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Acknowledge and address day-to-day racism

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The Association for Community and Dialogue condemns the remark made by Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim against Kasturiraani Patto about her skin colour.

It is a pity that such remarks are made in Parliament by leaders who are supposed to be exemplary citizens. The Baling MP has so far retracted his comments.

While people of conscience are angry over such remarks, I am quite puzzled why in Malaysia the criticism of racism stops here and why there is a lack of effort to protest overt and subtle racism that occurs daily.

What is obvious is the racism debate in Malaysia is centred around civil rights such as death among certain individuals that belong to certain ethnic communities in prison custody and also the so-called rich-Chinese-and-poor-Malays debate.

What is clearly missing is the day-to-day racism faced by Malaysians as a whole. For example, we see candidates being rejected in an interview because one is not from a particular race or the necessity to have Mandarin-speaking candidates for some jobs, a concentration of a particular race in a particular department in an organisation whether in the public or private sector, a prejudicial view that certain races are not competent in matters of finance, and arguments like the government should be fair to all races before the private sector could be fair on their part in the hiring practices.

Being a human resource practitioner, I have heard such comments in my daily interaction. Issues of day-to-day racism have fallen on the deaf ears of the government and opposition leaders.

In one of the questions-and-answer session in Singapore, the late Lee Kuan Yew acknowledged that many firms in Singapore prefer to employ the Chinese, and he reminded them that Singapore is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. He had the courage to admit such flaws in his society. Can the Umno, DAP and MCA leaders have the courage to acknowledge such racism taking place in Malaysian society?

READ MORE:  Condemn and fight racism in all sectors

The answer is clearly no because their very constituencies are made of influential individuals with such ethnic feelings, and they do not want to rock the boat. This is plain hypocrisy among Malaysian politicians.

Therefore, the Association for Community and Dialogue urges politicians to be more honest by discussing day-to-day racism in Malaysia, instead of merely protesting against uncalled remarks. Racism has to be addressed at a deeper level from the cultural, systemic and structural context. If these issues are not deal with, what we are just witnessing is hypocrisy among politicians.

Politicians and community leaders should start a discourse on day-to-day racism in their respective communities.

Source: The Malaysian Insight

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