KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — Perkasa has been championing the Malay and Islamic cause since September 2008 and till today, four months after the 13th general election, the Malay NGO headed by Datuk Ibrahim Ali is still very much alive and actively on top of the subject matter.
With Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak unveiling plans to strengthen Malays and Bumiputra participation in the endless possibilities of Malaysia’s economy tomorrow, Ibrahim speaks his mind to ZAINAL EPI on the reasons and what should or rather needs to be done.
Q: Do you feel that the Malays have been at a disadvantage for a long time?
A: It is not a matter of what I feel, but it is a well-known fact that ever since this country has been colonised by the British for more than 400 years, the Malays have been subjected to all kinds of disadvantages such as suppression, deprivation, marginalisation, and even humiliation. This deliberate colonial policy was to ensure that they remain poor, backward, cornered, and doomed so that the British can perpetuate their rule and colonisation for as long as they can.
Q: How do you think the Chinese in Malaysia have contributed to this situation?
A: During the colonisation, the British brought in large numbers of Chinese and Indians as immigrant labourers to serve and work in their mines or plantations. Through this process and strategy, the Malays and the indigenous people were further marginalised and deprived, pushed further into the periphery, isolated and confined to their remote villages, left to wallow with their buffaloes in the mud — whereas the foreign immigrant labourers, especially the Chinese, were positioned in the main economic of commercial stream in all the townships where they became entrenched and eventually developed into the business and commercial infrastructure for the economic activity and life of the country till this day. It is the presence and role of the Chinese in this scenario that has compounded the problems of the Malays.
Q: How have affirmative action programmes so far benefited Malays?
A: To a certain extent, some Malays have “benefited” from the affirmative policies but it has to be emphasised though that affirmative policy is essentially a redress mechanism intended to bridge the intractable inequality gap that has left the Malays far behind other races, especially the Chinese, in every sphere of life in particular the economic field. For the Malays therefore, whatever is achieved through these affirmative policies is not a benefit per se. It is only a masseur redress or remedy to bring the Malays to an economic break-even point before they could push for equitability among races. Today, 50 years after independence, the Malays are way behind and there is nothing to talk about benefits.
Q: Do you think this has contributed to a bigger racial divide?
A: To suggest that the affirmative policies have contributed to a bigger social divide is totally illogical, ridiculous, and mind-boggling, why? Such notion or allegation can only come from people who begrudge the affirmative policy based on sheer prejudice. How can the policy that is intended to bridge the divide can cause the widening of the divide. It does not make sense. In fact, it is the opposition and resistance against the affirmative policy as the remedy that actually causes the widening of the social divide. Needless to say, there are certain quarters among the Chinese, especially those sympathetic with the DAP Chinese-based political party that strives on social divide of conflicts vested interest in social inequality which is the mainstay of their political platform.
Q: Now the Chinese say they are unfairly treated?
A: To say that the Chinese are unfairly treated is absurd. To the British and the Chinese especially, this country was the land of milk and honey. Then, upon Independence, the Chinese were bestowed citizenship en masse, whose numbers constitute a significant part of the total population of the country with the potential risk of serious economic, social, and political ramifications. The Malays embrace them with unprecedented magnanimity while the British summarily left them as excess luggage. They have been enjoying all the privileges of full-fledged citizens, with a huge economic headstart by virtue of their role as economic and commercial tools of the British. Today, after 50 years of independence, they are much better than any other people, especially the Malays who all still struggling. In fact, it should be the Malays who should be shouting for better treatment certainly not the Chinese who obviously want to have both the cake and eat it.
The Chinese control much of the economy of the country and enjoy political power which the Malays have been sharing with them since Independence.
The Chinese cannot ask for more because nowhere else in the whole world can they ever hope or even dream to enjoy what they have in Malaysia, not even in China, the homeland that their own forefathers left to eke a living in this land called Malaysia.
Q: Are you concerned at all that this situation may also be contributing to the Malaysian brain drain?
A: The so-called brain drain is essentially a selfish individual economic phenomenon. The Chinese exodus that swamps every nook and corner of the world including Malaysia is because of the livelihood factor as China was still poor and backwards. As usual people tend to look and search for greener pastures and new opportunities. Now with new-found Chinese prosperity and vast opportunities, people will be finding their way back to China, with or without the brains. Those with the economic mobility tend to gravitate towards greener pastures – let alone the Malaysian Chinese, especially those with Nanyang attitude. The world has never known of any Malaysian Chinese seeking asylum anywhere in the world.
Q: And what about the many Chinese who have withdrawn their support for the government?
A: Politics is not always straight-forward. Support for any government is not something inevitable. However, in Malaysia for a good 50 years since Independence, the federal government based on equitable sharing of power among all races including Chinese has always been overwhelmingly supported by the people. But lately, some inroads have been made by the opposition parties, especially the DAP, who work to polarise politics along racial lines, especially with extremist tendencies. But the majority of the Chinese under MCA, have been an integral part of the government ever since representing the majority of the Chinese in the mainstream politics led by Umno, the Malay-based party under the BN. It is by no means a small feat for any political party in the world to have earned the support of the overwhelming majority of the people with multi-social, multi-religious, and multi-cultural and numerous ethnic groups. Our plural political platform has been unique and iconic and has long been the envy of the rest of the world. In a democracy, opposition is normal and in fact, sometimes it is healthy for check and balance. But opposition based on narrow extremist platforms paddled by the DAP is potentially dangerous and detrimental, especially in a plural society like Malaysia.
Fortunately the Malays have gone through the mill and their wisdom and political will should never be taken for granted.
Q: How will affirmative action to be unveiled by the prime minister on Saturday (tomorrow) help the Malays?
A: I don’t want translate this affirmative action as privileges because it is no longer a bread and butter issue. What I would want to see is a fair division or fair sharing of the economic cake. It should be called a corrective action in that the 65 per cent of the population be given just 30 per cent of the economic cake. Is this a fair division of the economic cake?