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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News


Posted: 11 May 2013 06:21 PM PDT

Racism is usually defined as views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior or superior.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The word 'racism' is currently being very freely used to describe what happened last Sunday. DAP accuses Umno of being racist while Umno accuses DAP of the same thing. The problem is some of these people do not understand what the word 'racism' means.

In fact, many Chinese readers have accused me of being a racist mainly because they do not understand what the word means. Maybe this is because there is no equivalent word in Chinese -- as there is none in Bahasa Malaysia as well. What is the Bahasa Malaysia word for racist anyway (other than 'rasis')?

(Utusan Malaysia, 12 May 2013) -- UMNO bukan parti rasis – PM: Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak menegaskan, UMNO bukan parti rasis kerana ia sentiasa memberi keadilan kepada rakyat tanpa mengira kaum di negara ini.

Many people are confused about the meaning of racism (the belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others -- or discrimination/prejudice based on race), parochialism (narrowly restricted in scope or outlook such as provincial) and nationalism (devotion to the interests or culture of one's nation).

For example, during World War II, the Americans thought that Japanese pilots would never be able to beat American pilots because of the way the Japanese are 'built'. Due to their short body and slit eyes, they make poor pilots. Or so the Americans thought until the Japanese whacked them good and proper.

This would be racism. The Americans considered the Japanese inferior to the 'whites' because the Japanese were not built like the 'whites'.

For a long time, the European Christians (plus the Vatican) considered the natives of the Americas, in particular those of Latin America, as not human -- a sort of animal on two legs that could talk. Hence it was not wrong to kill the Native Americans (or what they used to call the American Indians) because these people, just like animals, do not have a soul.

You only need to look into the eyes of the American Indian to know that they do not have a soul, said the Pope in Rome. And this, too, was why it was considered okay to capture and sell the black Africans as slaves and kill them like pigs if they resisted or tried to escape. It is because they are not white so that would mean they are not really human beings.

Now, what happens if Kelantanese want a 'local' political party to rule their state (such as PAS, as opposed to Umno, which is a 'Kuala Lumpur' party)? This would not be called racism. That is parochialism. It is not that the PAS candidate is Malay while the Umno candidate is Chinese. Both are Malay. But one Malay is from a 'Kelantan' political party while the other Malay is from an 'outsider' political party.

In Terengganu, if a person from Besut contests in, say, Kemaman, this Besut candidate would most likely lose. The voters may be Umno members but if the Umno candidate is from Besut while the PAS candidate is a local Kemaman chap, then there is a strong possibility that the Kemaman voters will vote PAS rather than Umno even if these voters are Umno members. Hence it is not party loyalty but the spirit of daerah (district/province) that prevails. 'Anak Kemaman' (a child of Kemaman) is more important to the Kemaman voters than keahlian Umno (Umno membership).

A Chinese born in Melaka can contest in Penang or a Chinese born in Penang can contest in Johor and would most likely win because the Chinese support the party. This may not work on the Malay voters. Only in rare cases can a Malay candidate cross state boundaries (or even district boundaries) and still win. The Malay candidate who crosses boundaries must be an extremely 'strong' personality to win in another kawasan (area). 

But don't think that the Chinese are not sometimes parochial as well. I have known DAP to get a 'headache' because the Hakka voters insisted that the DAP candidate must be Hakka. If not then they will vote MCA (who fielded a Hakka candidate) instead of DAP. Is this racism? How can it be racism when both candidates are Chinese? The only thing is he or she must be Hakka Chinese and not a non-Hakka Chinese.

As I said, there are 'exceptions to the rule', even amongst the more parochial Malays. For example, Onn Jaafar from Johor won in Kuala Terengganu and Mat Sabu from Penang won in Kelantan. Then we have Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, the PKR Sec-Gen, who was born in Singapore and yet won in both Kedah and Kelantan on a PKR and not PAS ticket (but lost this time around in Kedah against a 'local boy').

Finally, there is nationalism. Japanese will only buy Japanese products even when they travel to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to shop. The Japanese are not racist for buying Japanese products. They are nationalistic in wanting to support Japanese industries. Some Malaysians only fly MAS even if they have to pay more or buy fuel from Petronas even if they have to drive farther to find a Petronas petrol station for the same reason.

