Hey, don't get into fear over a bunch of chest-thumping primates and their monkey tricks. I assume everybody is a racist until they transcend the very idea of "race." Look at the Orang Asli. Lowest rung on the "economic ladder" - and even they call Indian people "Keling"! After 20 years I'm still "Cina" to them. Worse, a few dimwits have been coached by their Umno handlers to call me "pendatang" (immigrant). But they don't know any better. Most folks don't know any better until they've pulled the ethnic wool away from their eyes. The bad vision is called Cultural Imprinting.
Sure, every time I experience lousy work attitudes in corporations like Telekom or Syabas (the privatized Selangor water company) I joke about the fact that they're monoethnic (100% Melayu) outfits. Having grown up during the NEP years, it's hard not to feel miffed about racial quotas. Yet, when it comes down to interpersonal contact on a daily basis, I don't harbor negative feelings about Malays... or even the genocidal Israelis who are merely pawns of certain cynical and opportunistic elements amongst their own leadership... yup, just like the Malays!
What's been apparent to me is that among the Melayu, there's a great divide between the Anglophonic upper and upper-middle classes and the more plebeian post-kampong types. My English-speaking Malay friends are all pretty cosmopolitan and share most of my perceptions and values. However, the ones that suffer from chronic inferiority complex ultimately become aggressive as a way to compensate for their ego insecurities. Some end up holding positions in Umno - and that's when they turn into Bangsa-dan-Ugama (Race & Religion) extremists. They're really quite pathetic - no flag to wave beyond the mere fact of being born "Melayu" and "Muslim." Even so, they never question what it actually means to be "Melayu" or "Muslim." Indeed, the term "Malay" is so nebulous: the majority originate from Sumatra, some have Javanese, Bugis, and Siamese genes; others Chinese; many are descended from Arab, Turkish, and Indian Muslim traders - you won't find a more mongrelized genetic mix (except perhaps in Europe!)
That's why they cling tenaciously to the fact that the King of Melaka embraced Islam several hundred years ago (before that they were all vaguely Hindu, influence of the Srivijaya and Majapahit Empires). The same syndrome applies to the Khazars whose kingdom disintegrated around 1000 A.D., after their monarch had officially converted to Judaism in a political maneuver to sidestep Rome's imperialistic designs. Many generations later, the Khazar Jews became a widely scattered fraternity who told themselves that as Jews they were Yahweh's "Chosen" and therefore had every right to regard non-Jews as expendable and exploitable "infidels" (goyim, they called anybody who wasn't Jewish).
Interestingly, the Orang Asli have derogatory names for the Malays (originally they were all called dagang, traders): e.g., the Batek call them gob, and the Temuan, jobok. Other folks, in turn, called the Orang Asli sakai - pretty much the equivalent of nigger! That's true everywhere, people in fear label others: geeks, gooks, frogs, wops, micks, greasers, chinks, ragheads, squareheads, dickheads...
And no matter how stupidly brutish the politicking gets, there will always be good, honest folks you can befriend who don't give a shit about your ethnicity. Let's celebrate humans who genuinely, passionately envisage heaven on earth, here and now, simply by allowing love rather fear to fill their hearts.
[First published 26 December 2006. Reposted 30 August 2012]