Living in Malaysia is thoroughly exciting. You have a Chinese person living beside you in the left, a Malay in the right, and an Indian on the opposite side. It is real fun. The light-skinned Chinese with little eyes works with the dark-colored well-built Indian in an office where the brown-tinged softspoken Malay walks in as a customer.
In Malaysia you find no racial discrimination. You can find no derogatory reference to color. You hear no illicit remarks against customs. You perceive only fusion. You experience the adaptability of the three races. You have to appreciate the perfect blend, admire the harmonious living, and applaud the efforts of the government in enabling the possibility of co-existence.
The Malaysian conglomerate has three dimensions. The native Malays, or Bumiputras, as they are called, hold key positions in governance. The 1969 riots started because the Malays felt that the Chinese controlled the economy. To raise the share of national wealth held by Malays and indigenous groups, the government extended cheap housing, priority for college enrollment, government contracts, and shares of publicly traded companies to the Malays.
These policies have been in place for years keeping peace. But if they are continued it will impede the growth of the national economy in the long term. China with its fast-track policies has attracted investments that would have otherwise come to Malaysia. Singapore has wooed multinationals aggressively and outstripped Malaysia in growth. The present government has started to dismantle the policies that favour the ethnic majority Malays, making it easier for foreigners to invest.
Malays have become prosperous. Their standard of living has risen. Their lifestyle has changed considerably, approaching one very much similar to the West. They drive expensive cars, travel extensively, send their wards abroad for higher education, and secure coveted jobs in government and in both private and public sector companies. They invariably enjoy priority in every field, education, career, and amenities.
Yet the Chinese command the economy still. Their work ethic is unbelievable. They are smart, outgoing, and intelligent. They are a more homogeneous and a more united society than Indians. Their women are working everywhere. They are CEOs, actresses, waitresses, sales girls, anchors. There are criticisms of the Chinese as well: there are common complaints that they are egotistical, communal, and run a closed shop. They ape the west but know little English.
The Indian community, which is 8% of the Malaysian population, are mainly plantation labourers. The Tamil schools in the estates do not provide competent education. They are mere apologies. The Punjabis from North India are frequently in the police force. The Gujaratis and the Sindhis manage textile businesses, while the Tamils do estate work.
They are peace-loving people hard-hit economically, and of late there is an awakening among the Indians. They want to rehabilitate their lifestyle by educating themselves and refining their wayward behaviour.
Every day at the same time we can hear the Muslim call for prayers, hear the Hindu Temple bells ringing signalling the worship time, and see the Chinese congregations in the Buddhist temples. The children acquire a smattering of knowledge of all the three languages and become familiar with the customs of all three races. They grow up in the most preferable state of communion.
Indeed Malaysia has set a precedent for racial harmony. Distinctions of colour and creed are deliberately prevalent in the UK and Australia and nonchalantly in U.S. Let the world learn the lesson from this tiny peninsula in the South China sea.