Friday, June 14, 2013


Way back in 2007 I could not help noticing an unassuming mat salleh in our midst lending support to our various civil society activities. It became inevitable that Frenchman Eric and Malaysian Elaine would invariably be a member of the Special Bunch. Both took time off to enthusiastically campaign for PAS in Kuala Trengganu during its by-election. Eric was assigned back to Paris but both are back in Malaysia to celebrate Eric’s birthday today. Eric was generous in his comments in my blog and it is fortunate that I archived one of his postings. Typical of him he gave us Malaysians a gentle nudge when what we deserve was a good kick in the butt:   

Dear all,

As a foreign investor in this country, it puzzles me to no end that Malaysians would fight all-day-long about their ethnicity, religion or the colour of their belly-button.

Foreign investors are not coming here for cheap labour anymore, Vietnam, and further ashore China, are far cheaper and better (little labour department there). The local market is a laugh, small in number and means, Indonesia or even Thailand are way more enticing if you look at quantity. Don't try to bluff me about common law and judiciary, unwritten rules and unpredictable judiciary rule Malaysia far out compared to Singapore. Don't even speak about >infrastructure, try taking a Malaysian taxi from KLCC to Bukit Bintang wearing a tie and sporting a laptop and you'll understand why foreign investors do not need a second trip to Malaysia. Nope, >none of these count favourably.

The very reason Malaysia (still) ends up with large semi-conductor factories, regional shared services and other multinational service >centres is, precisely, the ethnic diversity. I recently had a tax issue in Indonesia. Some obscure rules I could not even start to fathom blocked the conclusion of the yearly audit. Who sorted it out? Our Malaysian accountant who speaks fluent bahasa flew down and got rid of the fuss in a couple of days. Had it been me, I might be in a Jakarta jail or even dead by now. I am now sourcing materials from China, needless to say I speak and write no Chinese, like most mat salleh, guess who helps me here? A Malaysian. I increasingly require Indian expertise in IT, law and finance. Needless to say, I can never hope to get through the thick accent and neither can my suppliers decipher anything I have to say. Guess who's doing the legwork? A Malaysian. Again. Surprised?

It does not stop there. I can consider myself lucky if my visiting clients from continental Europe can mutter 2 or 3 comprehensible sentences of English. Guess what they tell me once they get back
home? They love the way Malaysians speak English. It being a second language here, Malaysians go the extra mile to make themselves understood to Italian or French speakers who would have come back
from the UK or the US not having understood a thing!

Now rather than capitalise on this, Malaysians prefer to rant about ethnicity day in day out. Good for foreign devils, Malaysians seem bent on keeping us in business. Expensive (and sometimes useless)
expats are still needed in this country because Malaysians would rather have a costly foreigner on top than a plain co-national, due to wrong skin colour, religion or whatever. Thanks to the absurd
(and it pains me to stay polite) local university selection and incredible limitations, expats will be needed forever here. Contrast this with India or China. With their efficient if tough university systems. Chinese and Indian (current or former) nationals are actually taking over many Western companies' executive positions. Meanwhile Malaysian foreign graduates are happy taking up the jobs Westerners won't do at any price (e.g. dreary auditing jobs, low-pay F&B, etc.).

Proposals like DN knights' Satu Sekolah are a gunshot in Malaysia's foot. The day Malaysians shun their diversity under the guise of assimilation, Malaysia will have made sure it become Singapore's official dumping site. For Pete's sake, even the French, who used to champion assimilation all the way, are now teaching Arabic to second-generation French kids, because even they realise the potential loss.

What will make Malaysians feel like a common bangsa again? Shall we petition the British to come back so that Malaysians return to the united days of Hartal and AMCJA-PUTERA's people constitution?
Perhaps the Japanese would want to have a second shot? Or maybe the Dutch or the Portuguese?

If I were to be cynical, and I can tell you a number of my foreign clients are, I should tell you all to go on fighting one another for the crumbs. Please do tell each other "this ethnic community is lazy, that one is a bunch of avid crooks, that other one is just a bunch of miscreants", while foreigners can go on happily signing juicy deals with BN's cronies, hire the best talent for dirt cheap, rape nature (logging, gold mining anyone?), etc. but I won't. Why? I may be a silly idealist, but I still love this country, because I believe you guys can finally overcome your divisions and make this country a model for all to admire. Now, will you prove me right?


