Many Malaysians say they're not racists, but won't vote for an MP from a different race

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - In a twist of irony, a survey found that a sizable proportion of Malaysians who consider themselves not racist would actually not vote for a candidate of a different race.

In a self-assessment survey commissioned by Centre For A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) which was conducted by Anderson Market Analytics in late 2015, 60 per cent of the 1,056 respondents from Peninsular Malaysia answered that they were not racist.

However, 30 per cent of the respondents from this group said that they would not vote for an MP from a different race and 34 per cent felt that race-based policies were still relevant.

In a statement on Thursday (March 17), Cenbet said that Malaysians are generally against racism though they still have racist tendencies in various facets of their lives.

"Based on the findings, we conclude that many Malaysians are openly against racism. Despite this, many of them show aspects of selective racism, whether knowingly or otherwise," said Cenbet, adding that 9.1 per cent of all respondents admitted to being racist while 28.1 said that they had "shades of racism".

Of those who answered as being racist or having shades of racism, 46.31 per cent said they earned between RM1,000 (S$33) to RM4,999 per month and 75.6 per cent were from urban areas.

The survey also found that 40.7 per cent of respondents aged between 18 and 25 years said they were either racist or had shades of racism.

However, this proportion declines with increasing age.

Cenbet also developed a "Cenbet Racism Index" and found that the vast majority of the respondents scored 59.1 per cent, which is categorised as "averagely or selectively racist".

"While group identification may be a natural or instinctive reaction, Cenbet feels that it is important to acknowledge such tendencies - even if they are latent - so that they could nipped in the bud," said Cenbet.

In order to do this, Cenbet provided some suggestions for tackling the issues of latent racism.

"For starters, it is time the government develops and incorporates a 'National Unity Index' in formulating key public policies and administrative measures," said Cenbet.

It also suggested that the public should periodically reflect on their words and actions, as people may find that they themselves perpetrate the very criticisms they make on others over racial matters.

"Such realisation on the individual level is key towards ending racial prejudices and fostering racial," said Cenbet