- DUA RUANG IKLAN MASIH KOSONG -|
Immorality of de facto apartheid must go|
Dilulus terbit pada Saturday, March 21 @ 07:24:09 MYT oleh AbuJihad
|Dr Boo Cheng Hau | Mar 20, 09 4:12pm|
I refer to the Malaysiakini article Why Malaysia is not like South Africa.
While the writer agreed with me that apartheid is not just the physical separation of the different races in South Africa but that it also involves the complete domination of one race over the other – economically, politically and socially, I disagree with him that apartheid has to start with the aspect of physical separation.
South Africa is still struggling with the socioeconomic sequels of apartheid itself. I do not think one should be obsessed with the physical aspect of apartheid but rather be more concerned about its longstanding socioeconomic deprivation and mental humiliation of not only being labeled according to skin colour but more factually to your native status.
Many have mistaken apartheid as a form of racial discrimination based on white superiority. It has been well-documented that it is actually a preferential treatment for white Afrikaners (South Africans of Dutch Descent) following the victimisation by the British colonists during the Boer War where thousands of Boer Trekkers died during wartime. Apartheid was officially defined as ‘separate development’.
Umno’s Ketuanan Melayu is race-based dominance in a multiracial country and is the exact ideology employed by the single-race National Party which imposed apartheid rule in South Africa. The National Party of South Africa upheld Afrikaner nationalism and nativism and imposed a state-guided capitalist economic system.
Its party membership was once only open to Afrikaners and those of European descent; they portrayed themselves as the champions of ‘Afrikaner Sovereignty’ and ‘white supremacy’.
Similarly, Umno’s ideological basis for its political struggle has been Malay nationalism and bumipueratism. It has also imposed a heavily state-guided capitalist economic system. It only accepts Malays and ‘limited bumiputera’ as party members. They portray themselves as the keris- waving champion for Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy/sovereignty).
It is not difficult to find similarities between the two. Both achieve the effect of divide-and-rule by a dominant ethnic group it being either the majority or a minority. Would the writer argue that majority dominance is more moral than minority dominance?
The writer is right to point out that physical segregation does not exist in Malaysia though the Malaysian separate nations exist in the disguise of Umno, MIC, MCA and other race-based political parties who claim to be champions for their own race. It is de facto apartheid without physical segregation in place.
White Afrikaners’s native status was based on the familiar argument that they set up the ‘first civilised government’ in their motherland of South Africa. The African aborigines such as the Khoisan and Xhosa people did not set up any ‘civilised government’ and the others were later immigrants. And hence they were never considered as ‘natives’ for special treatment by the state.
The exact argument has been deployed by Umno and its Barisan Nasional counterparts to justify bumiputeraism in that the Malays set up the ‘first definitive government’ in Tanah Melayu - (Dr Mahatir Mohamad: The Malay Dilemma). Thus they are considered as bumiputera despite the historical fact that Orang Asli are the first settlers of this land.
Later immigrants are not considered as bumiputera for special treatment by the state.
I do not quite agree that the apartheid regime of South Africa involved an economically and socially dominant minority ruling over an underclass majority. As I pointed out earlier, historians have documented that white Afrikaners had been deprived during and after the Boer War.
Apartheid was started out to help ‘the poor white natives’ meaning to help the white Afrikaners to compete in the job market with the influx of the much cheaper black labor from other parts of Africa.
I do not agree that in Malaysia just after independence, the situation was that of Malays as a single, historically disadvantaged majority ruling the country together with component parties representing all the other races in the state. While a few Chinese were able to own businesses, the majority of the Chinese and Indians were manual and estates workers.
Statistics even show that the Malays’ literacy rate was much higher than Chinese and Indians’ at the time of Independence. It was not a question of who was richer than who. It was a fact that we were all impoverished, but one ethnic group may have been relatively more impoverished than the others. Nonetheless, this is not a moral ground to justify immoral means such as racial degradation of non-native status.
The end result now is that the vast majority of Malays and other Malaysians have been alienated by the minority elite rule of the Umno-dominated Barisan Nasional. Apartheid is an elite regime with concentration of power in the hands of a few.
Historians conclude that under South Africa’s apartheid rule, ‘race is class, class is race’ meaning the ruling elite class was predominantly white notwithstanding the fact that there were collaborators of other races working hand in hand with it to sustain their benefits. Similarly, the BN ruling elite class is composed mainly of Umno leaders notwithstanding their collaborators from MIC, MCA and others.
I agree that the moral authority and basis of the NEP as well as its implementation has to be questioned and put into museum as a historical display before we can go on as a nation. I criticise Umno as I think it has to change for the betterment of the country. It is without any intention to create hatred towards it.
