The author started with the brief introduction background of race relations in Malaya prior to independence. As we all know there a few races here in Malaya. It is known that the harmonies between these races are never existed. Racial harmony in Malaya was therefore neither real nor deep-rooted. Malay with their own races, same goes to Chinese and Indian. The harmony between this races changed depends on which foreign power rule Malaya, whether it is British, Europe or Japanese. But under Japanese rule, the harmony between Chinese and Malay are in worst condition. The only time that the harmony exists for a little while is when seeking for Malayan Independence. The Sino-Malay was committed to the promises and agreements which had been reached prior to achievement of independence specifically to minimize racial antagonism.
This is what went wrong. The government misassumption with the harmony between the Sino-Malay prior to independence day and the thoughts that the Chinese only interested in wealth and business while Malays are only interested in being government servant. The Malay become more and more insecure when the governments are most likely to favor the Chinese and the government failed to correct the real imbalance in the wealth and progress of the races.
The other reasons that lead to the misunderstanding between Sino-Malay are that the government never took the public critics into serious meeting or discussion. The only discussion that they have is only to show to public that the formality, nothing actually happen during the meeting and the old problem stays the same without solution. But when it comes to party election, the Ministers will busy handling check. This is the only time they showed to public that they actually cared, and just because to get their votes. This is what happens before the 13 May 1969 where the war was started because of race issues. The government failed to communicate with public in order to make that relationship between these races harmony.
Furthermore, the author in other hand are discussing about heredity. There are few people that curious about the races inheritance. Is it true that the trait has been passed from grandparents to their grandchildren? What kind of trait that been passed? Either it is dominant or it is recessive.
Let’s us look from the scientist that studied the existence of heredity factors and their transmission through genes, Gregor Johann Mendel. The Mendel’s Law states that the children are not from the product of both parents. There will be one dominant trait that will be inherited by children either from the mother of the father, depending on whom has the dominant traits. The experiment has been done in breeding white and brown mice. The results from the experiment proved that it will produce more white mice, not the white spotted brown mice. But the result is different if they inbreed the produced white mice together; it will produce both white and brown mice with ratio four to 1. What can we conclude from this results is that the heredity is passed naturally from the ancestor.
That’s all about the heredity that affects the race development. Here is another factor that affects the development of the race and its evolution. Taken from anonymous, ‘we tend to act depending on where we lives’. The environment plays a very important role in people’s life. If the person is being brought up in Muslim community, they will automatically live their live according to the law that is being set prior to the place. Most Malays traditionally were a farmer. They live in a small village whereas the rajas and the high rank Malay are somewhere in a city. While the Chinese and Indian also lives in different geography. Most Chinese works as a miner in a gold mining while the Indian are famous with their role as a servant to the estate owner.
That’s the early environment that has been reform since before independence. The group of races develops within their own environment and it become bigger and modern day by day. As the time flies, the people learned how to socialize with others and this relationship evolved more with mixed marriage.
The author also describes the economic history of the Malays during the different periods of Malayan history which leads to the present-day conditions. The author highlights the situation where by the Chinese monopolies the economy in Malaysia as if they are inevitable.
In the history of the Malay sultanates of Kedah, Kelantan and Malacca, lots of foreign merchants like the Indians and the Arabs came to Malaya except the Chinese to do import and export business using barter system. They introduce money as sophisticated business and soon after that, the Chinese started to come into Malaya. The Chinese merchants knows well in ingratiated them with all levels of authority in the states which later gives advantages to them in doing business freely in Malaya.
During the arrival of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, the Chinese had lots of advantages as they know the local language and know all the locals networking. These European traders are willing to do anything including conquering the state in order to maximize their profits and that is when the Chinese came in handy. From this partnership, the Chinese population in Malaya increased due to migration of skilled workers and unskilled coolies and under the British protection, their business becomes very profitable.
Thousands of Malays in the urban areas had lost their jobs with the Government when the Japanese retrenched Government staffs and these people mostly get involved in hawking and peddling to survive. At this time, some of the Malays realized of the dilemma their having but sadly there was no determination to be put on it. When the war has ended, the Chinese business was disrupted but they manage to back on their business by starting black-market deals and had contracts with the British Military Administration.
