Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is The Chinese Short-Sighted and Selfish ? (Part 1 : Kiasu)

Read this and judge for yourself:

Malaysia Today : TODAYonline - What about the Chinese?

THE recent spate of street protests may have affected Malaysia's international image to a certain extent. But at home, the protests could go some way in halting the Chinese community's slide in support for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).

In fact, the government may even gain a few votes from the community, which had been leaning towards the opposition in recent months.

One reason for this change of heart lies in the traditional conservative belief of the Chinese that such street protests are bad for business.

The Hindraf protests were given wider coverage on Mandarin television news broadcasts than on national Malay language bulletins that day - perhaps a sign that the authorities were sending a message to the Chinese community that BN stood for law and order while the opposition represented some form of anarchy.

It was particularly noticeable that in fact, the Chinese were conspicuous by their virtual absence from both protests.

Madam F L Chen, a 50-something long-time resident of Petaling Jaya suburb, said she did not understand what the protests were all about."I could not go out that day to do any shopping. I just do not understand what the protesting was about," she told Weekend Extra.

Her reaction is perhaps stereotypical of many Chinese Malaysians, who, while not happy with the government over a host of issues including perceived discrimination, will not vote opposition if there is a chance it will lead to instability.

First of all, in my opinion most Chinese folks belong to the selfish lot. Perhaps, Malaysian Chinese should not call Singaporean Chinese kiasu, kiasi and kiachenghu. With much disappointment I would say a big number of Malaysian Chinese are not much different than what they perceive of their Singaporean counterparts.

Let's talk about kiasu first. According to the excerpt above, a Chinese auntie is concerned when she is not able to shop because of protests. I do not think she is concerned with the reason of protest and such. Maybe some would say it is arguable that this aunt does not represent Malaysian Chinese in entirety. However, bear in mind I do have a number of Chinese friends that labelled so-called protesters and rally participants as "criminals" or express downright condemnation over the affairs.

Now, why is it kiasu? Shopping is common in Malaysia. You can shop almost anytime and almost anywhere you like. We have several shopping malls in specific locations even around Kuala Lumpur itself. The issue here is, does one sideline national issues over the inability to shop ?

In essence, when one knows there is a protest going on, there could be something that is not right in the country. Protests mostly but not all arise from dissatisfaction over some handling of issues or perceived unfair treatment towards certain social groups. Rallies may stem out from a need to stake one's point for the benefit of the nation. Otherwise it could be some demand for the betterment of some procedures in the interest of all.

Selfishly, these selfish group of people will then conclude it has nothing to do with them. "Politics has nothing to do with me", they say. Such perception is definitely ironic. How could it have nothing to do with you? An election is a place for you to determine your future by choosing the correct leadership. A sham democracy represented by a rigged election may lead to marginalisation of your community. You and your children may suffer from the outcome of a poor leadership that may not be the aspiration of the majority. A poor economy may result from poor leadership. Widespread corruption and crime criples the economy. How in the world do you perceive that has nothing to do with you? How do you get to shop if you cannot get better income for your business?

Therefore, the irony of placing shopping as a priority over dissent and dissatisfaction of social groups proves the inability of certain chinese folks to see the bigger picture or similarly can be termed as "short-sighted".

There are even those who say they do not support Indians who rallied because it is "the affair of Indians and not ours". This is a selfish thinking, in which, certain Chinese do not view themselves as Malaysians. Some would say "Oh no! I think myself as a Malaysian but still it is an Indian problem, nothing to do with me". They think, it is not their affair that certain people in the nation of Malaysia are in difficult livelihood. Now, how could you be a Malaysian if you do not think of the well-being of other Malaysians? How could you expect to be treated as a Malaysian if you do not treat others as Malaysians?

As for those who label protesters as criminals, I would like to refer to a protest this year in Johor. It was right after a rape case. I am sure most of the chinese would know the crime in Johor is escalating. These people were protesting against crime. They were asking for police to do something useful to instil stability. So, how could these people who protested against crime be regarded as criminals? Ironic, isn't it? Stupidity or Short-Sighted, you decide. Could both work hand in hand?

So what if someone planned to protest over the matter of Mission schools must have crosses removed or over the Kampung Berembang incident ( as reported in Malaysiakini ) ? What if you are part of the mission schools or part of the people who was removed forcefully from their home ? Do you still label yourself as a criminal if you protest? Do you still place importance on shopping or other leisure activities? The fact that these did not directly affect certain chinese folks therefore did not see support or attention from these people prove again the selfishness and short-sightedness of certain groups.

