Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Know They Aren't Permanent, But I'll Have My Crutches For Now Thank You, They're For My Kids...

I found the blogger Aisehman para-phrasing Tun Dr M's posting on affirmative action (i.e. DEB) in his blog with some unwarranted bias. As Aisehman did not see it fit to publish my comment on Ramlang Porigi's claims over Saiful's 'sumpah' before (maybe I didn't do it properly technically... and it is his right to censor), I thought it best to just repeat my comment to his recent posting here:
I'm afraid you are reading and para-phrasing Tun as you wish Aisehman. Whilst Tun was indicating that the DEB is not meant to be permanent, he is neither saying that it is no longer working nor is he saying it is no longer relevant. The pace is what he laments and more so the changing attitude of Malays towards the DEB.

Easy test to see if Malays and Bumis are ready to compete at equal terms, i.e. we have the RESOURCES to do so, is by looking at local private tertiary education (IPTS). Do you see even 10% of Malays in IPTS'? As only 55% out of the 60+% Malay demographic are in IPTAs now, where are the other Malays? Can't say they're too stupid to go to IPTS, its racist, and if Malays were rich enough, they'd still be able to send even their dumb kids to IPTS.

The Malays are not in IPTS' because they still by and large can't afford it. And unfortunately, ads like the recent Petronas Merdeka ad featuring Aiman, obviously (the filming) involving Malays with a middle-class upwards background, continue to delude some Malays that rural Malays can 'fund' their 'easily motivated' 'few' kids to higher education.

Has DEB succeeded? Yes. Does it need a revamp? Yes. Does this mean scrapping it? Hell no! Malays that are deluded in thinking it courageous to say we do not need 'crutches' anymore do so because they fear to do the even more courageous thing, admit that we still DO need said crutches. I say so, as I do not wish to see my kids be part of a future generation of Malays that find themselves left behind as second class citizens among the diversity that is Malaysia.

But of course, we need to be constructive about this. I'm putting some ideas together on ways forward for the DEB here:

Join me?


Joe said...

Another unbelievable post that just illustrates what we already know - how myopic and self-serving you UMNO guys are. Crutches for your kids?!!! Hallo.. the DEB is there to raise the status of the poor Malays, not upwardly mobile middle-to-upper middle class folks like you. Your kids should be able to compete on a level playing field with others. Good schools? Yes. Tuition? Yes. Enough reading materials? Yes. Enough nutrition? Yes.
Aiyyoh.. am scratching my head at the sheer audacity of it.

A M Ubaidah S said...

Interesting comment Joe. I have 5 kids. For me to have the best options for my kids, without DEB, I will need to have at least a couple of Million RM to put them through tertiary education. Do-able, as you say, hence I am accumulating said wealth for this purpose and have another 10 years before my cycle turns to spending. However...

This would be easy in a country and community where individualism takes precedent over all else. But we are Malays. We do not just work for the benefit of our own kids alone, but for the benefit of our parents and any other members of our family that need support + anyone we owe budi to. At least we should if we still remember what being Malay is about...

I am lucky in that my parents are settled and my siblings should become just as settled, else I will kick them. And as a policy, my Ayah tried to minimise our family's benefiting from DEB.

Being the eldest, I was the only sibling on outright DEB JPA scholarship for tertiary education, then worked hard to move to a Shell scholarship. Only 2 of the other 6 studied with MARA LOANS, 1 went into government service (at an IPTA) to pay it off and the other is still studying. The other 4 were funded privately.

However, my Ayah, being a Malay and the better off in his extended family, also helped top-up the education funds of some cousins, and outright funded the education of at least a couple of cousins, all with his own money. He is not corrupt, but salary + early investing when he was a banker has helped more than his later government salary.

He has left me with some high standards to follow, so my kids will likely not take scholarships from DEB. However, lets pull a couple of hypotheticals out that I foresee in my future...

My cousin's son has an opportunity to go for further studies, but the parents cannot afford to fund as they are not as fortunate. Without DEB, they will come to me as I do have some capacity, not as much as Ayah, but some. What will I do, turn them away? They are family... but then, what's left for my kids...?

The DEB is for my kids. It's so it frees me from the burden of supporting others in my family and community that I otherwise would have to help! It's because we are Malays, a community that will have to carry the burden of our poor regardless of whether DEB is there or not. The problem is, our community don't have the legs to carry all of our poor ourselves.

