Sinatra_Z - Discrimination in the Private Sector

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MAY 26 — Often we hear complaints regarding smart non-Malay students with many As not getting a place in local universities. Political parties, NGOs and the media often highlight their plight and injustice.

I, for one, agree with the push by the government in solving this problem. Regardless of a student’s racial background, a smart student is an asset to the nation and he or she should be given a chance to get an education and contribute to society.

I fully support the move by the government in abolishing quotas in most of the public universities, promoting merit-based distribution of scholarships and move to incorporate more non-Malays into the government.

Although some may argue the main reason for the lack of non-Malays opting to be a government servant is due to perks and wages rather than discrimination, we should view all these as positive.

A good example would be the recent flood at the Selangor Chinese Assembly hall interviews to fill up the vacancies with the Malaysian-Anti Corruption Commission (MACC). Ironic when one considers the recent political spin that has been put upon the MACC, thanks to the Teoh Beng Hock case.

I guess Er Soon Poi put it quite well when he said, “I am impressed with the salary and allowances offered in the public sector and I am interested to become a government servant although I have little knowledge about the MACC” (The Sun May 23, 2010).

I admit there is the perception that there is an ethnic dominance in the Malaysian civil service. I agree with this view and fully support any move to diversify the Malaysian civil service.

To me this is one of the many polarities that divide the Malaysian society. But I have always reminded myself of the old saying, “It takes two hands to produce a clap”. So I am going to discuss what many politicians and activists are quite reluctant to talk about.

Perhaps it is a bit uncomfortable for some of these politicians to talk about or the fact that it does not serve their political purpose.


It started with complaints by local Malay graduates that they faced difficulty in getting good jobs in big companies, mainly multinational corporations which offer good salaries. Especially big, foreign companies with good perks in sectors like banking, finance, electronics, IT, etc.

I have heard of this way back when my seniors were complaining about it. At first even I shrugged it off.

There is this general perception that Malay graduates are “bad in communication skills, mainly English, and not as competent as the non-Malay graduates.”

Come on, let’s be honest. I have more than once encountered this remark, “Ahh you speak pretty good English for a Malay.” Malaysians are huge hypocrites, I tell you. No wonder our politicians are like that as well.

As much as one would like to put a cast on the stereotyping of lazy, incompetent and spoon-fed Malays, there is something really wrong when say 90 per cent of the executive or high ranking technical staff comes from a single ethnic background. Especially when one consider the fact that the Malays are not the minorities.

Are these Malay graduates so incompetent? Because last I heard back in university, there is quite a healthy number of Malay-Muslim students getting on deans’ lists and receiving medals during convocations.

Their English can’t be that bad and based on my experience, the level of English competency is equally horrible regardless of ethnic background when it comes to local graduates. Chances are, there might be a problem with the Malay graduates in Malaysia generally, but instead maybe there is a problem with the human resource manager in said company, don’t you agree?

It becomes even more apparent when that minority ethnic, be it Malays or whatever, tend to fill positions like receptionists, office boys, dispatchers, etc. It’s like having diversity for the sake of showcase, so what better place to put them if not right in front at the reception desk.

The Mandarin factor

Now, once in a while when I browse through the classifieds, I would see an ad that goes something like this: “Mandarin competence” or “Chinese Speaking”. At first I would assume it to be something harmless. Perhaps that company does a lot of deals with China hence they need Mandarin speakers to help them deal with their foreign clients.

But it gets quite dodgy when the companies that have those kind of job ads don’t really deal with foreign clients, especially China. It gets even dodgier when the advertised vacancy is something like a “Systems Administrator” or “R&D Engineer”.

Last I checked, I have yet to find any datasheet, programming language, operating system or technical textbook that is written in Mandarin. Perhaps there are that one or two technical manuals written in Mandarin because of that Made in China product. But chances are if the Germans and Japanese can include an English technical manual with their product, I am pretty sure a “Made in China” product has it as well (Okay, maybe with bad English).

There’s something really amiss when you have a vacancy ad which lists the Mandarin factor for a Japanese manufacturing plant.

Look, this is Malaysia, the official languages here are Bahasa Malaysia and English. Unless a company deals with China or Taiwan, there is no need for compulsory Mandarin. We all know why you put down that criterion. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s people pretending to be something else when the real reason is very obvious.

Some of you might say “But hey Zaidel what about that ad that goes ‘Untuk Bumiputera Sahaja’ You bloody Perkasa racist!” I say yes, it is quite racist as well, like I said it takes two hands to clap and having this masked hypocritical Mandarin ad is just as bad as having a openly gung-ho racial ad like the “Bumiputera” criterion as well.

