Yesterday, JJ got her results for 2 of the subjects in her mock exams. One was for Moral Instruction (purely in Mandarin) and another was for Chinese (Mandarin). Mia was the one who fetched her from school. She got 93% for Moral Instruction, and 86% for Mandarin. Both mommy and daughter worked very, very hard for the mock exams. And very soon they will have the actual exams.
Quite frankly, I am not one who'd focus too much on school grades, because I don't believe they indicate the true (practical) abilities of the kids. In fact, I have conducted experiments in this blog before to demonstrate that excellent "paper qualifications" don't necessarily translate into excellent practical abilities. The schooling days will take up about a third of one's life, but beyond that it's more important to have the survival skills in the job market. No amount of "paper qualifications" can help if one has no survival skills beyond the confines of the schools.
Having said that, however, I'm not saying that I'd still be happy if JJ failed all her school exams. Of course it is ideal if she can get excellent results in school too. Besides, I think the more important thing about exams is that it teaches these young people about discipline—something which I think is so lacking in the upbringing of most children these days. It is very important to instill the habit of competitiveness and discipline in young children because, to me, these are the main ingredients for success in their adult lives.
Yesterday evening, on the way home from her grandma's, JJ was crying quietly in the car. She's generally a very happy kid. But yesterday, she was crying because she only got 86% for her Mandarin. She was concerned that daddy and mommy would be disappointed in her. And more importantly, she's disappointed in herself for such a "poor" performance. Bear in mind that she has just turned seven recently—we're talking about a Primary One kid here.
So daddy and mommy had to console JJ—that we're proud of her achievement; that we're happy that she's tried her best; that it didn't really matter that she did not get a perfect score for her exams, as long as she's given her best shot. After all, in life there will be ups and downs. At times it is necessary to learn from our failures; find the mistakes and try not to repeat them again, and hopefully we can do better next time.
As a daddy, although I am sad for JJ with her predicament, I am happy to see her sense of responsibility; her keen sense of competitiveness; and her discipline. These are the qualities which will help her face adulthood with strength and confidence in time to come.
In Malaysia, the non-Bumiputras are treated like step-children by our country. We have no choice but to quickly develop the survival instinct in our children. In almost everything we do, our progress are always hampered by government policies which heavily favour the Bumiputras.
The non-Bumiputras have to work really hard to pull our resources to educate our children because very, very few of us will get any assistance from the government. The competition continues into the higher learning institutions. Then when we enter the job market, we will find that there is an implied preference for the Bumiputras in the government offices too. And some of us non-Bumiputras who are lucky enough to get a job in the government offices will find that there is a very remote chance to reach to top posts in their departments regardless of how good they are in their jobs.
When venturing out to work in the private firms, we have to earn our ways up to the top. Sacrifices—big, big sacrifices—will have to be made to reach there. If we want to try our luck in running our own business, we will have to borrow money from the banks to start, of which we have to shoulder the burden of paying up the debts together with interests. When we try to vie for government projects, we have to share our profits with the Bumiputras by taking them in as partners before we can dream to secure the jobs in the first place.
On the other hand, the Bumiputras are given special treatment. When it comes to scholarships, there will be special quotas allocated for the Bumiputras. Later in life, the Bumiputras are given priorities in government offices, especially the top posts. But for some Bumiputras who want to start their own business, they are given special grants with very flexible repayment. Those in the rural areas are given lands to embark on their plantations. They're given substantial amounts of shares in the stock market at nominal prices which they quickly sell off to the non-Bumiputras for the fast bucks.
But after 5 decades, the Bumiputras have only achieved about 20% of the wealth of the country. It has been estimated that 80% of the tax revenues in Malaysia were those paid by the non-Bumiputras. We, the non-Bumiputras, have done our part to develop this country; we've done a lot to contribute to its economic prosperity.
In his recent post, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia said, inter alia:
"Segala estet rumah mewah juga diduduki oleh bukan Melayu. Sikit benar orang Melayu yang tinggal di estat mewah ini. Lebih ramai yang tinggal di kawasan setinggan."
(Luxurious housing estates are also occupied by the non-Malays. Too few Malays live in these luxurious estates. In fact, many of them live in squatter areas.)
But I think the good Tun has forgotten that the non-Bumiputras worked very, very hard to be able to live in those luxurious estates. In most cases, they have to sacrifice blood and sweat to get that far, especially with so many restrictions from the government policies. All the luxuries did not fall magically onto their laps. Certainly, they did not happen by accident.
I think Tun should stop punishing the non-Bumiputras for the failures of the government policies. After 5 decades, he is still talking about Bumiputras and non-Bumiputras. Why does he keep pointing fingers at us for working very hard? Maybe it is better if he could focus his mind and resources to find ways on how to make the Bumiputras to work hard too. That can only help to make Malaysia even more successful.
We are all Malaysians; we love this country. The so-called non-Bumiputras are really tired of being treated like step-children, but it's OK, we will try to live with it anyway. We have come to a stage where we know our position in this country. No matter how much we contribute; no matter how much we fight for this country, people like Tun will never be satisfied.
We ask for no more—we just want our country to love us the way we love her.