First, let us look at racialism in Australia. They have been having the “White Austrlia” policy since they first formed a democratically elected government in that country down under. They are a huge land mass, a continent, with a relatively tiny population, needing a huge number of workers to develop the country. Did they rush to develop and bring in foreign workers to their hearts content? No, they did not. Did they rush to achieve a fully developed nation status? No, they did not.
They were so stingy, so careful, so prudent in the intake of foreign labourers and in allowing foreigners to settle in Australia. The Whites were generally OK, the coloureds were not. They adopted a stringent selection of foreigners they want for their country. The neighbouring Indonesians and Papua New Guineans were not welcomed, are continuously hounded, day in and day out, on the periphery of the 12 mile territorial waters of Australia. The Australian TV programme “Border Security” shows that the moment the poor fishermen strayed into their waters, the Indonesian Navy and Coast Guards accost them, arrest them, tow their boats to the Australian coastal town, lock them up, charge them, confiscate their small boats (perhaps their only earthly material possession), fine them and deport them.
Is the “White Australia” policy not racist? Of course they say not. They say it’s “the protection of our national interest.” The whites are in their national inerest, the coloureds are not. Otherwise, the place is swarmed with browns, yellows and what have you. The Whites might become a minority and marginalized. The first of the articles below tells more about racism in Australia and comments on what racism means.
Then Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa got accused as racist. Donald Lim accused him so but also got accused racist. Read the subsequent articles.
The Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu article below that talks about the Keris-wielding Malay, about “The first thing I learned when I first started hanging out with the Chinese boys in secondary school was how to curse fluently in Cantonese”, about “that yuppie who vehemently declares himself Malaysian yet can’t have a decent conversation in Bahasa Malaysia”, yet the writer expresses his hopes of all of us “accepting who we are and cultivating unity in more natural ways”.
The next article asks “1Malaysia Menuju Kehancuran?”. It is written by the Pengarah Eksekutif National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI), an NGO said to be active in voter education etc, whose funding and objective are not clear. Other opinions expressed (including in vernacular Chinese newspapers), say that many in UMNO are not in support of their President Dato Seri Najib’s manner of promoting 1Malaysia.
This article alleges, “Timbalannya sendiri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin tidak bercakap senada dengannya dan dilihat tidak bersungguh-sungguh dalam memperjuangkan konsep 1 Malaysia. Begitu juga pimpinan-pimpinan Umno yang lain secara keseluruhannya”. The correctness and the objective of the allegation cannot be ascertained but there are many Malays holding the opinion that the UMNO President, Najib, has been promoting Chinese interests rather than the interests of his own party members – the Malays. These are matters of serious concern to all of us citizens, as instability in UMNO, which has been the backbone of the country’s leadership since independence, may affect the stability of the whole country. Najib has to rethink and readjust his steps. More importantly, he has to re-examine and re-evaluate Malaysian values and determine, based on the Constitution, who and which are racist and who and which are not, for the sake of stability, unity and uninterrupted progress in the country.
Finally, those who can spare the time, do read what a mainland Chinese say about a German Foundation report showing more than half of the 8,700 articles on China in the German media having a prejudiced perspective about China, that 70% of Germans hold negative opinions about China. As per Eunice Ong’s article in the previous post, many Chinese in Malaysia may already feel they have their roots in this country but for those who may hold China in awe and glory, even in deference to their country of citizenship, they should note that the grass may not be greener the other side. Racism or otherwise in this country.
Racism and tribalism — Raja Ratnam
July 13, 2010
JULY 13 — A newly-arrived lad of 19, very light-brown in colour and expensively clothed, is walking through a posh arcade in the fashionable part of an Australian city. The normal sounds of a busy street on a Saturday morning are suddenly interrupted by a shout. It is repeated twice. The people walking through the arcade stop to watch.
A well-padded middle-aged woman, clad in the then-ubiquitous gabardine overcoat and carrying a string-bag containing her shopping, is shouting “Why don’t you go back home, you black bastard?”
The Asian too stops, when he realises that the shouting is in his direction. He looks behind him and sees that he is the target; but he is mystified. As he shrugs and walks away, the young student wonders: What right does this woman have to behave like that? What kind of people are these?
