Merriam-Webster dictionary defines racism…
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines racism as such
1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination
In the Malaysian context, the first definition may also be modified to the following
1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent inferiority of a particular race
This definition gives rise to the racial prejudice and discrimination that we see almost everywhere, in government policies, in the private sector and even in the supposedly egalitarian alternative media.
Let us now look at the speech delivered by YB Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on the 20th of May 2004 in the debate on the Motion of Thanks for the Royal Address, as the Parliamentary Opposition Leader.
The Honourable MP for Ipoh Timor calls for the formation of 10 Select Committees as a start towards making the Malaysian Parliament a ‘First-World Parliament’. You may read the transcript here, http://www.dapmalaysia.org/all-archive/English/2004/may04/lks/lks3034.htm
The tenth Select Committee was to focus on the ‘Marginalisation of the Indian Community as the underclass’
The Honourable MP says,
“During the 2004 general election, the “Group of Concerned Citizens” in its paper “Election 2004: New Politics for Indian Malaysians” had summarized nine long-standing fundamental issues faced by Indian Malaysians:
The number of Indian youth dying in police custody has increased;
The socio-economic inequality between the Indian poor and rich and between other communities has worsened;
The State has not responded effectively in addressing social ills in the community;
The State policies towards and financial allocation for Tamil schools remains pitiful;
The University intake policy has been a source of major distress for the community;
The State has not stepped in to help resolve the MAIKA scandal;
The Kampung Medan racially-motivated killings have not been brought to a closure. No public inquiry was instituted.
Low cost housing needs of the Indian poor have not been adequately addressed;
The negative consequences of the final breakdown of the plantation economy on the Indian rural poor have still not be regulated. Aggressive displacement of Indian Malaysians is a serious problem.
These nine fundamental issues afflicting the Indian community, marginalizing them into the new underclass in Malaysia, should be the terms of reference of a Select Committee on the marginalization of the Indian community in the country.”
A few questions rise in the mind upon reading the above.
First, is YB Lim Kit Siang a racist for raising Indian Malaysian issues in Parliament? If the answer is ‘no’, can we label anyone else as a racist for raising the same issues today, regardless of the name of the person who speaks out?
Why has the Pakatan Government, upon coming to power in several states, not addressed the same issues that was raised by one of its current leaders in the Parliament 5 years ago? A lack of political will, or a lack of moral will?
The third prime duty of the government to its people has been defined as to ensure that every family unit of the nation has space in the nation’s territory for a home and a means of livelihood.
When citizens are given different treatments when it comes to means of livelihood, education, right to identity and wage protection; and space for a home, based on race, then we have to accept the fact that we are a racist country and people.
There is a difference between lip service and service to the Rakyat. A difference that is yet to be learned by both the governments of the day. This is compounded by the inability of the supporters from both sides of the divide to discern the primacy of egalitarian service over egalitarian slogans.
We are racists as far as the Merriam-Webster definition goes, and that will not change with the mere adoption of slogans.