April 17th, 2007 by Hafiz Noor Shams
Gross generalization is easy to do because it does not require rigorous thinking. For a simpleton, this is a preferable style of thinking, or lack of. We as a society unfortunately are so simple-minded that we fall for that trap. Not too long ago, a survey claims that we as a society generalize Malays as lazy, Chinese as greedy and Indians as drunk. After that, foreign labors have been blamed for the increase of crime rate, despite the fact that the locals commit more crime than foreign workers. As if that is not enough, our legislature even considered of passing a xenophobic bill. Now, we see claim that all Rohingyas in Malaysia are beggars or criminals, the people as a whole creates “a sort of a beggar ridden country.”
It all started with a missing kid. In two weeks, the parents with the help of local community joined hand in hand for a search effort. The effort bore fruit in the end and the parents were, I believe, overjoyed.
Initially, the media reported that the kid had been living with a Rohingya family. The kid was lost and upon seeing him all alone, the family decided to take care of him. Later however, the police suspected that the kid was kidnapped by the family and used for begging purpose. There are those that seem to be turning onto the family, passing judgment based on mere suspicion while the court of law has not been given the opportunity to rule over the case. Some courageously indulge a hasty generalization and assumed guilty charge on the family. As if that is not enough, he audaciously takes the next leap and claims that all Rohingyas are beggars or criminals; either way, parasites.
Imagine, a couple’s alleged — not convicted — crime is enough to condemn a whole people. Such hasty generalization borders racism, if it is not racism by itself.
There are people that hold the same thinking. Though the actors differ, the storyline essentially remains the same. Switch Rohingyas for Arabs and Malaysians for French, you would have what racist far right in France are thinking. Switch Rohingyas for Turks and Malaysians for Germans, you would have what the racist far right in Germany are thinking. Switch Rohingyas for Jews and Malaysians for Nazi Germans, you would have what the Nazi on aggregate were thinking.
Issue regarding the Rohingyas, specifically, their status in Malaysia needs to be addressed and there is no doubt of that. But turning to hasty generalization or racism is not a solution. For a solution to be found, we need to sit back and think a little harder.