“The Chinese have about 6,000 years of culture and they can survive anywhere. Wherever they go, they create China Towns but the Malays cannot survive as their culture is not competitive,” Mahathir was quoted as saying by Business Today on Oct 13.
Business Today writer Sathish Govind said that during their interview, Mahathir had alluded to renewed pressure by anti-NEP proponents that the time has now come to replace the Malay preferential policy with a needs-based policy instead.
According to the article, Mahathir had countered that the NEP “must be seen from the perspective of the whole community and not just that of an individual perspective”.
I take Mahathir to mean that – let’s say for example – although five percent of the Chinese here might be living below the poverty line, the Chinese community in Malaysia should nonetheless be regarded as being financially well off as a whole.
By the same token, even if a five percent comprising well-connected political families have become super duper rich and successful, nonetheless the Malay community on the whole must still viewed as lagging behind and unable to compete with the ultrakiasu Chinese.
My takeaway from reading the article is that Mahathir has not deviated from his 1970 Malay Dilemma belief in the idea of racial collectives.
Mahathir maintains that the Chinese are generally chauvinistic — reiterating that “wherever they go, they create China Towns”. This echoes Mahathir’s oft-repeated grouse that the Chinese minority in Malaysia are not willing to integrate.
Bringing up the trope about the “6,000 years” of civilizational ballast which permits Chinese to “survive anywhere”, Mahathir is contending that Malays cannot catch up anytime soon because the Chinese have such a huge head start in the culture of hyper competitiveness. And he may be right in this.
Local Indonesians, local Thais and local Filipinos have not yet caught up either with the ethnic Chinese tycoons in their respective countries where this ethnic immigrant minority are the captains of industry as well as the leading lights in the business world.
Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines however do not have NEP because their Chinese have assimilated and taken on Indonesian, Thai and Filipino names plus speaking the Indonesian, Thai and Filipino languages.
On the other hand, do the Chinese here identify first and foremost with Malaysia (aside from a publicly professed love of nasi lemak, that is)?
And what about Mahathir’s contention that discussion relating to the NEP and its continuance “must be seen from the perspective of the whole community and not just that of an individual perspective”?
Let’s look at the parallel scenario of 95 percent Chinese electoral support for the DAP.
Speaking myself from the perspective of the five percent Chinese, I can say that our minority views on a variety of issues – and not just disputing the goodness/badness of Harapan alone – are mostly at odds with the 95 percent Chinese majority.
I will add too that our minority opinions are not only drowned out by the implacable 95 percent Chinese majority but kicked, punched and trampled on.
Thus it is unsurprising that Mahathir should see the 95 percent Cina DAP who brook no dissent as representing the perspective of the whole community.
In situations where the Chinese polity have majority power though, it is the others are expected and coerced to assimilate into Han society.
e.g. The Uighur language, culture and religion (Islam) in Beijing-controlled Xinjiang are suppressed.
The Tibetan language, culture and religion (Buddhism) in Beijing-controlled Tibet are also suppressed.
In Beijing-controlled Inner Mongolia, China is increasingly replacing Mongolian with Mandarin as the medium of instruction in schools.
Beijing has gobbled up little rocks in the South China Sea and will eventually swallow Taiwan.
I daresay the majority of unassimilable Chinese in Malaysia are not only thrilled but in full-throated support of the might and majesty displayed by their revered 6,000-year-old civilization.
I daresay too that Mahathir – who has said things “must be seen from the perspective of the whole [Malaysian Chinese] community and not just that of an individual perspective” – is looking at the larger developments in Sinosphere and feeling bolstered in his long-held belief that Malays will simply not be able to compete.