Who are the Real Second-Class Citizens?

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“We are the second class citizens, not you!” declared a Malaysian prince vehemently. “We Malays!” he added, looking at me for support.

“Ye..yes!” I quipped, not knowing why. The others in the group, Chinese, Indians, and expats looked as startled as I did. We were having dinner at a friend’s place.

“We are being victimised. We have no freedom! We can’t drink in public for fear of being arrested! Our girls get fined for dressing sexily. We can’t even hold hands as we are liable to be jailed or fined or both for indecent behaviour as well! You guys can drink, romance, and expose yourself anywhere and get away with it. It’s unfair!” he said.

“So there! Hah!” I chipped in, pulling up my flimsy top and looking accusingly at the others, whose jaws were in various stages of dropping.

The other races in Malaysia have always thought (not that many would dare express it openly) they are secondclass citizens, as there are certain government policies that give a little more priority to the Malays. I still do not have the faintest idea what the privileges of the Malays are, as from personal experience I never had them. I also do not understand what some of my non-Malay friends are raging about, as most of them are better off than me. Do you think I am stupid or what? I am definitely missing out here.

But this is a lovely new angle, coming from the mouth of a prince who feels he is a second class citizen. I love it. We Malaysians must always find something to bitch about (and feel sorry for ourselves), otherwise life is not worth living.

In the last few months, there were a number of raids carried out in various clubs and pubs in Kuala Lumpur, where the Malays were separated from the other races and taken to the police station. They were herded and crammed into police pickups and lugged unceremoniously away. Some Malays escaped, as they didn’t look Malay. Don’t ask me how a typical Malay looks anymore, especially those in the city. The younger generation of Malaysians look like a mixed breed, what with intermarriages, coloured contact lenses, hair dyes, and make up. And they all dress the same. But the ones who did the raid just knew a Malay from a non-Malay. The purpose of such raids is to protect the Malays (Muslims) from indulging in sinful activities. You see, they don’t want us to go to hell, so they feel we should be punished so we could repent. They fine us for various offences such as consumption of alcohol, indecent behaviour, or indecent dressing, to salvage our souls.

One of the raids recently turned rather nasty when some of the girls were treated badly. The driver of the pickup took great pleasure in swerving the pickup unnecessarily so the girls would topple all over each other. At the police station, one girl even peed in her pants because the police wouldn’t allow her to go to the loo. Some members of the religious group that did the raid also made nasty, belittling remarks to the girls about various parts of their anatomy.

The Malaysian public and some ministers went wild over the incident. The charges were dropped, but I doubt if the raids will be. Otherwise what would these people do for overtime?

“So you should consider yourself lucky that you are not a Malay,” continued the prince triumphantly. I heard from a reliable source that some of those at the club that night were royalties, but they were allowed to go. Those who were from well-connected families were also let off. Which leaves only people like me to be arrested – the common Malay. That’s not fair! The prince will get away while I, the pauper, would be locked up. So who is the second-class citizen?



Source: The Expat June 2005, article by Nora Marzuki

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