MGG: New Rules for Naming Roads And Buildings After Non-Malays
By M.G.G. Pillai
22/3/2002 11:16 pm Fri
An insiduous counter-attack by Malay civil servants is to remove,
by fair means or foul, the names of buildings and institutions
named after non-Malays. Officially denied, but it happens all
the time. Many a departmental head is now under pressure to
leave his department more Islamic or more Malay or both. So, the
Ipoh city council, with the active help from UMNO, MCA, MIC,
Gerakan councillors, renamed Jalan Koo Chong Kong, named after a
Malaysian hero killed by the communists, to Jalan Tabung Haji.
In the resultant furore, the change was annulled; the mayor's
excuse that he did not know the man was a Tan Sri! It is a
matter of time that name would disappear.
Now even Tuns are not exempt. In Malacca, the Akademi
Kastam di-Raja Malaysia (The Royal Customs Academy of Malaysia or
Akmal) has renamed its first hall from Dewan Tun Siew Sin, named
after Malaysia's long-serving finance minister, to Dewan
Serbaguna (Community Hall). Why? Akmal wrote to Tun Tan's
widow, Toh Puan Tan that its halls should not be named after dead
persons. In other words, Akmal has decided, as policy, it would
in future only name its institutions after living persons, and
rename them after they are dead. It is as usual a stupid
excuse, one that demeans whatever Akmal is there to provide.
Dig deeper, and you would find that the names of buildings or
roads renamed invariably are non-Malay.
In the general view of Malay cultural and religious
activists, Malay names live on after their death, but not the
non-Malay's. An unmentioned but insiduous attempt is in full
lswing to disparage the role of non-Malays, especially
historical, from the Malaysian heritage. Officially, it is
denied, but the petty actions of civil servants and appointed
National Front politicians, especially from the Gerakan, MCA and
MIC, reveals a conscious attempt to deny it.
Removing a dead man's name from a public building, if
extended, would put Malaysia in total confusion. Jalan Tun Razak
or Jalan Bukit Tunku should not be there. Every historical name
attached to Malaysian roads and public buildings should be
renamed. But it would not be. Only non-Malay names would
change. It is not confined to roads and public buildings. This
hobbling of the non-Malay and his cultural and political heritage
is in full swing.
Coincidentally, a government-appointed committee of retired
Malaysian academic worthies have found, despite anecdotal
evidence to the contrary and without asking the public to
testify, that claims of racial segregation in Malaysian schools
are false. The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP)
alleged it, but the teachers are now told that what they noticed
in the classes are a mirage, that they ought to get their brains
and spectacles examined, and racial segregation does not exist in
Does not Malaysia fight hard for racial unity in Ougadougou,
and South Africa? Is not its commitment to racial equality
elsewhere in the world proof of its policies at home? But its
rhetoric outside has no relevance to its policies at home. The
National Front (BN) government would not address this deliberate
downgrading of the non-Malay in national politics. In almost
every government department, one or two Malay officers hold it to
ransom to ensure the non-Malay is boxed in his seat, denied his
promotion, forced to accept they are there under sufference.
The senior (Malay) officers who disagree are sidelined or forced
out. This small group behaves as the the UMNO Youth education
bureau undergraduate spies to report to it of professors and
lecturers who do not support UMNO and its vision.
Non-Malay officers in every branch of public administration
face a glass ceiling, which they cannot, except as a token, break
through. The MCA, MIC, and latterly Gerakan, slept through the
deliberate hobbling of the non-Malay civil servant to promote him
not on merit but on the same quota of four-Malays-to-one
non-Malay as when he was recruited. The May 1969 racial riots
refined it to become policy as the MCA and MIC in the governing
Alliance tied itself in knots, frightened and unable to make
sense of the hurricane over their political heads; the non-Malay
civil servants' rights now further eroded by a small committee of
civil servants which denies non-Malays their role in public
administration. Curiously, the general civil service perception
is that despite these handicaps, the non-Malay is the more
reliable, hardworking and focussed than his Malay counterpart.
The government is hoist on its own petard, and it knows not
how to reverse this disastrous development in racial politics.
It is racial quotas not merit or relevance that determines the
position of the non-Malay. He is occasional brought into
prominence, as Dato' K.J. Ratnam, brought out of honourable
retirement, to head a committee to assert that no racial
segregation exists in Malaysian schools. It does not prove
anything. Go to the same schools the committee investigated --
that they did in a few months is a remarkable achievement of
these retired individuals' industry -- and see if the report
bears any relation to reality. For one thing, the heads of the
210 schools would take it upon themselves to prove the report
wrong, angry at being second-guessed. The government is in no
position to avert this, for it has a problem with the Malay
community it does not know how to deal with.
So, the names of Malaysia's non-Malay heroes would be
removed as surely as night follows day, justified with creative
reasons that show nothing but cynicism for the contributions of
any but the Malay. This must only increase. The BN and UMNO is
now wedded to an Islamic, not a Malaysian, world, in which the
non-Malaysian Muslim gets preference for a Malaysian non-Malay.
This is already so in several areas of public administration.
With the BN declaring Malaysia an Islamic state, but refusing to
have it debated in Parliament, it blinked. It shows its fear of
wanting to debate it with its political enemy, PAS, and forces it
through. When the government itself shortchanges its people over
such an important change to the country's status, other
unconstitutional means would be used by civil servant Malay and
One university vice-chancellor was drummed out of his post
because he thought the non-Malay professors and lecturers should
be given their rightful due. No non-Malay is vice-chancellor of
a Malaysian university. Non-Malay headmasters are becoming a
rarity in Malaysian schools. The government has allowed it to go
on that it can only reverse this at its cost.
The Malay cultural ground is not with it, and if it tries to
give the non-Malay a fair deal, its Malay ground would erode
further. It must espouse Malay and Islamic issues for its own
survival, and for that survival, it allows the extremist Malay to
point a loaded gun to its head. In the long run, this would
cause political consequences one dare not think about; but that
they would come is a certainty, if the present trend continues
unabated. For what the BN has created is a society that would
rebel at any move to return to Malaysia's constitutional basics.
So what happened to Dewan Tun Siew Sin is not unexpected.
Distressing as it is to those non-Malays who hold Malaysia in
high regard. What happens now to the minorities in this Malay
Islamic world of Malaysia under the BN?