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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 23. September 24, 1969

[Letter to Salient regarding Malaysia from James G. Entika]

In reply to your reply to my comments on your published reaction to events connected with the Malaysian Students' Association (M.S.A.), the Malaysian-Singapore Students' Association (M.S.S.A.) and the Student Action Committee for a Multi-Racial Malaysia (S.A.C.M.R.M.) I should like to make some preliminary points:

•My letter in Salient 22 was not intended as either a personal attack on you or or an attack on the way you run your newspaper but a pea that some efforts be made to assess the views of the supporters as well as opponents of the M.S.A. on its formation last year and continued existence. So far we have read many reports of criticism and expression of "concern" not only from certain Malaysian students but also from the New Zealand Students' bodies including V.U.W. S.A. (only last week were M.S.A. members invited to express their views).

• Though I have been secretary of the M.S.A. for the past financial year till 14 September, the views I expressed in my letter were not necessarily official M.S.A. views.

• The tone of the majority of New Zealand's newspapers' articles on recent happenings in Malaysia that I have read have been sensational. I assure you that those who, by their nationality, are involved in these events (some of whom are at this university and elsewhere in this country) find them slightly less entertaining than "Westerns". To these people, and in the face of daunting political, socio-economic, religious, geographic and racial obstacles, the stressing of, and the opportunity of blame for, setbacks are not really very helpful.

And five points in conclusion:

• There was No pressure from the Malaysian Government for the formation of the M.S.A. But when a group of Malaysian students, including myself, decided (admittedly belatedly) that when Singapore ceased to be part of Malaysia, that it would be for our country's sake to establish the M.S.A. since it would afford the best means of liaison with our Government. And this would enable Singapore students to form their own association of they so wish. This fitted in with the Malaysian Government's reluctance to subsidise a "Malaysian House" which was shared by students from Singapore whose Government did not share in the subsidy. Furthermore these two governments do not see eye to eye, and for the nationals of these countris to ignore this is to be unreasonably perverse and dissident, especially in view of the need for a strong central control in Malaysia, much less homogeneous and stable than New Zealand.

• Whether the majority of members of the M.S.A. are covertly racialistic is extremely hard to establish objectively. Uniformed generalisations are childish, surely. But overtly, both numerically and vocally, if there was any racial domination of the M.S.A. Committee or recent, well-attended, multiracial general meeting, it was certainly not by Malays.

• The photo you published in Salient 20 next to the front page story on the S.A.C.M.R.M. is very striking. As far as I can remember that photograph was not taken during the recent riots. One can only wonder what impression of Malaysia it was intended to concoct.

• Again the formation of M.S.A. was felt necessary last year for, (though it was to be basically a social association, it would help to promote the idea of our national identity and to foster the spirit of co-operation among fellow-Malaysians lacking in the M.S.S.A.

• And finally, in my view, some of these Malaysians who prefer the M.S.S.A. to the M.S.A. are inspired more by a type of anti-patriotism than by any high-minded internationalism.

James G. Entika.