Friday, November 21, 2008

Malay rights lobby group rejects multiculturalism

KUALA LUMPUR - Perak Raja Muda Raja Nazrin Shah's speech on multiculturalism has sparked differing reactions from different groups. Malay rights lobby group Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) supports the Raja Muda's call for immigrant communities in Malaysia to respect and accept the culture, history and system of government already in place. However, they did not acknowledge the crown prince's message in the same speech yesterday that Malaysians must embrace multiculturalism. [The Malaysian Insider, 20/11/08]

The Malay rights lobby group, Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) was not convinced that multiculturalism could be achieved in Malaysia, subtly scoffing off Perak crown price's warning of modern day tribalism in the country. The group's president and independent MP of Pasir Mas, Datuk Ibrahim Ali was commenting on Perak Raja Muda Raja Nazrin Shah's recent speech on multiculturalism.

On November 19, Raja Nazrin said that Malaysians must embrace multiculturalism and at the same time, be given the freedom to practice cultures and traditions of their own. The Perak crown prince also pointed out the existence of racial sectarianism in Malaysian society and warned that the country is 'in danger' if it continues on the present path. Raja Nazrin's concerns were justified as the country is currently witnessing the greatest weakening of ethnic relations since independence from British rule in 1957.

"What characterises democratic life is that it is the person who decides whether he or she wants to adjust and be absorbed or remain aloof. At the same time, the need to forge a community of people with shared values and interests remains paramount.”

" ...different ethnicities and religion had settled down in Malaysia and helped create a 'more heterogeneous and prosperous state'. Today, all belong and are integral to the Malaysian landscape," he said in his speech. [The Malaysian Insider, 19/11/08]

However, multiculturalism seemed to be an incomprehensible concept to Perkasa which suggested that immigrant communities in Malaysia should be 'forced' to assimilate into the local culture by abandoning the language and traditions of their home countries. The group's president also supported his notion by taking the newly elected United States President Barack Obama as an example.

"Immigrants across the world swear their allegiance to their new country and its leaders. They adapt to the culture, language and lifestyle in their new homeland. In the case of the United States, Barack Obama shed his language, culture and the Islamic religion of his family in Kenya and Indonesia to assimilate. This was what qualified him to become President," Ibrahim Ali claimed. [The Malaysian Insider, 20/11/08]

Ibrahim Ali, do get your facts straight before making comparisons to prove your point:

  • First of all, Obama was born a citizen of the United States and THAT is what qualifies him to become President.
  • The President-elect did not shed his native language -he was born to English speaking parents to begin with.
  • Obama was brought up as an American on American soil after his parents separated when he was just two. Would it be fair to say he abandon his Kenyan culture then?
  • Fourthly, Obama was not born a Muslim as contrary to popular belief. Obama described his Kenyan father as 'raised a Muslim' but a 'confirmed atheist' by the time his parents met. His Indonesian stepfather, on the other hand, was described as 'a man who saw religion as not particularly useful.' Obama remained religion-less until 1988 when he was baptized into the Christian faith. Therefore, Ibrahim Ali was wrong to say Obama abandoned the Islamic religion simply because he wasn't a Muslim in the first place.

Meanwhile, MCA spokesman Lee Wei Kiat applauded Raja Nazrin's statement that "the principles of equality and fairness suggest a preferred policy of integration rather than assimilation."

"Nations that do not uphold the above principles would find only a small privileged group benefiting or taking advantage from unfair policies, while most other people would suffer from an undesirable scenario. Nations would face problems of disunity, such as disintegration and distrust among the peoples when country leaders opt for forced assimilation and not genuine integration."

"MCA welcomes the statement by YM Raja Dr Nazrin who represents the views of open-minded opinion leaders, who speak without fear and favour, and should be exemplary for all other small-minded leaders who adopt chauvinistic viewpoints in their power struggle and rhetoric," Lee said. [The Malaysian Insider, 20/11/08]

Malaysia's struggle has always been the vague concept of its national identity, of which its understanding varies across society. But the ugly truth remains that there are still a number of Malaysians who refuse to accept the fact that their country is a multicultural nation even after 51 years of independence. Malaysians must not be obsessed by a narrowminded nationalistic view of a single race or culture country if we truly hope for a united Malaysia.

Do the ethnic communities in the country need to be reduced into a single, monotonous culture in order to be able to define ourselves as one nation? No. As Malaysians, diversity is our identity and we should be proud of it!




3 comments :

  1. Pesanan said...

    This is not a "policy" speech but an opener and pace setterfor the forum.

    In the second para this blogger highlighted, it is meant to encourage diversity in discussion.

    This speech is very consistent with the Sultan Perak's speech on receiving the show of support at his Kuala Kangsar istana.

    He asked where do you draw the line between multiculturalism and the need for oneness.

    He covered one approach that of integration, which is already in practice in Malaysia.

    Why then are non Malays/Bumipetra unwilling to integrate into the major majority, but remain segregated within their vernacular schools, race-based political party (but spinning as multiracial, oh what a lie!), working within their racial community, refuse to acknowledge (through practise and acquiring teh competency) Bahasa Melayu, constantly refuting Islam (manipulating to silence the Article 11(3) and 11(4)), struggling for their selfish race agenda (but lying as though it is a national agenda but collectively they are only concern of their own). etc etc etc.

    Who is against integration? Is it not non Bumi??!!!

    We could have build a great nation if not for the recalcitrant and xenophobic racism of the immigrants! Do read Comber on race relation before attempting to reply.

  2. Anonymous said...

    @Pesanan,

    lol @ immigrants! Where? Indonesians?

    Segregated within their vernacular schools? We should have kept the British school system, but NO..., somebody JUST.HAD.TO.SCREAM "Hidup Melayu!". When Malay vernacular schools became blessed and sanctioned into national schools by the official powers, sure enough non-Malays vernacular schools want some of that blessing, even a fraction of it.

    Article 11(4) contradicts the very definition of a secular government. The secular government cannot play any role in influencing religion or being influenced by it. Its only recently that the ruling party tried to compete in a penis size match with one of the opposition party.

    Good point about the political parties though. The "immigrants" are already integrated. Most will even put up with what an UMNOputra wants. What you want is called assimilation.

    I don't think non-Bumis are un-accepting of Malay culture, but I do think its the age old game of politics, religion and economics. The three are near impossible to separate.

    As a non-bumi, here's my take:

    Its the stupid and undeserving UMNOputra politicians using rhetorics and their meaningless war cries like "Hidup Melayu!" to get what they want. What does the phrase even supposed mean?? Is that a trademark?

    Is screaming that suppose to make things better. Is the phrase supposed to support your family and pay for your meals?

    That war cry has same effect as "think of the children!" and "fighting for our freedom". It is known as an "appeal to emotion" argument. It doesn't mean anything on its own.

    The UMNOputra can stay in power because most Malaysians are too accepting of their growing hubris and arrogance.

    The UMNOputra scourge are a damn pampered race, thinking they can get special "privileges" for everything just because of their skin color, attracting well deserved scorn and contempt from hardworking, tax paying Malaysians.

    The UMNOputra has corrupted everything it touched, hijacking every successful Malaysians into its fold as poster boys. I don't know about opposition parties, but UMNOputras have to go.

  3. dwayne said...

    how shame to be malaysian....

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