Of course, there are exceptions to the selfish and short-sighted kiasu people in the chinese community. The question remains, "how many of them?". In my opinion, it is a minority.

( Coming up... Is The Chinese Short-Sighted and Selfish ? (Part 2 : Kiasi) )


True Justice said...

Pls don't simply make a comment like that. Most Chinese in Malaysia has been using the mainstream print and electronic media as their source of info and you and i know what those contents are-just government propaganda.Besides, you are looking at one "old auntie" as your source of comment. For the younger generation, most will support the opposition.
I will like to ask all those indians who voted for the BN in the past, WHY BN? Don't you think you're all so stupid to support a party who practices discriminatory policies against your race, and also a highly corrupted party?
The indians deserve what they have voted. Instead of blaming others, they should SLAP themselves in the face.But I dare say, majority of chinese have voted against the BN or else you won't see Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang and the others in parliment.

Anonymous said...

I'm Chinese myself, and with much frustration, I'd have to agree with you: the Chinese community are by and large, fundamentally selfish and shortsighted. More than any other community, they are driven by personal fears and incentives than by ideals - the result of pragmatism tending towards the mercenary.

The Malaysian Chinese are basically divided into 3 camps: the dedicated opposition camp; the government sycophants and mercenaries; and the kiasi/kiasu/kiachenghu/bochap (afraid to die/afraid to lose/afraid of the govt/just don't care about anything outside their ricebowl) paranoid-apathetic camp - which makes up the majority.

As the article mentions: while there is widespread discontent amongst the Chinese, it is still an open question whether this will translate into opposition votes at the next election, especially if there is a danger that some foolish auntie's shopping trip might be jeopardised by instability. This chronic myopia (willingness to sacrifice their rights for false short-term promises of stability) is what allows UMNO to keep playing the race card to bully the docile Chinese back in line.

I run into enormous resistance when trying to raise political awareness even amongst my own family and friends.

In this coming election, I believe the Chinese vote will be decisive. From my observations: PAS and Keadilan together will be able to secure a significant block of the Malay vote - at least 33% = 20% of total votes by proportion. The Indian vote is gone to the opposition I'm sure, which gives another 8%. That's a min. 28% in the bag, with potentially more from the Malay bloc.

That leaves the Chinese with a 25% vote block. From this, at least 5% are hardcore opposition and can be relied on to deliver the votes. 5% are mercenaries and will vote BN.

The remaining 15% will decide the popular vote. Unfortunately, this is the paranoid/apathetic camp.

The Chinese vote will be decisive. We must capture this block, or risk losing the reform momentum built up so far.

Anonymous said...

This is the way its gonna be.Until and unless all Malaysians wake and realise the importance of nation building.The politicians will be running it as they seem fit

Anonymous said...

I was a teacher in a well-known Chinese school. Using my experience in market research in my earlier years, I can say with a degree of certainty that I have met enough teachers across Malaysia to represent as-good-as-you-can-get cross section to say that, even as guardians of intellectualism, morality and ethics, your average teacher is as shallow, materialistic, unenlightened and sedated as the rest of the population.

You would expect better of teachers, to be the frontline of society, intellectualism, morals, ethics, etc. Somehow when you choose a professional job like a doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher - there is a certain moral ground and ethical standard you should adhere to and defend. Apparently not.

Our Chinese students are not academic products you can be proud of even if they can score 20,000 'A's in their lifetime. They have 'goals' without purpose, ...and if ever there was purpose, it is a misguided and shallow one.

I'm not pulling generaalisations out of the air...the Chinese are generally selfish and shallow and at best, sympathetic to social causes. The only thing they will shout with passion is how 'the Malays are robbing us of our wealth and opportunities'. They don't see all of us as 'Malaysians'...but as 'them privileged ones vs. us'

The question I want you to answer is : How did we become like this? Is it our culture that makes us this way? Has it got something to do with some of the traditions we practise? Were we like this 50-60 years ago? If we were, how did we join hands in the 1947'hartal'. Were we more socially conscious then or .....?

What's wrong with us? Like one student of mine said, 'They keep telling us what's wrong with our country but they can't tell us how to make things better'. As a current generation, the Chinese, myself included, are not socially aware citizens. We're like uneducated zombies. I even question myself whether we Chinese deserve to be citizens of this country since the only thing we care about is whether we can make a living and take advatange of others while making sure no one gets anything from us in return.

Anonymous said...

Its true, some of my surrounding friends r kiasu and don't even ask y r they protesting.. i am totally agree with u.

can't wait for ur following comment for kiasi and kiachenghu

bnlm said...

