Chinese Malaysians at historical crossroads

agreeBy Tay Tian Yan

Malaysians, especially Chinese Malaysians, are in a truly challenging predicament at this moment. They really need to have some strategic thinking to ensure their future survival.

We are living in a very critical age now. What really worries us is the hastened pace of religionisation. All aspects of life, value system, policies and laws have been clad in an Islamic veil or are getting more Islamised in no time.

Muslims in the country are getting more and more conservative. This, coupled with the rapid rise in the Muslim population, is favourable to the process of Islamisation.

In the meantime, PAS is actively promoting its religious agenda, and if this gets the nod of Umno, the turbo engine will be ignited and the locomotive will charge forward.

Once PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private bill is adopted, it is like acquiring a ticket on “Ekspres Islam” that will ultimately steer the nation towards Islamic statehood.

If this were to become a reality, we could safely kiss our pluralistic and secular Malaysia, as well as all our existing lifestyles, goodbye.

But, not everything is that gloomy after all. The country is still moving on the right track in a globalised world.

Although we are currently experiencing a sluggish economy, we are still prioritising economic and social development.

If we were to be judged by our business environment, competitiveness and trade numbers, our performance is still considered above average among countries in the world.

Although we have a lot to grumble about government policies, we cannot deny that the government is still basically practicing free capitalism.

The government’s business-friendly policies are positive steps to spearhead market economy, explore new oversea markets and connect with the outside world, including our participation in international trade pacts.

Additionally, our private businesses – from multinationals to SMEs and from within the country to cross-border trade – are in tip-top health and have built a solid and steadfast value chain.

Investments from mainland China

Fortunately, at a time when the global economy is slowing and domestic and international investors remain cautious, we have been able to draw massive investments from China that will serve as a new spring of life for our lethargic economy.

Hundreds of billions of ringgit worth of investments from Mainland China are about to make inroads into Malaysia’s real estate, rail and port infrastructure, industrial parks and tourism projects, with some already in progress.

Capital aside, the technologies, management and operational efficiency of Chinese enterprises are also excellent aspects Malaysian businesses can emulate.

Sure enough there are criticisms that Chinese investors seldom hire local workers, technicians or management personnel, and are not using enough local raw materials.

While such allegations may not be totally baseless and are worthy of the government’s serious attention, we have to understand that this is only the first wave of major Chinese investments in this country and it will take time before they can establish a better rapport with local SMEs and suppliers, and use more local raw materials or train the local manpower.

It is unbecoming that Chinese investors are blamed for robbing the rice bowls of Malaysians just because of such deficiencies. Unfortunately, many Chinese Malaysians still think this way.

Politicising Chinese investments will only do more harm to the country’s economy.

The point is, while the country is moving ahead towards religionisation on the one hand, it still embraces modernisation on the other hand, despite the fact these two are contradictory and in opposite directions.

Chinese Malaysians are now at a crucial point in history, and we need to look at the big picture with a more magnanimous heart and open mind.

We need to put together our collective wisdom and understanding, and join hands with the mainstream ethnic and political forces to help push ahead our modernisation agenda and in so doing check the advances of Islamisation.

The moment the country becomes fully modernised and our economy is in good shape, all Malaysians, including the majority Malays, will be able to enjoy the benefits of development.

That is when they will grow in self confidence and wean themselves off religious fundamentalism.

Tay Tian Yan writes for Sin Chew Daily.

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