Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The sad story of Malaysia
In the United States and the world, for that matter, history is about to be created. A black man is set to be elected as the next President of the United States. It has taken a long time but a gigantic change is in the air. In fact, for Barack Obama to come so far is itself a feat. No doubt, race is still a factor in the voting pattern of the American voters but the majority of Americans are likely to put their faith and future in the hands of a black man. It's a really a big deal. Back home, many of us must have been crushed to read about the protest against the appointment of Low Siew Moi as acting PKNS general manager. She has served in PKNS for over 33 years including as its deputy general manager (for corporate development) for the past11 years. In short, she is qualified, experienced and capable. She is also well accepted by all her staff. No one seems to dispute her ability - except her race. So, we have Shah Alam Umno, the PKNS Senior Officers Association and Selangor Malays Residents Action group protesting and even PAS has jumped into the fray, sounding exactly alike. We can imagine how Low, who has served PKNS with great dedication, would feel with all these protests. She would probably get a better salary if she had joined the private sector and with all her contacts, she would still be a sought after person. But she doesn't seem to be getting the respect and honour at PKNS, which is terribly sad and we hear our politicians often asking why non-bumiputras are reluctant to join the civil service. Or worse, leave the country. Does Low's case answer it all? Can anyone look at Low's eyes and tell her with a straight face that she's not qualified? Selangor MB Khalid Ibrahim deserves to be saluted for going against the tide by appointing Low. When will we rise above all this pettiness and look at meritocracy, so there is hope for all of us? That's not all. The protest against the Penang state government's decision to use various languages in tourist areas is equally appalling. Why should politicians protest the use of Chinese, Tamil, English or Jawi beside Bahasa Malaysia for sign boards in selected areas? It's not as if the status of the national language is being threatened. It's just pathetic racist reaction. Chinese, Japanese and Arabic is already being used at the KLIA beside BM, so should we take it down? In Kuching, the Sarawak BN government allows the use of Chinese on road signs and certain government departments, should they also take it down? As Malaysians, we should already be ashamed that we cannot speak most languages spoken by our fellow brothers and sisters. Unlike Belgium, Switzerland and many European countries, we are restricted to BM, English and a dialect. For the record, I cannot speak and write Mandarin - which means nobody would offer me a job in China because I would be useless to my employer. But as we squabble over these ridiculous issues, simply because some politicians want to be the heroes of their community ahead of a party election - we are doing a great disservice to our nation, our economy and our people. That is the most unpatriotic act of all.