Hazrul Azhar Jamari: Malays In Businesses Have To Overcome Plenty Of Racial Biases

There are many startups that do no have any Malay founders. Some of them are my friends. Had a colleague once whom I managed and reported to me. They happen to be 2 Chinese guys who start a really cool startup. They attract attention, VCs, and it’s not that difficult to raise simply because of the privilege they possess.

There are some startups that are founded by Indian guys. I had an intern once. Brilliant chap. Went on to found his startup with other Indian dudes. They’re pretty successful.

And here we are. Malay chaps. Didn’t go to any of the big schools. Just trying to make it big in this world. We outdid ourselves last year. We have very limited resources. We started out much later in life because we have responsibilities at home. We never got to be on 30 people under 30. We’re all over 30, married and have a lot of responsibilities today. We have a mortgage. We have our health issues. We have our families to take care of. We have our colleague’s families to provide for. We don’t have privilege. We never started on an equal footing.

But when it comes to running a company, the amount of bias we get is just astounding. It’s no longer shocking. Team dynamics they say. As if one’s skin colour makes a difference.

It is a little bit like Primary 6. Football is often a Malay dominated sport. This time, there were 3 Chinese players that joined the school team. Football is a team sport. Every one played their part. I don’t remember my 3 Chinese school mates scoring in that final, but every player’s job was equal. That was a team because no one was big headed. That’s why we won the final that day and the entire P6 cohort witnessed a piece of school history. But lo and behold, the next day, my Chinese principal, singled out the 3 Chinese players in front of the whole school. No, he did not ask the entire team to stand before the school. Just these 3 Chinese players. For making the school proud. For winning a Football final that apparently 8 other players on the field weren’t as responsible for.

It’s really funny how for a community that detests the racial quota, it doesn’t seem to be a problem when a team filled with the other has to open up a spot to make that team, acceptable, for them to support.

How about if that spot becomes available, the right person with the right credentials get in? Irrespective of race. How about we actually live by our nation’s values for once? Support us irrespective of race. How about that?

Against the backdrop of all the racial issues that have cropped up recently, it’s really funny how this sounds so familiar. But we cannot let ourselves feel sensitised with all this. Not anymore. We must change because it needs to. We cannot accept it just because that’s the way it is.

This is a team. We will win. Against all odds. By God we will.



Source: Hazrul Azhar Jamari

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