Middle Class Malay Perspective?

The earlier article I wrote mainly about the gratitude and attitude of some rich and wealthy who I considered lost in transition. However, after some blog hoppings, my attention was to this article from the Star.

Huzir Sulaiman has written for theatre, film, television, and newspapers, who I supposed has lots of exposure of life in his life, as a professional writer should. After all, what he writes should reflects some picture of lives (unless a sci-fi production). I kept on reading the article, and the interviews included did reflect something – gratitude and attitude of the malays interviewed (and may some of us too!).

I supposed the likes of Datuk Sakmongkol with his two articles (this and this), Mat Cendana, Jed Yoong and DSN for examples has given their thoughts on the article written. As from my point of view, I would say, the so called middle class are not middle class. If they were, seems not only some of the wealthy have been selfish, but the middle class also infected by the virus of being selfishness!

Let us review on the individuals interviewed. We have Fahmi Fadzil, 27, is a writer and performer. He is the son of Datuk Fadzil Yunus, the former director-general – and later general manager – of the Felda group of companies, and Datin Fauziah Ramly, a senior civil servant who was most recently a Commissioner with the Public Service Commission. Then we have Datuk Zahim Albakri, 45, the director and actor, is the son of Datuk Ikmal Hisham Albakri, the first Malay architect and the first President of Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia, who designed the National Library, Putra World Trade Centre, and the Bank Bumiputera headquarters in KL. We also have The composer Datin Saidah Rastam comes from a family steeped in public life. Her maternal grandfather was Perak’s 14th Datuk Panglima Kinta, who held 56 public service posts at the time of his death. Her father is Datuk Rastam Hadi, the former managing director of Petronas and former deputy governor of Bank Negara. Her husband is the urbane lawyer-turned-banker Datuk Charon Mokhzani (who, with exquisite politeness, declined to be interviewed for the article).

Hmm..middle class are they? They maybe middle class by background history who have achieved success in their life. However, it does not mean a simple conclusion can be drawn, to the fact they are surrounded by successful individuals, which in this case, malays.

The first commenter, Mr Fahmi Fadzil who has been living in KL, in a God given good life. He said “The thing I remember most from school, from kelas agama, (is that) from the early days of Islam there was a clear message that you were all the same. Whether you were Arabs or not, you are all the same now. We should be talking about values and principles held by people rather than subscribing to simplistic ideas of certain ethnicities being the owners of the land. I don’t subscribe to that, and even if I did, I think the rightful owners would be the Orang Asal.” The principal point of view seems fine. Islam is larger than Malay, however, as for Malaysia, it is a bit unique case. If for not Malay, Bumi and the new brothers and sisters in Islam who will take care of Islam in this country, who will? Do you think that others will fight for us? I wonder if the Islamic Finance introduced in Malaysia was planned by non-muslim? If so, I believe, most of issue pertaining to Islamic issues has been resolved. And I believe, as for the rest of the world, Palastine issue has be resolved much much earlier.

Yet again, if they are labelled as middle class, I don’t share the same view. By way of stats given by Program Amal Jariah, I say, a lot of work still need to be done. Let us look the stats as at 18th December 2008, 5.50pm, shall we?


PAJ Stats by Race 18-12-08
PAJ Stats by Race 18-12-08

More than 80% receiver are Malays. If they are successful, there are some who left behind. Not because they are lazy, but some of them are not as fortunate as some of us. I may not know the modus operandi of this program, but I do remember once I visited a rural area in one of the states in Peninsular. This guy, a small time fisherman, was at home, repairing his broken boat engine. A small one, but too rusty, really. His income based on what he catches for the day. The maximum he can received for a kilo of fish he caught is RM4. Imagine, just RM4 for every kilo. For ‘kembung’ we bought in market costs us RM9 a kilo. RM5 difference! If he don’t go to the sea fishing, as what happened the day I visited him due to problemed engine, he has no income for the day.

There are some more that I have by chance visited some who shared the same luck. With my own personal experience, I would say, the stats given above is somehow true.

I know, some may argue that there are some more that unfortunate, and yes, I agree. Thus, by far, if more than 80% consist from Malays, I believe, the statements made by these ‘middle class’ were made based on their own world view. Not the perspective shared by some other middle class who does not have any strong back up as the individuals interviewed. And I believe, somehow Mr Huzir has given false view and impression. Perhaps the picture given suits his article (as given in the earlier article). Only that, it should be “middle class” and the poor!

Gap between Rich and Poor
Gap between Rich and Poor

Words on the street – Some ‘middle class’ are not middle class at all…anyway, is there any classes? Are we in India?

p/s: Oh yeah, I believe the personnel mentioned in this article written by Nobisha, he also should see what’s really going on with Malays in rural area. Example as shown by JMD’s CSR work done.


6 thoughts on “Middle Class Malay Perspective?

  1. Its nothing to do with laziness. Its all to do with corruption – or to put nicely know who technology!
    People aren’t stupid – they will always move to the path that achieves prosperity with the least amount of risk. Finance calls this the utility curve.
    Sorry to inject politics into it, but thats the essence of the state of affairs. During Dr M’s time it was made abundantly clear that its not what you know, its who you know!

    So this was how the game was played. Now other bloggers will try and demonize LKY – well, why not we brave and ask ourselves, what lessons can we learn from LKY’s Singapore rather than kid ourselves with this way of looking at a small and increasingly shrinking pie – Race A gets 30%, Race B gets 60% and the rest are left to fend for themselves.