In the early years after the war, the Malays had difficulties in adapting with the bribery and manipulation in the business fields. The gap with the non-Malays is obvious therefore the British let the Malays administer their own fund and have five million dollars to them under Rural and Industrial Development Authority (RIDA). The money which can be used to help the Malay businessmen was given to the poor instead. Although, RIDA failed the objective, it has open up the Malays eyes towards the economy activities in the country.
In 1957, Malaya gained independence and one of the results is the appointment of Malays as directors in large non-Malay companies. Even though the Government receives a lot of critics on this policy, in the end it proves that the Malays can actually work in these firms. Then the Government introduced the policy of favoring Malays with license for business and this had caused “Ali-Baba” business set-up where by the Malays only accepting the royalties from their established non-Malays companies. Since some of them did not even keep up with the company growth, the future of the Malay participation in commercial life would be bleak.
The author stressed that the Malays themselves have to take partially blame of the dilemma. Instead of stop doing business when the Chinese brings in new technology or new materials, the Malays should have learned to adept to these new things. From the drastic change in the Malays view on politics, there can be a drastic change in other fields as well. The Malays should change for better.
Racial equality is needed for achieving racial harmony. Racial disparity is not characteristic of Malaysia alone. An example is racial problem in the United States of America. All citizens in United States of America are equal before the law only that there are a few states where even the law is discriminatory, but the Federal Constitution accords the Negroes and Red Indians equal status with every other American citizen. The racial inequality in United States of America is not resulting from discriminatory law but from social and economic ostracism. Whites will not stay in blacks vacated building so poor blacks move in and that is how the hood becomes ghetto. It is cheaper to employ whites in the long run since their work output is greater and their standards are higher. Red Indian has not reacted as violently as the Negroes because their numbers are small and they are scattered. Legal status is not enough. To be equal is to be accepted into every aspect of society.
The racial inequality in United States is very relevant to Malaysia but not as great. The Malays are the same category as the Red Indian. The most significant law is concerned with Malay Land Reserve because although the Malays called Malaya Tanah Melayu, there is actually no real land belonging to them. The most unfair excision of Malay Reserve land was that involving tin-bearing in Perak. Valuable Malay Reserve lands were exchanged for worthless jungle of no use. The unfortunate position of the Malays, which prompted the laws, has not been completely corrected. Another ‘legal’ inequality concerned with education. Educationally, the Malays are far behind the other communities. The reason for this poor showing of Malay students is their chronic poverty and rural background. One way the Government is helping education is by granting scholarships. The best schools are in towns whose population are almost exclusively non-Malay. Urban child definitely has greater chance of going there than a rural child.
Every year the examination results show acute disparity between races. For years to come the average higher educational qualifications of the Malays are going to lag behind other races. The usual competition between applicants for entry into the universities is going to work to the disadvantage of the Malays. The bigger the difference between available places and number of applicants, the smaller is the chance for the Malays. This leads to lesser chances of urbanizing. The less urban the Malays are, the greater the inequality between the races. Employment opportunities for the Malays are limited because of the discrimination in commercial and business circles controlled by non-Malays. In Government there is no such discrimination. But poor education of the Malays has not been taken into account within this non-discriminatory exercise.
In Malaysia, the fact that every community feels that it is being discriminated against is proof that racial equality is not very well understood. For the non-Malays their discontent and resentment is the presence of laws and policies that seems to favor the Malays. Their idea is that they are the second class citizens. Repealing this so-called discriminatory laws will not only fail to create racial equality but will widen the gap between races. Races are also distinguished by character. Inherent racial character explains the rapid recovery of Germany and Japan after they are defeated in World War 2 and development of South America lags behind compared to North America although both have equal rich resources. Racial character and behavior cannot be changed rapidly by man-made law. Still the change is possible. It takes times to adjust to and also incentive plus a favorable atmosphere.
