like that. Perhaps it is time for us to face reality, and to be up to the challenge.
Happy Merdeka Day, my fellow Malaysians.

An addendum:
With regards to the newspaper reports about UMNO Youth again protesting about the neglect of Malays in Penang, if you learn to stand on your own two feet and not wait for someone to feed you, perhaps you won't allow yourself to be neglected. And why is it that we never hear you say anything about the neglect or injustice to the other races? Hmmph.


Blogger blueapple said...

thats 100% true...
one of my college friend from Myanmar was telling me that he was surprised noting that our community here is divided by races...
in their country, Myanmar, all citizens are called Myanmars..there is NO myanmar chinese, myanmar indian etc as seen in our country...
this example really shows how backward malaysia really is...we want to be developed but mentally the country is still backwards....
What SPECIAL RIGHTS??? we are Malaysians what.....

2:12 AM  
Anonymous ront said...

well said.....and think this is what driving a number of ppl away from the country....dont you think so?

2:43 AM  
Blogger Mei said...

oh my gosh... i'm speechless. there is absolutely nothing i can say to counter that. very well said indeed.

9:24 AM  
Blogger WMD: Wife, Mother, Daughter said...

Very well said. I noticed that most of your written pieces regarding our beloved country (incl the ones published in the papers)well written and right to the point. In many ways, you expressed my feelings towards things happening here...only that I cannot write as well as you.

10:51 PM  
Blogger vagus said...

WMD: huh? did the Star publish this letter?? i wrote in but i don't think they did, unless i missed it.

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Sweet TJ said...

I was actually wondering if you submitted this same article to the papers. Very well said, my friend.

Would Msia have enough freedom of speech to allow its publication? I doubt it. It's probably sthg that will land us in hot soup with the ISA - promoting racial/social unrest with talk of the forbidden. If it does get published, pls let me know and it's time to pack the bags and head for home for there's hope.

Anyway, Happy Merdeka all Msians!

2:01 AM  
Blogger WMD: Wife, Mother, Daughter said...

Not this one. It will be interesting if they publish this one. I was referring to the other comments that you have written..quite a few last time.

2:16 AM  
Blogger titoki said...

*Loud cheer & applause*

Very well written doc. It teared my eyes. Especially the "Don't get me wrong..." paragraph.

If we don't admit our own shortcomings, how can we improve ourselves?

If we don't allow competition, how can we strive to become better?

So true. Sigh.

3:48 AM  
Blogger sad girl holding pepsi said...

this is very true indeed! im a native of sarawak but i really agree with what ur saying. this p.o.v of yours should be read by the prime minister on one of his addresses to the nation. it's a very important message we all should be reminded of...malaysia is suppose to be a team working together.
one thing i noticed, the news kept highlighting on how peaceful and harmony this multi-racial country live together. but what if like the guy u mentioned stood up and spit it all out, what if one day a particular race would stand up and spit it all out in ways everyone doesnt wanna think of......yea, that would not be nice for the image malaysia has been putting up with would it?. i therefore, pledge my full support to the publisher of this post. *applause*

5:50 AM  
Blogger Las montañas said...

heard of singapore? Is it somewhere in China?

We're also not that famous lah, at least to some westerners.

and somemore it is just a tiny dot that is not visible on most maps. at least malaysia can be seen.

10:14 AM  
Blogger vagus said...

true, some westerners have not heard of singapore. but believe me, many many many more know of singapore than malaysia.
if i tell them malaysia is right beside s'pore, they usually know.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Couldn't agree more. You take the words right out of my mind. Well put.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous RonT said...

your term of 'westerner' are mostly americans?? there are many ignorant americans around...dont worry abt it....they dont even know where canada is..

10:21 PM  
Blogger PaulOS said...

Yo Dr V, very well said..

We have lots to say about our country... For me it is home.. and we've indeed been born into this country for a purpose and a mission.

I believe it is our duty to do what is best for our country... otherwise if the "rakyat" don't speak up.. are we at the mercy of leaders who don't know what they "rakyat" needs?

Speaking up needs to come with the freedom to express joys and pain, comforts and discomforts.

Controlled racism.. yes... I think we can embrace our diversity instead of diversifying our differences.. Bangsa Malaysia is still a far way off when the majority group is still receiving handouts, while the minority groups struggle and yet still prosper.. Thank God for honouring hard work of righteous people.

I believe in Hard Work and Proper wages for those who work honestly and hard.

I think our forefathers fighting for independence got it right in the first place. Our parents see a different trend headed in our country these days and are becoming cynical of the country and it's direction. Hence, I don't blame people migrating and taking their trade elsewhere... However.. Home is Still Home.. Malaysia is my home...

Biar Putih Tulang Jangan Putih Mata

10:41 PM  
Blogger ImC said...

am a m'sian non-bumi med student in singapore..great article, sad but true. recently went back and the papers said the govt will 'do more to help' the bumis in penang coz they're 'losing out'. sighz. they never learn.

11:01 PM  
Blogger razkal said...

you have written well.. and i totally agree with what you have said. People here in Australia have an idea that Malaysians are JUST one community, no divided races. It's only when i start explaining to them about how the government divides and gives priority to the Malays in many areas, that i realise how our country is still mentally under-developed. Thanks for you posting... it's really good... =)

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