Kucing Gatal Speaks

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stop harping on race

So it's now 2013 (Happy New Year, Happy Chinese New Year and Happy Valentine's Day - belated) and apparently elections are around the corner. Malaysia has some of the most exciting politics in the world. Scandal, crime, corruption, nepotism, discrimination, we have it all in spades.

I can go on and on about what's been happening but I'm sure you're already up to speed. Such dirty, dirty politics. I like a bit of dirty every now and then, but even this level of dirty makes me squeamish.

Anyway... this post isn't really about politics. No, it's about race. We're already 13 years into the 21st century, and yet here in Malaysia we still care about skin colour.

I recently tried to enter a contest, where one of the compulsory fields was about race. Yep - you had to actually fill in your race or your entry wouldn't qualify. I know I shouldn't be shocked anymore given that this piece of information is still very exciting to bureaucrats and marketers alike, but I was.

Why does it matter whether we're Malay, Chinese, Indian, or lain-lain? Are winners decided based on a quota?

Naturally, I shot off an email to the organisers asking why this was compulsory. 2 days later and no response. Poor customer service and non-acknowledgement are pet peeves of mine. Loyal readers of my blog will know I have a long list of pet peeves but I digress.

I then shot off an email to the organiser's parent company based in the US. Within a day I got a response. It said because the contest was organised in Malaysia, I had to contact the Malaysian branch instead. Well, apparently my email must have made it up the ranks because a couple of hours later I got a response from the contest organisers saying that race was required for marketing purposes. Apparently, it would help them to pitch their products better.

I then responded, saying as far as I'm aware, their products (skincare range) work the same whether your skin colour is a light or dark shade of brown or pink. I said we need to move on from this requirement - it's highly suspicious when it is made mandatory in a contest form. I suggested that if they really wanted this information, they could leave the field in but make it non-mandatory. They thanked me for my feedback and that was that.

If it had been a free text field, I would have typed in human, but I was restricted to selecting from radio buttons. In the end, I refused to participate based on principle. I may have lost out on some great prizes but this is something that I need to make a stand on. If more Malaysians also speak out about this, maybe we can finally get rid of this irritating requirement once and for all.

And maybe then we can end race-based politics too. One can dream, yes?

Till next time, this is Kucing signing out with a meritocratic Meow.


  • I was just thinking how you should update your blog on a Sunday and voila... I feel a wind of change in the air although I dare not hope... Perhaps we will all have what we desire but there is peril in the fulfillment of one's desires...

    By Anonymous Sparky, at February 18, 2013 12:37 AM  

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