Of course, community thinking is not uniquely Malay, but is prevalent across all Malaysian communities. However, not all communities need such support to lift its standard of living.

Why can the Chinese survive without the DEB crutch? Because their community can afford it. Ask a poor chinese boy where he'll go if he wishes to pursue higher edu, and he should be aware of various community funded programs. And there's always a richer uncle. And there's also always Singapore - they claim meritocracy, but hard to mistake a Chinese slant.

And please don't ask why we don't think as a Malaysian community. We're not mature. No nation is that mature. Go ask the Americans or any other polyglot nation.

If you are Malay, or even if you are not, open your eyes Joe...

Joe said...

Well said,you almost convinced me.
Let's say i accept all your rationalising. We need the DEB for all the underprivileged Malay children who would otherwise never have the chance for a decent tertiary education.
But what about the other facet of the DEB - the handing out of govt contracts to very often undeserving Malay contractors who then farm out these contracts to non-Malays for a fee ie. rent-seeking behaviour. Imagine what the govt could save if we stopped this. Maybe the money saved plus that saved from not bailing out cronies, stamping out corruption etc. might even be enough to fully or nearly fully fund tertiary education for all citizens, as in Australia. We can only mature as a nation by trying to behave maturely as individuals; and realising that this country could not be what it is today without the contribution of the non-Malays. Haven't they paid their dues, haven't the Malays had their headstart, isn't it time we showed the non-Malay youth that we value them equally, and stop the brain drain to countries like Singapore who are only too willing to have our brightest and best. It pains me so to see so many of my friends and friends' children who can contribute so much to this nation end up in Singapore.

I am a Malay professional too, JPA scholar, have 5 kids, so i went off to private practice as soon as i finished my govt bond so that I could make money for my children's education. Never thought the DEB would last forever, so I'm prepared to work as long as it takes. I dont have a BMW or Merc, no fancy holidays. Basically Joe Public but better off today because of my govt scholarship. It's because I'm thankful to the govt that I wish all our young people could have the same, regardless of race.

suhaila said...

we are not mature enough to let go racist sentiment. how convenient! (and the obligatory comparison to America, as if she is the bench mark of justice!)

and how very convenient too that each non bumi poor kid always has a richer uncle! (did you actually said that? or am i putting words into your mouth?)Oh, you didn't say that. only all poor CHINESE kid has rich uncle. as if only chinese and malays exist in Malaysia. btw, did you really said that poor chinese kid will have rich uncle? are you serious?

Speaking of community funding. if the aim is to provide help to deserving and under privilaged of your own community, is it not only fair that you use your own money?


and you have all this while criticize Badawi for cronyism. and you call your father who according to you is not corrupt as a role model!!!

How low can you go?

Joe said...

Go read an interview with your idol TDM posted on your friend JMD's blog. (
Then tell me if your eyes are open or closed.

A M Ubaidah S said...

Joe. Apologies for the late response - took a break over Merdeka. Also had a look at my chum JMD's posting of Tun's old interview and actually don't see conflict with what I am saying.

I think what you and some others may think I am saying is that I do not wish the DEB to end. I did not say that. I clearly indicated that I see a need for the DEB to be changed, but an outright termination at this stage I felt was premature.

You also find Tun saying this in the said interview (at, that there is a need for CHANGE, but not a termination of the DEB. TDM even concedes that such a change would be impractical.

I am actually in agreement with you that the projects and licenses part of DEB especially has not been successful and needs a second look. However, note that:

1 - The DEB is being as always scape-goated for what is blatant corruption and miss-management in the allocation of government projects. Have a look at other nations and you'll see the same things happening, but there's no DEB to blame, only the government of the day, be it in Korea, Japan, the US or any other OECD nation. The non-OECD are in general worse.

2 - The intention has never been a problem, but the implementation... I especially fault the actions of our Finance Ministers from the early 80's through to today, for putting too much emphasis on the big ticket items and not getting things right at the SME end. Else, the successes, and there are some, even prominent ones like Naza and AirAsia, would be more numerous.

But again, a revamp is required to achieve the aim of the DEB to restructure our society so wealth & economic activity are not determined by race, the way it still is. Measure 100 richest in Malaysia then survey the number of SMEs in Malaysia, and you will find the Chinese dominate both these categories. A little out of balance for a multi-racial society.