Joyeux anniversaire mon cher ami


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

PM Naj1b said "We will enforce the law to ensure no one uses the race or language card to spread disharmony in the country or do anything that is against parliamentary democracy."

We will now monitor Najib's every word and deed in the coming weeks to ensure that he actually follows up on this pledge since in the past, he has continued to either lie or maintain an inelegant silence when trashy mouthpieces of Umno like Utusan Malaysia are allowed to spew venom and hate against anything non-Malay.

Old Fart said...

When did Eric write that? That is so true and such an excellent missive. Should be made viral.

Anonymous said...

wow sure chunn!

A Bad Boy said...


Thanks for the confidence that Malaysians have got what it takes to succeed in a cosmopolitan world.

It will take a bit more time to "prove {you} right" - Jun/July 2018 is about the earliest, unless, of cos, Tengku Razaleigh can influence, at least,23 or more MPs :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Eric,

Just read your piece which in some areas have the same theme as RPK's "Back to Basics: Quality of life". In that he argue the same, Malaysia was good for cheap labour but no more. Now we have train skill labour but not sure where they fit in our food chain or your framework. All we know is foreigners like Bangladeshis, Burmese etc filled the cheap, low labour, menial jobs while graduates took what expats didn't want. Still not sure where the skill labour still fits in but these new labour force replaced them. Maybe, a majority are still in factories and still not so skilled?

Now, these cheap foreign imports are moving up and not so cheap because they speak good Malay, some spattering of Chinese and English. Now they are being assimilated into our society rapidly and becoming part of the landscape. We have met the KFC branch manager right from Dakka?

Papers said a Pakistani taxi driver murdered an American pastor. Pakistani taxi driver? We though taxi drivers (the one you mentioned) are from those that couldn't get pass the secondary education system for various reasons... You know, Malaysian pirates on 4 wheels but now even the job of pirates are being taken over.

You get the idea... the landscape is changing quickly like the pristine forrest you speak about. We are our worst enemy but because we talk about Malaysia Boleh... means lets drink tea tarik to that and go our merry way.

Cheers mate!

Anonymous said...

Looks like Umno is banning flashmob?

Anonymous said...

Police should not be super-efficient to arrest peaceful Malaysians, including women and child while utterly helpless at worsening crime situation with new fear among Malaysians – not safe eating out in restaurants and public eateries

BH Toh said...

forgive me zorro.

i find this article very good and placed it into an education (ASPIRES) ngo's fb without getting your prior permission.

Anonymous said...

This Cinapek Tua when it comes to MatSalleh, he goes gaga. Who is this Orangputih Eric? Who cares about him, about what he says?
There are so many Whites here who are all praising our economic transformation programmes. That they are happy to do business here.
This old man is just like old man Din Merican who thinks he's young and enjoying bad-mouthing the government.
Din is such a joke. One hand running down Umno and another praising himself for friends with Umno leaders.

Young fart

Tiger said...

At least PR realises the advantages of diversity. BN uses it to divide and rule for their own benefit.

zorro said...

Young least you know yourself and what you are capable of...just a young fart. Your fart seems to have more substance than what comes our from your mouth.If you have your face up your ass 4 of your 5 senses wont work....they are all up in your shit hole. The difference between you and us old apek - Din and I, is that we have a name? Did your PA give you one that you are so ashamed of? Have fun might attract a middle east admirer.

passion1 said...

Dear Eric, thank you for your compliments and comments at the same time.
Until 1969, our education system was very much British.After that, the Education ministry made Malay language compulsory.
Children of ministers were sent to England for their education while the Malay children especially could not speak proper English.
However, the other races continue to emphasize on English or mix, although those who went to Chinese schools could write but could not speak too fluently.
We must thank the British for leaving us with a system together with countries like India, Hong Kong and Singapore that can meet up to the world in record time.
Unlike countries like Vietnam,where the French left them in chaos.
However, in Malaysia, we do have some French influence.
We have many little Napoleons.

Anonymous said...

It is not safe to goto the mamak stall or 24 hours coffee shop. Being not just robbed maybe will be slashed by those robber weapon. Take alert ... Mabe these mamak stalls should engage Banglas as security guards?

Anonymous said...


Will you be at Padang Merbok this Saturday 23 Jun?
Hope you can.provide first hand reporting from there.

Anonymous said...

Aspan Alias is now behaving strangely, maybe got the 'tunku aziz' disease? Or the $$$ from Umno is too much to resist?

Bengali Kunday said...

Eric, stop calling me names.