In British Malaya, where he was born and well educated, this youth had not noted any antipathy between the diverse ethnic communities there. Immigrants from China, India, and the islands surrounding Malaya, and the host people, the Malays, co-existed, with mutual tolerance. The British rulers were the only ones to display any ethnic superiority; but few of the local people were directly affected by that. The so-called natives did not emphasise the obvious differences in religion, cultural practices, and language. Indeed, ethnic cuisines and clothing styles began to be borrowed, and the people gradually began to merge into a nation.
Over the years, the overt racism in Australia became reduced. Habituation, acceptable behaviour, and a shared respect for British institutions, such as justice, law and order, as well as the English language, all played a part. Most importantly, the Australian working man, who walked and stood tall in a relatively class-less nation, was willing — in spite of an obvious sense of white-Christian colonial-superiority — to treat the Asian students (almost all from British-held territories) as he personally found them.
Also of great relevance was something not seemingly sensed by the host people. Indians and Chinese, no matter how poor their families, are proud of their respective heritage. As one Chinese student read to his classroom in Australia, his people had been civilised for more than 5,000 years, “long before the white man came down from the trees.” He was not intolerant; only confidently proud.
The odd retaliatory retort also helped to contain the yobbos. When a couple of the latter made loud derogatory remarks about “the blacks” being allowed into the bar (and that was because the Australian Aborigine was then not allowed to enter a hotel or bar), the well-dressed young Asians at the bar quietly walked out. As they left, one called back “Haven’t you got a mother either?”
By the mid-1960s the White Australia Policy was being quietly eased. By the mid-1970s immigration entry was officially non-discriminatory; yet it was not until the end of the 1980s that the darker Asians were accepted in comparable numbers. By the mid-1990s racism had re-surfaced, with some virulence; the trigger was a claim by a new politician that there were too many Asians in the country. An academic pointed out that this was an attempt to protect white-space. That black-space had been invaded successfully two centuries earlier was not mentioned in the debate. The young Asian of 1949 was again publicly abused because of his skin colour — in 1995!
By then, angry young Aborigines were defiantly shouting, in public parks “This is our land. Piss off.” By then, the education dollar and a quaint people-grabbing immigration policy led to vast numbers of Indians and Chinese being seen to fill the streets of the capital cities. This upset many Anglo-Australians, especially the elderly.
Then criminality surfaced. Young Indians were attacked, one killed. Not racist, claimed the police. Were other Asians — the Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans and Lebanese — attacked? Is the Indian too similar in appearance to the clearly-despised Aborigine? Or, is his fluency with the English language an affront? Is he taking jobs from unskilled white people? Or, was there some copy-cat behaviour?
Ethnic turf-wars involving macho Asian youth became reported in the press. Some immigrant Muslim leaders now want Australia’s institutions to be changed to suit them; apparently they miss the syariah law they never had. Young Muslim women proudly display their superior culture by wearing the hijab, or even the burqa in public. The turf-wars are transient; when the testosterone levels drop off!
The arrogance of the few Muslim people who choose to be divergent will probably remain; whereas the efforts by some ethnic Europeans a few decades ago to have English denied as the national language or to use the then multiculturalism policy to emphasise cultural difference (and implied cultural superiority?) did fade away. The rest of the population rejects this cultural posturing by new arrivals seeking a better life.
Following the invasion of Australia, the various white tribes of Britain and some representatives of continental European tribes blended together to form the Anglo-Australian. The post-war immigrants from Europe also blended in to create a cosmopolitan Australia. Coloured immigrants from all over the world are now integrating to become a revised Australian people. Many marriages ignore ethnic or tribal boundaries. In three generations, any imported cultural differences could normally be expected to fade away, through societal commingling and shared education in schools.
However, racism, that is, discrimination against a fellow resident or citizen on the basis of skin colour (a practice initiated by white colonisers in their rampage over technologically inferior coloured people) will continue. People tend to protect and promote (whether in employment or in politics) those who are like them. Is this not so in the US, the first of the immigrant-created nations of the West? Tribalism, based on ethnicity or country of origin, will also continue as a basis for preference for one’s own. Does this also not apply in the Western world?
