Tuesday, March 28, 2006

a bowl of rotten rojak, part 2

When I wrote Part 1, someone questioned the statistics of the said article. I could not put a link to that article on the NST because it was already older than 7 days and I have no access to the older archives. However, Mack wrote a related post on this issue and from there, I found a link to the mentioned article. Do take your time and read through it.

2 in 3 don't understand other cultures

Hari Raya Puasa was wrongly perceived as the Malay new year by
32% of Malays
84% of Chinese
45% of Indians

Chinese New Year was wrongly perceived as a religious festival by
57% of Malays
62% of Chinese
53% of Indians

Deepavali was wrongly perceived as the Indian new year by
53% of Malays
86% of Chinese
28% of Indians

I've actually written an interesting piece about this. We pride ourselves to be a muti-cultural society, yet many of us (myself included) are ignorant with regards to other people's cultures. Looking at the statistics, you could say that Indians and Malays are pretty much similar, with an average of 49% of Indians and 54% of Malays wrongly perceiving a celebration which was not their own. However, nearly double that - a shocking 85% of Chinese wrongly perceived a celebration of another race. But the Chinese also scored a high (or low!) of 62% of them not even understanding their own celebration! Are we so engrossed into our businesses and trying to 'beat the Malays' that we forget our own culture? And on a more general view, are we kidding ourselves by saying we are a multi-cultural society when we are in fact ignorant to the most basic characteristics of the other races?

1 of 2 do not trust other races

The stereotype that 'in general most Malays are lazy' holds true for
58% of Malays
63% of Chinese
43% of Indians

The stereotype that 'in general most Chinese are greedy' holds true for
71% of Malays
60% of Chinese
47% of Indians

The stereotype that 'in general most Indians cannot be trusted' holds true for
64% of Malays
58% of Chinese
20% of Indians

Do not confuse this with saying "Yes, all Malays are lazy." I think it was made very clear in the survey that it is a general stereotype. Of course not all the people of a certain race follow the stereotype - that goes without saying. But stereotypes exist for a reason - most people believe they are true.

The Chinese are a pretty consistent bunch here. We rate pretty equal, even in critisizing ourselves. The strongest 'critisism' (for the lack of a better word) comes from the Malays to the Chinese and the 3rd highest percentage comes from the Chinese with regards to "Malays being lazy". Could it be that a serious distrust exists between the two races? (Funnily enough, I have had countless numbers of Chinese critisizing the Malays on this blog, but not one of the opposite).

And perhaps the most interesting of the lot - the Indians are probably the most tolerant amongst us all, with the lowest percentage of them subscribing to the stereotypes. Heck, only 20% of them believed their own stereotype that "Mosts Indians cannot be trusted". Many friends have commented on the irony of that statistic.

However, I would like to take it as a good sign - they are a tolerant bunch, certainly one that we can learn from. Another thing about not believing your own stereotype is that it makes you strive to get rid of it. You hate that you are stereotyped in that manner and therefore would not do anything that reflects that stereotype. It is for that reason that I find the Chinese and Malay acceptance of their stereotype (60% and 58% respectively) extremely worrying for that probably means they admit to it and therefore aren't doing much to shed that image.

Statistics like these are probably not very accurate, yet they do give a good indication of what is wrong with us. Statistics like these beg to be interpreted by many different people - each with their own views.

This is mine, and I have asked many questions but left them unanswered.

What is yours?

*I do not wish to land myself in jail, so any baseless comment with a slightest hint of racism would go straight into the bin*


Get to the source of the problem buddy.

You're only looking at the symptoms.


isn't cny considered to be religious to taoists, buddhist and confucians? If it wasn't a religious festival, why would they be praying to the roast pig or visiting temples and so on? If i'm not mistaken it's not necessarily a religious festival to all chinese. but others celebrate it as a religious festival...

I still insist the path to racial integration begins in the bedroom. :P

anon1 : I could get to the source, but no blog post could ever justify the significance of it. Stuffs like that would be best reserved for a book, I reckon. Besides, which Malaysian doesn't already know the various causes of disharmony?

anon2 : But Chinese is not a religion - it is a race.

tigerjoe : Behind that twisted humour, it is true. If everybody was a rojak, there wouldn't be any racial problems.


I've read the links you provided and true enough, not much statistical info was given in the article. Since the survey was conducted by an organization supposedly good in doing research, it may not be wrong to assume that they have taken care of the sample selection of the population.

I think you know it too that statistics can often lie. It all depends on how one interprets and presents the data. We have often seen how newspaper or politicians mis-presented statistics to their advantage, but most people would just take their words as facts.

Since you asked what we think, well, although i don't discount what were presented in this survey and applaud its effort in highlighting the problem of racial divide in Malaysia, i do have my reservation on how conclusive the survey result indeed was when the article made it sound as so. We know that the details of the survey are all contributing factors to the result, such as the sampling size, how the sample pool was selected, how and when the survey was conducted, the demography of the sample (not only race but also gender, age, education, job, area, etc.).

Also, merely doing the % distribution analysis doesn't really tell us more about the situation, and may even cause us to make incorrect inference. For instance (just an example, not that i'm claiming so), based on the % distribution, you inferred that Indian may be more tolerant while Chinese/Malays are not. If more statistical analysis can be done, we may discover that the so-called racist views may not correlate to race per se, but more to other factors such as age or educational level. Then we can better understand the root of the problem instead of tackling the wrong cause.

