Malaysia Uncut

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On Being Malay…and becoming racist

A very well-meaning professor asked me once why it was so important to me to include “minority rights” and “minority issues” into my public policy discussions. He also suggested that I discontinue this way of thinking because 1) it would tire me, to keep thinking of everything through the lens of a race divide and 2) the people whose cause I push so hard for probably don’t even care themselves. He likened this to how he was a strong proponent of “working class”-centric issues in his younger days, until he realised that it was a lost cause for the skinhead thugs and soccer hooligan types would never really appreciate the struggle of policy-making and implied that they would never change[”most of them end up Neo-Nazis.”]My prof’s situation and mine are not analogous, really. He saw the group he sympathised with as a distant demographic strata. And as the son of a wealthy businessman, he never walked in their shoes. He never, ever had to be identified as one of them, never had to feel their struggles as his own, watch his people be fucked over senseless by a country that villifies them while tolerating them with an air of condescending pity.

I will not apologise: if talking about my community’s concerns make me a despicable racist then I am unabashedly racist and I am proud that I am able to view the world as it really is: ugly and divided between black and white, yellow and brown. through lenses tinted by the colour of skin. And I will continue to bring up the “minority issue” as often as I like because I don’t see why we can talk openly about speak mandarin campaigns and how a large proportion of drug addicts are malay but we don’t yet have the balls to declare openly just how we don’t know each other, how we secretly think the malays are lazy, unreliable and disloyal and that we need to continue keeping them in check and monitored and filtered through the system. how we need to constantly 2nd-guess them: national security rests on our suspicion.

I see how the people who make my drinks in Starbucks and Coffee Bean are almost always Malay and my heart still sinks. I see them reaching over the counters accepting cash or credit cards from the yuppies in fancy suits and I notice how they are almost never Malay. I scroll down through employee profiles in Bain Singapore, JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank, McKinsey, MINDEF and the like and there are never any Malay names or Malay faces and it worries me. My well-meaning but clueless classmates point out the fact that Malay kids receive free primary and secondary school education and that our country runs as a meritocracy. They forget that primary and secondary school costs a pittance and that it is not the fee that matters; it is the stereotype that you will fail before you even begin trying and that meritocracy works only as well as the situation you are born in. They forget that not everything is fair and sometimes it is worthwhile unravelling platitudes for their real intent.

A few poster-boy Malay pilots and Malay PSC scholars in the papers don’t do anything for me, they most certainly don’t tell the sons and daughters of truck drivers and factory workers how to get there.

Malay MPs telling me how “the Malays have progressed in the past 2 years” and fudging statistics about the number of Malays in tertiary institutions by adding in polytechnic admissions don’t comfort me. They enrage me. I want to ask them how they sleep at night knowing that they hide the truth, knowing that they were put there to represent their people, knowing that the Malay people trust them, knowing even how the gahmen functions and knowing best how to change things…but not having enough gall to tell the gahmen that we should look into why those men wanted to bomb the MRT stations in the first place–is it because they were isolated and rejected in a country where they could never find empathy, love and understanding?that they were tired of the glass walls and silences and that the only way they could feel wanted and be heard was by committing an atroscity that would force society to look at them, really look at them, not just glance? Instead, my leaders apologise to the general public, and reassure them that Malay people are nice, instead of apologising to those men and the others who feel like them for not doing enough to address their frustrations, and reassuring them that they are not the bastard children of Singapore.

I think of how we are always called on for not “integrating enough”, suggesting that it is our job [not anybody else’s] to seek out the majority and outdo ourselves to accommodate them. I think of how few people even make an attempt to pronounce our names correctly, even though we have all lived in this “multi-racial” country for 40 years now, even though the rest of us have learnt to pronounce the “jun” in Zijun as “chuin” or the “xin” in Xinyi as “sing”. I think of how members of the gahmen once zeroed in on the madrasahs, claiming that they were worried about them creating enclaves and not integrating into society…perhaps they meant that they were worried if they would turn into suicide bombers but didn’t want to say that on national television. I don’t know. I wonder if they look at Chinese High and Dunman High and all the other SAP schools and feel the same concerns. Scholar X/Singapore once told me how in his year, the school hired a Tamil language teacher just for one boy. [How accommodating is that, huh, he says eagerly] Again, I say exceptions don’t make the rule and that one boy in a sea[or an enclave?] of 99.9999% Chinese boys does not prove integration or “racial harmony”.

I don’t hate any one group of people particularly, and I am not blaming anyone in particular. I have always believed in multi-racialism and multi-culturialism and multi-mad-mix-of-sex-to-produce-hybrid-kid-ism. I have friends of all races [and preferences], my best friend and the friends I spend most of my time and life with are not Malay.

I apologise if you think my concerns and my views should be viewed as prejudices. Or that my choice to give a voice to the issues that plague my people should be construed as cultural chauvinism. I’m not for special favours or holding one sector of society above the others: they are degrading. I am asking you to think and reflect and help me wrestle back the last morsels of dignity that my people have.

I feel guilty sometimes that I feed this angry furnace of a system with my own little betrayals. People ask me why I care about the tudung issue since I don’t wear one and probably never will. I look set to marry someone of another race, and have babies with non-Malay [Chinese?] surnames with him; “perhaps never make him convert”. Sometimes I wish I were abit more conventional, a bit more traditional: then my views would fit in much nicer with my behaviour.

Yet, I know that if I conform, I’ll be doing the very thing the system has relentlessly shoved down my people’s throats: I will be apologising for who I am just to reassure everyone else I am one of them when they will never try to be a part of me.

~ by ballsy on March 21, 2006.

26 Responses to “On Being Malay…and becoming racist”
it is precisely because you are not conventional and traditional that you’re better able to see things more objectively. i think being part of any system tends to blind you (to others).
yuch said this on March 22nd, 2006 at 3:06 am

I share your sense of resentment that you harbour about the current situation but I fear that realistically, this will always be the case so as long as we there is a concept of a minority/majority divide amongst man.This divide can be about religion, race and even education endowment. Of course, this does not justify for the marginal pandering that majority always pander to minority but it helps to explain why it happens; majority always will think that they are right and any outreach will always be percieved by themselves as a favour rendered towards the minority. A problem of democracy, the tyranny of the majority because of their monopoly on legitimate powers. Democracy I guess is the best we have now so I guess we would just have to mae do with it.
The only solution I see for closer integration would be for an alien invasion of the earth but I guess that bit is out of our control. In the meantime, just hold your head high and live your life because being defiant is the least that we can do.

