Friday, 28 July 2006

Ethnic relations: Work together to close the gap between races

ALLOW me to contribute to the debate on ethnic relations (“Action plan not the last word on ethnic relations” — NST, July 24). 
Some have talked about seating children from mixed communities together in classes at school. Others, like Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, harped on the flaws of the New Economic Policy.

Even in the early fifties, Ah Heng was seated in front of me in class. Magesan’s desk was to the left of mine, and Sinathamby was behind me.
I was often at the top of the class in examinations and I was not treated special just because I am a Malay. I was also fortunate, unlike the other boys from my village, to have had the opportunity to shine.
As for the NEP, the Ninth Malaysia Plan says that poverty among the Bumiputeras was the highest, relative to the Chinese and Indians.
The income disparity ratio between the Bumiputeras and the Chinese in 2004 was 1:1.64 and between the Bumiputeras and the Indians 1:1.27. The Bumiputeras are still mainly in the rural areas and the ratio of incomes between urban and rural households has widened considerably to reach 1:2.11 in 2004.
So, what is wrong with affirmative action, properly implemented, in favour of the Bumiputeras?
In my opinion all of us should ask questions within his or her own community.
If I were a Chinese or an Indian in college now, I would be reluctant to be closely associated with Malay students in robes and turbans.
The overdone headdress among Bumiputera girls is also an inhibiting factor. The head cover is elegant with baju kurung or kebaya but combined with jeans and T-shirt, it will increase the chances of the Muslim girl being confined to her Muslim friends.
In the same vein, I ask my Chinese and Indian friends to search for, and work towards, elimination of modes of behaviour which inhibit their communities from having closer relationships with Bumiputeras.
Needless to say, parents, teachers, community and political leaders have to share the responsibility to close all the gaps in ethnic relations in this beautiful land.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...