Stockholm Syndrome in Malaysia’s Race Relations

“It is Better to be Dominated than to be Victimised.”
The recent spat between Malaysian opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) Tony Pua and Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan provides an interesting insight into Malaysian race relations in the mind of some in the “minority” Chinese ethnic group. Kausikan had argued as “delusional” what he saw as efforts by some Malaysian Chinese youths to change the Malaysian political system which has been built around the principle of Malay dominance.  DAP Tony Pua counter-argued that they were not against Malay “dominance” but against Malay “supremacy”.  Tony also accepts that “Malays will dominate Malaysian politics and economy since they comprise the majority”.

Tony is clearly being disingenuous in his feeble attempt to distinguish between Malay “dominance” and Malay “supremacy” in any meaningful manner. He did not elaborate.  Malaysian history bears the undisputed witness to the fact of Malay “dominance” which motivated and led eventually to the imposition of Malay “supremacy” in Malaysian politics, economy and social life.  Today, Malay “dominance” and Malay “supremacy” are in fact the same side on a man-made Malaysian political coin.  It is wishful and politically immature thinking to believe that one can change either “dominance” or “supremacy” without affecting each other.     

By accepting Malay “dominance” simply because “they comprise the majority”, Tony is obviously oblivious of the fact that in 1963 when Malaysia became independent, no one ethnic group, whether Malay, Chinese or Indian, constituted more than 50% of the Malaysian population.  That’s why Malay “dominance” has to embrace the non-Malay indigenous tribes to form the larger concept of “Bumiputra” – or “sons of the soil” – in order for the Malay political elites to claim political legitimacy by virtue of numerical majority. 

Historically, classifying Malays as “sons of the soil” together with the indigenous tribes also create other problems, since most Malays actually arrived in Malaya only from the 14th Century from Sumatra and Indonesia.  And if one prefer to go even further back in time, the very early Malays actually came with the very early Chinese from the same villages in Southern China, mostly from Yunnan. Truth is the Malaysian Malays are undisputably not the “sons” of the Malaysian soil.

The natural urge in many Malaysian Chinese to deny any “natural” Malay “dominance” or “supremacy” is therefore understandable. The political struggles in the early Malaysian years are between the competing and mutually exclusive visions of a “Malaysian” Malaysia based on multi-racialism and social equality vs a “Malay” Malaysia based on Malay dominance and supremacy. 

In 1965, Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia for her strong advocacy of a multi-racial and equal Malaysia.  History has proven the superiority of a multi-racial politico-socio-economic approach as practiced in prosperous Singapore instead of the racialist discriminatory model of Malaysia who continues to struggle in the doldrums of a devaluating currency and languishing economy.

For too long, Malaysian Chinese and Indians have been politically enslaved, economically oppressed and socially discriminated. Many non-Malay politicians are also reluctant to escape from the status quo political bondage and few nowadays advocate for a more equal treatment of their non-Malay constituents.  The reality of the political landscape of Malaysia has over the years evolved a class-based society very much in favour of the rich and powerful elites in all the political parties, who have much in common with each other the many privileges and benefits that should have “trickled down” to the poorer and lesser endowed segments in the population.        

For many non-Malay Malaysian politicians, however well-intentioned like Tony, they usually appear quite blinded to the reality of their own political enslavement after more than 50 years of subjugation to the combination of class and racially based political and economic forces.  Such is the Stockholm Syndrome nature in Malaysian race relations. For while they may complain and agitate against the extreme symptoms of her corrupt and racialist political system, the minority ethnic groups (as well as the vast number of poor Malays) seem strangely incapable of comprehending the precise nature of their situation so as to formulate feasible solutions to escape or reform the political-economic and social status quo.      


PS. Above post by Michael Heng


Anonymous said...

Michael Heng started his career in NTUC and got indoctrinated with PAPpy ideals ever since. What do you expect of his articles other than parroting PAP's slanted history?

Anonymous said...


agongkia said...

My penang ah kong never tell me how true is it that they kena kick out but only tell me not to be lazy and eat too much.... becos he say Charp Pui Kow Tai.

Anonymous said...

"enslaved economically ....."

Look, all the goods that come to Singapore like to NTUC.
Are they from Bumi companies or Malaysian Chinese.Ask yourself.
There are more Chinese millionaires in Malaysia than Singapore
except those like the writer. Whether you go Penang, KL, Malacca
and Johore ask the Singaporean where they shop.
I think it is easier to do business in Malaysia than Singapore.
License given to Bumis , so what , buy over the license from
them and give them part of the profit. They are corrupt, so what,
the more corrupt the better it is to do business.
The writer should visit Malaysia more often to learn from the Malaysian

he can succeed because t
That is why company like NTUC may not be able to succeed in Malaysia.

b said...

thats why the gov should allow dual citizenships so that if there is unrest, bombing or ethnic cleansing again, sinkies especially the women and kids can run away to another safe country. this world is becoming more and more unsafe.

Anonymous said...