Driving in some crazy KL traffic, I had the strange honour of being behind a small but new car. It had a new sticker too.
It read: UiTM, Hak Melayu, dan bumiputera. (UiTM, a Malay right, and bumiputera)
There were few things to notice other than the actual text alone. For example making the distinction between Malays and Bumiputeras when saying Bumiputera would suffice in the conventional context of for whom UiTM is for, and that they put in prominent font the words ‘ Hak Melayu’.
So the basic questions are:
Is the collective Bumiputera unclear on its own, on whom it refers to?
That there is an hierarchy in the Bumiputera universe, Malay first then the rest?
How did a federally funded institution become the sole prerogative of one group?
Is ownership of an educational facility a basic right?
These questions are complex in the background of Malaysian political development, so I’ll settle for preliminary answers.
Willing to take them on Khir Toyo?
The dynamics of rights
Rights have been seen in a vacuum most often, as a qualification that some people have access to things, and other people don’t.
If seen in this light, the distinction made by the sticker suggests that the indigenous people of Borneo come second best to the Malays in the Peninsular. But perhaps the divides are more finite?
That the Muslim Bumiputera from Borneo are ahead of those Bumiputera who are not – or is it a roundabout way to saying, a Muslim from Borneo is eventually a Malay.
And that one day all Bumiputeras in Borneo will be Muslim, and therefore there would no distinction between Bumiputeras anymore, they’ll all be Malay, and at that point we can just drop the Bumiputera term and just stick to Malay.
How does impact on cultures that have survived for centuries like Dayak and Kadazan which are now left with the choice of facing economic degradation or profitable assimilation? What is the price of keeping one’s culture?
Or are Borneons to think that they were co-opted into being Bumiputera since the Malay count was low before? Actually it was a prime reason why Abdul Rahman decided to bring Borneo into the Malaysian Federation when Singapore was landing in. He wanted to make a high Malay count – and in typical simpleton Abdul Rahman style considered with advice of other Umno men if the people across the South China Seas could be assimilated as Malays. (Read Looking Back by Abdul Rahman, first prime minister)
Bill Clinton won a presidential election a year after the cold war ended. You would think that 12 years of strong Republican leadership that got perestroika and glasnost up and running, and the Berlin down crushing, coupled with a decade recovering from the worrying 70s would be a easy win for two time vice-president and incumbent president George Bush.
It wasn’t .
The Arkansas governor with a cheeky demeanour put the focus on the economy and for it he won.
So if it is always about the money, where do the UiTM peeps get off thinking federally sourced money is a right?
It is a resource yes, and it belongs equally to all taxpayers.
Some may get more, because they need it – as any form of government would proscribe, but never would someone say it is a right, in the most arrogant fashion.
Any principle that argues one person in a system deserves perpetually from another in the system because of an amorphous concept, is flawed – and those who champion it, mentally deficient.
So to the three lasses in the car, nay to the owner of the car, before you go about parading ‘rights’, make sure you are talking about your own personal money, not the public’s.