    The truth is, as Sime Darby just showed, its the guys on the top who will gorge themselves and leave millions to fight for some Amal Jariah help!

    ODS: It is undeniable that politics play some factor in our daily life. Politics by original nature isn’t dirty, but human makes it dirty.

    As for the Sime issue, I couldn’t agree more in the event statement caught by you in your article. Awkward move by Sime in general. Eagle eye huh?

    Sadly, I know the Program Amal Jariah benefits the poor, but it does not compensate any wrong doings made or to be made. Weird isn’t it, if RM100 mil to be shared by thousands of people, but on the other hand a few millions/hundred thousands gone into the pockets of few people.

  2. very-very interesting, eye opening and worth to ponder about for the next cup of Nescafe Gold 😀

    Thanks for this very nice thought mate.

    ODS: Thanks for dropping by Mr. Ahfa 🙂

  3. Salam ODS,

    Secara peribadi program PPRT telah membuahkan hasil, walaupun not entirely flawless.

    You brought an example of a poor fisherman. In his case, we can blame on the system for not doing enough to protect the small timer rom being manipulated. But can we entirely blame on the system.

    Just imagine in South America, the price for a large guni of coffee beans paid to rural farmer is far less than the price for a cup of coffee at san francisco’s coffee. Middle markets as usual suck the marrow out of poor farmers and producers.


    ODS: Yup Mr Singh, the system looks as if do not protect the interest of the poor. It is actually there are some people who exploits the system and left some who are unfortunate to stay unfortunate.

    And that’s what upset me whenever any malay claimed there’s no need for NEP/DEB anymore. NEP/DEB is created to help these people, not to get the rich getting richer and richer. Right?

  4. Nope NEP/DEB was replaced with privatisation. Now privatisation creates monopolies, and even worse monopolies with a govt backed gurrantee.

    The only NEP/DEB program that directly contributes to improving Malays are initiatives in education, maybe about 1.3 billion each year. So if we multiply that by 30 ~ its about RM 40 billion.
    The total size of the economy is about RM 1 trillion so 4% spent on a cummalative basis over the last 30 years.

    Back to monopolies – the monopolies control the distribution network be it BERNAS, be it PLUS, be it TNB, be it TM or SIME (distribution and producer of palm oil). These segments are not exposed to competition are run haphazardly and all that NEP/DEB has done was to transfer the wealth of a couple of million to a couple of thousands.

    Piggy mentioned about South America. Guess what, the percapita of the supposed Arabica coffee bean grower in Brazil is just USD 17 lower than the padi farmer in Malaysia (of course a bit of poetic oomph here)

    ODS: Just a little bit confused here. Wasn’t DEB (1971-1990) replaced by Dasar Pembangunan Nasional, which most of DEB’s basic principals (that’s why the term ‘DEB’ still stays).

    The dimensions cover repair the unbalanced social and economy, continuation on liberal approach towards ownership of shares, and the minorities also to be considered. A concise presentation can be obtained here. This info is obtained from a government website, and available for public view.

    Privatisation is one of the tools used, which, clearly in recent news, being exploited (as the IJN issue). The thing that I don’t understand is some harping it as if TDM’s fault. All the accusations being made as if he is still in the government. And oh yeah, there are other course of actions in the DPN, not just privatisation.

    As stated in chedet.com, TDM has mentioned that not all privatisation is the best solution. Some of the ideas have been rejected.

    Monopolies? Then I should say, there should be no other telecommunication provider such as Digi, Maxis, TimeTelecom should exist in order to protect TM and Celcom. Even now broadband providers are not just TM Streamyx.

    By the way, you keep on harping on “per capita” which is for me does not show the absolute measure. It is one way, but not ABSOLUTE. If such African countries are doing well based on “Per Capita”, then such aid to African countries such as the AIDS campaign is no need as they have better per capita than us. Why they don’t use the resource available within the region instead of asking for world’s help? There’s no need to shout out to the world if they have the resources to do so. If so, I believe, based on your “per capita” argument, we do need aids (not AIDS) to help in building this nation. And I believe we have called for help during economic crisis in the late 90’s.


  5. Ok – no more mention on per capita. And I shall refrain form mentioning TDM in this response, and try and frame a larger picture.

    But the question on the aid for Aids is puzzling; truth be said, in terms of healthcare that is where we do excel. For that we are actually on par with developed countries, even USA.

    On telecommunication providers, well thats an example of a monopolistic business. Not all industries are modelled on perfect competition – undifferentiated product, freedom of entry and exit,… Due to the high capital involved, the business will be monopolistic – but the emergence of disruptive technologies such as VoIP and wifi may erode the huge profit margins.

    There is DEB,NEP and DPN. And there is DEB, NEP and DPN. The question should be whats the end objective? If its a simple wealth redistribution exercise, then simplistic policies will work – take from A and give to B, heck an explicit tax policy will do just fine.

    I had looked at one dimension but cannot mention it anymore as you have rejected it.
    So what would be your defintion of an objective and set of priorities.

    ODS: I’m not rejecting it solely, but I prefer to see in other aspects too. Nevermind, I’ve done some small research and just post it moments ago.

    On the economic variables, I’ve mentioned it thorugh my comments in your article and Doc Sid’s article. Please re-read it and provide for readers’ analysis.

    Telecommunication is not monopolistic anymore. We have Maxis, Digi, Time as option to TM and Celcom. Monopolistic can be considered before we have all these optional providers.

    Thank you.

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