So how do we go about this then?

Some may take the path of hyperventilating rants and dramatic raving, which usually ends with the conclusion that the only way to solve every problem in this nation is by voting anything else other than Barisan Nasional.

I actually prefer something more concrete (and less hyperventilating). In the civil service a minimal quota system can always be implemented. For instance, a minimum of one in every three new staff must be of a different ethnic background. That sort of situation fits for the civil service and is easily monitored by the Parliament, hence a regulatory measure can be implemented.

However, in the private sector having regulations may hamper productivity and meddle in the market forces. If, say, the government suddenly announced a regulatory measure such as a quota, it would affect the general productivity.

Based on previous experience when it comes to regulatory policies in the private sector, we do know that this does not work well, e.g. 30 per cent Bumiputera Equity shares. As much as I want diversity in the workplace, I realise it must be balanced with the current needs, market forces and productivity level, and the fact that private sectors should decide for themselves.

So instead of a regulatory measure, I suggest we do an incentive-based measure. One measure could be a tax cuts for companies that introduce diversity in their workplace.

For instance, if a company has a minimum of 25 per cent Bumiputeras working as executives with them, they are then entitled to a 10 per cent income tax reduction. To make it fair, we do the same for, say, a 100 per cent Bumiputera company that manages to introduce a minimum of 25 per cent non Bumiputeras into their company.

This way the government won’t be meddling into the private nature of the private sector and gives the freedom for these companies to take their time in introducing diversity in the workplace without hampering their productivity.

Diversity incentives are quite common in the rest of the world and we have seen it to be quite effective. It’s a win-win situation. To those which think that they may not be ready yet, no worries, business as usual. Maybe next year.


Now some of you may find it hard to chew on this, but like it or not, it’s there, it exists. There is discrimination in the private sector just as in the civil service.

Though many of us find it convenient to blame the civil service, many seem to shy away when it comes to the private sector. However, rather than leaving this as an article that merely focuses on ranting and raving, I would prefer it to be something that we all can ponder upon and come up with solutions that would benefit everyone in the long run.

Not everything is about voting Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional.


Zaidel, you patut hantar artikel ni ke semua suratkhabar perdana. nak harap ahli politik kita semua x boleh pakai.biar jadi tajuk perbincangan hangat...jangan takut, you ada ramai peminat dan penyokong...


When it comes to employing someone, there are many factors to consider and distorting it through incentive is hampering competitiveness of our companies. Each company has its own working culture and a highly qualified person may not find himself comfortable in it and will leave, again it means losses to the company. In private sector, they don't care if it is a white cat or black, as long as it catches mice. They would like their trained staff to stay on for life.


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William Wang said...
------ Each company has its own working culture and a highly qualified person may not find himself comfortable in it and will leave, again it means losses to the company. In private sector, they don't care if it is a white cat or black,--------

so a highly qualified black cat (regardless of how many mice it can catch) will not be made comfortable to work in an environment full of white cats?....for full effect, change black to sawo matang and white to yellow?


hi, you have nice blog.. u can view also mine..



In universal context, the ability to master an additional language is a skill, nothing racial about it. In Malaysian schools, nothing prevents a malay student from mastering Mandarin or Tamil. The same thing applies to a chinese student who wishes to pick up Arab or Tamil. Malaysian parents have the choices. Don't blame others if you do not have those skills.

Nothing is wrong, legally, morally or ethically, when a private company requires a potential employee to be conversant in Mandarin, French, German or etc. Nothing different from requiring someone to be familiar with MS Words, Excel or type at a certain speed before he/she can be considered for hiring. Anyone else see this as a discrimination ???



Your opinion in your "The Mandarin Factor" section saddened and dissapointed me as a Malaysian, not just a Chinese Malaysian.

Your line of thoughts and attitude represent the sad reality facing majority of Malay graduates in the job market today. You guys still think that whole world swirls around you in your life and owes you a living. That is the root cause of all the problems faced by you guys now.

Let me explain to you why I said so.

For a Chinese grad, if his dream job requires him to be conversant in Arabic, for example, there is high probability that he shall make personal effort and initiative to pick up the language and keep on pursuing his dream until it is realised one day. He will face challenge head on against the odds and acquire this additional skill to achieve his goal.

