If you have to ask the question, then the problem may not be too far from home.
You are the problem.
The question is always going to be rhetorical at best. And often you answer it with your personal prejudice before you ever get your brain to act upon it. And there lies our quandary as a nation, we are encouraged to use our prejudices as a valid method to adjudicate the worth of a person.
The malay media led by Utusan Malaysia do make their seasonal barbs about the greedy chinese, and throughout the last election results on local tv the commentators would allude to the disloyal Indians in voting for the wrong side, and this being more shocking since they are used to the Chinese being deliberatively manipulative and exploitive of the political situation.
The Chinese ask MCA to talk and friend Umno and the have DAP to push and raise fire on things MCA cannot. They apparently vote to this end. Have your cake and eat it too.
That is the macro bit.
At the micro level, you get the occasional Non-Chinese contractor going, “Grossly unfair, we can’t compete. All the suppliers are Chinese and they pad up their own and leave us with higher prices and shorter credit terms.” Or my brother berating on how things were never quite fair in terms of promotions in the Chinese controlled firm he helped build.
I would like to reverse the question then. If you were the Chinese, would you be inclined to act otherwise?
The Chinese are not genetic predisposed to ghetto think. All immigrants are so universally, with insularity converse with social integration. The less they feel at home, the more they are likely to stick to the familiar. This is classically argued in the way Jews have integrated seamlessly in Western European states, and remained completely on the fringes in Eastern European states. Same people, different outcomes.
You get the common comparisons people make of the peranakan Chinese and those from the old Federated States usually (Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan & Pahang). The smaller ratio of Chinese in Terengganu and Kelantan makes them more prone to integration by nature. And it gets a bit more different in Sabah and Sarawak.
The whole some Chinese are more integrated than others, depending on if they are city/country, poor/rich, english/malay/chinese speaking, hainanese/cantonese/hokkien/etc, coke/pepsi.
The analysis is not straightforward. Chinese families in Parit Buntar are likelier to differ from those in Ipoh, though in the same state.
So what gives?
Nothing really. We had that opportunity in 46 through Malayan Union despite its social insensitivities to set all Malaysians to real integration. Endemic polarisation and broad insecurities slew that aspiration. Despite the concessions in the 57 Constitution, moderates were hoping that better minds in government will focus on policy to integrate the nation despite the concessions. The rise of Malay ultras like Mahathir, Chinese education purists and the will of Razak pretty much set us back and laid the path for the leading ultras to take charge.
To be fair it was naive for the Rahman (Tunku for most)-Cheng Lock school of thinking to believe, that the Chinese would be happy without political domination while they prospered unhindered, or that the civil servant Malay is a happy servant. Rahman was not a commoner, he was nobility. He thought the equation would surely make everyone happy for some warped reason.
So you have today. And so much a tangled web.
The overall integration of all Malaysians, not only the Chinese is what you need. I leave that policy process aside.
We can’t answer the question in (Can we trust the Chinese?) truth, because none of us knows all the Chinese in Malaysia to give an answer. You are only able to answer, can I trust the Chinese I know?
So before you answer that (because it is a trick question) if you knew enough Chinese people, you would not ask that question.
They are fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, lovers and fleeting romances, dreamers and cynics, fighters and monks and a whole bunch of other things.
My answer to some of the structural anomalies a number of Chinese have openly constructed then the answer lies in how all of us have committed ourselves to fairness in this country.
And to a lesser effect, a looser concept in play is also the friend factor.
We tend to prefer friends, a human affectation, no?
My wet market vege-man gives you nice discounts because we talk politics on the side. Second hand cars I can get at dealer prices because this chap used to be in school with me. My computer technician slides in extras for me because he likes my dirty jokes. My former colleague helps me out in business because she thinks I am her little brother…..
It’s a long list, and they are all Chinese.
And when I was short in my long long uni years, my best mate and his dad bailed me out.
So do I trust the Chinese? I never had to ask the question.
I wish most Malaysians too do not have to ask the question.
It’s a Sunday, go make new friends.