While discrimination is a human attribute, Australia is gradually becoming racially tolerant. The indigene may not concur. A significant deep-sea current driving this tolerance is that fabled “fair-go” Anglo-Celt ethos of yore. This reflects an urge for equitable treatment which began in a nation of mainly convict men; it was subsequently extended to include the women. It is now available to the new arrivals, even to those who want the freedom of a tolerant and equitable secular home, but prefer to exercise that freedom within the tents of their alienating cultures. That is not racism, but the worst of tribalism.
In the long run, a desirable unity of belonging, evolving from a diversity of origins and beliefs, can come only from achieving one integrated people from many.
* Raja Ratnam is the author of The Dance of Destiny.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or the publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.
Some of the comments:
fabianchan• 1 day ago
You’re right. However, you’d missed out one thing. Racialism breeds when people believes in race superiority. The world wars was started due to such belief and hence their right over others’ rights and land. When one temper with such race rhetorics, the end results sometimes goes far beyond what was anticipated and unfortunately, unremorseful to such perpetrators. Such behaviours should be nipped immediately, never allowing it to fester and causing uncontrollable damages. In a civil society, especially where a country holds many ethnicity, we must and should be sensitive, understanding, tolerance and respectful to each other. When we failed, it’s unimaginable what sort of transformation will result from it. History had given us an insight into it. Please don’t repeat it.
mira• 21 hours ago
On the flip side, the uncontrolled flux of immigrants, especially economic migrant causes the local white to feel threaten. Remember Enoch Powell in the 70s, and remember how the BNP today has 2 elected MEPs. Britain is now introducing immigration cap because it has become an issue. People are inherently racist, especially when they see what they believe are resources belonging to them being taken up by others, or that their lifestyle is being diluted. Malaysia is pretty much the same, see how we treat the Indonesian – if a Malay did that to a chinese or indian it is racist, but anyone doing it to an Indonesian is not!!
You got yourself in trouble, Donald
By TAY TIAN YAN
Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Donald Lim Siang Chai could have been a little too imaginative, but in reality we odd to show him some pity.
I could almost see Ibrahim Ali laughing in secrecy somewhere.
All that Donald did was to suggest that a Perkasa kind of thing be set up for the Chinese community. But that alone was good enough to bring in all the reprimands, from his own party or rival ones, from his own community or other communities.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making the slightest hint at a support for Donald. Perkasa–whichever party talks about it–would most definitely drive me crazy.
But, Donald has an unusual habit of making truly creative talks, and since this has become a habit of him, I see no reason to sternly respond to his proposal, which makes quite an entertaining talk and which might fill the vacuum were there no other gossip topics at hand.
But if we were to treat his proposal in grave seriousness, we are looking for trouble ourselves.
So, I would like to advise Donald not to feel embarrassed or regretful.
Political commonsense is not hard to come by; a little hard work should produce the result.
But Donald could have felt distressed that a single proposal from him could land him in so much trouble, while Ibrahim Ali not only made the proposal, but substantiated it in the form of a real Perkasa, and shot himself to fame in so doing. Even Umno would try not to tread upon his turf.
The disparity in treatment couldn’t have come more conspicuous.
Many of the criticisms blasted at Donald have been made upon the foundation of political morality, equality and justice.
Absolutely. Racism is the dumbdest and most dangerous thing around!
The question is: Wasn’t Ibrahim Ali aware of it? Didn’t anyone tell him about it?
Sorry, morality and interests are two distinct objects, and when a choice needs to be made between the two, in politics, many will pick interests over morality.
The emergence of Perkasa could have been incidental, but the Perkasa mentality has chronically lurked inside the deepest beings of many people.
Under the dual pressure from globalisation and democratisation, it is imperative that Malaysia makes the essential changes towards greater openness. Such conservatism and defensive psyche will invariably invite backlash.
Ibrahim Ali has banked on this unique opportunity to catapult himself to political prominence.
By comparison, the Chinese community is at a relative disadvantage, with hardly any space for extremism to develop, and absolutely no practical benefits from such an inclination.
Even in the absence of ISA, no political parties or civil organisations will take the risk of exploiting this territory, as it will have extremely small following and practically no market value.
As a result, a Chinese outfit à la Perkasa is both morally inconceivable and infeasible.
Excessive creativity has made Donald a victim of his own trick.
