Between Passion and Objectivity in Social Discourses in Malaysia

And so today, I was reading Malaysiakini news; there are some news about Hindraf – the first is Uthayakumar files RM100 mil suit over terrorism links and the second article: I’m not giving up Hindraf struggle .

Undeniably the prime movers of Hindraf have a lot passion for their struggle. Yes, passion is good, and it is necessary to get the struggle going in the face of numerous obstacles.

However, in certain instances, passion can be counter-productive.

In this regard, I am referring to the social cleavage that I see is increasing in Malaysia.

To illustrate this phenomenon further, I will use two examples. The first is a set of two letters from Malaysiakini. The second is taken from one commentor from this blog:

So here are the letters from Malaysiakini:

The first letter is by Ganesan Doraisami ( http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/76440)

Request to Indian journalists in India

Ganesan Doraisami | Dec 27, 07 7:40pm

It looks like you are invited to visit Malaysia by the Malaysian government. When you come, don’t merely compare Indians living in Malaysia to Indians living in India. It is not a fair comparison. Please ask good questions. Remember to compare two Malaysian citizens – the Indian Malaysians and the bumiputera – in terms of economic opportunities, educational opportunities and property ownership. Don’t just come to dine well, listen to a few high profile Malaysian Barisan Nasional politicians and visit the few pre-arranged sites.  Please talk to the Indian Malaysians who can tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Please talk to the Indian Malaysian who cleans the toilet in the prime minister’s office and the factory worker who is unable to buy a house. Please talk to the young Malaysian Indian who is unable to further their studies abroad because no scholarship is available or speak to the students who cannot enter government-run universities even though he has better results than the bumiputera.  Please talk to the Indian Malaysian women about their struggles. Talk to those who have been in civil service for many years but are denied promotions that are reserved for bumiputera. Please talk to the Indian Malaysian who has to pay more than a bumiputera for the same house. Please speak to Indian Malaysians who have actually been marginalised by the Malaysian government. Ask how many Indian Malaysians are sponsored by the government to go abroad for their studies. Ask how many Indian Malaysians are given land to prosper under any of Malaysia‘s five year plans. Ask how many loans for Indian Malaysian young entrepreneurs have been approved.  Don’t fall into any traps. Don’t get too mesmerised by the long bridges, tall buildings, clean streets and wonderful reception. Please ask all the questions above of the Indian Malaysian community and compare them to the bumiputera. Please be fair. After all, both are citizens of Malaysia. Please investigate the Indian Malaysian economic status trends of the past 50 years. You will know who is telling the truth.

The second letter is by MBP ( http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/76634 )

Indian journalists may want to work here

MBP | Jan 3, 08 4:18pm

The letter Request to Indian journalists in India is so biased. All the things he asked Indian journalists to do if they are in Malaysia are aimed at getting a one-sided view of the unnecessary and fatigued issue. To be fair to the inquisitive minds and intellect of Indian journalists, we also have to ask them to speak to Indian Malaysians who may be offspring of Indian immigrants and other indentured labourers such as Ananda Krishnan, VK Lingam, Vinod Sekhar, S Samy Vellu, MIC leaders, Nicol David (since her father is Indian), Mydin of Mydin stores, Habib of Habib Jewels, Indian police officials and other senior government officials, NGO personnel, top lawyers, sportsmen such as M Jegathesan, university professors and businessmen, especially those who have been given honorific titles. They must ask how many Indian Malaysians wish to return to India where they apparently won’t be discriminated against. They need to ask how many young Indians in India are willing to leave their country to come to Malaysia to work as indentured laborers in the estates as well as how much these people are willing to fork out for their passage and other expenses.  Why not ask Malays operating food stalls at the ‘pasar malam’ stalls if they are happy with themselves and if they, too, are willing to work in India or elsewhere? Ask those from Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Vietnam or China who are working in Malaysia – legally and illegally – why they willingly came to this country despite the hardships they have to face here. I have been to India three times and have visited most of their major cities. I can say that not many Indian Malaysians are willing to be repatriated back to India. Lastly, don’t forget to ask journalists from India if they are interested to work in Malaysia either as journalists or clerks where they will paid more than what they are currently earning in India.

Perhaps readers may want to read them both carefully and they can make up their own minds. Personally, I would like to agree with MBP, especially in the last paragraph bolded part. I too have been to India several time ( But please…don’t ask me where; if I were to disclose the locations, then I may jeopardise my anonymity – as, in all occassions, I was travelling with my relatives ). I saw with my own eyes the disparity between the rich and the poor in India.

Some people would say the truth is difficult to accept. Unfortunately I think that the truth itself is difficult to obtain. This is especially true for the debate surrounding the New Economic Policy.

See this comment from a cyber identity who calls him or herself: AmIFirstOrSecondClassMalaysian:

This is a reaction to what the current government is doing to non-Malays. You say you want Islam to the be the “core culture”. There are already so many grand mosques (paid even with non-Muslims tax money) – yet temples and churches are destroyed!! How do you think the non-Muslims feel? Of course they become very, very, very, very, very angry. How does one impinge on Islam? In fact it is the other way around – any parent can convert a child to Islam, and he can’t change it FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE? If Islam is good, then he will choose Islam of his own free will, why use the man-made Courts to force him? And how the hell do you think they fell when they have to pay 5-15% more for housing? That’s RM5,000 to RM15,000 on a small RM100,000 apartment!!  How they hell do you think they feel when they can’t even get into the local universities that are partly funded by THEIR tax money? And Malays with lousier grades than them breeze in easily? Or Malays get RM1 million each to go for PhDs that they can’t even qualify for? Or Petronas scholarships only for Malays? Or MARA scholarships only for Malays? HOW THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT NON-MALAYS TO NOT GET PISSED AS HELL? And to have a keris waved in your face, and then saying that they will de-sensitize you to it? FUCK THAT. 

Comment by AmIFirstOrSecondClassMalaysian — January 2, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

I wonder how I should respond to that….. I mean to the bolded phrase….

Anyway, this letter is one example illustrating that too much passion can cloud our minds. Too much passion can make us too emotional and therefore less objective.

Advertisements

About this entry