Lighting the way for our Indian brothers, sisters

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By Syed Saddiq

While the Bumiputeras and the Chinese become the centre of attention in Malaysia, we have indirectly betrayed our brothers and sisters of Indian descent.

I distinctly remember being brought up in a system which pits the Malays against the Chinese.

“Orang Cina mata duitan”, “Orang Melayu pemalas”, “Orang Cina tak beradab. Orang Melayu tak biadap”, many more racial slurs have engulfed the relationship between the two major ethnic groups in Malaysia.

While policies were formed and fiery speeches laced with racial undertones made, we forgot our Indian brothers and sisters.

I spent a few hours going through the newly-published report entitled “Climbing the ladder: Socio Economic Mobility in Malaysia” by the Khazanah Research Institute.

The findings honestly broke my heart. The Malaysian heart which beats in sync with the tune of diversity and tolerance, and celebrates unity in diversity.

Highlighted Points:

1) Only five per cent of Indian children born to parents who weren’t formally educated will end up in tertiary education. For the Bumis, the numbers stand at 33 per cent, and for the Chinese, it is 44 per cent.

This means the Malays in this category (having parents with no formal education) are more than six times more likely to get tertiary education while the Chinese eight times higher, when compared to our Indian brothers and sisters.

2) For parents with primary education, only 13 per cent of Indian children will end up enrolling in tertiary education, a stark difference from 38 per cent for the Bumis and 37 per cent for the Chinese.

3) Those of Indian descent are recorded to be less optimistic of the future – 64 per cent of Indians, 74 per cent of Bumiputeras and Chinese.

4) For children who come from a family where the parents are low-skilled workers, only 19 per cent of Indians will end up in a high-skill career. In contrast, Chinese children have a 39 per cent chance, and Bumiputeras have 25 per cent.

These findings indicate that the ladder of progress isn’t equally accessible to all Malaysians. While the Bumiputeras and Chinese bicker with one another, we forget that we aren’t the only ones tasked to safeguard Malaysia.

What about the status of our Indian brothers & sisters?

Research papers at times miss out the need to gauge the level of discrimination that those of Indian descent go through. One such example is the research paper on “Discrimination in higher degrees: Race & Graduate hiring in Malaysia”, which shows the level of discrimination faced by Malay-Chinese graduates.

So, in order for Malaysia to move forward, we should move forward as one collective force. One Malaysian force.

We must not forget that Malaysia is not only inhabited by Malays and Chinese. We are a land of diversity, not exclusivity.

The colourful “kolam” traditional artwork which is created every Deepavali is a symbol of shared prosperity and unity. It signals the true colours of Malaysia.

This Deepavali, I call for a moment of introspection. A moment of soul searching. A moment of togetherness to be fortified.

Let the festival of lights truly light the hearts of all Malaysians, irrespective of race and creed.

We are Malaysia.

Syed Saddiq is a Supreme Council member of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.

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