I whack the Chinese. And for that I am being called a racist. But do I think that the Chinese are not 'real' citizens of Malaysia and therefore do not deserve equal treatment or I think that the Chinese are inferior people? Far from it! In fact, I think the opposite.

But I also whack the Malays (and have been doing so for a long time). So does that make me a racist when I am also Malay? A racist is supposed to be someone who discriminates or looks down on another race. You may argue that for the last two years I have not been whacking the Malays much whereas for the 20 years before that I was whacking the Malays kau-kau.

Well, what more can I say about the Malays that I have not already said? I have already repeated so many times the same criticism and anything more I can say about the Malays will just be more of the same thing, which I have already said hundreds of times (yes, hundreds of times at hundreds of articles a year over the last almost twenty years since 1994).

For 20 years I was never called a racist for whacking the Malays. In fact, I was called a 'towering Malay'. Only when I started whacking the Chinese am I suddenly a racist.

The bottom line is you can whack your own race as much as you want, and the more the better, but you must never 'touch' the other race. In that case, should we criticise the Arab extremists for killing innocent Jewish schoolchildren when we are not Arab? Should Australians criticise the Umno Malays for what the 'whites' view as fraudulent general elections in Malaysia?

You can only whack someone of your own race but not someone from another race even if there is cruelty and injustice involved. So that would mean non-Malays or foreigners should not criticise Umno or the Arabs unless you are Malay or Arab. Is that how it works? And if you do not follow this 'rule' does that make you a racist?

Okay, let us now talk about the so-called Chinese Tsunami last Sunday, 5th May 2013. Never mind whether it was or was not a Chinese Tsunami. Umno says it was. DAP says it was not. However, even if it was a Chinese Tsunami, what is wrong with that? Is that racism? That is called parochialism. So you voted for your community. So what? That does not make you a racist.

Let's go to another example. Would a Chinese win if he/she contested in, say, Besut? Let's say a PAS Chinese candidate born in Bagan, Penang, contested in Besut against an Umno Malay candidate born in Jertih, Terengganu. Would the PAS members in Besut vote for PAS or for Umno?

Hence both PAS and Umno would not only field Malay candidates in Besut but the Malay must also be local born. Even Anwar Ibrahim may lose against a local boy like, say, Idris Jusoh. So this is not about race. This is about 'good politics'. And it is not race that decides but parochialism. And that is the same reason why Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will never win a seat in Singapore even though she was born in Singapore and even if Singapore laws allow her to contest. She is not Singaporean. Period.

Racism is foul. Parochialism is normal. Nationalism is commendable. Just don't confuse one with the other. And do not label everything as racism. If not then the 'Malay' government of Malaysia will have no business to protest if one day the US attacks China. Umno is neither Chinese nor 'white'.


Racism is usually defined as views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior or superior.

The exact definition of racism is controversial both because there is little scholarly agreement about the meaning of the concept "race", and because there is also little agreement about what does and doesn't constitute discrimination. Critics argue that the term is applied differentially, with a focus on such prejudices by whites, and defining mere observations of racial differences as racism. Some definitions would have it that any assumption that a person's behaviour would be influenced by their racial categorization is racist, regardless of whether the action is intentionally harmful or pejorative. Other definitions only include consciously malignant forms of discrimination. 

Among the questions about how to define racism are the question of whether to include forms of discrimination that are unintentional, such as making assumptions about preferences or abilities of others based on racial stereotypes, whether to include symbolic or institutionalized forms of discrimination such as the circulation of ethnic stereotypes through the media, and whether to include the socio-political dynamics of social stratification that sometimes have a racial component. Some definitions of racism also include discriminatory behaviours and beliefs based on cultural, national, ethnic, caste, or religious stereotypes.

Racism and racial discrimination are often used to describe discrimination on an ethnic or cultural basis, independent of whether these differences are described as racial. According to the United Nations convention, there is no distinction between the terms racial discrimination and ethnic discrimination, and superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and that there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere.

In history, racism has been a major part of the political and ideological under-pinning of genocides such as The Holocaust, but also in colonial contexts such as the rubber booms in South America and the Congo, and in the European conquest of the Americas and colonization of Africa, Asia and Australia. It was also a driving force behind the transatlantic slave trade, and behind states based on racial segregation such as the USA in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and South Africa under apartheid. Practices and ideologies of racism are universally condemned by the United Nations in the Declaration of Human Rights.

READ MORE HERE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism


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