Sin Chew Daily
Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu
July 14, 2010
JULY 14 — Now here’s the thing: I may be branded a heretic for saying this but I actually dislike Yasmin Ahmad’s movies. You know all those Chinese boy/Malay girl lovey-dovey and “Mukhsin” what-nots?
For one thing I find this scenario repetitive as it keeps appearing in her movies (or ads) but mostly the reason why I find it hard to love her work is because I can’t seem to relate to it.
Now some of you might think that I am a keris-wielding Malay ultra who does not have friends of other races, hence I am unable to relate to Yasmin Ahmad’s movies. I admit that I wielded the keris before and there’s this absence of guilt in me nor do I have the urge to offer an apology about it, but I actually do have a healthy number of non-Malay friends.
Yet I do not have the urge to burn Chinese/Indian schools nor do I have a complex about ridiculing my own race to prove that I am truly Malaysian. Let’s just say I am like any normal Malay kid who went to a sekolah kebangsaan (national school), hung out with a lot of non-Malay friends (to this very day) and I have once in a blue moon fallen for a non-Malay girl (well, okay, maybe more than once). Yet as a person who supposedly went through that Malaysian experience I can’t seem to relate to Yasmin’s movies.
The first thing I learned when I first started hanging out with the Chinese boys in secondary school was how to curse fluently in Cantonese, so that picturesque Petronas ad where Malay, Chinese and Indian kids play and help each other and sing songs or what not, I never experienced that.
To me “Sepet” or “Gubra” is rather artificial; instead of mirroring what multiracial Malaysia is, it is what Malaysia should be in Yasmin’s imagination. There’s nothing wrong with that since that is what movies are all about.
And that goes not just for Yasmin’s movies, but a lot of those Merdeka ads and propaganda flicks featuring Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu. Look, when I was a kid my best friend was an Indian and trust me, we didn’t sing “Ikan di laut, asam di darat” together while fishing or have many romantic gay moments.
In fact, many times we had fist fights because one of us somehow made an over the top remark about the other’s father. We would kiss and make up the very next day just like any other kid and life went on. Of course, we grew up and went our separate ways but whenever I bump into him these days, we don’t serenade each other.
Look, to me Malaysia must not just be about Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu. Two Malay “pakciks” wearing kopiahs walking to the mosque for Maghrib prayers is Malaysia, as well as a bunch of Iban boys playing football, a Sikh man riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, that yuppie who vehemently declares himself Malaysian yet can’t have a decent conversation in Bahasa Malaysia, or the stereotype that Malays smoke Dunhills while Chinese smoke Malboro lights.
The thing I notice is we Malaysians have this mindset and mental picture that Malaysia must be that picturesque scene where Ali, Ah Chong and Muthu do something together underneath a sappy slogan.
Of course the usual rabid fanboys would immediately go on the offensive by saying that it’s the brainwashing of Barisan Nasional albeit Umno, MCA, MIC propaganda — but trust me, if you look at Pakatan Rakyat posters or events you will see the very same thing. A ceramah will have three speakers — a Malay, Chinese and Indian. Political propaganda in Malaysia lacks creativity, I tell you.
I guess what I am trying to say is that perhaps the very reason why we have this problem when it comes to unity amongst Malaysians is that we have this artificial idealistic mental image that we try again and again to enforce on society.
Instead of accepting who we are and cultivating unity in more natural ways, we opt for something that is rather foreign. To make my point clear, unity is not just about Ali and Ah Chong walking together holding hands singing songs. Unity is when Ali and Ah Chong fight not because of race, religion but rather because they both wanted the last cookie in the jar. Unity is when Ali is friends with Ah Chong not because he is Chinese, rather because they both love football. I hope you get my idea.
It’s like that Petronas ad where Tan Hong Ming, who is probably eight or nine years old, has this crush on this Malay girl. Which is fine, but if I remember correctly eight-year-old boys dislike girls, as girls are yucky and annoying. Instead, young boys usually have crushes on their teachers instead. If it were my ad, Tan Hong Ming would have had a crush on his teacher.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.
1 Malaysia menuju kehancuran?
July 12, 2010
12 JULAI — Gagasan 1 Malaysia yang diperkenalkan oleh perdana menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak berada dalam keadaan bahaya.