Joey said this on March 22nd, 2006 at 7:01 am

I feel your pain and share your anguish. I was shocked by the racial stereotyping that I encountered during NS and by the implication that due to my work ethic, I was “Not a typical Malay” according to colleagues. Like WTF is that? I’m not sure who is to blame for making these stereotyping prevalent at all levels of society but it has got to stop.
Zaki said this on March 22nd, 2006 at 7:08 am

Betul nyer marah awak…rileks.
Kudos to you for wanting to pursue minority rights and give attention to minority issues.Somehow or rather, we are all binded by sentiments attached to our race and how race is very much related to our upbringing.
I believe your experiences during your formative years have armed you with a critical mind. and that probably u are blessed with above average kepandaian. dun’t spoil that wif anger although i cud understand your rebellion.
But what is it that makes a Malay, a Malay?
Our names? Salam orang tua bila berjumpa? Sopan santun dalam/semasa berkomunikasi? penuh akhlak dalam gerak-geri? fillial piety? selalu bersyukur? menghormati yang lebih tua dan berkuasa? descendants of Sultans and fisherman? pandai bersilat? pandai modify benda like motor, kereta, music genres? tak minat belajar? usually good at adapting?
or is it again very much associated to the religion which Malays are famous for? Geylang packed = bulan puasa = hari raya = malay ?

i myself sometimes have a problem telling people what does being a Malay mean. I will take my hats off to you if you help tell me what makes me a Malay.
nowadays, Malay youths are concerned with popular culture which somehow renegotiate their social standing through the pseudo-empowerment of certain popular sites and their related-activies.
e.g. new handphones = share porn clips = (pseudo) empowerment.
clubbing = RnB, drum n bass = cool cos mixing wif the ‘right’ crowd = (pseudo)empowerment

Years ago, the government introduced Confucianism to the secondary school students for it is devoid of anything divine. It was the same time when Religious Knowledge was part of the secondary curriculum. The mid to late 80s, RK was one subject a student can do for their O levels. Why did this stop?

Pragmatic Singapore has always seen religion as a providing a cushion to hard times, a necessity to ensure stability in fast and hectic times. That’s it. Hence, doesnt matter if one is indian, malay, others or chinese.

Singapore needs to keep the economy going. that’s it. sigh. even cultural celebrations are assets of our tourism industry. wif that, think of the special education landscape. it has chinese, malays, indians and others, and it is deemed as not having economic returns.
The Chinese are a majority. Overwhelming at times. Notice that, PAP members those who are of the minority group are usually not so Malay or not so Indian. err…u fit as one?

the ones alienated and anomic are usually the minorites because, in my humble opinion, differences are easier to spot than similarities. same for people with disabilities. we are not the majority.
however, Malays like Nizam Idris sees brighter side of
things. He says Malay youths as a “demographic bonus”.
I could email you his article if you want.

malay bloke said this on March 22nd, 2006 at 7:40 am

Oh no i forgot to mention another extremely important munjen in my life, Joey my debate partner
ballsy said this on March 22nd, 2006 at 8:30 am

malaybloke: don’t worry i have super self-restraint powers, so i’m not about to go on a violent spree anytime soon..what does being malay mean? everything and nothing at all. it is adat [tradition] and bahasa [language] and history but it is also our shared socio-political heritage: becoming the romanticised lazy native, the struggle to deal with our minority status, the dilemma of drugs, teenage pregnancies and school drop-outs. everything we go through shapes who we are and how we see ourselves.
i see the value of pragmatism. i believe in terms of bread-n-butter issues, being pragmatic and realistic ensures your survival. but we live beyond that, don’t we? we’re not SURVIVING any longer in singapore, and no matter how much doomsaying occurs, the truth is we are at a point of time in our life cycle as a nation to talk and think about issues.

Joey[folks, this is the guy who cajoles me to argue and tells me to “rape” the opponent on a regular basis]: i agree with what you said about the limitations of democracy. yes, tyranny of majority happens and it is an undeniable side effect of an imperfect system but my question is: what do we feed into the system that seems to reinforce its limitations?

ballsy said this on March 22nd, 2006 at 8:49 am

” we’re not SURVIVING any longer in singapore, and no matter how much doomsaying occurs, the truth is we are at a point of time in our life cycle as a nation to talk and think about issues.”true enough. dats why there are lots of changes happening in Singapore. because the nation is talking and thinking about issues.
but remember Michel Foucalt’s ‘repressive hypothesis’

i.e. ‘ central issue is not to determine whether it is a yes or no answer, or whether one formulates prohibitions or permissions, or whether one asserts its importance or denies its effects, or whether one refines the words one uses to designate it, BUT (my all caps) to account for the fact it is spoken about, to discover who does the speaking, the positions and viewpoints to which they speak institutions which prompt people to speak about it and which store and distribute the things which are said.’ (Foucalt, 1981,p. 11)

Ref: Foucalt, M., (1981) We “Other Victorians” The history of sexuality, trans. Hurley, R., Hammondsworth: Penguin

(These are good reads too:

Cherian, G., (2000) Introduction: The Politics of an Air-Conditioned Nation, Singapore: The Air-Conditioned Nation, Singapore: Landmark Books

Mauzy, Diane K. and Milne, R.S. (2002), Authoritarian aspects of PAP Rule, Singapore Poltics Under the People’s Action Party, London and New York: Routledge

Mutallib, H., (2000), Illiberal Democracy and the future of oppositions in Singapore, Third World Quarterly, 21(2) )

Although yeah Singapore is in its thirties, many of us are still working so hard to bring food home, to pay bills, to ensure the children are getting the right education resources. They live life without cable TV, travel holidays, visits to restaurants. etc.
Like many, these people are also bounded for live with housing commitments. Their children? Makbapak dah tua, dah takper kita kerja to help out. Mana ada time to act on issues they talk about, even in their sleep? Vicious cycle.
Beh sai chiau.

