On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Tough issues can be sensitively tackled

Threats, intimidation and name-calling are used to shut down
their opponents. The worst behaviour is often seen at these parliamentary

In fact, rather than to sweep things under the carpet and
pretend these problems do not exist, it is better to tackle them.

Young Malaysians, especially, just cannot accept that due to
the "sensitiveness" of these issues, they should not be discussed.

In some cases, the purported "sensitiveness" of the issues
has been used by some powerful individuals to prevent the flaws in the
implementation of some policies from being discussed.

Take for example the policy on the eradication of poverty.
No one in his right mind can dispute the aim of such a policy.

It's simple. The poor and disadvantaged, especially those in
the rural areas, deserve all the help because of the odds stacked against them.

Rural poor does not just mean Malays because there are the
Orang Asli, Bidayuh, Kenyah, Ibans and Kadazans. There are also the Chinese in
new villages.

Take a hypothetical case, Ahmad, a poor kampung boy has to
take a boat to school with minimal facilities every day. His parents are
farmers and tuition classes after school is something unheard of, let alone

There are no bookshops in the village for him to buy
workbooks to prepare for the SPM exam. He does well and gets 5As. He applies
for a Public Services Department scholarship and he gets it.

He wasn't the best applicant, academically speaking, but
most of us would agree that he deserves this chance in life.

But another Ahmad, a rich urban boy with 5As, who rides his
dad's Mercedes-Benz to school also gets a scholarship. If his competitors with
15As do not get it, surely something is wrong.

It does not matter whether the applicant is a Malay, Chinese,
Indian or Melanau because there are rules to everything.

We believe the PSD has their criteria and they have tried
their best to accommodate our best brains, irrespective of their race.

The PSD also has pointed out that the socio-economic background
of the applicant and his extra-curriculum activities would be taken into
consideration. Rightly so.

But the point here is that if a Malaysian questioned whether
the rich Ahmad boy deserves a scholarship, there is nothing sensitive about it.

Unfortunately, some of our lawmakers have chosen to play to
the gallery just to get their names printed in the newspapers in the most
undignified manner.

Whether it is Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) or Datuk
Badruddin Amiruddin (BN-Jerai), we like to remind them that their constituents
comprise all races. They are supposed to represent Malaysians of all races, not
just one race.

And after the uproar, the sad part is that the subject is
closed and nothing is really achieved beyond the rhetoric.

If someone brings up the point that our civil service is
dominated by the Malays, that is a fact.

So are the police and the army. Certainly, all the
vice-chancellors in our public universities are Malays. That is a fact and
there is nothing sensitive about it.

The point here is that there is nothing the Government can
do if other races do not want to join the civil service, the army, the police
or public universities.

They may not want to join because they feel the pay is not
good enough or they feel the promotion prospects are not there. But again, it's
a chicken-and-egg situation.

And if our vice-chancellors, top civil servants and police
chiefs do their job well, irrespective of their race, so be it. It's when they
do not do their job well that it becomes a problem.

All this talk of race upsets us because we celebrate the
50th year of independence next year. In terms of human age, we are past the
middle age.

Why are some of our politicians and civil servants still
thinking along racial lines when the world has become more open and

Ahmad, Ah Kow and Arumugam are no longer competitors because
the threat is now from outside. The faster we wake up to this fact, the better
we are.

We have to face the fact that in any policy, there is a need
for certain political agenda, but it must no longer be the over-riding concern
if we care about meritocracy and excellence.

If we love Malaysia
and if we believe that Malaysia
has lost precious ground against our competitors, then we must be ready to
begin changing our mindset and environment.

The more we realise that our competitors are the Chinese,
the Indians, the Singaporeans, the Thais and soon, the Vietnamese, we will be
closer as the Malaysian Team.

Can our politicians use their time in Parliament to put
their heads together to take Malaysia