Partinya sendiri, United Malay National Organisation (Umno) tidak dilihat begitu bersama konsep yang bercita-cita untuk menyatupadukan rakyat Malaysia yang terdiri dari pelbagai kaum dan agama.
Timbalannya sendiri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin tidak bercakap senada dengannya dan dilihat tidak bersungguh-sungguh dalam memperjuangkan konsep 1 Malaysia. Begitu juga pimpinan-pimpinan Umno yang lain secara keseluruhannya.
Hanya ada dua orang yang dilihat bersama dengan gagasan Najib ini, Menteri Di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz dan ahli Parlimen Rembau, Khairy Jamaluddin. Akan tetapi seperti yang diketahui umum, kedua-dua pimpinan Umno ini tidak begitu popular didalam parti mereka.
Nazri Aziz hilang populariti dikalangan “pembesar-pembesar” Umno oleh kerana keberaniannya berlainan pendapat dengan mantan perdana menteri, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad.
Dr Mahathir seperti yang diketahui umum masih mempunyai pengaruh yang kuat di dalam Umno walaupun tidak memimpin parti tersebut semenjak 2003.
Semenjak di zaman pemerintahan Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Nazri telah bertindak sebagai panglima kepada perdana menteri sehingga lantang mengkritik Dr Mahathir.
Setelah Najib menjadi perdana menteri, Nazri sekali lagi bertegang urat dengan Dr Mahathir sehingga pernah melabelkan perdana menteri keempat itu sebagai “Bapa Politik Perkauman”.
Ahli parlimen Rembau yang juga Ketua Pemuda Umno tidak begitu popular dikalangan sayap yang dipimpinnya dan parti Umno secara keseluruhannya. Beliau juga tidak disukai oleh Dr Mahathir yang secara terbuka mengkritiknya.
Dizaman pemerintahan Abdullah, Khairy dikatakan begitu berkuasa dan begitu berpengaruh didalam pembuatan keputusan yang dilakukan oleh perdana menteri pada ketika itu. Ini telah menyebabkan kebencian timbul kepadanya dikalangan pimpinan dan ahli Umno.
Hanya Nazri dan Khairy sahajalah yang jelas dilihat menyokong gagasan 1 Malaysia yang dibawa oleh Najib. Selebihnya, tidak dilihat begitu bersungguh dalam menjayakan gagasan yang dibawa oleh perdana menteri.
Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa (Perkasa) lahir selepas Tsunami politik 8 Mac 2008. Perkasa diasaskan oleh Ahli Parlimen Pasir Mas, Datuk Ibrahim Ali. Secara ringkasnya, objektif Perkasa adalah untuk melindungi hak-hak orang Melayu daripada orang-orang bukan Melayu.
Perkasa mendakwa kek ekonomi tidak dibahagikan dengan sama rata. Menurut mereka lagi, orang-orang Melayulah yang paling tertindas dalam pembahagian kek ekonomi ini.
Ibrahim yang bertanding diatas tiket PAS dalam PRU 12, mengisytiharkan diri sebagai ahli parlimen bebas dan mula menggerakkan Perkasa. Perkasa mendapat sokongan dan naungan daripada Dr Mahathir.
Pimpinan-pimpinan tertinggi Umno termasuk ahli kabinet Najib menyatakan sokongan secara terbuka kepada Perkasa. Muhyiddin Yassin, Mukhriz Mahathir, Noh Omar, Awang Adek dan Fuad Zarkashi adalah diantaranya.
Perlahan-lahan Perkasa membina nama dalam arena politik negara. Pertubuhan ini bergerak keseluruh negara dan turut mendapat sokongan daripada ahli-ahli Umno di akar umbi.
Perkasa mula menjadi popular dikalangan orang-orang Melayu yang merasakan bahawa Umno tidak begitu berani memperjuangkan nasib mereka. Walaupun Perkasa adalah sebuah NGO, oleh kerana ianya digerakkan oleh orang-orang politik, organisasi tersebut mula berkembang mengikut “gaya” parti politik.
Tidak mustahil juga jika satu hari nanti Perkasa akan menjadi parti politik.
