Monday, September 19, 2011

Young Malaysians fighting for a change

Racism occurs around the world, no matter you live in Asia, Europe or even in the United States. Racism involves the belief of racial differences, act of discrimination and non-equal treatment towards the minority groups. In Malaysia, the racism and political issues exist for generations but it is getting a lot of attention from worldwide media for the past five years when the Malaysian government constantly creates tension stir of racist issues between Bumiputera and the minorities race of Chinese, Indian and others.

Malaysia is a a multi-ethnic country which comprises Malays, making up the majority to 60% of the population and declared themselves as Bumiputera while the remaining of 40% of the population are Chinese Malaysians (Malaysians of Chinese descent), Indian Malaysians (Malaysians of Indian descent) and others. The biggest problem of racial discrimination in Malaysia is the special policy applied for the Bumiputeras. Since after the incident of inter-ethnic race riots between the Malays and Chinese occurred on May 13, 1969, the Malays (or better known as Bumiputera) enjoys a lot of preferential treatments such as buying new houses with 7% discounts, enjoy lower interest rates, easier access to higher education in local universities, special Malay reserve land in most housing settlements, burial plots in most urban areas for the deceased Bumiputeras while the minorities have to be cremated at similar locations or pay premium prices, all the key positions in government offices to be held by Bumiputeras, a minimum of 30% Malay Bumiputera equity to be held in Listed Companies, full funding for mosques and Islamic places of worship, special high earning interest trust funds for Bumiputeras, special share allocation for new share applications for Bumiputeras, making the Malay language paper as the compulsory examination paper to pass with such high emphasis given to it and so on. On top of that, dealing with the Malaysian government for tender contracts or big projects isn't easy without the involvement of Bumiputeras as part of the top management of the companies. All the contracts and projects are offered based on how close relationship you have with the government and types of corruption to make them satisfied. Up until now, Bumiputeras enjoy these privileges (as mentioned above) for over 40 years. 

When many Malaysians can't deal with the racism and political issues in Malaysia, they decide to migrate to overseas countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Europe countries. Last year, I attended a dinner organized by Malaysian Government in San Francisco bay area. According to the government officer, about 100,000 Malaysians have left and worked in overseas countries. Majority of them, about 60%, are currently working in Singapore. Most of the Malaysians choose not to return home because of the sensitive issues even after the government offers attractive packages. However, there are other young generations in Malaysia such as Namewee and EVYbody, who dare to stand up and speak out their dissatisfaction and viewpoints from their music videos.

Namewee gained popularity after releasing his controversial song which is mixed with the national anthem of Malaysia, Negaraku which describes the problem of the government and corruption in 2007. Since then, he began to express his frustration and condemn the Electrical utility company which is owned mainly by the government, TNB Malaysia, about frequent power failure (black out) in his town several times in his music video. He also criticizes a school principal for his racist remarks during the school assembly in his another music video. However, he recently launches his latest movie, Nasi Lemak 2.0 to remind Malaysians about the unity, respect and appreciate other races in food and culture as 1Malaysia.

In this video, the background music and choreographer are originated from Hindi movie (Bollywood) but the lyrics is in Mandarin. It is to demonstrate that Malaysians live in harmony and our food is combined with different spices from Malays, Chinese and Indians which makes our Malaysian food more unique and rich of flavors.

"Rasa Sayang" is a popular Malay folk song which is sang by multiracial of all age groups in Malaysia. It's also a representative of different races and culture in Malaysia. The lyrics of Rasa Sayang has been modified including the music in order to suit  for the movie, Nasi Lemak 2.0

EVYbody is not a musician band but it's a group of young generations in Malaysian who express their viewpoints and frustration in rapping music videos in Cantonese. In the latest video, a participation of 50 volunteers (the generation of 709) to express their opinions and remind Malaysians to practise their rights and vote wisely for a change in government's system and policy for the sake of their next generation.

What is 709? On 9th July 2011, there was a peaceful protest demonstration which took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and 33 cities outside Malaysia. This is the 2nd rally (which is known as Bersih 2.0 or the Walk for Democracy). Hence, this 2nd rally is also recognized as 709 as to remember the event and heroes who fight for justice and democracy. The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) was pushing for a free and fair elections in Malaysia.

Since after the political tsunami in 2008, (where the government topples and loses a lot of parliament seats and five out of 13 states to oppositions) Malaysians become more openly to speak out and participate peaceful demonstrations in order to fight for a change and demand for equal rights in the system as a unity.

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