On the other camp, Singaporeans are comfortable in their laurels. Good brand new cars, pretty expensive spouses, eating out everday, eating out at expensive places on weekends, country club memberships etc etc.
Why fix something if it aint broken?

But of course, generation X is getting old. previous generations are getting older. So hopefully generation Y can bring significant changes to Singapore. You could be one of them. Like i said, you kinda have what it takes to be a PAP candidate. You cant beat them, you join em?

malay bloke said this on March 22nd, 2006 at 1:27 pm

While i totally see where you are coming from , but there are certain things that you cannot deny . There is equal education opportunity for all and from an existentialist standpoint , it is up to the individual to make the most out of what he/she is given , regardless of whatever situation they are put in.While it may be a rather depressing outlook you have there , i think society is changing , or set to change when our generation takes over . It is clear that this generation of ours can see the difference between racial integration and racial tolerance , so let’s remain optimistic about the state of things.
shangz said this on March 22nd, 2006 at 4:56 pm

i totally sympathise with amira. i hate racism, and i do not think where she is coming from is racist. racism is when you hate another race and amira is not hating on anybody. i think the situation in singapore is not about racism, but certain realities that emphasise racial cleavages. for some reason, its in the malay blood to be extremely “chill”. they dont take life too seriously and know how to relax and be simple. the chinese on the other hand, most of them, tend to be over achieving… they tend to be the ones who cannot do wihtout the 5Cs and have a very one tracked mind – $$.
then comes the problem with singapore’s system of meritocracy. it does not work for the malays! or rather, it does not work for anyone who doesnt overachieve. it is so unnecessarily competitive and such a tiring system to be in, only hardworking go-getters like amira can survive!
i mean, what about people who can sing and dance? what about artists and poets? what about people who like to do menial jobs like be a nurse? things like that are not appreciated in this society. (taufik is not counted, im talking people who have REAL talent, haha!)
i dont think the issue is whether more malays are in blue collared jobs while more chinese are in white collared jobs. its the fact that in singapore is too status conscious and blue collared jobs are not at all appreciated. i think once that mindset is changed, then people will be appreciated more for who they are as a person. not branded as “that malay boy who only knows how to waste his time with his band or playing guitar” as opposed to “that chinese boy who studies so hard and does so well in school”. as if there was everything wrong with an inclination towards music and a disinclination towards books. that is a ridiculous and fucked up mindset to have and singapore’s meritocratic system unfortunately supports this mindset.
i dont know how to go about changing this mindset but the situation is so frustrating that all i can say is that people should just learn to chill abit. stop doing so much work. learn gardening or knitting or something. and when they realise that life doesnt have to be so complicated they will also realise that people are not so complicated either. that no one is going to bomb anyone or become a terrorist or conspire to take over the world.
chinese girl said this on March 22nd, 2006 at 5:41 pm

“its the fact that in singapore is too status conscious and blue collared jobs are not at all appreciated. i think once that mindset is changed, then people will be appreciated more for who they are as a person. not branded as “that malay boy who only knows how to waste his time with his band or playing guitar” as opposed to “that chinese boy who studies so hard and does so well in school”.TRUE THAT, chinese girl! we should be a society that is mature enough to take everyone as they come and be able to appreciate our contributions by measure of their sincerity and their impressive effort, and not by their dollar value and their impressive status. we’re obsessed with money and “face” lah. someone i had a conversation with tonight wondered how they would feel if they go to their JC reunion and they hadn’t achieved as much as their classmates nor had the bling-bling to show for it. i think we all have these secret fears, whether we are brown or yellow. i’m not saying we shouldn’t want to grow up to be investment bankers, i think we should all be comfortable in our skin, in our own worth. critics are gonna say it’s an excuse for laziness, of course.
i also raise a toast to: ” people should just learn to chill abit. stop doing so much work. learn gardening or knitting or something. and when they realise that life doesnt have to be so complicated they will also realise that people are not so complicated either. that no one is going to bomb anyone or become a terrorist or conspire to take over the world.”

i think conspiring to bomb and hurt and inflict violence is a cry for help and a means to vent frustration at not having any other option for their views or their grievances to be heard. of course i’m not advocating violence [except maybe to people who cannot pronounce my very easily phonetic name..hahaha], i just think that terrorism and crime are symptoms of a greater illness, not the illness itself. and we are all complicit in making things worse.

ballsy said this on March 22nd, 2006 at 6:01 pm

“people should just learn to chill abit. stop doing so much work. learn gardening or knitting or something.”I think people should just stop working altogether. I want to, anyway.
(Ok now you guys can get back to your very empassioned and academic comments.)

w. said this on March 23rd, 2006 at 2:53 am

read my mind, you did. after years and years of being told not to question the system – ie race quotas for hdb flats, sap schools, the rationale behind racial harmony day – it’s a comfort to know that there are others who feel that this *is* an important issue and that the status quo is *not* okay.
sharada said this on March 23rd, 2006 at 2:30 pm

sharada: like what they say in our realm of competitive “sport”–Hear hear!
ballsy said this on March 23rd, 2006 at 4:15 pm

What about the other important munjen in your life, i.e. me?
popagandhi said this on March 24th, 2006 at 5:10 am

i’ve asked some friends this question before, and many of them had no answer:“If the SAP schools had to be Chinese-oriented due to China’s rise, why isn’t it Malay and Tamil/Hindi oriented for our region and India’s rise?”
gecko said this on March 25th, 2006 at 9:30 am

Here are 2 more resources for u:
Barr, M. D., & Low, J. (2005). Assimilation as multiracialism: The case of Singapore’s Malays. Asian Ethnicity, 6(3). 161-182.

have fun!

motherland said this on March 26th, 2006 at 3:59 am

me again: some quotes fr Barr & Low for u to enjoy Chickadees:Referring to earlier studies done by Li (1989) and Rahim (1998), Barr & Low (2005) says: “The constructed image of the Malays in Singapore has been as rural and backward, which has fed the commonly held stereotype that Malays are lazy, and at home only amongst the fruit trees.” (p.168).
The “self image” of the Malays too have suffered in the process says Barr & Low (p.168), with the Malay leadership encouraging Malays “to assimilate into the rest of the Singaporean society in the public sphere, while reserving their Malay…identities for the private sphere.” The Malay leadership also endorses the “path of assimilation through education” (p.172).
motherland said this on March 26th, 2006 at 4:03 am