So perhaps we should be alerted but not read too much into it with such limited info. Well, at least that's what i think... :)


Vince: I've been posting the same one-line argument on other comment boxes. You would be the first person to see the not-so-obvious point.

the first part of your article about not understanding other cultures is irrelevant in terms of racism. however, the statistics are very interesting indeed.

if someone asked me if i understood the major celebrations in malaysia i would have said yes. i managed to deduce that chinese new year was not a religious festival from the fact that it is celebrated by all chinese, whether christian, buddhist or taoist. however, i did also think that deepavali and hari raya puasa were the new years of the indians and malays resepctively. but i must stress that, and vincent knows this as well, that this does not make me racist. we can respect other races without knowing about their cultures in detail. it is easy to show respect.

i am actually surprised about the results of the stereotypes poll. i would have expected a higher percentage from the other races. this is just from my observations of the people i see and meet. many people have friends of all races but they still stereotype people from that race. for example, the say that my friend isn't a normal chinese/indian, he can be trusted. i have seen this happen many many times.

i in fact believe all 3 sterotypes are true. this is because i have met lazy malays, greedy chinese and indians who cannot be trusted.
however, i have also met hardworking malays, generous chinese and indians who can be trusted. interestingly, i have met greedy malays and indians too. these sterotypes are true only to the minority of that particular race, and that minority is shrinking every day, in my opinion.

perhaps the people who took the poll are just being diplomatic and not showing their true feelings. if that is so, the only conclusion that can be made is that the indians are the most diplomatic race. haha.

however, at the end of the day, no matter how many chinese think indians cannot be trusted, or no matter how many indians think malays are lazy, these are just general conceptions that exist in everyone's minds. at the end of the day, if a malay badminton player is in the all-england finals, or if a chinese swimmer is swimming in the olympics, or if an indian girl is the world squash champion, the whole nation irrespective of race or religion will get behind their fellow malaysian. although many malaysians know of these stereotypes and probably believe them in some way, it will not take much for the stereotyped person to change their minds. what i mean is that the sterotype is not deeply entrenched in most people. i say most people because there is a small minority of people who, no matter what you do, you cannot change the sterotype in their minds. i know of a few chinese businessmen who will not do business with an indian businessman under any circumstances and vice versa.

this could be due to previous bad experiences working people of that particular race, or maybe it was their upbringing, who knows? but i must assert that from my experience, these people form a very small minority.

anon 1 - symptoms are interesting enough. you have been asked to draw your own conclusions. try to use your brain.

tigerjoe - i am planning to take your advice


Nah. Being rojak won't help coz then the non-rojaks will start picking on the rojaks.

You fuckers are looking at non-issues.
You pretend to be smart and wanna show everyone you know anything about the racial problem in Malaysia, but none of you bozos dare to look at the real problems because you're all fucking cowards and don't dare to pry further, so you wallow in attacking the symptoms just to show you're intelligent and know something.

People like Vincent and iiiii will never dare find out the real reason behind the problems, and will prefer to blame people who can never retaliate against them. These people are cowards pretending to be intellectuals.


littledwarf: so, from your perspective, the real problem would be... gnomes?

Oh no, I thnk I've just written a humanist remark. :P


mei : The objective here is to make everybody a rojak.

tigerjoe : YOU HUMANIST! Maybe we should try mating with gnomes. That would solve the problem!


I think, in those days, racial issues came into picture due to the different proportion of benefits the different races were getting and they really felt the mistreatment by the government as they have all stood side by side in defending the country during war. In the current, most of us are being brought up to be racist FIRST as kids and later on teenagers before we actually feel like we're being second classed by the government (should some of us actually experience it).

I.E : When I was in primary school, I could hear Malay kids going, "Eee...dia makan babi...takleh sentuh dia...mama kata dosa" and the Chinese kids would go, "Eh, they all got kutu wanlah. My mother say don't go near them". For that, kids tend to mix around with other kids of their own race because some of them may have misinterpreted what their parents actually meant. As they grow older, it becomes a habit already that they only mix with Chinese/Indians/Malays only because they're still stuck with the same kinda mentality, which was instilled in them when they were kids. Some may grow out of it, some won't and it will be in them for the rest of their lives.

Now, lets just focus on those who have not grown out of that baseless mentality. When they are older, of course they're exposed to the different stories circulating in this country (some might be true and some untrue). Instead of the usual, "Eh, don't mix with the Malays, they got kutu blalbla", it's.."You know ha, I tell you, the govt treat us damn unfairly. The Malays so lazy but they get more privileges than the hardworking Chinese" and the Malays would go on about their own set of stories (which I haven't heard much before YET)

So of course, when you're already with that mentality, you tend to screen out what you choose to hear and what you choose not to hear (the positive ones) and, you'd be more sensitive towards certain things (i.e : actions taken by the govt). It's like, your mom always seems to buy expensive things for your older sibling and seldom (or not as often) buys them for you. You thought that your mom favours your older sibling more than you but the fact is that, your mom feels that you're able to buy things yourself coz you're earning more than your older sibling. You did not take that into account but instead decide to look at the whole situation as "your mom playing favourites".

However, there are some who are not racist at all but they eventually turned into one due to some really very drastic happenings, which changed their lives and their families for a good long while. I know people like that but they have reasons to and they do not hate every single person of that race but just a few selected ones.


nice one s-kay.

the issue here isn't about race - it's about being foreign, different, the other.

vincent - on chinese new year and chinese is a race not a religion, maybe you want to look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_folk_religion

Paul : In your excitement, you failed to properly read through the article you linked and misunderstood it, I think.

The first line says enough : "Chinese folk religion comprises the religion practiced in much of China." Religion practiced in China does not equate to Chinese being a religion, no?

And since you look at wikipedia as a reliable source of information, then perhaps you would also like to search for "folk religion" in which it says: "Folk religion consists of beliefs, superstitions and cultural practices transmitted from generation to generation."

After all that, maybe a dose of "Germanic Paganism" would satisfy you? No, my friend, religious practices of a certain race does not equate to that race being a religion.


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