Policies that provide special rights and privileges to a particular race and divide citizens of a country along racial lines are not unique to Malaysia. Such policies exist in some other parts of the world, often to address injustices through affirmative action.
However, in Malaysia, these policies have been hijacked and have dangerously seeped deep into the psyche of the various ethnic groups, but particularly the Malays, including the urban and educated Malays. Apparently, they too, despite their wealth and privileges, believe they are entitled to scholarships and discounts on home purchase.
The product of the entitlement attitude and racially-skewed policies is the rent-seeking economy which pervades the country.
Rampant corruption in all aspects of public life is another result of these policies.
In this regard, the prime minister’s keenness to introduce the national unity agenda is a welcome step forward. But we would be naïve to think it is a magic-wand solution capable of rectifying years of normalising racism.
The current crop of leaders the country is turning to for answers are ageing politicians steeped in racial politics. We need a new generation of political leaders, from all races, to make the rejection of racism their primary platform and thereby help Malaysia enter the 21st century. If not, we will continue to wallow and stagnate in the 20th century backwater.
If you want unity, reject racism. If you want the economy to flourish, reject racism. If you want to fight rent-seeking corruption, reject racism. If you want to build a modern education system, reject racism. If you want a strong and competent civil service, reject racism. If you want the poor and struggling Malays and non-Malays to improve their standard of living, reject racism.
If you understand that every citizen has equal rights – and they do despite what some may say – then do not discriminate citizens by race.