Renting homes: Racial discrimination in Penang must end, says Ramasamy

Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy advises landlords to look at the tenants’ ability to pay, not their race. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy has voiced his disappointment that racial discrimination is still taking place in the state after an engineering graduate revealed he was turned down by prospective landlords for being not “pure Chinese”.

Yesterday, it was reported that Divyang Hong, who is of Chinese-Indian heritage, had been rejected by 10 landlords while looking to rent a room. Landlords only wanted to rent to “male Chinese” in Bukit Mertajam.

Ramasamy told FMT today that he hoped Pakatan Harapan would find a solution to such apparent discrimination to prevent a repeat of such situations, be it in renting out homes or when offering jobs.

“This is not something we hear of often in Penang, but it happens throughout the country and the whole world.

“In the context of Malaysia, it goes against the foundations of peace and unity.

“In the context of employment, there is still the practice among certain companies of hiring based on the basis of race. By right, priority should be given to those who are qualified and meet the educational requirements.”

Ramasamy said the government should draw up a law to eliminate racial discrimination — the same way it was against gender discrimination. Countries like the United States have the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, he added.

“We will discuss this (Hong’s experience) at our Exco meeting but I give an assurance that the Penang government will take action according to the law,” he said, adding such practices must be stopped.

Relating his own experience, Ramasamy said he faced no such discrimination when serving as a lecturer at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and in Penang in the past. He said he had rented homes from landlords who were not Indian and there were no issues then.

“If a landlord wants to rent out his home or his room, look at the tenant’s ability to pay rent, not their race, religion and so on.”