Yang dihormati,
makcik a.k.a auntie a.k.a. motherland.
saya minta maaf because me nak kepo very curious about your work.
could you cerita sikit if you dun mind.
im also very curious about your take on special education/special needs in Singapore.
(i am sure New York is doing more for that minority group.
correct if I am wrong)
if you dun mind lah.
errr..if you dun wanna type too much here you can email me.
thank you.

malay bloke said this on March 26th, 2006 at 1:55 pm

Hi Malay BlokeThis Aunty M, and a hopeful Dr M – I m doing my PhD on the back of US taxpayers $- I received a Graduate Asstshp with the State Univ of NY at BUffalo campus – this means I work 20hrs per week in exchange for scholarshp and a small stipend that barely feeds me Mir and the cat. We hv to stretch the greenback q a bit. My PhD is in social foundations, my research interests are in the area of tracking/streaming policies, and how low stream students (many of whom are minority males in SIngapore no?) negotiate their institutional engagement and motivation – so i m looking at issues of access and equity (social justice, reproduction of class etc) as well.
What do I think of Special Ed In SPore? Well I think much more can be done. I would like to see the system integrate students into mainstream schools for one. we sdnt segregate students into special schools and label them as people with special needs. they may not be getting the schooling they need. esp when we define education in a broad sense as a rt and neccesary socialisation of citizens. some sp need students except for physical disabilities hv the cognitive ability and rt to be in mainstream sch.

anyway u can email me at (of course they give me an email address that is the name of an improved m16!) to talk to me.


Aunt M, Ms (and Mira’s mum – my only claim to fame at the moment?!!)

motherland said this on March 28th, 2006 at 3:37 am

Hi there,I just chanced upon your blog recently and read this post. Just wanted to say I know how you feel about this issue. I am half Malay / half Chinese (officially Malay) and I was in a SAP school. It is amazing how I was often pulled out and used as an example of being multi-cultural / racial. It was also amazing how people would use my race to “explain” away my poor performance in mathematics!
And yes, being in the education system now, I am very concerned with the performance of the Malays in school. A lot of it, I think, stems from the fact that people expect them to do badly in the first place.

Piper said this on May 6th, 2006 at 9:10 am

[…] On Being Malay…and becoming racist I am really quite enjoying Ballsy. You should too. […]
The Waiting Room » Blog Archive » Kick Push video and more said this on May 6th, 2006 at 12:46 pm

good day.first off, are you a muslim? born muslim? practising muslim?
whatever the case, coz if you are, i read with alarm that you mulled over marrying a non malay with no intention of asking him to convert to islam.

not that it is any better than marrying a malay muslim with absolutely no idea of how to be muslim.

islam transcends boundaries. there are no malays. there are no chineses.

abdul rani said this on October 31st, 2006 at 2:01 am

dear abdul rani,yes i know it does transcend racial boundaries. i also know there are no CHINESES.
i read with alarm that you judge my decisions with no understanding of who i am, where i come from, how important religon [not organised religion] is to me, and how i oppose the idea of making my partner convert because i believe that religion is personal and meaningful and not contrived and obligatory. i believe that the person i love has PRINCIPLES and that it is FRAUDULENT TO GOD to MAKE him convert when he doesn’t have it in his heart, he isn’t ready and he doesn’t believe in it.

there is too much bullshit and facade in this world, religion should be true and real.

i am undecided, unsubscribed. i am a reader of islamic philosophers, i do not believe in dogma, in rules and stipulations and postulations inherent in the way the religion is practiced at present.

ballsy said this on October 31st, 2006 at 2:16 am

in religion, there must be an element of belief. there should not be any forced subscription. otherwise, it will be like what you describe, just a ‘facade’.that said, if a man tried to commit suicide, is it acceptable if society turn a blind eye? or leave him be as he had already decided what’s good for him?
the world revolves around sets of rules and principles. even in religion there are rules. one cannot escape that. you need to understand the underlying principles. common law said that a man cannot drive a motor vehicle in a state of intoxication. what is the principle behind this law? is it not for the good of him and society? he may disagree though…but would his father advised him otherwise?

i did not mean to judge you nor was it my intention. you are your own judge. black you said, black it is.

abdul rani said this on November 1st, 2006 at 9:36 am

hmmmm rani can u get a bit more coherent so we can get at the “hati” n “jiwa” of what u r saying? sarcasm and snide remarks do not a gd discussion make?
mothership/motherland (depending on the time of the day) said this on November 1st, 2006 at 1:14 pm

My daughter was born and bred a Muslim – she can read the Quran in English and Malay and recite it in Arabic, as well as read Mernissi and Avorreos in English. I would like to believe that she doubts and questions so as to better believe in her faith. Pintu Ijtihad belum tertutup?
mothership/motherland (depending on the time of the day) said this on November 1st, 2006 at 1:47 pm ]



Wednesday, November 15, 2006 - Posted by | Commentary


  1. Hey if she wants to marry a convert than so be it. Islam is to be embraced and not forced. That is what Nabi Muhammad S.A.W did and look at how big an empire he has forged. Insyaallah god will open her husbands’ heart and make him embrace Islam.

    Start worrying about other people only when you are very sure that you yourself are not doing anything wrong as each individual are answerable to their own fate.

    Comment by hamberg | Wednesday, November 15, 2006 | Reply

  2. The root of the problem is simple- overzealous politicization of issues that are communal in general. Without their kain pelikat voters, UMNO would be dead in the water. The elite is concentrating on keeping these people stupid in order to maintain a vote base- typical Malay behavior, dates back to the days of Melaka and Majapahit.

    I am not a Malaysian or Singaporean, but I am Bruneian; unlike both of these countries, we simply institute a concrete policy on who gets what , instead of implying harmony. Why sound an orchestra that sounds like mating rats when you can have people play their intstruments in solo parts one by one?

    We do not lie about our positioning of ethnic groups-the rest of you do.

    Comment by PS | Wednesday, June 13, 2007 | Reply

  3. “Why sound an orchestra that sounds like mating rats when you can have people play their intstruments in solo parts one by one?”

    -Easier said n done (when u have only like, 300 people in the country)
    whatever. there are better solutions.

