Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Roots of Prejudices

There were outcries from not only the Chinese community but also people who have moved beyond race and religion to condemn a minister who asked his community to boycott Chinese businesses. He says Chinese businessmen are behind the high prices of goods and services that we are seeing in Malaysia today. Of course, we know this is a load of rubbish; but politicians are politicians, they simply have to be more radical than others to crane their heads higher just to stay ahead of the peck, when Chinese bashing is now the fashion of the day. He has refused to apologise, except to say that he has been quoted out of context.

He is not alone, there are so many out there who have spoken, or are prepared to say, the same. Strange enough, though, is that the leader of the women's wing in MIC also decided to chip in to defend the minister.


I read somewhere earlier in an article written by a fellow Malaysian of Indian origin; he argues that everyone of us, whether we are conscious or not, is a racist. The examples that he has come up with to illustrate his contention are quite true. Every race has its behavioural patterns for one to generalise or stereo-type. But it doesn't mean one has to beat the hell out of the person who highlights them. Every culture has its strength and weaknesses. We pick them up during our formative years. But as we grow and mix with others, we discard our bad ones and absorb the good ones - if we are open-minded. Before I had the opportunity of going and staying overseas, I was oblivious to much of the etiquette that is expected of civil societies - on roads, in dining, and on public and personal hygiene. Basically many of these are behaviours or lack of courtesies that many of us condemn or laugh at about mainland Chinese today. But what is important is you learn and move on. If you don't, these stay on and became prejudices of others.


I repeat, this minister is not an exception; there are so many of these stereotype singers in our part of the world. One man who has retired from the highest office in the judiciary is now particularly vocal about his anti-Chinese rhetoric. Only people of his religious belief are not capable of lying, so he once wrote in his judgement. I am pretty sure his anti-Chineseness was anchored on something he had personally experienced during his formative years. Ditto that women's wing leader of MIC.


I was once introduced to Anwar Ibrahim's sister, who still couldn't get over a humiliation she suffered when young. Apparently, the village fishmonger had the arrogance and stupidity to tell her mom that certain fish he was selling were too expensive for the Malay community's pockets. So don't bother to look or ask! This scar remains for life in her! I believe this top judge and the MIC women's wing leader must have suffered wounds when they were young. Maybe they were academically weak or financially poor when they were young, which made them vulnerable to ridicules by some thoughtless Chinese.


Dr M apparently was also snubbed by a taxi driver when he was studying for his medical degree in Singapore. This is said to be the reason behind his life-long unhappiness with Singapore and Chinese. But he moved on. He knows how to manage Chinese - not by vilifying them, but by making the best use of their strengths and weaknesses.


My wife and I make it a point to go out to see the world as often as we can. There is so much one can learn from these visits, even from the most backward places and their people. I see that most of my fellow tour group members are still Chinese; few are are from the other communities. If you don't read or travel to see, you don't know what you have missed. And prejudices and old habits die hard!

Demanding apologies from bigots is not the solution. Exemplariness is. Leave the bigots alone; they will know the price of their folly in no time.

1 comment:

  1. Candid opinion on the need for a common sense approach. Great blog. Zubair