An article published on 6 May 2017 by Free Malaysia Today (FMT) entitled ‘Almost Half of Chinese surveyed want to emigrate’ was really an exciting-yet-disturbing piece to read. Nevertheless, the percentage of Malays and Indians intending to leave is lower than their Chinese counterparts. The FMT article cited a research conducted recently by the University of Oxford funded by the CIMB Foundation.
I have no access to the full report of the study and I am writing based on the online piece published by FMT. I do not know the intention of the study and why was it conducted. I am not being racist but based on the study (and the title of the article), it is clear that the members of the Chinese community (maybe not all) are not happy ‘due to perceived unfairness in the country’.
Let us go back to history and see how this country has tried to be fair in making everyone happy. Malaya had its origin from the Malay states whilst Sabah and Sarawak were loosely part of the Malay Sultanate of Brunei prior to British intervention. During colonial rule in the 18th and 19th centuries, the British brought in non-Malay immigrants to Malaya. Majority of them worked as labourers servicing tin mines and rubber plantations sprawling all across the country.
At the end of World War II, the British introduced ‘Malayan Union’ in 1946. Due to strong protest from within the Malay community, the British replaced Malayan Union with the Federation of Malaya in 1948 – a regime that would not easily grant citizenship status particularly to foreign immigrants at that time.
The Federation of Malaya became a sovereign in 1957 – a small, poor country with lots of socio-economic problems emerged in Southeast Asia – a grisly remnant of British rule.
While other States within the British commonwealth were reluctant to accept foreign immigrants as citizens – Myanmar refused to accord citizenship status to the Rohingyas, Australia with its ‘White Australia Policy’, Brunei with its stateless Chinese communities and Britain recently with its Brexit – the Malays of the Federation of Malaya agreed to accept the non-Malays as citizens as long as they agreed to the following:
- Malay as the national language (Article 152 of the Federal Constitution);
- Islam as the religion of the Federation (Article 3 of the Federal Constitution);
- The special position of the Malays (Article 153 of the Federal Constitution);
- The sovereignty of the Malay Rulers (Article 38 of the Federal Constitution).
If not for this, millions of non-Malays in Malaysia today will be left stateless.
The government of Malaysia has worked hard in balancing between empowering the socio-economic status of the Malays and driving the nation towards economic success. This effort has not been in vain though. Investopedia, the largest financial education website in the world has ranked Malaysia as one of the top 25 developed and developing countries in 2016.
Despite the adverse accusation againts the government policies favouring the Malays (as enshrined by the Federal Constitution), Malaysia has emerged as the front-runner in the 2017 ranking for best countries to invest in, reported in the New Straits Times.
The adverse allegations that the affirmative action in favour of the Malays undermining the rights of the non-Malays are not entirely true. Look around – there are many non-Malay professionals. In fact, the non-Malays top the richest individual list in Malaysia. In addition, unlike any other countries in the world, the non-Malay minorities are allowed to have their own vernacular schools (some are even government-funded) – something that one may not see elsewhere.
Oxford University is a renowned and respected institution of knowledge. It should not conduct a one sided-study. In order to make this study more credible, I am suggesting that they should also consider embarking on the following:
- The percentage of Malaysians who choose to stay and contribute to the country;
- According to the study, the Chinese community is the one with the highest percentage intending to leave. A study should also be conducted to identify the percentage of Malaysians who are happy that they are leaving;
- The percentage of minorities in Malaysia who are ready to integrate with the majority population through mastery of the national language, Bahasa Malaysia;
In this way, the study would appear to be more credible as it looks at the issue from two different perspectives.
There are successful non-Malay athletes, academics, politicians, economist and businessmen in Malaysia. If Malaysia really is that bad, these non-Malays would not have even the smallest chance to be successful. Just look at the fate of the white farmers in Zimbabwe under the Mugabe regime – they were brutalised just so their land could be re-distributed to the black farmers. In contrast, the non-Malay communities in Malaysia have been able to conduct their everyday businesses without fear of violence. Indeed, there is a thinline between playing victims of discrimination and simply being ungrateful.
In fact, there are Malaysians who are contented and could not care less that these people are leaving. Nevertheless, if one chooses to leave, kindly do it with dignity without badmouthing and humiliating the country abroad.
Having said this, I hope the brilliant professors at the University of Oxford would consider my humble suggestions. I believe there are many other hardworking, educated, brilliant and passionate Malaysians who are happy to stay behind and contribute to the development of our beloved motherland.
Dr, Mohd Hazmi Mohd Rusli is a Malaysian Access reader. With a firm belief in freedom of writings, Malaysian Access tries its best to share suitable content from our readers. Articles written is strictly the writer’s personal opinion and it does not represent the views of Malaysian Access.