Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Malays: The Host

The Malays are the host. No two ways about it. The Chinese and Indians came to this land as guests. Both came in so large a number that it is no wonder the word 'annexation' had been used of them.

Indeed, it could be said that the Malays allowed the Chinese to pitch their tents and, thence, ended up taking possession of their land. Still, if the Chinese ended up as coolies, there might not have been much problem. But instead the Chinese prospered and came to dominate the mainstream of Malaysian life – in business, in the professions, in the universities as well as occupying all the major towns.

The Malays should not have allowed such a situation to go unchallenged: their pride and honour would not allow it. Malay esteem would require that, having rid themselves of the British colonial masters, they wrested economic powers from the Chinese.

That is how the Malays felt and will continue to feel. That feeling came a long time ago. Whatever arguments the Chinese chose to defend the legitimacy of their position – citizen's rights, democratic practice – will not alter this view, for it is fortified by emotion, self-esteem and also need.

The Chinese ought to ask themselves, "If the Malays had come to occupy India and China in a similar manner, how do you imagine the Indians and Chinese would feel?How would they have responded to these intruders?What would they have done?".

The Malay bid for economic parity is not only natural but just. Any people in their position would , if they could, do what they are doing now. By acknowledging this, the Chinese will find it easier to understand and accept the Malays' claim to a reasonable share of the economy and their efforts to regain their pride; and when the Chinese reflect on the immigrant experience in other countries, they will be persuaded that it is also in their interest to do so.