    “if talking about my community’s concerns make me a despicable racist then I am unabashedly racist”

    -talking about ur own community’s concerns wont make u a racist

    i like being a Malay. no to racism, no to stereotypes, no to prejudices, NO to all bad things

    Comment by I M | Thursday, August 23, 2007 | Reply

  4. My interest in Malaysia was invigorated recently when I recently started work with a company in the UK which have 57 branches worldwide. I was absolutely astounded by how many Malaysian there are just in the London office, I am a Malaysia National although I have live my entire adult life outsde of Malaysia. I stumbled on this website and that rekindled my interest and certain posting in the YouTube again reinforced my interest.
    I can see social discontentment with the Malaysian I work with, with regard to their very negative views about Malaysia. When I left Malaysia to begin life abroad at 15 years of age, Malaysia was very much a country where opportunity for the indigenous Malays is prominent. I can understand why that is. I have alot of Malay friend then, and I can see why the NEP was implemented, I was in secondary school, and I was very surprised to see that there are Malay students who are alot older than the rest of the students in the same class. I began to question why? The school I was at requires that you pass you end of year exam before going to the next form. These Malay studens have been at it for years thus their retention. If you are of another race, you will be asked to leave the school if you fail you final year exams. The NEP was implemented to give the Malays a better playing field. However, this was seen by the Malays as an opportunity to have it easy in life, at least for most of them. The Malays never bothered to excel themselves in any field, in the mean time the Chinese and Indians worked harder, and the successful ones leave the country, myself included. The not so successful Chinese and Indians left behind were of course working to aspire to those that have been successful. The Malays on the otherhand remained as they are, I am not saying that all Malays adopted the same attitude. I have Malay friends in the UK too, and guess what, they are very successful individuals too, and I am proud to call them my friends. We still see ourselves as Malaysians despite the fact that we are 6000miles from home.

    Success in life is very much dependent on the individuals and also the opportunities and the environment that they are exposed to. The Chinese and the Indians that are not too successful in achieving their flight from Malaysia resorts to other means of being successful, because the NEP is denying them the equal opportunity. The Malays have no worries. This fostered resentment, and I use the word resentment here and not hatred. This is prevalent in an entire generation and coming on to the next generation. I feel really disappointed about this as a Malaysian.

    In 2003 the Government appears to conceed to the fact that NEP is not working after 30 years but appears to have caused issues in certain sectors of society, futher to that the world with USA and UK at the helm is fighting ‘Islamism’, after Sept. 11. Muslim governments worldwide saw this as a threat to their power base. So a change is needed in Malaysia, to promote racial harmony and also unity. This I think is long overdue, however, the seed of resentment have been sowed for 30years plus, and trying to ‘fix’ this is going to be some challange.
    I believe in helping people who help themselves, and I believe the government can do alot to help communities throughtout Malaysia harmonise and to bridge the racial divide fostered by a policy that has done more harm than good for the nation. With the ever polluting and expanding population in Malaysia, the first steps have to be put in place to ensure that all ethnicity can work harmoniously for their communities and also improving the environment that they are living in.
    I feel that there is a good opportunity for Barisan Nasional to bridge this gap and it can be achieved with no or little cost. For instance, providing Carbon foot print free electricity and water, and get the community to work for it themselves but give them the technical know how, and that will take the ‘Mat Rempit’ out of the society that they terrorise with a name and shame policy and to ensure that, that is rigidly enforced with the help of the Army and Police, and this will provide role models for the next generation of Malaysians. I have put my money where my mouth is as I am currently investing in a region that is very deprived in Malaysia, and with technology and knowhow, I will want to regenerate the area. I have had help form Govt. Organisations, and I am very pleased to have initiated this investment. It is early days, and I hope that in the next five years my aim will pan out and the people’s life in the region will be improved.
    We must remember that we are all Malaysians and we must be proud of who we are. Malaysians have a very good reputation abroad, and lets improve on that and make Malaysians proud of Malaysia. Merdeka..

    Comment by Pang Pak Hoe | Saturday, September 1, 2007 | Reply

  5. It’s been interesting to read such free-flowing comments on an all “Malaysian” free for all. While we are on the subject, how many of you have read the book entitled “Contesting Malayness – Malay Identity Across Boundaries” Edited by Timothy P. Barnard published by Singapore University Press. (Read here for more and here and here )
    Written by a Professor of National University of Singapore. Cost S$32 (about). It reflects the Anthropologists views that there is no such race as the “Malays” to begin with. If we follow the original migration of the Southern Chinese of 6,000yrs ago, they moved into Taiwan, (now the Alisan), then into the Phillipines (now the Aeta) and moved into Borneo (4,500yrs ago) (Dayak). They also split into Sulawesi and progressed into Jawa, and Sumatera. The final migration was to the Malayan Peninsular 3,000yrs ago. A sub-group from Borneo also moved to Champa in Vietnam at 4,500yrs ago.

    Interestingly, the Champa deviant group moved back to present day Kelantan. There are also traces of the Dong Song and HoaBinh migration from Vietnam and Cambodia. To confuse the issue, there was also the Southern Thai migration, from what we know as Pattani today. (see also “Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsular”)

    Of course, we also have the Minangkabau’s which come from the descendants of Alexander the Great and a West Indian Princess. (Sejarah Melayu page 1-3)

    So the million Dollar Question… Is there really a race called the “Malays”? All anthropologists DO NOT SEEM TO THINK SO.

    Neither do the “Malays” who live on the West Coast of Johor. They’d rather be called Javanese. What about the west coast Kedah inhabitants who prefer to be known as “Achenese”? or the Ibans who simply want to be known as IBANS. Try calling a Kelabit a “Malay” and see what response you get… you’ll be so glad that their Head-Hunting days are over.

    In an article in the Star, dated: Dec 3rd 2006

    available for on-line viewing at:

    An excerp is reproduced here below:

    “The Malays – taken as an aggregation of people of different ethnic backgrounds but who speak the same language or family of languages and share common cultural and traditional ties – are essentially a new race, compared to the Chinese, Indians and the Arabs with their long histories of quests and conquests.

    The Malay nation, therefore, covers people of various ethnic stock, including Javanese, Bugis, Bawean, Achehnese, Thai, orang asli, the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak and descendants of Indian Muslims who had married local women.

