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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

My Photo
Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Liberating The Malay Mind (Updated Edition 2018)


Liberating The Malay Mind
LCCN - 2018910760
ISBN – 978-1726415965
398 pages; fully indexed. 
Available on Amazon.com and all major on-line outlets.

Liberating The Malay Mindanalyzes the perversity that despite Malaysia’s over sixty years of independence, with Malays in control of the government and other major levers of power, as well as granted special privileges to boot, our community still trails the others.

First published in January 2013, this updated edition covers the electoral upset of May 2018 that saw the long-entrenched UMNO and its Barisan coalition booted out of office. That monumental achievement would not have been possible without a segment, albeit only a small one, of the Malay electorate being freed from the indoctrination of UMNO leaders, and the sultans working in cahoots with them.

Non-Malays have long rejected UMNO though they find its leaders useful to cultivate for their power to dispense lucrative public contracts. Non-Malays also covet royal titles and other flattened bottle-cap chest decorations for their social and commercial values.

The vast majority of Malays meanwhile remain imprisoned underneath their coconut shell, shackled by feudalism and the attendant unbridled blind loyalty to leaders. They in turn abused that trust. Many still defend former Prime Minister Najib despite the boxes of cash hauled from his private residences, a scene associated only with drug kingpins. As for the sultans, Malays regard them as Islam’s pope, due unquestioned authority and obedience.

In short, the challenge remains huge for Malays, and thus Malaysia.

Special privileges have narcotized Malays, like opium to the Chinese of yore, making them oblivious of the harsh realities of the world. Now those privileges have become an existential issue. Tamper at your own risk!

Many, and not just non-Malays, have called for dispensing with race-based policies. However, if there are racial differences to such mundane matters as how we dress and what (or how) we eat, imagine the divergences and variations on substantive matters, as what we aspire to and value. We ignore those at our peril.

For another, those now much-maligned initiatives were remarkably effective during their first few decades. They transformed a rural, agrarian, and traditional Malay society to one with greater urban presence and increased participation in modern education and the private sector.

It is its later corruption and lack of refinement that have degenerated the program to its current massive entitlement scheme. It is this, not the underlying assumptions or objectives, that needs correction.

The greatest obstacle to this critical re-examination are Malay leaders. We cannot and should not expect ordinary Malays to give up their special privilege crutches when their sultans have their glittering golden ones.

Liberating The Malay Mindexamines Malay values and aspirations that are inimical to progress. Our “follow-the-leader” feudal mentality aside, there is our misguided interpretation of Islam and the failure of our institutions, in particular the schools.

This “frog underneaththe coconut shell” smugness prevents Malays from leveraging special privileges to enhance our competitiveness. Instead that initiative has degenerated into a false security blanket, or worse, an amulet for our ills. Toppling the shell in itself is no panacea. Unprepared, the wide open world would be far from exhilarating. Instead it would intimidate us, prompting us to retreat and find another shell.

Nonetheless this coconut shell must be toppled. Free flow of information, dispensing with oppressive laws, respect for due process, and strengthening weak institutions are proven instruments towards this end. Schools should treat the young as knives to be sharpened, not bins to be filled with dogmas. They should emphasize STEM, second language (preferably English), critical thinking, and communication skills.

Meanwhile the massive resources poured into state enterprises would be better diverted to enhancing Bumiputra human capital.

Malays must be disabused of such fanciful myths as Ketuanan Melayuand our privileged “sons (or daughters) of the soil” status. We waste precious time, effort and opportunities when we seek scapegoats and attribute our ills to globalization, pendatang, neo-colonization, and other phantom enemies.

Most of all, our singular failure is our inability to leverage special privileges to enhance our competitiveness


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