A GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED education system and media are the reasons Malays are lacking in critical thinking, said sociologist and veteran politician Dr Syed Husin Ali.
Syed Husin, who was a lecturer of anthropology and sociology at Universiti Malaya for almost 30 years, said the Malays have had their minds controlled from the time they were in primary school until university.
He was responding to A. Samad Said’s statement recently that there were too few Malays who were rising up to bring about change in Malaysia.
National laureate Samad said he was disappointed with the Malays for “not seeing the truth as the truth”, adding that he was worried for his race.
“Apart from that, there are all sorts of laws. Not just the Universities and University Colleges Act, there are also pledges and others,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
The act, which was first drafted in 1971 and amended in 2012, limits political involvement and activities for undergraduates at all public universities.
Those found guilty of promoting political agendas risk expulsion and other penalties, including fines.
Syed Husin, the author of Orang Melayu: Masalah dan Masa Depan (The Malays: Their Problems and Future), which was published in 1979 and updated in 2008, said the mainstream media in Malaysia also played a big role in “controlling” the minds of a majority of Malaysians, especially of those living in the rural areas.
“The TV that they watch, are all government TV. Newspapers are pro-government newspapers.
“This is what forms the attitude and thinking of the Malays. This is what makes it hard for them to change,” he said.
Syed Husin said Malays have been constantly threatened with a bogeyman, resulting in them behaving like the minority even though they made up the majority race in Malaysia.
“They feel they are under siege or threatened by other races. They have been frightened with the prospect of threats by other races, especially the Chinese.
The former deputy president of PKR said economic factors and social stature also contributed to the attitude of the Malays.
“A majority of Malays come from the lower class.
“When they are in the lower class, they will feel not only feel threatened, but they suffer an inferiority complex.”
Syed Husin said even though there has been a rise in the number of middle-class Malays, who are also successful businessmen, their mentality remains unchanged.
“Their minds are almost the same as before, because I think the feudalistic influence is still strong, sometimes even stronger.
“Even though many of the Malays have become city folk, their belief system and thinking are still traditional, feudal.”
However, Syed Husin is optimistic that the Malays will change if the government fails to address the economic hardships that many of them face today.
“They also have the attitude of fighting back, rebelling. In this situation, change might come.”
Analysts weighing in on Samad’s comments had earlier told The Malaysian Insight that the lack of outrage among the Malays could be attributed to their “blind loyalty” to leaders.
They said while there are signs of change, with the growing reach of non-government-controlled information, this hope translating into votes lies with the younger generation of Malays.