The basis of the Malay claim to discrimination is not man-made laws but inherent human behavior of the major racial groups in Malaysia. The Malays are naturally spiritually inclined, tolerant and easy-going while the non-Malays especially the Chinese are materialistic, aggressive and have appetite for work. To reach balance or equality these strikingly races need to adjust to each other. When the meaning of racial equality is understood that is the time when understanding and goodwill come to make it work.
The author started his point referring to national unity in United States of America. This country has a good example of nation-building. They prove that the king is not important in uniting people. After a few years after independence, the settlers of Anglo-Saxon began admitting immigrants from Russians to Chinese. These colonies has filled up with immigrants and one way to create harmony and unity was to following the US rule which state that if they want to live in those colonies and want to be nationals, they had to learn English as the national language and has to accept the fact that the language will be used in everyday life. After a few decades, the immigrants automatically will leave their own language and accept English as their daily spoken language but the culture is not forgotten at all. The new culture is practiced because the culture was allowed to develop freely.
By the end of the chapter the author point out that Malaysia can achieve unity if the agreements are provided and all of the people are agreed to the chosen language, the culture, and the religions. Malaysian in order to be one nation, all of them should follow the laws, not avoiding it and just say yes but then forget it. Discrimination should be eliminated and inter-racial marriage should be encouraged to be one united nation.
The Malay dilemma is defined in this chapter, it is stated that it is not merely economic but political as well. Today everyone talks of the relationship between racial friction and the unequal development of the different races in Malaysia. At one time it was thought that the best way to treat this disparity was to ignore it. Some even believed that there was no dilemma because the Malays had no wish to be anything but their modest selves. For the Malay dilemma is also a Malaysian dilemma. The Malaysian nation cannot expect to thrive and prosper with this cancer eating away at its heart. The Malays form a substantial portion of the population and anything affecting them must affect the nation. It is therefore imperative that a determined attempt be made to solve this dilemma.
The first need is revolution. Revolution is a word which is unduly feared in Malaysia. Revolution creates visions of assassinations and anarchy. But revolutions can be creative and orderly if the mechanics are understood by those best able to carry them through. The alternative is evolution. Evolution cannot be properly controlled in speed or in objective. It depends far too much on circumstances and a multitude of factors difficult to detect and therefore difficult to utilize and control. If revolution is to be a carefully to the Malay problem in Malaysia, it must be a carefully planned revolution; it must be enlightened and it must avoid the pitfalls and mistakes of other revolutions. This is where an analysis of the Malay character, culture and abilities is useful. For a revolution to succeed in Malaysia, it is essential that we recognize what can be done away with and what remain and even be propagated. The object is the betterment of the Malays and not the destruction of others. Malays can be made to take their proper place in Malaysian society without having to displace others.
The first thing that comes to mind is that the vast majority of Malays is feudalist and wishes to remain so. A revolution which starts off by preaching the destruction of the established monarchical order will therefore fail. It will not win the support of the majority of orthodox Malays. In any case, the monarchy has done no real harm to the Malays or to anyone else. The maintenance of the system is no doubt costly, but being separated from power, the rulers cannot constitute a tyranny. Beside a Malaya without rulers would mean the complete eclipse of the Malays. It is the rulers who have in the past furnished, and continue to present the Malay character of Malaya. Remove them, and the last vestige of traditional Malaya would disappear. This is why the Malays have remained feudalist despite their new education and political sophistication.
Urbanization, acquisition of new skills and the acceptance by the Malays of new values which are still compatible with their religion and their basically feudal outlook would constitute revolution. Admittedly there is nothing new in these suggestions. All these things are indeed happening. But so far, the pace is a process of gentle evolution involving neither concerted action nor ruthlessness in implementation. The whole process must be planned and executed with speed and thoroughness to produce complete and radical changes in the Malays. If the revolution is brought about they would be rehabilitated and their dilemma would be over. The nation would be able to progress without the burden of a Malay problem.