However, the same scenario for a Malay grad will most likely resulted in an outcome exactly like what you have described in your article. When you are faced with the "Mandarin Factor" the first thing that comes to your mind is racial discrimination. It is just like saying that the job descriptions have to suit you, otherwise it must be a discrimination against you, in one form or another. How shallow a thought is this.

Now can you see the difference here, and where the problems lie with you guys?? And, what do you think the kind of attitude from a graduate the employers prefer in the job market today?? (sorry no prize for the right answer)

So don't blame others for your problem. Wake up my brother and reflect yourself. Put your thoughts and idea into better use. Write something that will help the Malay graduates realise the root cause for their predicament today and seek for the solutions. And most importantly, put those solutions into actions.


What about the discrimination made by the Chinese race in various aspects of our daily lives?

They prefer Chinese race who can speak Mandarin to work with them, they prefer Chinese to rent rooms from them, they will charge double the price for the Bumiputera sundry shops that takes supplies from them while they give 3 months credit to Chinese sundry shops.

The Chinese are richer why shouldn't they give the chance for the poor and impoverish Bumiputera to study in the public universities when most of the richer Chinese would rather go to private universities?

IDF troops praised by Netanyahu.


In the working world, I had heard of countless experiences by friends where the Chinese employers will discriminate the Bumiputera who are more educated and prioritize their own race who are less educated than the Bumiputera.

Some Bumiputera working with the Chinese will be given double of the work load compared to their Chinese colleague of the same rank.

That's the real world and we know about that.


I am a Malay. What about the discriminations faced in private sectors ? What about discriminations made by the Chinese race in various aspect on our daily basis ?

I am a Chinese. Why my sons cannot get promotions in Malay dominated banks ? Why no Chinese executives in GLCs especially Petronas ? Why i hv to fork up life savings to send my son to Singapore ?

I am an Indian. My son got the best result but cannot get scholarship. Why the Malay and Chinese discriminate Indians ? Indians working in government service cannot get promotions, how many Indian executive you see in government ?

This is the sad situation that we are facing in this country. We prefer to look through the eye-glass of our race identity first, and as a Malaysian, second, if any. However liberal thinking we thought we are capable of possessing, in the end it will be filtered by the inherent race biased viewpoint that is so prevalent within us. We will nick picks anything to counter the other race arguments. We will justify ourselves and our views that we are the victims by the other race or races.

Discrimination exists everywhere in private, government, GLCs companies because we made a choice that personal identity is more important than any others. We chose to identify ourselves to clans, races, color, creeds. And we forgot about the more prevalent and longer lasting freedom of national identity and ultimately as a human being.

Discrimination exists because it exists strongly inside us and we chose to stay that way. Unless we lift this veil within us, whatever we are trying to do, splitting the pie, implementing laws etc, is just superficial. It will not last long as in the end our internal identity and biases will win ultimately because it is what we define ourselves with.


If we hope that the Chinese to open up their company to the Bumi and pay the same salary as their Chinese counterpart even with the same amount of work, we will wait for a long time and a solution that cannot work.

What we should do as a Bumi is to help Bumi's business. If the Chinese doing business in Malaysia and their customer is mostly Bumi, then we are at fault because we help them to survive, why would we help someone who do not want to take Bumi as workers? Instead what we should do is to avoid company that treat Bumi like this, instead of waiting for government to introduce measures like that, why don't we make a list like the halal list. A company that is intent to have only Chinese workers, or advertise Chinese only workers can be entered into this list and we as a Bumi should avoid doing business with this kind of company. Its so easy to get into the list, advertise Chinese only workers requirement, then you are in the list. We use our power as a consumer and Rakyat.

We should stop this nonsenses!!!!


If employ malays, have to bear with all this :
1. Cannot take work pressure.
2. Cannot reprimand them even if they're wrong (they call it 'tindas'). They will resign, citing ditindas.
3. Many excuses to go out, pray lah, sedara meninggal, kawan meninggal, jiran meninggal. ambil anak, anak sakit, tak sihat.
4. Make full use of MC = 15 days a year.
5. Every year deliver baby.
6. During puasa month, they are kings, they are fasting therefore they have no energy to work.
7. Doing things reluctantly after countless reminders.
8. Too emotional and sensitive : they can joke about you but not vice versa.
9. Cannot understand and converse fluently in English. Speaks only BM even if the other party converse to them in English.
10. Too lazy to learn new things and correct wrongdoing, giving excuses such as 'Malas Ahhh', Alamak Lupa lah, blah blah blah.
11. Will not admit own wrong, not pro-active , no initiative whatsoever.