    Beneath these variations, however, there is a common steely core that is bent on changing the Malay persona from its perceived lethargic character to one that is brave, bold and ready to take on the world. ”

    The definition of “Malay” is therefore simply a collection of people’s who speak a similar type language. With what is meant by a similar type language does not mean that the words are similar. Linguists call this the “Lego-type” language, where words are added on to the root word to make meaning and give tenses and such. Somehow, the Indonesians disagree with this classification and insist on being called “Indonesians” even though the majority of “Malays” have their roots in parts of Indonesia? They refuse to be called “Malay”…. Anyhow you may define it.

    The writer failed to identify (probably didn’t know), that the “Malay” definition also includes, the Champa, Dong Song, HoabinHian, The Taiwanese Alisan and the Philippino Aetas. He also did not identify that the “Orang Asli” are (for lack of a better term) ex-Africans. If you try to call any one of our East Malaysian brothers an “Orang Asli”, they WILL BEAT YOU UP! I had to repeat this because almost all West Malaysians make the same mistake when we cross the South China Sea. Worse, somehow, they feel even more insulted when you call them “Malay”. Somehow, “kurang ajar” is uttered below their breath as if “Malay” was a really bad word for them. I’m still trying to figure this one out.

    Watch “Malays in Africa”; a Museum Negara produced DVD. Also, the “Champa Malays” by the same.

    With this classification, they MUST also include the Phillipinos, the Papua New Guineans, the Australian Aboroginies, as well as the Polynesian Aboroginies. These are of the Australo Melanesians who migrated out of Africa 60,000yrs ago.

    Getting interesting? Read on…

    “Malay” should also include the Taiwanese singer “Ah Mei” who is Alisan as her tribe are the anscestors of the “Malays”. And finally, you will need to define the Southern Chinese (Southern Province) as Malay also, since they are from the same stock 6,000yrs ago.

    Try calling the Bugis a “Malay”. Interestingly, the Bugis, who predominantly live on Sulawesi are not even Indonesians. Neither do they fall into the same group as the migrating Southern Chinese of 6,000yrs ago nor the Australo Melanesian group from Africa.

    Ready for this?

    The Bugis are the cross-breed between the Mongolian Chinese and the wandering Arab Pirates. (FYI, a runaway Ming Dynasty official whom Cheng Ho was sent to hunt down) Interestingly, the Bugis were career Pirates in the Johor-Riau Island areas. Now the nephew of Daeng Kemboja was appointed the First Sultan of Selangor. That makes the entire Selangor Sultanate part Arab, part Chinese! Try talking to the Bugis Museum curator near Kukup in Johor. Kukup is located near the most south-western tip of Johor. (Due south of Pontian Kechil)

    Let’s not even get into the Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekiu, and Hang Lekir, who shared the same family last name as the other super famous “Hang” family member… Hang Li Poh. And who was she? Legend tells us that she is the princess of a Ming Dynasty Emperor who was sent to marry the Sultan of Malacca. Won’t that make the entire Malacca Sultanate downline “Baba” ? Since the older son of the collapsed Malaccan Sultanate got killed in Johor, (the current Sultanate is the downline of the then, Bendahara) the only other son became the Sultan of Perak. Do we see any Chinese-ness in Raja Azlan? Is he the descendant of Hang Li Poh? But wait a minute….

    That’s what legend says. Let’s look at the proof. The solid evidence. There is a well next to the Zheng He Temple in Malacca which is supposed to be the well built by the Sultan of Malacca for her. According to legend, anyone who drinks of it shall re-visit Malacca before they die. Hmmm smells like a romantic fairy tale already. But let’s look at who Hang Li Poh actually is. Which Ming Emperor was she a daughter to? So I got into researching the entire list of Ming Emperors. Guess what? Not a single Ming Emperor’s last name begins with Hang. In fact, all their last names begin with Tzu (pronounced Choo). So who is Hang Li Poh? An Extra Concubine? A Spare Handmaiden? Who knows? But one thing for certain, is that she was no daughter of any of the Ming Emperors. Gone is the romantic notion of the Sultan of Malacca marrying an exotic Chinese Princess. Sorry guys, the Sultan married an unidentified Chinese commoner.

    Next question. If the Baba’s are part Malay, why have they been marginalized by NOT BEING BUMIPUTERA? Which part of “Malay” are they not? Whatever the answer, why then are the Portugese of Malacca BUMIPUTERA? Did they not come 100yrs AFTER the arrival of the first Baba’s? Parameswara founded Malacca in 1411. The Portugese came in 1511, and the Dutch in the 1600’s. Strangely, the Baba’s were in fact once classified a Bumiputera, but some Prime Minister decreed that they were to be strangely “declassified” in the 1960’s. WHY? How can a “native son of the soil” degenerate into an “un-son”? The new classification is “pendatang” meaning a migrant. Wait a minute, isn’t EVERYONE on the Peninsular a migrant to begin with?

    The Sultan of Kelantan had similar roots to the Pattani Kingdom making him of Thai origin. And what is this “coffee table book” by the Sultan of Perlis claiming to be the direct descendant of the prophet Muhammed? Somehow we see Prof Khoo Khay Khim’s signature name on the book. I’ll pay good money to own a copy of it myself. Anyone has a spare?

    Inpersuing this thread, and having looked at the history of Prophet Muhammed (BTW, real name Ahmad) we couldn’t figure out which descendant line The Sultan of Perlis was. Perhaps it was by the name Syed, which transcended. Then we would ask which of the 13 official wives named in the Holy Koran? or was he a descendant from the other 23 names of the non-wives? Of the 13 were (at least known) 3 Israeli women. Then you would also ask yourself, isn’t Prophet Muhammad an Israeli himself? The answer is clear. All descendants of Moses are Israeli. In fact, the Holy Koran teaches that Moses was the First Muslim. Thus confirming all descendants to be Israeli, including Jesus and Prophet Muhammad. It is also found in Sura 2:58&59 which specifically mentions that the Torah and the Kitab (Bible) are Holy Words of Allah. But since this is not a religious discussion, let’s move on to a more anthropological approach.

