Kuala Lumpur- The legendary Malay warrior Hang Tuah`s fabled phrase `Never Shall the Malays Vanish from The Face of Earth` is a reminder of the Malay superiority during the glorious days of the Melaka sultanate.
But with the country nearing its 50 years of independence and developing at a furious pace, there are some would beg to differ, considering the malaise afflicting the present day Malays, especially the younger generation.
While the Malays would probably not become physically extinct , their dignity and position should never be taken for granted.
For the race that spearheaded the struggle for independence, it is an irony that in the post Merdeka era, even though many Malays have succeeded well, a considerably large number are well known for all the wrong reasons.
Malays Known For The Wrong Reasons
Mention drug addiction and statistics will reveal that Malays far outnumber the other race. The punk culture, free sex, incest, children born out of wedlock, gangsterism, rape, snatch theft and robbery all put the Malays in a bad light. The wayward bikers or `mat rempit` are 100 percent Malays.
The hearts of those who are aware of this malaise have every reason to feel at loss, uneasy and anxious at this predicament. The Malay leaders have been doing their best to get the message across on the crucial need for a paradigm shift in the Malay mind for the sake of the Malays and the nation`s future.
Another setback for Malay dignity is their belief in `shortcuts to success`, as pointed out Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that a big number of Bumiputera contractors had taken the easy way out by selling the contracts given to them to the non-Bumiputeras.
Abdullah hit out at this attitude because it not only derails the government`s efforts to empower Bumiputera contractors but in the bigger picture it contributes to the failure of the Bumiputera agenda that is core to the development and the stability of the nation in the long run.
Whither The Younger Generation
The younger generation of today are seen as the leaders of tomorrow but for UMNO veteran Tan Sri Aishah Ghani, the present younger generation obviously lacks direction.
The Malay youngsters, she noted are easily influenced by negative elements and fail to get their priorities right.
"All this has got to do with discipline. The Malays don`t have strong discipline, lack will power and are over indulgent in entertainment that has led them in the wrong path.
"When I observe the Malay lifestyle today, no doubt there are many Malays who have succeeded but they are vulnerable to various negative influences and easily overwhelmed," said Aishah in interview with Bernama at her office recently.
She added that only the fittest can face the challenges can rise to the occasion.
Many Drop Out
Chairman of the History and Patriotism Study Institute (IKSEP) Datuk Dr Hj Mohd Jamil Mukmin felt many have dropped out of society and development.
He regretted that those who dropped out account for a big portion of the society and their number would swell further if social woes like drug addiction and gangsterism were not effectively addressed .
Had these people managed to make their way to institutions of higher learning like colleges, universities or vocational schools, they could contribute to the human resources needed for nation building.
"Not only could they have saved their own fate, they would have also contributed to the nation`s development," he said.
Mohd Jamil also regretted that those who did well in life were not patriotic to the nation.
The Quality of The Human Resources
While the government is finding ways to enhance the human resources through a paradigm shift, Mohd Jamil is obviously disappointed with the quality of the graduates produced by the nation today.
"The graduates that our institutions of higher learning are producing of late from our wouldn`t be able to help in nation building. We have more than 100,000 unemployed graduates and many of them are working in factories and shopping complexes despite having their degree.
"We should now focus on human resource development. We have to develop the Malays so that they exude a global mentality, are highly educated in all fields and are ready to compete," he said.
To achieve this, he stressed, the education system must be revolutionised with emphasis placed on science and technology to produce exemplary Malay leaders and entrepreneurs.
Mohd Jamil wants to see at least 80 percent of the Malays qualified with at least a diploma by 2020.
"If a person is smart but unemployed, sooner or later he/she will be able to stand on his/her own feet and compete and no longer need to depend on assistance," he added.
Parents Cant` be Bothered
Education and human capital are interrelated but many Malay parents feel that teachers are solely responsible for their children`s education.
Elaborating on this, Aishah said, parents in fact have a greater role to play in their children`s education.
"Malay parents often fail to pay attention on their children`s studies. They think that education is confined only to the classroom. So these parents have every reason to feel contend when their children are in schools," she added.
Aishah dwelled further, saying the Malay urbanisation process prompted a culture shock for the community and brought about numerous woes.
"Previously the Malays were told to migrate to the towns but today it`s evident that they have yet to adapt to urban living.
"They drifted as squatters, their children neglected and this has continued for decades. This is something that can I recall vividly from my experience during my days in the National Consultative Council (NCC)," added Aishah.
If The Malays Are To Remain Dominant
An UMNO veteran from Melaka Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Tapa warned that the Malays have to work hard to gain knowledge if they were to remain dominant and at the forefront in the nation.
The Malays too have to think more said Abdul Aziz who recalled his father reminding him in the days of the occupation that that `if one can`t think, then one will forever remain a slave to others`.
He also pointed out that the Malays have to be earnest in their undertakings and forget about shortcuts to success.
"To remain a dominant race, the Malays must adopt Islam as `addin` (a way of life). It is most timely that Pak Lah (Prime Minister) introduced Islam Hadhari. Pak Lah has realised the spiritual void in the Malays," he added.
Malays Have a Ling Way To Go
The Malaysian Historical Association executive committee chairman Datuk Omar Hashim who concurred with Aziz said while many Malays have made it to the universities yet seeking knowledge is not second nature to them.
"It`s surprising because Islam wants its adherents to seek as much knowledge as possible, as knowledge is the core of the islamic civilisation" he explained.
He also reprimanded the attitude of some Malay youngsters who are increasingly distancing themselves from knowledge and fail to appreciate the spirit of independence.
"Maybe its because they have not experienced real sufferings like war or famine.
"The Japanese and the Chinese have undergone a harsh life that provided them with the essential lessons in life," he said.
Meanwhile Omar contended that on the whole the Malays are still drifting and lagging in many spheres and their success is only in relative terms while the other races have surged far ahead.
Omar pointed out that many of the changes for the better yearned by the Malays since the days of Datuk Onn Jaafar, who brought the Malays together under UMNO, have yet to materialise.
"Among them is to preserve the rights and honour of the Malays, freeing them from abject poverty and enhancing their economic standing so that they would be on equal level with the others.
"This is something that is yet to materialise though many attempts have been made since the days of Tunku Abdul Rahman and especially during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad`s tenure," he said.
Omar notes that though the nation will be celebrating half a century of independence on August 31, there are Malays classified as hardcore poor everywhere, who are left out from the nation`s development.
Therefore there is a serious need to address the malaise afflicting the Malays . Maybe the anniversary of 50 years of independence would help the Malay community to reflect on their weaknesses and provide the impetus for them to strive on the way forward.
Source: www.bernama.com (5 Juli 2007)