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Friday, April 29, 2016

Younger Malaysians more colour blind but fear racial discord

SURVEY: Younger Malaysians are less race-conscious compared with their older counterparts, findings in a Peninsular-wide survey on race and racism revealed.

Whether it comes to voting for someone who’s of a different race, buying properties or socialising with their friends, those in the 18-35 years of age bracket tend to be more colour blind. But this age group also recorded the highest percentage of respondents who thought that a racial clash would happen in the country soon.

The survey, based on self-assessment, was commissioned by the Centre For A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) and conducted by independent market research firm, Anderson Market Analytics. The survey polled 1,056 Malaysians from Peninsular Malaysia across diverse backgrounds. The fieldwork started late last year. The first part of the survey findings were announced on 17 March 2016.

In general, the survey found that young Malaysians (Gen Ys) are rather idealistic in their approach towards race relations. The survey found that 63% of those in the 18-25 age bracket would consider voting for a candidate from a different race. That age category recorded the highest percentage of answers in the affirmative, while the lowest went to those aged 56 and above at 54%.

When it comes to socialising with friends, a total of 91% in the 18-25 age group said that they “favour friends over race” or were “colour blind”. In contrast, those above 56 years said they prefer to mingle with their own race more than that of the other age groups (28%).

Some 88% of those in the 18-25 age bracket felt merits were more important than race when it came to “awarding a project, hiring new staff, choosing service provider or sales assistants”. They were also among the most comfortable ones if a close relative brought a partner who’s from a different race to a family gathering. About 62% in that group said they were “extremely comfortable” or “relatively comfortable” about it.

Interestingly, the survey also found that younger Malays, especially Gen Ys, appear to be more open to the idea of having a non-Malay PM. Overall, 20% of the Malays polled accepted the notion of a non-Malay prime minister. But, those aged from 18-25 years are more open to having a non-Malay PM (26%).

The survey also asked respondents views on whether they thought a racial clash is imminent. The Gen Ys formed the largest group of those who think the country is headed towards a racial clash soon, at the rate racial-religious issues are coming to the fore. Almost half (49%) in the 18-25 age bracket think there’s a possibility of a racial riot soon, compared with 31% of those aged 56 and above.

Gen Y respondents appeared to be more open about race relations. Despite this, some 40% of those in the 18-25 years age group admitted to either being “racist” or “have shades of racism”.

On race-based policies, nearly half (48%) of the total respondents think that it was no longer relevant, although proportionately, more Malays supported the policy. But the Malays were divided on this, with 42% felt that the policy was still relevant an equal 42% did not think so.

Interestingly, respondents also thought that there is a strong link between racist tendencies and religious convictions. Overall, most of the respondents (31%) associate racism with discrimination in terms of “religious beliefs”, followed by “culture, customs and language” (29%).

Finally, Cenbet would like to reiterate its call for the government to develop and incorporate a “National Unity Index” in formulating key public policies and administrative measures. This would stem the steady rise of racism in the public sphere.

by Cenbet

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