    So, how many of you have met with orang Asli’s? the more northern you go, the more African they look. Why are they called Negrito’s? It is a Spanish word, from which directly transalates “mini Negros”. The more southern you go, the more “Indonesian” they look. And the ones who live at Cameron Highlands kinda look 50-50. You can see the Batek at Taman Negara, who really look like Eddie Murphy to a certain degree. Or the Negritos who live at the Thai border near Temenggor Lake (north Perak). The Mah Meri in Carrie Island look almost like the Jakuns in Endau Rompin. Half African, half Indonesian.

    By definition, (this is super eye-opening) there was a Hindu Malay Empire in Kedah. Yes, I said right… The Malays were Hindu. It was, by the old name Langkasuka. Today known as Lembah Bujang. This Hindu Malay Empire was 2,000yrs old. Pre-dating Borrobudor AND Angkor Watt. Who came about around 500-600yrs later. Lembah Bujang was THE mighty trading empire, and its biggest influence was by the Indians who were here to help start it. By definition, this should make the Indians BUMIPUTERAS too since they were here 2,000yrs ago! Why are they marginalized?

    Of the 3 books listed, “Contesting Malayness” (about S$32 for soft cover) is “banned” in Malaysia; you will need to “smuggle” it into Malaysia; for very obvious reasons…. :( or read it in Singapore if you don’t feel like breaking the law.

    The other, “Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago, and the Malay Peninsular” (about RM84) are openly sold at all leading bookshops; Kinokuniya, MPH, Borders, Popular, Times, etc. You should be able to find a fair bit of what I’ve been quoting in this book too, but mind you, it is very heavy reading material, and you will struggle through the initial 200+ pages. It is extremely technical in nature. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t banned (yet)…coz our authorities couldn’t make head or tail of it? (FYI, if I wasn’t doing research for my film, I wouldn’t have read it in its entirety)

    While the “Sejarah Melayu” (about RM 35) is available at the University Malaya bookshop. I have both the English and Royal Malay version published by MBRAS.

    Incidentally, the Professor (Author) was invited to speak on this very subject about 2 yrs ago, in KL, invited by the MBRAS. You can imagine the “chaos” this seminar created…… :(

    There were actually many sources for these findings. Any older Philippino Museum Journal also carries these migration stories. This migration is also on display at the Philippines National Museum in Luzon. However, they end with the Aeta, and only briefly mention that the migration continued to Indonesia and Malaysia, but fully acknowledge that all Philippinos came from Taiwan. And before Taiwan, China. There is another book (part of a series) called the “Archipelago Series” endorsed by Tun Mahatir and Marina Mohammad, which states the very same thing right at the introduction on page one. “… that the Malays migrated out of Southern China some 6,000yrs ago…”. I believe it is called the “Pre-History of Malaysia” Hard Cover, about RM99 found in (mostly) MPH. They also carry “Pre-History of Indonesia” by the same authors for the same price.

    It is most interesting to note that our Museum officials invented brand new unheard-of terms such as “Proto-Malay” and “Deutero-Malay”, to replace the accepted Scientific Term, Australo-Melanesians (African descent) and Austronesians (Chinese Descent, or Mongoloid to be precise) in keeping in line with creating this new “Malay” term.. They also created the new term called the Melayu-Polynesian. (Which Melayu exists in the Polynesian Islands?) Maybe they were just trying to be “Patriotic” and “Nationalistic”… who knows…? After all, we also invented the term, “Malaysian Time”. While the rest of the world calls it “Tardy” and “Late”. It’s quite an embarrassment actually…. Singaporeans crossing the border are asked to set their watches back by about 100yrs, to adjust to “Malaysian Time”…

    In a nutshell, the British Colonial Masters, who, for lack of a better description, needed a “blanket” category for ease of classification, used the term “Malay”.

    The only other logical explanation, which I have heard, was that “Malaya” came as a derivative of “Himalaya”, where at Langkasuka, or Lembah Bujang today was where the Indians were describing the locals as “Malai” which means “Hill People” in Tamil. This made perfect sense as the focal point at that time was at Gunung Jerai, and the entire Peninsular had a “Mountain Range” “Banjaran Titiwangsa”, as we call it.

    The Mandarin and Cantonese accurately maintain the accurate pronunciation of “Malai Ren” and “Malai Yun” respectively till this very day. Where “ren” and “yun” both mean “peoples”.

    Interestingly, “Kadar” and “Kidara”, Hindi and Sanskrit words accurately describe “Kedah” of today. They both mean “fertile Land for Rice cultivation. Again, a name given by the Indians 2,000yrs ago during the “Golden Hindu Era” for a duration of 1,500yrs.

    It was during the “Golden Hindu Era” that the new term which the Hindu Malay leaders also adopted the titles, “Sultan” and “Raja”. The Malay Royalty were Hindu at that time, as all of Southeast Asia was under strong Indian influence, including Borrobudor, and Angkor Watt. Bali today still practices devout Hindu Beliefs. The snake amulet worn by the Sultans of today, The Royal Dias, and even the “Pelamin” for weddings are tell-tale signs of these strong Indian influences. So, it was NOT Parameswara who was the first Sultan in Malaya. Sultanage existed approximately 1,500years before he set foot on the Peninsular during the “Golden Hindu Era” of Malaysia. And they were all Hindu.

    “PreHistory of Malaysia” also talks about the “Lost Kingdom” of the “Chi-Tu” where the local Malay Kingdom were Buddhists. The rest of the “Malays” were Animistic Pagans.

    But you may say, “Sejarah Melayu” calls it “Melayu”? Yes, it does. Read it again; is it trying to describe the 200-odd population hamlet near Palembang by the name “Melayu”?(Google Earth will show this village).

    By that same definition, then, the Achehnese should be considered a “race”. So should the Bugis and the Bataks, to be fair. Orang Acheh, Orang Bugis, Orang Laut, Orang Melayu now mean the same… descriptions of ethnic tribes, at best. And since the “Malays” of today are not all descendants of the “Melayu” kampung in Jambi (if I remember correctly), the term Melayu has been wrongly termed. From day one. Maybe this is why the Johoreans still call themselves either Bugis, or Javanese until today. So do the Achehnese on the West coast of Kedah & Perlis and the Kelantanese insist that they came from Champa, Vietnam.

    Morover, the fact that the first 3 pages claiming that “Melayu” comes from Alexander the Great and the West Indian Princess doesn’t help. More importantly, it was written in 1623. By then, the Indians had been calling the locals “Malai” for 1,500 yrs already. So the name stuck….

