Thursday, August 19, 2010

This is what the Malaysian Chinese want

Opinion 2010-08-19 12:51

Every time the Barisan Nasional gets less than the expected support from Chinese voters at an election, the question invariably pops up among the petty-minded: Why are the Chinese ungrateful?

So now, after the Hulu Selangor by-election, it’s not surprising to read in Utusan Malaysia a piece that asks: “Orang Cina Malaysia, apa lagi yang anda mahu?”("Chinese of Malaysia, what more do you want?")

Normally, something intentionally provocative and propagandistic as this doesn’t deserve to be honoured with a reply. But even though I’m fed up with such disruptive and ethnocentric polemics, this time I feel obliged to reply – partly because the article has also been published, in an English translation, in the Straits Times of Singapore.

I wish to emphasise here that I am replying not as a Chinese Malaysian but, simply, as a Malaysian. Let me say at the outset that the Chinese have got nothing more than what any citizen should get. So to ask “what more” it is they want, is misguided. A correct question would be, “What do the Chinese want?”

All our lives, we Chinese have held to the belief that no one owes us a living. We have to work for it. Most of us have got where we are by the sweat of our brow, not by handouts or the policies of the government.

We have come to expect nothing – not awards, not accolades, not gifts from official sources. (Let’s not lump in Datukships, that’s a different ball game.) We know that no Chinese who writes in the Chinese language will ever be bestowed the title of Sasterawan Negara, unlike in Singapore where the literatures of all the main language streams are recognised and honoured with the Cultural Medallion, etc.

We have learned we can’t expect the government to grant us scholarships. Some will get those, but countless others won’t. We’ve learned to live with that and to work extra hard in order to support our children to attain higher education – because education is very important to us.

We experience a lot of daily pressure to achieve that. Unfortunately, not many non-Chinese realise or understand that. In fact, many Chinese had no choice but to emigrate for the sake of their children’s further education. Or to accept scholarships from abroad, many from Singapore, which has inevitably led to a brain drain.

The writer of the Utusan article says the Chinese “account for most of the students” enrolled in “the best private colleges in Malaysia”. Even so, the Chinese still have to pay a lot of money to have their children study in these colleges. And to earn that money, the parents have to work very hard. The money does not fall from the sky.

The writer goes on to add: “The Malays can gain admission into only government-owned colleges of ordinary reputation.” That is utter nonsense. Some of these colleges are meant for the cream of the Malay crop of students and are endowed with the best facilities. They are given elite treatment.

The writer also fails to acknowledge that the Chinese are barred from being admitted to some of these colleges. As a result, the Chinese are forced to pay more money to go to private colleges. Furthermore, the Malays are also welcome to enrol in the private colleges, and many of them do. It’s, after all, a free enterprise.

Plain and simple reason

The writer claims that the Chinese live “in the lap of luxury” and lead lives that are “more than ordinary” whereas the Malays in Singapore, their minority-race counterparts there, lead “ordinary lives”. Such sweeping statements sound inane especially when they are not backed up by definitions of “lap of luxury” and “ordinary lives”. They sound hysterical, if not hilarious as well, when they are not backed up by evidence. It’s surprising that a national daily like Utusan Malaysia would publish something as idiosyncratic as that. And the Straits Times too.

The writer quotes from a survey that said eight of the ten richest people in Malaysia are Chinese. Well, if these people are where they are, it must have also come from hard work and prudent business sense. Is that something to be faulted?

If the writer had said that some of them achieved greater wealth through being given crony privileges and lucrative contracts by the government, there might be a point, but even then, it would still take hard work and business acumen to secure success. Certainly, Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, who is one of the ten, would take exception if it were said that he has not worked hard and lacks business savvy.

Most important, it should be noted that the eight Chinese tycoons mentioned in the survey represent but a minuscule percentage of the wider Chinese Malaysian population. To extrapolate that because eight Chinese are filthy rich, the rest of the Chinese must therefore live in the lap of luxury and lead more than ordinary lives would be a mockery of the truth. The writer has obviously not met the vast numbers of very poor Chinese.