Perkasa membuka jaringan disetiap negeri. Selain itu, Perkasa turut mempunyai sayap Pemuda (Wira), Wanita dan Serikandi mirip kepada parti-parti politik.
Semenjak ditubuhkan, Perkasa secara lantang menyuarakan pandangan mereka. Selain daripada bersilat lidah dan bertengkar dengan Pakatan Rakyat (PR), Perkasa turut bertembung dengan pimpinan BN.
Baru-baru ini pengerusi Perkasa bertikam lidah dengan Wee Ka Siong dalam isu biasiswa. Kemudian pertengkaran itu berpindah kepada Khairy Jamaluddin yang membela Ketua Pemuda MCA itu.
Pengaruh Perkasa menjadi kuat sehinggakan pertubuhan tersebut seringkali dibincangkan di media baik bagi yang menyokong mahupun yang menentangnya.
Persatuan ala Perkasa oleh MCA
Sebelum ini, penentangan terhadap 1 Malaysia hanya terlihat daripada pimpinan Umno yang mempergunakan Perkasa. Kini ianya turut merebak ke parti komponen kedua terbesar BN iaitu Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).
Naib Presiden MCA, Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai mencadangkan agar sebuah NGO ala Perkasa ditubuhkan oleh kaum Cina. Ini merupakan langkah untuk menghadapi Perkasa yang dipimpin oleh Ibrahim Ali.
Donald mencadangkan agar kumpulan yang bakal ditubuhkan tersebut diterajui oleh Dewan Perhimpunan Cina Kuala Lumpur Selangor (KLSCAH). Menurut beliau tuntutan-tuntutan untuk kepentingan kaum Cina boleh disuarakan secara lantang oleh NGO yang bakal ditubuhkan tersebut.
Donald Lim menggesa agar masyarakat Cina tidak perlu risau dengan Perkasa oleh kerana mereka juga boleh menubuhkan kumpulan seumpama itu.
Jika cadangan Donald Lim menjadi kenyataan, Malaysia akan mempunyai sebuah lagi Perkasa kali ini untuk masyarakat Cina.
Sebelum tsunami Mac 8, kaum India mempunyai Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf). Hindraf dikatakan menjadi salah satu faktor undi masyarakat India beralih kepada pakatan pembangkang.
Pada ketika itu pengaruh Hindraf menjadi begitu kuat sehinggakan perdana menteri sendiri menyokong kemasukkan parti Makkal Sakti yang merupakan pecahan kepada Hindraf kedalam BN.
Kemana masa depan Malaysia?
Malaysia kini berada diambang bahaya. Setelah sekian lama dipimpin oleh parti-parti yang berasaskan kaum, kini kumpulan-kumpulan pelampau kaum lahir satu persatu.
Masing-masing sibuk untuk memperjuangkan nasib kaum mereka sendiri.
Mahu tak mahu, pemerintah terpaksa memenuhi tuntutan-tuntutan kumpulan ini. Malaysia akhirnya gagal menjadi sebuah negara yang menyatukan penduduk pelbagai kaum dan agama. Ini berlaku pada ketika Malaysia telah lama merdeka.
Najib Razak gagal untuk memperkuatkan jenama 1 Malaysia dikalangan partinya dan parti komponen BN. Tidak mustahil 1 Malaysia akan menerima nasib yang sama dengan Islam Hadhari yang dibawa oleh Abdullah Badawi satu ketika dahulu.
Islam Hadhari hilang sebaik sahaja Abdullah turun dari takhta. Ini juga yang bakal terjadi kepada 1 Malaysia. Yang rugi adalah rakyat Malaysia. Setelah sekian lama, kita masih lagi tidak dapat bersatu di bawah payung Malaysia.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.
Amin Iskandar adalah Pengarah Eksekutif National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI), sebuah badan bukan kerajaan yang aktif dalam program pendidikan pengundi dan pemantauan pilihanraya. Beliau juga adalah pemilik bloghttp://aminiskandar.com
View China objectively
By WU HONGBO, China Daily
Beijing, Tuesday 6 July 2010
A recent report published by Germany’s Heinrich Boll Foundation shows that more than half of the 8,700 articles on China in the European country’s media showed a prejudiced or derogative perspective about the Asian nation.
My personal work experiences in Germany tell me that the foundation’s report is credible.
