KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese are far from being discriminated as “second-class citizens” when so many of them have become millionaires through their firm hold on the country’s economy, some Malaysians have said in a public tirade against prominent Muslim scholar Dr Tariq Ramadan.
The bulk of the Swiss academic’s critics appear to be Malaysian Malays who rained sarcasm on the comments section of Ramadan’s Facebook page over the latter’s allegations of racial discrimination against Malaysia’s minorities during a recent talk.
Calling Ramadan “judgmental” and “unfair”, his detractors accused him of not doing his research before making his remarks.
“The ‘second class’ citizen refers to the richest in the country.. 48 of the richest Malaysian are in fact second class citizen.. Not just that.. second class citizen controls malaysia's economy.. Yes, it's an awful world for them,” said a Facebook user named Fina Ibrahim, referring to the ethnic Chinese.
Her comment drew the most number of “likes” on the page.
When asked by another Facebook user to back her claim, Fina said that “It's a well known fact.. The malaysian Chinese controls the Malaysia's economy.”
Her remark was backed by another user called Abid Ali who posted a list of top 40 millionaires in Malaysia — dominated by the ethnic Chinese — and labelled them as “so-called 2nd class”.
Another Facebooker named Juliana Zulhijah Zulkifli claimed that Ramadan should have listened to all sides before openly criticising another country's political affairs.
“Islam might by the official religion of Malaysia, but it doesn’t stop the Muslims here from being discriminated against too, and it’s happening a lot. The fact that most of the richest people here are non-muslim should be enough proof that we’re not as unfair as you make us sound,” said Juliana.
“Yes dear Prof Tariq, because of the discrimination made on the minorities, they have become among the richest, well educated and successful people in the country- the only place where discriminated people still able to show such qualities,” added another called Siti Norbaya Ahmad Nor.
Ramadan had posted a report by Malay Mail Online quoting the scholar over the weekend that Malaysian Muslims complaining of discrimination by the West should first acknowledge the injustices against minorities in their own country.
Speaking in defence of pluralism, the professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in Oxford University recounted anecdotes from non-Muslims here that they are being treated as “second class citizens”, which he said contradicted principles of Islam.
Inter-racial relations was strained recently after minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob suggested on Monday that Malay consumers should boycott Chinese-owned businesses that have been raising their prices indiscriminately, claiming it will help in lowering the price of goods in the country.
The Malays make up 60.3 per cent of Malaysian population according to the 2010 national census, followed by the ethnic Chinese at 22.9 per cent, and Indians at 7.1 per cent.