Hornbill Unleashed

August 20, 2016

Why Malaysia needs a level playing field

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 9:01 PM

There is much to love about Malaysia, but there are days when you just get really sick of the shenanigans that people get up to. Despite being multicultural in a manner that is both unique and worthy of being held admirable by the rest of the world, racist attitudes — particularly casual racism — still colours much of the local landscape, both politically and in everyday life.

One such incident had to do with a local film awards ceremony, when the decision by the Film Directors’ Association of Malaysia (FDAM) to suddenly segregate local movies by an arbitrary “national language” criteria caused an uproar; it meant that two of the most popular and critically well received movies of last year were disqualified from being considered for Best Film of the Year.

It was rather widely seen as a needless and racist move, and got so controversial that the government had to finally cave in by getting the FDAM to drop the language barrier for Best Film, and create new categories based on language instead.

This is not the first time segregation issues have arisen locally. The creation of the “Low Yat 2” alternative to the popular IT shopping haven was an idea widely considered silly, and which — judging from the arguments put forward for its creation — has not made any sizable impact as far as its objectives are concerned.

Many other examples can be seen, where the reason given is to “create” better opportunities for a particular group — almost always the Malay segment of society — to “catch up” and do better.

Let’s have a look at that argument. Setting up a level-playing field is one thing; deliberately holding people back is quite another. We’ve seen that argument used to justify the prolonging of the NEP — but as can be observed over the decades, the subsequent wealth creation is not spread equitably at all.

Whether you believe in Charles Darwin’s theories or not, the concept of “survival of the fittest” does hold very true for a lot of things in life. It’s a big, tough world out there — and it really is up to one’s self to sink or swim.

Look at Datuk Nicol David; through solid hard work from the time she was a youngster, she has ascended to the top in the world of squash — and more recently, is recognised as one of the Top 20 greatest athletes in the world.

As if that is not enough, an event held by the Malaysia Raspberry Pi Club led to the discovery of 17-year-old Manoj from Rawang, who is self-taught when it comes to coding, and who has become a familiar face in the local Raspberry Pi developer community. The young man is proving to be quite the wunderkind, and hopes are high for him to lead the charge of Malaysians in the world of coding.

Our nation also has Pandelela Rinong, Cheong Jun Hoong, Azizulhasni Awang, Chan Peng Soon, Goh Liu Ying, Goh V. Shem and Tan Wee Kiong to be proud of for their wins at the Rio Olympics — and we are equally proud of their compatriots who still carry Malaysia’s hopes for some upcoming events. They are competing against the best in the world, and are proving that they can make a mark.

Their wins are not “mere”, nor “merely” medals. Those are Olympic medals, a world-class achievement. There was no need to create a “special” medals category for nations that have never won a medal before, which was proven when Kosovo won its first ever Gold Medal in its first ever Olympics.

True, a helping hand is often necessary, and admirable when done for the right reasons. However, it too often morphs into a crutch that will be leaned on forever more. We can do much better than that.

Huawei is now seen as “the” company to take on Apple and Samsung, thanks to its innovations and efforts. And like Huawei, we Malaysians have just as much potential to take on the big guns. Let’s prove it by entering all arenas on equal terms, yes?

Ahmad Azrai



  1. Equality and meritocracy are what is needs now.

    Comment by Sang Kancil — August 21, 2016 @ 2:29 PM | Reply

  2. Malaysia should not waste money on sailing event. It is expensive and the return is nothing.

    Comment by Basri — August 21, 2016 @ 9:52 AM | Reply

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