Like their Western counterparts, some German media and journalists with prejudiced viewpoints about China have long held a particular interest in covering the country’s ethnicity, freedom, human rights and other sensitive issues, while stinting space on coverage about the enormous progresses Beijing has achieved in improving people’s livelihood and on science and technology, education and culture.
In the latest such incident, a German newspaper lashed out at China for its “espionage” in Germany on its front page. Such a groundless report is certain to adversely affect bilateral ties between the two countries.
A country’s media undertake some definite responsibilities for its society and play an important role in facilitating the development of its ties with foreign countries. Objective, authentic and unbiased reports will help the public get a correct picture about a foreign country and its opposite will lead the public in the reverse direction.
According to a recent survey, 80% of Chinese hold a positive opinion about Germany, in sharp contrast to 70% of Germans who hold negative opinions about China. Such an outcome is largely the result of completely different perspectives adopted by the two countries’ media in their coverage about the other.
The German media’s prejudiced reports about China will not only negatively impact mutual understanding between the two peoples, but will also dent their own credibility as objective and impartial outlets of news dissemination.
China has a total area that is double that of the 27-member European Union (EU) and a population more than two and a half times the bloc’s total. As a developing country, China bears multiple economic, technological and social characteristics, with advances in airspace and high-speed rail technology coexisting with underdeveloped animal-driven trucks. The economic and social progress achieved since the reform and opening up have not changed the fact that its economic development is still on an uneven keel.
China’s gross domestic product (GDP) was only US$18 billion in 1949, but it touched US$4.9 trillion in 2009, ranking it the world’s third largest economy. China’s admirable economic aggregate, however, has not changed its low per capita index. Compared with the US$44,000 in Germany, China’s per capita GDP was only US$3,000, ranking it 104th in the world.
The country is still a rural-dominant society, with 800 million of its 1.3 billion people living in rural areas and its urbanization level only standing at 46 percent, lower than the 50% world average. On its way to industrialization, modernization and urbanization, China still faces the arduous task of transforming its economic development model and narrowing the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor.
China is well aware of the difficulties and challenges ahead and is making active efforts to explore a development model suited to its national conditions. While sharing the country’s economic fruit, Chinese people are also enjoying unprecedented freedoms and rights. The country has laid down a well-developed legal infrastructure to guarantee freedom of speech for its citizens.
However, it is China’s long-cherished stance that there is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech and that any speech should conform to the country’s laws. For instance, remarks aimed at publicizing or spreading Nazism and those antagonizing Jewish sentiment are also prohibited in Germany.
With a population of 400 million netizens and 220 million bloggers, opinions have always remained particularly active on the Internet, some of which hold a critical attitude toward the government. The Chinese government has long paid high attention to various kinds of criticisms and proposals, especially those over the Internet.
It is the whole world’s common aspiration to promote progress on human rights. Like their counterparts in the rest of the world, the Chinese government has long thrown its weight behind its people’s pursuit of democracy and human rights and made remarkable progresses in promoting people’s human rights.
It is the Chinese government’s proposal that human rights include not only political rights, but also economic, social and cultural rights and that rights for subsistence and development serve as the primary human rights for a developing nation.
There does not exist a political model in the world that is viable to all countries. Western countries’ failure to transplant their political models to developing countries after World War II is also testimony that any political system and development model can only be built on certain national conditions. It is China’s stated position that the world should have diversified development models and that every country’s desire to choose its own development path according to its own national conditions should be respected.
A developing country with a 1.3-billion population, China will make a huge contribution to the world if it can handle well its domestic issues. At the most difficult time of the global financial crisis, the Chinese government adhered to cooperation with other countries to tackle the crisis.
As an important player in the international arena, China has actively participated in UN efforts for the settlement of some international hot button issues and has played an active role in promoting the handling of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and Iran. It has also made its deserved contribution on climate change and greenhouse gas emission reduction.
An open China has drawn more and more attention from foreign media. We welcome all opinion and proposals expressed in good faith, including critical opinion about our shortcomings.
But it is hoped that the Western media, including Germany’s media, will look at and cover the ancient and booming Asian nation in the true journalistic perspective and in an objective and impartial manner.
[The author is China’s ambassador in Germany]
Asia News Network