Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Threat of Press Racism to Unity

(Mingguan Malaysia, 23 August)
Dr. Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Senior Lecturer, National Defence University Malaysia

Racial politics in Malaysia, not only merely visible with the existence of political parties based on race, but mass media also play its parts, especially print media like those shown by the Chinese press and magazine. They seem to be untouchable. They will attack to defend themselves against those that is not in the same direction with them.

This is the consequence when we do not enforce the sovereignty position of the Malay language as the national language. Unfortunately, we did not impose any conditions for the racism article to be translated into the Malay language which rightfully to respect its position in the constitution. This opportunity has being taken advantaged to further strengthen their position instead. The end result they lived in the kiasu cocoon and full of racism, instilling hatred to those imagined as threat, such as the fate befallen on me.

Such news usually receive good response and easily believe by their readers. In the latest Nanyang Siang Pau newspaper it has be quoted by several Chinese opinions among which they viewed that the Chinese muslims convert try to get the Malay sympathy by showing off their Islamic ways.

I would like to stress here that a Chinese muslim convert need not do so on the Malays, because the characteristic of the Islamic religion itself has taught the Malays to welcome anyone who embrace Islam, regardless of what their racial background.

The Malays who understand Islam is not that bad as imagined. They have high tolerance. If they can accept the many Chinese who migrated into their Malay environment, to the extend that their position as the indigenous people is being threatened, it is not impossible for them to receive the newly converted Muslim Chinese like us. It is just that I am amazed that why until to this day, it is very hard for the Chinese to accept the Chinese muslim as also a part of them?

This is the Malay-Muslim nature which I praise greatly. They are not like some other ultra kiasu party. I do not require any sympathy to write something about the truth. Let alone to be paid by UMNO as claimed by the Chinese press.

A person's dignity is decided by its faith and piety, not by race nor by the skin colour. This is the nobility of Islam as a whole which is also totally against any racism. Therefore, it is never difficult for the Malays to accept others, compared to those who are living in the kiasu cocoon, especially the press which like to condemn and defame other people.

If my argumentation or facts are wrong, let's correct them by arguing intellectually with facts, instead of condemning and instilling hatred feelings. The later action is very unprofessional.

Before I go further, allow me to slide the press history on racism a little bit. In fact the numbers of the Chinese dailies outnumbered the Malay dailies in this Malay land. This is the Malay fate in the Malay land. Its own language as the national language is lost in its own land. Language of others control the press and the mass media field, until the national language is put aside. Much more unfortunate, generally the Malays could not understand what are the news being reported by the racist dailies. Meanwhile, the Malay newspapers can be considered as unread by the non-Malays at all.

If surveyed from beginning to this day, these newspapers reports have never changed. Reports were racism and kiasu. This sentiments has always been played to achieve the supports from their own race. In this way, the press manage to sustain and stays profitable. Their thinking has never changed, especially on government issues and policies which are more in favor to the Malays like those that had been embodied in the constitution.

This is the popular culture frequently used to increase Chinese spirits and sentiments. This fact have been admitted before by Parti Gerakan Advisor, Lim Keng Yaik who said that the press in Malaysia only champion their race only. Chinese press with Chinese sentiments, while the Malay newspapers with Malay sentiments. Keng Yaik said that this style of reporting will not result a Malaysian race.

My question, can we create a Malaysian race, if another language press is more dominating than the national language press? Malay language newspaper can be considered as unread and not bought by the ethnic Chinese society, except by those in Sin Chew, Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press and the other Chinese press. The reasons are no other than to seek out any sensation news to be republished as more sensationalized so to become more kiasu.

Although sometimes the Malay press such as Utusan Malaysia relays and write news that augurs racism, the fact is they are being transparent. That language of the newspaper is understandable by all Malaysian citizen, including those in the Chinese press sector. However, what about the other language press? What is being reported is not accessible to the Malays.


I am confident, if the Malays understand Mandarin, they would be shocked with the reports by this racist newspaper. Therefore, this racist press should be compelled to translate their reports into Malay as insertions to be understood by all races so that there will not be any prejudices arises. The position of the Malay language as written in the constitution must be respected and complied.

According to A.F. Yasin (1986), the non-Malay press history in Malaya in particular the Chinese language newspaper, English and Tamil, does not seem to reflect nationalism, but more emphasizing their own cluster.

Since beginning, these newspapers were ignoring matters related to Malaya the country that they were operating from, but more towards racial issues only. Non-Malay press were more prone on its readers, and prejudices or ‘attacking' on the Malay race, emphasizing with a tendency to incline towards their origin country. English newspapers incline towards colonist and Europe, while Chinese press on the battle field of ideologies in mainland China.

During that time, many of this Chinese press activist were imported specially from Hong Kong and China. His study also indicated that historically the Chinese voice always in contrast with the Malay voice. The early history of the Chinese press originated at the end of the 19th century reporting efforts of immigrants and traders in related Chinese economy newscasts involving in business and trade. Starting with The Chinese Monthly Magazine press produced in 6 August 1815.

In the year 1881, born the first Chinese daily Lat Pau (1881 1932), taking the Chinese press format and form in China and Hong Kong. Lat Pau predominates the influence on the Chinese because the news coverage defend the interest of the Chinese people and newscasts the state of China.

Lat Pau was short lived because of strong rival from Nanyang Siang Pau and Sin Chew Daily. Between other newspapers that cannot endure as long as Lat Pau was Thien Nan Shih Pao (1898 1905), Jit Shin Pao (1899 1901) and Theo Lam Jit Poh (1904 1905). The Chinese press that sustained until to this day is Sin Chew Daily (15 January 1929) and Nanyang Siang Pau (6 September 1923) are fully owned by businessman and Chinese political.

Meanwhile the China Press press is a Chinese racist press that was inspired by HS Lee in year 1 February 1946. This press have been banned once before by the court, especially after 13 May 1969 incident. This press emits racism. For information, in fact, this press is well-received from the Chinese community compared to the other newspapers because of the courageous to report any issues including touching the Malay and Islamic sensitive issues. This press is produced twice-a-day. I am puzzled, why China Press do not use the name Chinese Press.

What is their intention to use China? I think China Press can only provide this answer.

Yet, the issues being struggled remains the same, does not vary much. For example, education matters, economy, Malay sovereignty (native) were among the issues continued to be debated until to the climax in year 1987. The researches conclusion on the studies of Chinese press history indicated that newspapers based on ethnic backgrounds have never run away from racial sentiments and kiasu. They frequently ‘attack' the Malay and Islamic people.

I still remembered when the 57th UMNO General Assembly (13-17 November) news were reported in the Chinese press. It was undeniable, racial issues were played out by UMNO. Newspapers dominated by Chinese further manipulated the racial issues being discussed until raising fear to the Chinese community itself. The previous UMNO President was forced to intervene by giving warning to the several Chinese press not to play racial sentiments after several UMNO delegates brought up the sensitive issues which worried some non-Malay communities.

According to him, UMNO can speak of ‘Malay agenda', MCA also can speak of Chinese Agenda, similarly with MIC on Indian Agenda. What is important is the National Agenda. My question, how can National Agenda reach to the grass roots if we continue to be in the racism cluster and kiasu?

Obviously the perceptions of the Chinese community become increasingly serious when racism media continue exaggerating (sensationalize) popular issues connecting the Islamic religion and privilege status of the Malay race which had been embodied in the constitution. This issue is used arbitrary without thinking of the consequences. Issues that are against them will be fought without any reservation. However, issues siding them, they will on their part kept quiet.

As a result, various unhealthy perceptions emerge. Perceptions like this will distant ethnic relations.

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