The author elaborates on his view on problems faced by Malays in Malaya in those days during the ruling of British, Japan and with the influence of Thai Government at a point. Since the Malays are exceptionally known by their personality of polite and considerate of others, it is difficult for them to accept the Chinese and Indian as part of Malaya citizen as they did not value these traits they practice. Malays are considered owners of Malaya based on a few proves taken during the administration of British whereby they recognize the Sultan as the leader of each state in Malaya and when any decisions regarding Malaya is being made, The Malays have the Veto Power in deciding as compared to decisions by Chinese and Indians.
Looking in global scope on how nationality of immigrants is being fix on, the Australians administration which are off British breed decided to equalized personality and culture of its immigrants to be an international Australian personality. So as in The United States, immigrants who wish to be an American citizen is required to take an English test and is expected to practice the common culture of Americans. The similarity between these two countries is that immigrants are not trying to fight for their culture to be part of the country’s culture while they are still free to practice it.
The situation of nationalization on immigrants is different in Malaya; as The Chinese and Indians fight for equality in nationality status with the Malays as they claim that they have been here long enough and have contribute to the prosperity of this land. The author expressed his thoughts on why general equality in nationality is not possible and why any decision on immigrant’s nationality must be based on The Malays agreement by stating that Malays are purely citizen of Malaya and it has been proved by certification by the Japanese Emperor, Chinese Emperor, Thai Emperor, and Vietnamese Emperor.
Language and nationality have been a big issue for Malays and immigrants during those days. It symbolizes unity and common traits citizens of a nation shared. As Chinese and Indians are free to practice their language and education system, it is not fair to say or give them equal nationality as what the Malays get. National identity in diverse culture is hard to measure but nevertheless, Malays still have the sole power to determine it all. Nationality in Malaya is never claimed as the immigrants’ rights, and usually can be identified after a few generations of immigrants have resided at a foreign place.
The author insisted that an understanding of the value systems and ethical codes of the Malays is a prerequisite for the planning of their future. He believed that there are several factors contributed to the value systems of the Malays, he explains that “Islam is the greatest single influence on the Malay value concepts and ethical codes. But it is important to remember that it is not so much the religion, but the interpretation of the doctrines of Islam which has the most significant effect”. The author continued to say that “contact with the non-Malay world has also influenced the value system of the Malays. This contact may be divided into two; that is, with the non-Malay Muslim world of which the most significant is contact with the Arab world both at home and abroad; and contact with the non Muslim people, the Europeans, the Chinese and others”.
Subsequently, the author has discussed a few moral concepts such as good, pleasure, formality, temperance, courage and ritual from the Malays point of view. He elaborates that “the Malay community regards life as transient and is a time when one prepares for the hereafter. Worldly life is therefore dedicated not to pleasure or merriment but to serious religious thought and obedience to the injunctions of religion. To be too preoccupied with worldly things, such as accumulation of wealth, is bad”. With regard to time, the author summarizes that “Life is related to time. To live is to exist for a period of time. Life and time are therefore inseparable. If life is valued, time must be valued. Unfortunately this relationship between life and time does not seem to be appreciated by the Malays. Life is valuable but time is not”.
Then, the author has conclude the code of ethics and value systems of the Malay by saying “Malays do not understand the potential capacity of money special of those who reside in rural areas, even among the urban Malays personal finance is not widely exercised and therefore concepts like money saving is hardly applied and that is what makes the Malays poor businessmen”.
Communal politics and parties are those politics and parties that follow certain group/community or race interest. The author pointed that communalism has long existed, and despite claims to the contrary, there are no truly non-communal political parties in Malaysia. All political parties are communal in their politics, he continued. The only difference between the parties is their approach to the racial problem. He then explained the two schools of thought on this issue.
The first group believes in openly accepting racial differences and finding ways and means to minimize these differences in order to achieve an equitable society. The other group believes in ignoring the fact of racial differences, and in an atmosphere of instant equality between citizens, they pursue their politics which, in analysis show to be extremely communal.
The author noted that those who say “forget race” are either naïve or knaves. He continued on to say that an equitable society would promote racial integration. And of course if the races are integrated, not only would racial politics be anachronistic but racial political parties would fail to find enough support to survive. Equality has to be established first for race loyalties to disappear and integration to take place.