    And with the Sejarah Melayu (The Malay Annals in page 1-3) naming the grandson of Iskandar Zulkarnain, and the West Indian Princess forming the Minangkabau. Whenever a Malay is asked about it, he usually says it is “Karut” (bullshit), but all Malayan based historians insist on using Sejarah Melayu as THE main reference book for which “Malay” history is based upon. The only other books are “Misa Melayu”, “Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa”, and “Hikayat Hang Tuah” which is of another long and sometimes “heated” discussion.

    I find this strange.

    I also find, that it is strange that the “Chitti’s” (Indian+Malay) of Malacca are categorized as Bumiputera, while their Baba brothers are not. Why? Both existed during the Parameswara days. Which part of the “Malay” side of the Baba’s is not good enough for Bumiputera classification? Re-instate them. They used to be Bumiputera pre 1960’s anyway.

    Instead of “Malay”, I believe that “Maphilindo” (circa 1963) would have been the closest in accurately trying to describe the Malays. However, going by that definition, it should most accurately be “MaphilindoThaiChinDiaVietWanGreekCamfrica”. And it is because of this; even our University Malaya Anthropology professors cannot look at you in the eye and truthfully say that the word “Malay” technically and accurately defines a race.

    This is most unfortunate.

    So, in a nutshell, the “Malays” (anthropologists will disagree with this “race” definition) are TRULY ASIA !!! For once the Tourism Ministry got it right….

    We should stop calling this country “Tanah Melayu” instead call it, “Tanah Truly Asia”

    You must understand now, why I was “tickled pink” when I found out that the Visit Malaysia slogan for 2007 was “Truly Asia”. They are so correct… (even though they missed out Greece and Africa)

    BTW, the name UMNO should be changed to UTANO the new official acronym for “United Truly Asia National Organization” . After all, they started out as a Bugis club in Johor anyway….

    I told you all that I hate race classifications…. This is so depressing. Even more depressing is that the “malays” are not even a race; not since day one.

    “Truly Asia Boleh”

    Comment by Michael Chick | Tuesday, October 2, 2007 | Reply

    • Inpersuing this thread, and having looked at the history of Prophet Muhammed (BTW, real name Ahmad) we couldn’t figure out which descendant line The Sultan of Perlis was. Perhaps it was by the name Syed, which transcended. Then we would ask which of the 13 official wives named in the Holy Koran? or was he a descendant from the other 23 names of the non-wives? Of the 13 were (at least known) 3 Israeli women. Then you would also ask yourself, isn’t Prophet Muhammad an Israeli himself? The answer is clear. All descendants of Moses are Israeli. In fact, the Holy Koran teaches that Moses was the First Muslim. Thus confirming all descendants to be Israeli, including Jesus and Prophet Muhammad. It is also found in Sura 2:58&59 which specifically mentions that the Torah and the Kitab (Bible) are Holy Words of Allah. But since this is not a religious discussion, let’s move on to a more anthropological approach.
      >>> i think u should read the Holy Koran properly, prophet Muhammad is not an israeli, he is a descendent of prophet Ibrahim, which why the jews hated prophet Muhammad, as the last prophet is not from their can see clearly the tree’s family of prophet Muhammad here>>
      u know, if we did a deeper research…actually we are came from the same ancestor which is Adam and chinese,no malays and no indians….which make us no difference at all.

      Comment by farah | Saturday, March 5, 2011 | Reply

  6. Please stop being racist. I will stereotype you by saying Malay are typically racist as seen in Malaysia.

    Stop being racist.If you’re good, you will succeed. No matter you’re what.

    Comment by racistmalaysian | Friday, April 4, 2008 | Reply

  7. Interesting that you should bring up minority and majority rights but I think the problem is far more deep-rooted. you can go to the Starbucks in Singapore’s neighbouring countries, invariably you will still see the same scenario as what you would in Singapore. The system may have its shortcomings but the blame cannot just fall on it.

    Comment by deviant | Thursday, September 11, 2008 | Reply

  8. Malaysia is a backwards corrupt country.. it lowers its standards for a Race.

    It promotes corruption.

    It promotes underachievers and kicks its achievers out through NEP.

    It protects its own….

    The Racist divide has cased the following attitude:
    Chinese man says:
    “Yes, Give the Malay Race their specual rights… forget about the poor chinese…. Forget about the poor indians.. The Malays deserve their special priviledges… Don’t expect us chinese to help you, if you are unwilling to help us.” – The race game divides

    Malay Government are Nazis treating the wealthy Chinese like Jews… Fuck BN

    Comment by Bumi Ownz U | Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Reply

  9. this country sucks!!

    Comment by No-racism-in-Malaysia | Saturday, December 5, 2009 | Reply

  10. Nice info…and good posting
    Watch Soccer Online Free

    Comment by aqua | Monday, January 11, 2010 | Reply

  11. Michael Chick – I read with interest your long commentary about the legitimacy of the Malay race.

    The only error I can see with everything is that as far as I am concerned for Muslims they believe the first Muslim was Adam.

    Could you show me where in the Qu’ran does it say Moses was the first Muslim?

    Comment by Faye | Wednesday, January 13, 2010 | Reply

    • yes u right..he was wrong about the moses is the first muslims….and we muslim also believe that Adam is the first human created..and we are his descendent….which mean we came from the same ancestors…so the word malay,chinese,indians,arabians..or so on shouldnt exist at all…rite????

      Comment by farah | Saturday, March 5, 2011 | Reply

  12. “Malaysia truly racist”.

    Comment by Barry Obama | Tuesday, April 13, 2010 | Reply

  13. Malay racist, malay lazy and bla bla bla. If that is opinion from majority of u, so be it. But remember bro. Every time u point ur finger to others, there is 3 more finger point back at u. Hope that finger is not the ” middle finger”

    Comment by mr N | Sunday, November 21, 2010 | Reply

  14. Malaysia is Not racist.

    It’s an example of natural selection albeit with a helping hand from the government.

    Through quotas and certain rights, only the very best non-bumis will succeed, therefore strengthening the genetic pool.

    It is time we clear the air.

    Comment by second child | Friday, February 25, 2011 | Reply

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