Friday, October 30, 2009

Race and Priveleges

Any mixed blood person in Sarawak should read today's Borneo Post! Pg 4 - 1. there is no mention of Iban in the definition of Bumiputera in Sarawak only Land & Sea Dayak, a term not used; 2. a YB suggest we use the law of domicility i.e definition of a child's race based on father, as per state constitution; 3. SDNU suggest using meritocracy and does not wish to change constitution and 4. A YB says the Marina decision should be reversed.
Why, just because her father is Iban?
If her father was Chinese and mother was Iban, this would not be an issue. No one would be bothered (maybe SUPP...LOL). They would be left to fend for themselves.
And you tell me race is not an issue in Malaysia? Especially when race is tied in with privileges?
The body representing Ibans (SDNU) does not wish to pursue changes in the constitution. I wonder why. The reason given in the paper is rather flimsy.
The use of meritocracy had been stated and discussed for years, the actual application is still doubtful.
The state’s constitution uses the law of domicility i.e definition of a child's race based on father. Thus people like me suffer. Or should I say my children and future generations will suffer. And the government wonders why people migrate!
Being of mixed blood and of the kind that gets no privileges; these discussions are extremely salient to me. Especially when 1Malaysia is brought up. For me, people like me are the living embodiment of 1Malaysia. We are beyond race. We are Malaysia. We are the offspring’s of people that looked beyond race, creed and color and married. Love was stronger than any man-made definition of self.
One way of closing the ranks between races is marriage. This has been used by conquerors and political leaders alike. It depends on your point of view, but for me, why blame the children for the acts of the fathers and leaders of the time. I was told by my Pakistani PhD student that there are a group of people that are tall, strong, and fair in the north of Pakistan, who are said to be the offspring’s of Iskandar Zulkarnain and his army. They are seen in a negative light as the came about by rape and plunder. My question is why should we care of their forefathers act?
In Malaysia, I find it rare to see mixed marriages. The non-Muslims.. I do see some, between Indians and Chinese and other races. I find it interesting that when an Iban marries a Malay, he/she become Malay. We all know of the constitution, so I shall not belabor that point. A few years ago, it was a joke among my friends as to whether they were Melanau or Malay. Their answer, depends on who is asking, what form is being filled, and for what purpose.
When there is a price to pay for mixed marriages, and that price continues on the head of our children and future generations, many will strongly consider any love interest among other races. One of the indicators of ethnic identification is the non-willingness to marry outside the group (ethnography). What will happen… the group remains isolated and doesn’t interact. Grier and Brumbaugh wrote on cultural schema and noted that the dominant group is only aware of its own cultural schema. The non-dominant groups are aware of theirs as well as the dominant groups views. Nevertheless, the rules of engagement are set by the dominant group and in many cases their own understanding of the other groups are normally either wrong or biased. Now tie in privileges and you get a whole can of worms, a mess.
Nevertheless I do understand the need to care and provide for the weaker sections of our society. The question is .. can this be done without race being an issue? Can it be done without bias and favor? Can it be a step up instead of just a hand out?
The joke is.. this discussion / issue comes in a time when scientist tells us that we are all the same. Our DNA doesn’t preclude us to race. We are all of the human race.


I have had friends comment that this system of race and privileges mirrors apartheid in Africa or the case against African Americans in America. You are white, you get to ride on the bus in front or get a separate toilet. I am not of that belief. Why..
1. I understand the need to help the Bumiputera. The whole policy is meant to help the poor and unfortunate and it so happens that the majority were (maybe still are) the Bumiputera. The policy must be seen as that, as helping the poor and unfortunate, not a race issue.
2. There are those that slip through the cracks. Somehow or rather I got to enter a school where 99% were Bumiputera. I dont know how. I got a job with the government and this allowed me to further my studies. For that I am thankful.
3. The situation in Sarawak, still requires help for the Bumiputera.
4. The non-Bumiputera, who may gripe and complain (which to me is acceptable), are in the majority able to sustain theirs and their childrens economy and life. Nevertheless, we must take care of their poor and needy too.
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