Proof that Malaysia is systematically racially segregated
By Zan Azlee
So the (social) media has been awash with rants of how this year’s Festival Filem Malaysia (FFM) has decided to break up the nomination categories to films in Bahasa Malaysia and non-Bahasa Malaysia.
Now, there are two awards for best film – one for a Bahasa Malaysia film and another for a non-Bahasa Malaysia film. And this separation happens in all the other major categories too.
I understand why so many people are outraged about this. I am too. This is just systematic racism and affirmative action blatantly taking place.
Although I am outraged, I am definitely not shocked. This kind of racism happens in Malaysia all too often that it almost defines how the system works here.
Let me give you a personal example. I play basketball. I used to play competitively (albeit rather terribly!) during my school and university days, but now it’s just for fun with a group of aging friends.
If you are not familiar with the open basketball tournaments in Malaysia, let me fill you in that there are tournaments that are for everyone and then there are those that are labelled ‘non-Chinese’.
Shocked and outrage? Sure.
The reason being is that Malaysian Chinese seem to dominate the sport and are leaps and bounds better than everyone else in the country.
And when they start to compete in a tournament, they just blow all the other teams that consist of other races away. And these other teams feel that it is unfair.
So in order to give the other races a chance to win, non-Chinese tournaments are organised so that all the other mediocre teams can compete on a ‘level’ playing field.
But this defeats the objective of the very existence of sports. Number one, this does not encourage diversity in the sports and just shows that it is racially segregated.
Number two, this also means that the other races who aren’t Chinese won’t be able to expose themselves to a better playing level in order to improve since they just compete with each other.
(This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any non-Chinese basketball players who excel individually. Many of my current basketball buddies who are non-Chinese used to play at very high levels of the game, but they are just the few who have the drive and motivation to excel. Generally, more Malaysian Chinese participate in the sport.)
Now back to the issue of this year’s FFM award categories. I don’t see any other intentions of separating the categories by language other than because they feel that most Bahasa Malaysia films don’t stand a chance at winning at all.
This year, we have had Malaysian films (let me stress on MALAYSIAN) that are not in Bahasa Malaysia like Jagat (and yes, Ola Bola too) that have brought local film storytelling to another level.
These are stories that are as Malaysian as ever. And it shows beautifully the diversity that exists in the country and in our complex society.
Why create a bubble where the mediocre gather and compete among themselves and pat each other on the back, while that bubble remain floating stagnantly?
Let there be an open environment of healthy competition. Let winners win because of their merits. Let those who do not win build a desire to improve and be better.