In August 2011, two senior lecturers from University of Malaya, Dr. Lee Hwok Aun and Dr. Muhammed Abd Khalid conducted an experiment to find out how much ‘ethnicity’ matters when applying for a job in Malaysia.
They sent out some 3,012 fictitious Malay and Chinese ethnics resumes of varying qualities and qualifications in response to job advertisements. For each job, the researchers sent out four fake resumes according to race but all with more or less the same traits and qualities. All the “applicants” were male with no prior working experience but have a basic qualification in the field being applied for.
The employers are being divided into “Chinese-controlled, Malay-controlled or foreign-controlled” company. (From my experience, it is save to consider foreign-controlled company as ‘Chinese-controlled company’ too, because it is usually run by Chinese while the foreign CEO or MD or Chairman oversees things from a ‘distant’).
From the total resumes sent, 13.1%(396) received callbacks. Of those, only 4.2%(63) were Malays, and 22.1%(222) were Chinese.
The study also found that the quality of applicants appeared to matter more for Malays than for the Chinese. Meaning, Chinese can get low CGPA but still get the job and Malays may get a Dean’s List but not be called for the interview.
This is no surprised. This, is the reality of living in Malaysia that only the most hypocrites or the blinds would deny.
The findings was presented in a seminar and was given due publicity. As expected, it received harsh responses, as seen in the comments of the readers of Malaysiakini or Malaysia Today. It looks to me that they all ‘ganged-up’ on the net to discredit the experiment.
Being good Malaysians who did not want to stir the air, both Dr. Lee and Dr. Muhammad had only this to say in conclusion: They cannot say for certain if racism is one of the factors.
So, the number of callbacks by both ethnics not necessarily had anything to do with ‘racism’.
It could be that these lecturers did not provide the most attractive photos of the Malay applicants in the resume. Hmm….
You know what? The biggest problem in Malaysia is not racism, but the denial that racism is real. I’m not saying that there are no racist Malays. Of course there are, but their numbers is just too low to even mention, as proven by the same experiment whereby a Chinese applying to a Malay company has about the same chances as a Malay applicant.
The discrimination against the Malays in the private sector is as real and as racist as the Affirmative Action or Hak Istimewa Bumiputera itself, only worse because there is no definite way to prove or measure the degree of discrimination and the worst because most Malaysians are reluctant to admit that Chinese are generally racists.
Even the two lecturers who had come out with the experiments tried their best to ‘tone-down’ the findings in order to not ‘hurt’ the Chinese. Not that they are not aware that the Chinese have never toned-down their attacks on Affirmative Action or Hak Istimewa Bumiputera.
One must remember that the experiment had only gone as far as ‘callback for interviews’, not yet explore the chances of the Malays in ‘getting the job’ and ‘salary offered to both races’. I’m sure that if there was, the findings would never be announced.
The two lecturers had done a great job in opening the doors for the government to take up the matter and solve the problem. Ahah, in your dreams!
The findings, I believe, remains a record on the shelf and is already ‘fading’ away by now.
You see, we can tell the government to abolish Bumi Rights as a mean to tackle discrimination against the minorities in education and public sector, but how do we deal with discrimination against the Bumis in private sector?
It seems that nobody dares or nobody knows what to do about it. Therefore, might as well deny it, sweep it under the carpet and hope that somehow, some day, the problem will just evaporate. Of course, it will not, but will only keep mounting.
This is why I keep saying that the Malays have no choice but to be racists and guard their rights with all their might because if they don’t they will end up facing closed doors in every opportunity in this Chinese-dominated economy.
Chinese and Malays are both racists because racism has to go both ways in this country, or else, the Malays will end up not being able to further studies or get a job and will become beggars, homeless, thus, have no buying power, unless, they become criminals. Consequently, business can never prosper and everybody loses.
I’m no Chinese and neither am I a Malay therefore, I’m not a racist. I just say things as it is.