Friday, February 04, 2011

Race; Racism

I was chatting with an 'ang moh' friend in a recent company's CNY dinner gathering and somehow somewhere along the line, we talked about the race issue. It was largely boring or disinterest to many of my colleagues at the table, judging from their nonchalant expressions and I found myself (a lone figure, perhaps for speaking too much) defending my position when this friend asked whether policies in Singapore, as a Chinese majority favour the Chinese over other minority races.

For ease of argument, rather to score point for me, I have to cite Malaysia or aptly so, Dr Mahathir to put forth my case. Almost immediately, I was asked by this learned 'ang moh' friend who, by the way speaks fluent bahasa Melayu/Indon to define racism when I said many of Dr M's policies during his tenureship as PM of Malaysia were (still are) race based and he, Dr M is a racist, period. Without giving much thought (I should have) and off I shot and I said, something to that extent, "Racism is favouring the majority race thus subjecting the minority races to many disadvantages." I tried to be diplomatic in my delivery, I swear I did. One typical example in Malaysia is the bumi policies which simply put me off. I would have gone on further but feared boring the rest of the diners at the table. I would like to raise the bar further with this; how would a Chinese or Indian student in Malaysia who scores more As than a Malay student in exam be denied govt scholarship which normally will go to the latter due to the quota scheme? We have read too much of such unfairness in Malaysia, year in & year out and yet, nothing much is done over the years despite promises by the embattled government.

If Singapore favours the Chinese race more by virtue of its sheer population size and in bid 'to cement the position of the Chinese', we will go downhill fast. As a Chinese race here, I have never felt a tinge of favourism lavished by our government to help only the Chinese to grow, to prosper at the expense of the minority. I could not pursue to study in Uni as my academic result sucks to the core. By my own merit, I failed and I accepted it wholeheartedly. I tried to be my own boss some years ago and I failed even more miserably. I did not have any handout or enjoy any adverse advantage from my government to save my business then. Because I am a Chinese and rightly so, my government should help me. Right, wrong??? Alas, there is no such policy like the bumi-policy in Malaysia that I could tap on, none at all. Do I blame my government for the lack of such policy, which otherwise could possibly have saved me from the brink of collapse? This is a meritocracy society and if one who has it to go far in study, at workplace, in business, it is because that individual has worked harder than his peer and also the X factor plays a vital role too. Luck is another though. I blame no one, certainly not my government. This only inspires me to work harder the next time when another opportunity arises. To survive on handouts from government only makes me lazier and not wanting to continue to try, knowing too well, I will be taken care of but on nation coffer, that is.

This is not a political message advocated by me and it is never my intention to praise the ruling party of the day. I am a Singaporean, this is an accident nation which should not be there in the first place and was not expected to survive on own for long but we did. Ours is a multi-racial society and if this nation largely favours one race, Singapore will be gone for good. Therefore, I want to categorically say I am a Singaporean first, then come my Chinese race.

I hope my ang moh friend is reading this passage of mine and I look forward to his comments (for or not).

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