On educational funding, this has been the most successful part of DEB; % of Malay doctors going up from 4% to >40% for instance. To then say that the DEB has been successful for us and we should then stop providing the same opportunities to later generations, when they still need it, just because we feel we don't, is a little selfish no?

The DEB has changed a lot since our time. There are a lot more loans than scholarships for instance, and note how the quotas now have brought Malay student numbers to BELOW demographic % of late! So the students are already getting less, and you wish to take it all away? I agree with Tun's view they should be put to more competition, but...

Look, you agree with me on the education bit, and that + the allocation of land to settlers (Felda etc) + the setting up of PNB and other agencies to educate and assist Malays/Bumis in investing + proper SME support; these are what constitutes what I treasure the most about the DEB.

So, are you saying because you disagree with the way contracts are corruptly allocated you wish to chuck all that is the DEB, even when DEB is being scapegoated for what is really corrupt practice that would happen anyway without it, you wish to sacrifice all the +ves the DEB could still bring?

As I said before, open your eyes Joe... we are being sold a political polemic by some very irresponsible 'leaders', one we can ill afford to buy into...

A M Ubaidah S said...

Suhaila. First you disagreed with us using the US as an example. OK.

Here's a few other polyglot or at least dual race nations which are immature. South Africa (White dominated econs, black econs, Malay & Indians in between), Fiji (Indians dominate locals totally), Zambia (Indians dominate economy), Indonesia & Thailand (locals dominate politics, Chinese the economy), Phillipines... who knows what's going on!

The one that is 'mature', actually achieves so by agreeing to disagree and by dividing themselves geographically - Switzerland. Aha, an immature OECD nation at last. And Australia? They're still feeling all shook up over aboriginal treatment & keep on campaigning for multi-culturalism... why do they need to? Immature perhaps?

And guess what, nations that are single-race also start dividing between themselves, because it's human! Bavarians aren't popular in north Germany, India is rife with sectarian differences, both religious and sub-racial (Gujerati, Telegu, Tamil, et al).

In Islam, caring for your race is seen as 'fitrah', or natural. So being 'racist' is not simple favouring of race. However, we are warned against assobiyah in Islam, which is doing evil upon other races. There is a difference. So the real question is whether the DEB is hurting other races. For the most part, I think it doesn't, but some things should change.

And please re-read my original response - I said every poor Chinese kid has a richER uncle. This is statistically true. The average income of a Chinese in Malaysia is at least double that of other races. They also dominate economically in other ways. Why do I highlight the Chinese? Because other races in Malaysia, they are the benchmark.

Indians may on average do a little better than Malays in Malaysia statistically, but their distribution of wealth is worse. So they can't be a good benchmark. And you know what I think of the state of Malays and Bumis...

So a Chinese kid will always have a richER uncle than a Malay/Bumi and Indian kid in Malaysia... statistically. Asian families also look out for each other... but whether every poor Chinese kid has access to the uncle is a different matter. But there's still their added advantages of the community funds and Singapore.

And Suhaila, I find your last statement that I am justifying stealing the nation's money as troubling. Why do you say this? The money allocated by the DEB is intended to re-distribute wealth as is the duty of government, you understand this I hope. And the government is voted in democratically... just happens the DEB is their policy.

Just so you know, I probably will benefit less from DEB than I give to the nation via taxes and work, i.e. either my own taxes and from how much money I make for my company, that also gets taxed, for which I am rather zen about.

Or are you reading what I write the wrong way? Or perhaps with some tinted glasses? Please re-read, perhaps you'll understand different...

hakimi said...

I dont agree that every Chinese children has richer uncles will help. Rich will not always help the poor, not say only the Chinese but all other races will have sort of this situation. I came from a poor Chinese family, sure I have a richer and auntie. So what? Do they care about me or they care their own son and daughter? I want to stress that income should be distributed equally also to healp the poor regardless of races. If the Malay poor needs help, Chinese should also support. So do the poor Chinese or Indian who are deserved. Do you agree?

I am not interested to debate racial politics but I am a true believer of Islam. Being a true follower of Islam does not care about races but justice or all regardless of background. I embraced Islam and not Malayness

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