Affirmative action is not based a single-race sovereignty and supremacy. Affirmative action must be carried out with individualisation and transparency. Affirmative action should be allowed to be challenged in court. Do we have that in Malaysia? On the contrary, the NEP and the NDP have so far been carried out under the umbrella of draconian laws such as the ISA, OSA and the like.
It involves the impingement of basic human rights and breeds the corrupt practices of cronyism, nepotism and discriminations. Nonetheless, I would confidently say Malaysia’s NEP and NDP are more akin to apartheid than affirmative action not only in their morality but also in the way they have been implemented.
The NEP and NDP have made us lag socio-economically and politically behind other ‘little dragons of Asia’. Secondly, the racially-charged policies have cultivated nothing more than a minority Malay elite class with the collaboration of a few others. Thirdly, the vast majority of the targeted poor have remained neglected at large and this has resulted a highly divided and polarised populace along both racial and class lines.
One may argue that Malaysia’s economy has grown with the implementation of the NEP and NDP for almost a 30-year period. So did South Africa’s economy grow for almost two decades without fail under apartheid rule. In both countries, an elite class of all races emerged under preferential treatment but that does not justify the immorality of Umno’s and Barisan Nasional’s political hegemony.
I am strongly of the view that Pakatan Rakyat must move forward as a team. I have encouraged all Pakatan Rakyat component parties to hold activities together including from Maulidur Rasul, Hari Raya Haji, Chinese New Year and Deepavalli to visiting needy Malaysians.
Pakatan Rakyat cannot remain in a passive position but must reach out at all times to communicate with the people. The heavy-handed propaganda of the Umno-controlled mass media has aroused the curiosity of Johor Malays as to why I condemned mishandling of Amanah Saham Johor and Dana Johor as ‘apartheid’.
Furthermore, ASJ and Dana Johor investors are overwhelmingly Umno members with only a small number of MCA and MIC members. There is a crisis of confidence among Umno, MIC and MCA Johor members towards their leaders. This explains why Umno leaders were anxious about my speech while their grassroots members by and large laughed over the incident.
It is very wrong to say that I am a leader in a largely non-Malay party and running in a non- Malay majority area. It is not surprising for me to channel the feelings of hurt and unfairness that are felt by non-Malays.
The issue of ASJ and Dana Johor affects not only Johoreans of all races but mainly the BN’s own members too. My speech was strategically thought out to raise BN members’ and Johoreans’ awareness on Johor BN’s failed economic polices of heavy governmental interference.
I totally disagree that by equating the Barisan Nasional regime with the South African apartheid regime, I have given ammunition to the BN and to the mass media to use my speech to attack Pakatan Rakyat.
I only attempted to put matters into an accurate historical perspective in oder for us to find a new way to carry on. Needless to say, Anwar Inbrahim’s proposition of Ketuanan Rakyat is a timely replacement of Ketuanan Melayu. I only provide the moral grounds for Ketuanan Rakyat while trying to put the racially-charged Ketuanan Melayu into historical perspective.
I am told that only Malay should take on matters of the NEP. But why should we be apartheidist ourselves by delineating which race should take on what issue and what not? Anyone from Pakatan Rakyat would be demonised anyway by the Umno-controlled mass media. So we should just sit passively and wait for the people’s support?
I have taken on issues regarding Felda settlers and Malay squatters. My other Pakatan Rakyat colleagues such as Mazlan Aliman and Zulkefle Ahamd have approached issues form a non-racial perspective. We think that any Pakatan Rakyat leaders should take on issues affecting any Malaysian.
There are some who run the danger of mixing largely race-blind affirmative action, which targets the poor of all races, with the apartheidists’ reasoning for preferential treatment based on single -race sovereignty.
I do not think my interpretation of apartheid - that is, a separate socioeconomic development regime based on single-race sovereignty ideology under the protection of draconian laws benefiting a ruling elite class - has been irrelevant in the context of Malaysian politics.
A desperate BN and Umno would use any thing as their ammunition to attack Pakatan Rakyat. Whether or not it is counterproductive for me to discuss the NEP by trying to put it in an accurate historical perspective, I sincerely believe sincerely that we need to thrash out the issues involved to ensure Pakatan Rakyat gets a right perspective before we can go on and champion Ketuanan Rakyat.
The writer is Johor DAP chairperson and Johor state assembly opposition leader.
Dr. Boo Cheng Hau, 69 Jalan Kebudayaan 16, Taman Universiti, 81300 Skudai, Johor, Malaysia. Tel and Fax: 60-7-5211670
Don't have an account yet? You can create one. As a registered user you have some advantages like theme manager, comments configuration and post comments with your name.
Average Score: 0