The crux of the writer’s article is that the Chinese are not grateful to the government by not voting for Barisan Nasional at the Hulu Selangor by-election. But this demonstrates the thinking of either a simple mind or a closed one.

Why did the Chinese by and large not vote for BN? Because it’s corrupt. Plain and simple. Let’s call a spade a spade. And BN showed how corrupt it was during the campaign by throwing bribes to the electorate, including baiting a Chinese school in Rasa by promising RM3 million should it win the by-election.

The Chinese were not alone in seeing this corruption. The figures are unofficial but one could assume that at least 40 per cent of Malays and 45 per cent of Indians who voted against BN in that by-election also had their eyes open. So, what’s wrong with not supporting a government that is corrupt? If the government is corrupt, do we continue to support it?

To answer the question then, what do the Chinese want?

They want a government…
a. that is not corrupt;
b. that can govern well and proves to have done so;
c. that tells the truth rather than lies;
d. that follows the rule of law;
e. that upholds rather than abuses the country’s sacred institutions.

Because BN does not fit that description, the Chinese have learned not to vote for it. This is not what only the Chinese want. It is something every sensible Malaysian, regardless of race, wants. Is that something that is too difficult to understand?

Some people think that the government is to be equated with the country, and therefore if someone does not support the government, they are being disloyal to the country. This is a complete fallacy. BN is not Malaysia. It is merely a political coalition that is the government of the day. Rejecting BN is not rejecting the country.

A sense of belonging

Let’s be clear about this important distinction. In America, the people sometimes vote for the Democrats and sometimes for the Republicans. Voting against the one that is in government at the time is not considered disloyalty to the country.

By the same token, voting against Umno is also voting against a party, not against a race. And if the Chinese or whoever criticise Umno, they are criticising the party; they are not criticising Malays. It just happens that Umno leaders are Malay.

It is time all Malaysians realised this so that we can once and for all dispel the confusion. Let us no longer confuse country with government. We can love our country and at the same time hate the government. It is perfectly all right.

I should add here what the Chinese don’t want:

a. We don’t want to be insulted,
b. We don’t want to be called pendatang
c. We don’t want to be told to be grateful for our citizenship.

We have been loyal citizens; we duly and dutifully pay taxes; we respect the country’s constitution and its institutions. Our forefathers came to this country many generations ago and helped it to prosper. We are continuing to contribute to the country’s growth and development.

Would anyone like to be disparaged, made to feel unwelcome or unwanted? For the benefit of the writer of the Utusan article, what MCA president Chua Soi Lek means when he says the MCA needs to be more vocal is that it needs to speak up whenever the Chinese community is disparaged. For too long, the MCA has not spoken up strongly enough when Umno politicians and associates like Ahmad Ismail, Nasir Safar, Ahmad Noh and others before them insulted the Chinese and made them feel like they don’t belong. That’s why the Chinese have largely rejected the MCA.

You see, the Chinese, like all human beings, want self-respect. And a sense of belonging in this country they call home. That is all the Chinese want, and have always wanted. Nothing more.

[Dramatist and veteran journalist Kee Thuan Chye is the author of March 8: The Day Malaysia Woke Up ]


  1. biar pi lah mereka .. kalau nak migratepun tak usah-usah lah nak pujuk..

    these ingrates got the best in this country, they control the economy, religious freedom, political freedom and right for their vernacular education..

    yet in 1969 these ingrates said they were third class citizen in this country.they said they were discriminated because of the special rights for the Malay. Pathethic isn't it?

  2. But after all are we going to a batter alternative? If not what would be a batter move to guide our desolation?

    We know there are 2 main parties in BN representing the Chinese. Are we suggesting that they fail? Why? Is it due to they are collaborating with each other stable on a common agenda?

  3. They want a government…
    a. that is not corrupt;
    b. that can govern well and proves to have done so;
    c. that tells the truth rather than lies;
    d. that follows the rule of law;
    e. that upholds rather than abuses the country’s sacred institutions.