As a Chinese myself, I can said that the Chinese are not short sighted and selfish, but rather show their feelings on electoral polls. Let's see how the Chinese vote this time. Definitely the Chinese will support the BN. They will lost in areas where the Chinese are the majority. We Chinese do not believe in street demonstrations. Such actions will solved any problems knowing very well that this BN government will not listen. Don't based your judgement on some 'old auntie'. At 63 myself, you should have my view.

Anonymous said...

I believe that my fellow Chinese friends can accept your comments that Chinese are Kiasu, Kiasi and Kiachenghu but they can’t accept your view or Leslie’s view. If you ask around or any reporters ask any Chinese on the street, they will guarantee tell you that they support BN, MCA or Gerakan because the Chinese has been trained by their parents not to tell people who they support. They will not disclose their dissatisfaction; remember during the Ops Lalang in the 80’s the Chinese leaders and Chinese news paper are condemned by the government.

This is a real situation that the Chinese feel when come to General Election I can assure you that the Chinese has been always with the opposition. In the city, the Chinese has always put the opposition in the parliament as watchdog since 1969 until now. In the 80’s and 90’s the Malay has been always criticising the Chinese been opposition. The Malay only begins to realise that they need to view on another angle after Anwar been victimise.

Being a Malay, I has been supporting PSRM that work closely with DAP but in the 80’s, Malay will not work with DAP because many of us feel that DAP is “Parti Cina” which I have for a long time feel discriminated by my own relatives because of following Razak Ahmad (PSRM). After Anwar’s case then only Malay start to give a deeper thought about supporting opposition. And now we hear some new opposition supporter giving their view that the Chinese has not doing much. Look! the Chinese were the one that decide the king maker since independent. They voted for good of the country from economic, social, politic and culture, they never vote with emotion after 1969. The Chinese has been unpopular because they vote smartly. During the 70’s & 80’s MCA has been struggling in convincing the Chinese voters. They almost causes BN fall in the early 90’s with Gagasan Rakyat under Tengku Razaleigh as the most prominent with the alliance of Semangat 46, PAS, DAP, PSRM and PBS. If not the Malay sway by TV3 that showed Kuli with the cross on his head (slow motion for 10 minutes and air on TV3 & RTM for 3 days 3 nights before 1990 Election, Gagasan Rakyat has been the government with a new line up of more transparent peoples (which everyone hope for long time ago).

So, now who is to be blame during that time? That moment has been the moment for new changes but the Malays has been so emotional because they think twice when it comes to religious. Melayu mudah lupa. In the 90’s the Chinese only voted BN at the end of 90’s because they need Dr M to drive the economy to the right direction. Do you remember 1 September 1997 the car crash of Princess Diana? In another place on the globe, Ringgit started to drop like crazy; I have gained quite a bit because my Chinese boss asks me to sell all my foreign currency. But was also mark the fall of Ringgit. With bad economic position the Chinese have to be Kiasi because all their investment in shares was burned. So, what will you do if you were facing this situation? Kill the present government and have worse nightmares? The sudden switch to support BN was because of circumstances.

And in 2004 they think that Mr Nice promises was promising to lead the country to more competitive economically but a big disappointment that lead them to find their own way overseas. Well I still believe that the Chinese are not emotional when come to voting. They will vote according to circumstances and the Chinese is not so easily sway by sweet talk because they don’t need bribery such as lembu, ayam, kambing or mesin jahit; they didn’t get any discount when they buy houses; they are financially sound if they wanted to migrate; they are educated that help overseas university to be First Class University (check those Vice Chancellor List & 1st Honours List in overseas university) and our Ringgit that flow to overseas will only help the overseas uni to be more richer and have more 1st class facilities.

I am not envy or jealous but as good Malay that believe in tolerance are happy with all my Chinese and Indian friends that also accepting me being different. Well even Malays are happy staying overseas because they can truly feel the different being open and breathe a new breath.

Laksarian said...

I am Chinese and I fully agree with your article. I am lucky because my parents are politically aware and we can engage in deep discussions unlike my friends.

Great article, can't wait for your next one.

Michael said...

Hey friend, I didn't manage to read your bit earlier until you posted the link in MT. Have you ever been to any "feel good" seminars where they speak gentle, and speak nice? What happens when they go home? They forget it all, rather, remembering how good the food was, or how nice the place was. I decided to use "reverse-pschylogy" and tackle the same issue. Glad to know that we are on the same page, just with a different choice of words.

Keep it up man