I don’t know if I should fault The Star’s English of its front-page story today or to try to understand what the Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi means when he assured Malaysians at the 54th General Assembly of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) yesterday that “his policies” will be “fair and equitable” to them. Doesn’t fair mean equitable? Anyway, is Abdullah saying that he’s abandoning all racially discriminatory policies such as the National Economic Policy (NEP)? The NEP isn’t really fair to the Malays because it aims to give only 30% of the nation’s economy to them and the other indigenous people, collectively known as Bumiputra or sons of the soil, who make up slightly more than half of Malaysia’s 25 million people who include ethnic Chinese and Indians. But, of course, the NEP isn’t HIS policy. Or is it?
Can Malaysians then expect Abdullah to replace Najib Tun Razak with Ong Ka Ting, president of the MCA, Abdullah’s Umno’s bedfellow in the 13-member Nasional Barisan national coalition government, as his deputy premier? Or perhaps Samy Vellu, president of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), another BN party? That would be “fair and equitable”, wouldn’t it?
Can Malaysians expect to be considered for places in public universities on merit alone, regardless of their race? And can Malaysians expect that the appointment of the next Bank Governor, the Chief Justice, the Attorney-General, the Inspector-General of Police, the army general and other government officers will be made on merit alone? That would be “fair and equitable”, wouldn’t it? But then (like the NEP) the civil service policies, the education policies and many other government policies aren’t Abdullah’s policies. And he’s not to be blamed if he doesn’t live up to his “fair and equitable” rhetoric at yesterday’s MCA meeting. In Malaysia, many English words take on different meanings: fair doesn’t necessarily mean fair. Thus this explains why Abdullah is compelled to stress, “I have been fair, I want to be fair and I will always be fair.”
Ps: I can’t understand this sentence in the Star story:
“Abdullah also stressed the importance of sincere leaders who take into account the interests of all races, are fair and just in their actions and consider the feelings of others in their decision-making.”
… and this quote from Abdullah:
“Leaders should not harbour intentions of isolating or discriminating against any race. This should never be done. If a leader tries to isolate a certain race, he is not fit to be a leader in this country,” he said.
Can anyone explain them to me?