Sep 26, 06 6:34pm
Amid calls from Umno leaders for Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew to apologise for his remarks that the Chinese minority in Malaysia and Indonesia are systematically marginalised, Lee may want to rely on the premise that 'there is no need to apologise if I am defending my race.'
After all, that infamous defence was used by no less a person than the prime minister's son-in-law against his fellow countrymen. And given that he is an Oxford graduate, the senior statesman, being a Cambridge product, could use the phrase assuredly.
I doubt however Lee would stoop to that level (he would prefer to justify his comment on facts) in view of the Singaporean psyche, i.e. Singapore has been many times more successful than us in forging a national identity as they consistently refer to themselves as Singaporeans unlike in our beloved nation where only 35% of Malays and just about 50% of the three major races on average think of themselves as Malaysians first as evidenced by the Merdeka Center research.
This is not to say that all is well and good in Singapore. Subtle prejudices do exist between the various ethnic groups.
But by virtue of the structure of the ruling PAP (Peoples’ Action Party), where it is a single party with membership cutting across the races, they have not sunk into an abyss of racial stratification where one coalition party manifests control, unfortunately along racial lines, and other component parties are gradually subjugated thus becoming second-class members of the coalition. In essence, PAP's structure forces it to address issues from a broader perspective and not just from a single ethnic viewpoint.
The dominant form of racism in various parts of the world today is ethnocentrism, i.e. the belief that one's own race is the most important, its culture superior to other ethnic groups and one's group is the centre of everything against which other groups are judged. Imagine the futility of every group claiming its superiority. The end result is incessant wars, arguments and bitterness with no true winner - an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind as Gandhi said.
Isn't it easier therefore to administer a country based on facts and not ethnicity? If 90% of the poor and destitute are from community A, would not 90% of the resources for alleviating poverty be availed by them?
It is astounding to note that most of the problems between people and nations the world over are a result of double standards. Nobody seems to place themselves in the shoes of the other person. They consciously do unto others what they would not want done unto them. Hypocrisy is easy to overcome however; it just requires a sense of fairness and the will and conscience to follow through with righteous action.
There is a well-known saying that goes 'those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword'; similarly, those who live by racism shall die by racism (metaphorically speaking). History is replete with such instances.