    5 perkara yang orang Cina mahu, baik ini jawapannya;
    a. Rasuah ; siapa yang sering menyuap? Kalau bukannya orang Cina. Mereka sanggup melakukan apa saja bagi mendapatkan sesuatu dan itu adalah fakta. Jangan dinafikan fakta ini sebab mereka secara jelas menyebut kerajaan yang rasuah.
    b.Malaysia berkembang maju sehingga kini adalah bukti jelas bahawa kerajaan terutamannya BN telah melakukan yang terbaik untuk negara dan rakyat di negara ini. Ramai orang Cina yang telah mendapat kemewahan yang melampau-lampau dari pentadbiran tersebut. Segala macam kemewahan dan kesenangan orang Cina dengan menguasai bandar-bandar utama di negara ini juga adalah bukti sahih kepada kejayaan BN tersebut, maka apa lagi yang tak kena. Atau mahukan orang Melayu menyerahkan segalanya hak mereka baru dikira tindakan bijak oleh kerajaan.
    c.Siapa yang mengatakan siapa yang berbohong? dan siapakah yang selalu berbohong? Apakah pembohongan tersebut? Jelaskan!
    d.Apakah bentuk pencabulan undang-undang yang telah dibuat oleh BN atau kerajaan? Genocide? Apartheid? Apa...apa? Setiap rakyat negara ini bebas hidup dan mengamalkan agama, budaya dan bahasa masing-masing sehinggakan PM sendiri pun turut serta masuk kuil kerana nak raikan perayaan kaum-kaum lain, tak ketinggalan Datuk NIK AZIZ! Apa lagi? ISA? adakah itu yang dimaksudkan? kenapa takut sangat kepada ISA kalau kita tidak punya agenda tersembunyi dan sulit yang akan merosakkan keharmonian dan kesejahteraan negara!
    e. Salahguna Institusi berwibawa negara, atau mungkin boleh disebut disini iaitu MAHKAMAH. Saya dapat rasakan bahawa penulis bercakap bagi pihak ketua pembangkang! Dan bukannya sebagai seorang warganegara yang waras dan berkecuali.Asal kalau BN kalah dalam mahkamah, maka dikira mahkamah adil! Tetapi kalau BN atau kerajaan menang, maka mahkamah disalahgunakan. Apakah bentuk kejumudan dan dangkalnya pemikiran ini.
    TETAPI, saya pasti seperkara, hari ini orang CINA melihat bahawa mereka sudah hampir kepada cita-cita terakhir mereka iaitu menguasai politik dan seterusnya memerintah negara ini. Kerana laluannya sudah terbentang dan telah ditunjukkan oleh Anwar Ibrahim. Apakah perlu lagi mereka duduk semeja dengan BN? Kerana itulah setiap persoalan yang dilontar semuanya bernada politik!
    Orang Melayu tidak ada tempat lagi di dunia ini. Inilah tanah tumpah darah mereka! Kalaulah Melayu itu sendiri menjadi bangsat atau pendatang di negara China, apakah kita akan dilayani secara ISTIMEWA? Diberikan jawatan dalam kerajaan?
    Lihat sahaja di Singapura, ketika terbentuknya Singapura, siapakah Presiden pertamanya, MELAYU. Selepas pada itu, siapa? NO MORE MALAY! Itulah hakikat, itulah FAKTA!

  4. The Chinese in Malaysia are the most well treated minority of any country in this world. They can put up a list of what they want, but too bad they cannot get all what they wanted and they are free to migrate to anywhere they want to go if they cannot deal with the fact.

    Anybody who insists on having separate vernacular education for their young in the official language of the People's Republic of China, so much so that even after 53 years of Merdeka mereka tidak dapat bertutur didalam Bahasa Kebangsaan, Bahasa Melayu dengan baik tidak perlu marah kalau mereka di panggil pendatang atau penumpang oleh orang Melayu.

