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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 16, July 12, 1976.

Review of "Malay Dilemma"

Review of "Malay Dilemma"

In the review of the "The Malay Dilemma", G. Raman stresses that "to him (the ordinary Malay) ail rich men are the same, they are interested in maximising their own profits at the expense of the poor and the not-so-rich. Aren't there landlords belonging to a particular race who exploit members of their own race?"

[Singapore Technocrat, Vol. 5 No.2].

In fact in any community, Malay or non-Malay, there exists class conflict, as evident in the areas of production in agricultural products and in marketing in doing business. In the former, the landlords (probably about 8% of the total population in such community) always greedily look for crop-shares and rents to be increased. These high shares and rents will certainly be obtained at the expense of the interests of the poor peasants who are share-croppers and tenants. Quite often, those poor peasants who cannot afford to meet the landlords' demands may even be replaced. In the latter case, the shopkeepers and middlemen all the times try to maximize profits by 'selling high' and 'buying low' in their dealing with their clients. This illustrates how the rich and only the rich can exploit the poor within the same race. I really don't believe that the rich of any race would assist the poor of that race.

The Tasek Utara landless squatter issue and Baling Malay peasants demonstrations have clearly shaken the very foundation of the Dr Mahathir's 'Malay Dilemma'. These two issues also have unmasked the falsity of the statement made above ".....the policy of a government supported by a huge majority of poor Malay......". Although the Malays are supposed to be the specially privileged people as stated categorically in the constitution of Malaysia (that is they enjoy special privilege) in actual fact, it is only the rich Malays who have the opportunity to enjoy these privileged rights - the right to do logging, the right to have scholarships, the right to have all kinds of licences, etc. Dr Syed Hussein Ali, the associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology of the University of Malaya, who had been detained without trial in 1974 for assisting the landless peasants at Tasek Utara, argues that:

"It is the policy of the government to create a class of wealthy Malays and consequently in the rural areas there is a tendency for the leader-brokers to become more wealthy. Thus they have less time to articulate the needs and aspirations of the poor peasants who are hard-pressed, especially with the present trend of falling prices for their agricultural produce and rising prices of food and clothing. When these deprived persons try to get the help of the local leader-brokers, they find that they have to wait for a very long time and on most occasions in vain. Furthermore, the leader-brokers and those in higher positions above them tend to recommend their friends and relatives to be considered for acquiring land or gaining employment or they may insist on giving preference to party members or supporters. One consequence of this is that poor and landless peasants are forced to adopt illegal means of opening up land".

[Malay Peasant Society and Leadership]

What Dr. Hussein Ali has clearly pointed out here are:
1.Poverty is really a class not a racial problem.
2.Corruption has become a way of living.
3.Problems of landlessness and homelessness are acute and are due to the unbalanced development in the economy.