Finally the author decided to compare Malaysia and Singapore interests, indicating that both countries need each other. He explained how the countries differs and how they similar with common interest by explaining the factors that affect relationship between sovereign nations and that include; geography, history, ideology, ethnic origin, and language.
After explaining these factors the author said “Malaysia and Singapore can therefore be close friends, partners in trade and possibly allies in peace and war.” He closed the chapter by explaining that whether friendly relations without trade dependence will be to Singapore’s liking is another question. But it is quite clear that what happens between Malaysia and Singapore depends very much on what Singapore chooses to do.
AUTHOR’S OPINIONS REVIEW
The author was the fourth Prime Minister and the most important person for Malaysia’s rapid modernization. The contents in this book are his interpretation of the Malay’s point of view. The reason why he wrote this book is that he want to explain the causes for the 13 May riots in Kuala Lumpur, to explain why the Malays are economically backwards and many other issues about Malays.
We do agree with author’s point of view as the fact that have been told in the book are very strong combining with the incident that happens back in 1950s were real. The author comments on what went wrong with Malays indeed are true with the Chinese situation and Malays feeling that feel insecure with the situation after a few election. Until now the Chinese still argued about the Malays privileged that they don’t get the favor. For us, it is obvious that Malays have more privileged rather than Chinese because Malaya is Malays land. The Chinese and Indians are the immigrants who become locals because of their long stay in Malaya. That is the point that the author said in the book and we agreed to that.
Also on the economic chapter, we agreed with the author about the fact that the Malays are a little backwards in economy and business area. The Chinese monopolized this area because they know well in ingratiated them with all levels of authority in the states which later gives advantages to them in doing business freely in Malaya. They become more powerful when the British are willingly to protect them in order to maximize their profits. That’s the reason why Chinese population increased because of the arrival of the skillful workers and a few of unskillful coolies. We couldn’t agree more with the author as all of these stories are all over the Malaya history and everybody knows what happen back in 1950s.
THE MORAL VALUES & SELF-RELATED
The content of this book highlights majorly about the Malays and the dilemmas which mostly in economical and political fields. From the book, we learned about the most important qualities in bringing our nation up like the desire to keep and being an astute in most situations which is crucial. Being a final year student, we have to prepare ourselves with the challenges that we will be facing when working with other peoples and quickly adept to the situation. Besides, we also have to have the desire to learn on the particular fields so that we can improve and succeed in whatever field we join when working.
The author stressed that the lack of determination makes the Malays fall deeply into the dilemma. As students, we should determine in doing any tasks and also determine to prove our point so that others will not think that it is just another cheap talk from us. In reality, people will not take you seriously if you are lack of determination thus they will not open big opportunities to improve ourselves.
Finally, from the book, we learned that if we are succeeding in any fields we are joined, the achievement is not only for us but also for our nation. Thus, it is important for us to always remember that to keep the pride of our nations and will not be rejected by any other nations in the future.
THE RATIONALITY TO THE MALAYSIAN STUDIES COURSE
The Malay Dilemma is a critical and balanced analysis of Malaysia's preferential race policy and its impact on the nation's delicate race dynamics and economy. It helps us to indulge into the factors which are critical to nations’ prosperity in terms of economy and peacefulness as we are soon going to be part of the economy actors when we graduate, besides helping us to possibly nurture out the sense of understanding to different races in Malaysia at the end of this report. In line with the proposed learning outcomes of Malaysian Studies, this book explains the history on nations’ early struggle to strive on becoming an independent and harmony state at the same time discovering the hardships faced by warriors in the making of Malaysia. Studying this book have open up our minds to be more interested into discovering ways that we can excel our nation even more successfully to the next stage, by which requires successful integration between different races. This book have broaden our mind to appreciate as we continue on the Malaysian Studies syllabus and have become an extra material for us to refer to in the process of learning this course. We have also learned and are able to relate to the nation’s identity and citizenship to ourselves and it helps our international student member in our team to understand how Malaysia was and how it has become.