    Nenek Moyang mereka datang tidak di jemput, kalau mereka nak pergi pun tidak dihantar.

  5. bngsa cina ni mmg jenis kiasu...dieorg nak semue2 nye.. dieorg persoalkan 30% ekuiti bumi.. sedangkan melayu xbisng pon 70% ekuiti cina yg dapat..(bangsa laen2 ade la skit lg) dieorg nak ekuiti 100% baru dieorg diam..

  6. Salam Mummy,

    Cina kat Malaysia ni takkan puas hati selagi tak dapat jadi PM walaupun depa tu minoriti. Org Melayu ni terlampau taksub dengan pemimpin. Kalau pemimpin kata tak boleh..tak bolehlah..terutama kalau nak mengata-ngata Cina ka..Hindu ka. Brapa ramai yang kena cekup utama masa Tun Che Det perintah. Asal Melayu bercakap..rasis..perkauman..tapi kalu depa yang cakap..tak pa..hak bawah Perlembagaan. La ni ginilah..apa kata sumua Melayu bersatu tak kira lah parti manapun..kita bersatulah macam mana masa kita nakkan merdeka dulu..kita insaflah nasib kita orang Melayu terpaksa gigit jari sejak dijajah Portugis lagi..kita insaflah nasib agama kita yang hanya jadi doa pembuka majlis rasmi di bawah Perlembagaan..kita insaflah bahasa kita yang diperlekeh-lekehkan sebagai bahasa yang tak boleh maju..kita insaflah nak capai 30% DEB pun tak boleh..kita insaflah ekuiti Melayu kat bandaq-bandaq besaq dah takdak lagi..kat Kampong Baru tu pun sebenaqnya dah takdak..kita insaflah tak mustahil kita akan jadi macam orang Palestin..kita insaflah takdak yang istimewa pun jadi Bumiputera..kepada pemimpin-pemimpin kita yang dah biasa jadi budak kepada Cina.. insaflah.. hangpa sumua esok-esok akan padam jugak..duit hangpa banyak tara manapun takkan mampu selamatkan cucu cicit hangpa.. la ni bolehlah kata depa boleh migrate ke oversea tapi seronok ka hidup tanpa tanah ayaq sendiri? Kita sama-sama pikiaq no!

  7. The writer trying to look for an excuses for the dwindling support to BN hence the few points there a reminder of what they really want. I guess if the 'wants' that they sacredly looking for are taken at face value then why would the chinese reject the only malay's DAP candidate in Penang? Why there's no malay won any seat in chinese majority areas? The only reason the chinese reluctant in supporting BN is because there is a high chance that they going to get better grip on government power with PR. By that i means really really a good grips.

  8. Typical.It has always been about what they want... cuba tengok dari lagi satu perspective ... what have they given malaysia in return? dari dulu sampai sekarang, loyalty pun takder. lahir disini, besar disini, bila dah kaut semua, migrate, lantas menjadikan brain drain. integration jauh sekali.. bermati2an nak kekalkan sekolah cina. kerajaan dah bagi segala2nya kepada puak2 ni. memang mereka dasar pendatang tak mengenang budi.

    it's all about what YOU WANT. WHAT have YOU given the country in return? maki hamun adala..

  9. Nama pun pendatang mana nak kenal untung dah dapat untung.setuju dengan anu 2.53.Puak cina ini adakah beri peluang melayu singapork jadi menteri itu tak perkauman lagi?Kalau tenguk siri.Darurat Dimalaysia Siapa yang majoriti sertai komunis bukan kah cina?Cadangan mungkin beri kuasa semula kepada Templer untuk habiskan komunis di malaysia.

  10. Biar aku berketuakan Cina atau India atau sesapa yg bukan Melayu kalau dia lebih bagus dari segi akhlaknya dari Melayu yg kononnya Islam tapi kuat rasuah.


  11. 2 perkataan sahaja... CINA TAMAK aka GREEDY CHINESE


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