Apa lagi mereka ni mau??
That’s what a driver told me minutes after I got into a taxi after quite a long gap. I left my car at a service center and took a cab back.
The middle aged driver with a scull cap went on without even a hint on stopping to ask my opinion, never mind that I would rather listen than debate or support his piece. It’s good to listen from the man in the street rather than gleefully believe what’s written by the so-called opinionated intellectuals in the blogs.
He was expressing his anger on Chua Soi Lek’s speech at MCA’s Economic Congress. He also berated Najib’s brother, whom he claims was seen as supporting the Chinese entirely, though we know that Nazir Razak’s speech was more focused strength of harmony and diversity that put Malaysia on better platform when operating regionally or even globally.
I would attest to this as when I was working in a MNC which also operates similar global centres in numerous Asian cities, most of our counterparts were comfortable dealing with Malaysians but colleagues in the other countries, eg People in Hong Kong were quite at ease with the Malaysian Office but often complains about the Indian office and vice versa.
It is our exposure to various cultures and ways of doing things that put us in a comfortable position when dealing with foreigners and other cultures in general. We do get quite a balanced exposure and worldview as our media is quite balanced in terms of local and foreign coverage as well as due to our direct exposure with multi-ethnic society. If you read an English newspaper in India, you do not get the same amount of information as you get from Malaysian English daily, except for maybe, the Sun.
I also noticed this directly when I was in Hyderbad and Bangalore, the Silicon Vally of India. Most of the employees in the global centre were MBA holders but their general knowledge was pathetic, they only know everything Indian, most of them have never put of a foot outside their state and most never ventured elsewhere, therefore dealing with people from Hong Kong and British was tough as their way of doing things, they way they communicate (try this with Indian nationals, Gobind Deo is nothing) is completely different, hence they find it difficult to work with others as compared to Malaysians.
Back to the taxi driver. He was practically asking ‘what else do the Chinese community wants? He went on saying that almost the entire economy is controlled by them. Isn’t it fair that they share with the others, instead of asking for more.
He also asked have we ever heard Chinese companies offering Malay or Indian companies to participate in their ventures. He also claimed that Mahathir helped the chinese more than he helped Malays. He also went on to say that Malays are corrupt because of chinese were greedy and they want everything in short cuts, hence fuelling corruption.
He went on saying that his son works as an officer in a Chinese company for many years with no opportunity to move up the ladder as the top management was entirely Chinese. He said that his son is now working in an MNC and got promoted twice earning more than his previous supervisor. He kept on repeating that he has many Chinese friends along the way insisting only the rich Chinese are greedy unlike his fellow Chinese taxi driver whom he found to be reasonable.
He found that Chinese has become more demanding ever since DAP made strong gains in 2008. He claims to be a PKR supporter but he says he can’t agree with Chinese demanding for more. His assertion is similar to what we think of MCA, that Soi Lek is just trying to make MCA look more relevant to the Chinese community by demanding for fairness, equality etc. He also said that MCA is ungrateful.
Thankfully, he was not in favour of Perkasa, whom he claimed only making Malays look weak, stupid and rude.
Later in the same evening, I hoped on to another taxi collect my car and this time, the driver was an Indian. Noticed a Star paper, a tamil paper and a Makkal Sakhti cap (which got me excited) on his dashboard. He started conversing in reasonably good English, by complaining about the price hike, (apparently not realising that my own short journey to the car service cost me 30 percent more than last year), claiming that Malaysia is becoming too expensive for people like him.
He went on to say that he has heard nothing his application for individual taxi permit offered by Najib last year. He claims that most of it went to Malays though he said one of his Indian friends got it.
I took the opportunity to ask whether he was a Makkal Sakthi member. He shrugged it off saying that Indians are stupid as they are often fooled by equally stupid leaders. The forty plus looking guy said that he lost his previous job as a clerk in a legal firm mainly due to his own doing. He claimed to have joined the Hindraf movement and had many absences from work. He got many warnings from his Indian employer and when there was an offer to drive taxi, he lapped it up, claiming it was better to be his own boss.
He went further by saying that Indians are quick to praise and support leaders without appraising their track record or quality. This he claimed is the reason why majority Indians voted for Pakatan. He says that he no longer believes politicians as he claims that many promises thrown during the campaign rallies, which he claims he religiously attended due to the ‘Makkal Sakhti’ phenomenon, were never fulfilled.
He was also sore that nothing was done to help the Indians. He says that there is no point of donating over millions of ringgit to Hindu temples in Selangor as they are going to go to waste. He suggested why not Selangor State government sponsors a taxi for those who are genuinely unable to get a job or even people like him who is paying a hefty daily rental to the permit holder. Quite a sensible idea indeed.
The driver also says that the State Exco member is simply seeking publicity by going to every other temple and handing over donations when he can actually do it all at one go in his office. I never thought about that.
MIC is seen as useless to him but he is certainly not pleased with Pakatan Indian leaders who he claims has become too loud and no action to speak of giving an example of deputy Chief Minister of Penang meddling in Bkt Jalil estate worker issue. He asked, where has Prof Ramasamy been for all these years. It was very apparent that he was also sore with Pakatan on the Kampung Buah Pala issue.
Towards reaching the service centre, he mentioned that he just returned from Pilgrimage in India (gosh and he claims it difficult to survive as a taxi driver) and proclaimed that life is certainly better here in Malaysia.
It is certainly worthwhile to listen to the normal man in the streets. My various similar interactions tells me that race remains important in the mind of people here as opposed to various opinions by largely liberal, well to do Malaysians who claims that we are ready to do away with racial quota, racial politics etc.
My only long term solution to improve race relation is to have only one school stream, bet it Malay or English medium. Having Tamil and Chinese schools are never good if we are seriously concerned over deteriorating race relations. But when even the so-called multi-racial political parties such as Gerakan, PKR and DAP are not prepared to support one school system, we are doomed.
Though politically, opinions from the taxi drivers do not sound good for either BN or Pakatan, it is quite evident that the number of fence-sitters is on the rise, which gives a rather bleak outlook on the possible outcome of the next general elections.