In Malaysia, fake news about citizenship for Chinese stokes racial tensions

Stoking some of the underlying ethnic tensions in Malaysia:

Malaysia’s National Registration Department (NRD) on Monday lodged a police report against several social media users for falsely accusing the department of indiscriminately granting citizenship to Chinese nationals.

Fake news that mainland Chinese were being granted Malaysian identification cards has been circulating on social media for the past month, the latest in a series of attempts to stoke racial tensions at a time when the relations between ethnic Chinese Malaysians and indigenous Malays “are at their lowest ebb”, according to an expert.

“The information spread through social media is false, and the report is to enable the police to conduct a thorough investigation,” NRD director general Ruslin Jusoh told reporters at a press conference to announce the police report.

He dismissed claims that the NRD discriminates by granting Malaysian citizenship to certain foreign nationals.

“This is not true and for the record, we do not choose applicants based on their ancestry or nationality in granting them Malaysian citizenship,” Ruslin said.

The social media posts, spread mainly via Facebook and Twitter, featured pictures of alleged Chinese nationals on a blue Malaysian identification card. The blue card, known as MyKad, is only issued to Malaysian citizens.

A mainland Chinese woman, who has been married to a Malaysian for almost 20 years and was granted citizenship in the Southeast Asian nation, was the subject of one of the posts.

“The person is a spouse to a Malaysian national and has fulfilled all the requirements to be a citizen based on … the Federal Constitution and that qualified her application for the citizenship,” Ruslin said, adding that it is not easy to obtain Malaysian citizenship.

He said Indonesians made up the largest group of foreign wives who were granted Malaysian citizenship.

Political analyst Azmi Hassan warned that the viral posts were intended to create the perception that it was the current government’s plan to grant citizenship to foreigners, a move that would create distrust toward the ruling Pakatan Harapan government among Malays.

“When news regarding foreigners getting citizenship are circulated as if it is true, the strategy is to create a perception that it is the policy of the current government … and no doubt to create uneasiness since the relationship between Malaysian Chinese and the indigenous Malays are at their lowest ebb right now,” Azmi said.

“The end result is that the Malays will not trust the government … and the Malays’ [feeling] that they are losing the country to foreigners is becoming real.”

Ethnic Chinese comprise an estimated 22 per cent of the country’s 32 million people, while Malay-Muslims make up more than 60 per cent of the population.

Political analyst Azmi said the mainland Chinese citizenship hoax had been cleverly done to look real.

“This strategy of foreigners getting MyKad or citizenship has been used numerous times … but no doubt it is very effective when foreigners and sovereignty are lumped together,” he said.

MP Lim Lip Eng from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), which is part of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, has found himself a victim of the fake social media posts.

A WhatsApp message that appeared months earlier, accusing him of registering mainland Chinese for citizenship in his constituency in Kepong district in the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, recently went viral again.

“That WhatsApp [message] is a fake. It resurfaced a month ago,” Lim told the South China Morning Post. “The current atmosphere of fear and tension of racial and religious divides in Malaysia is at the tipping point. Any incident can be twisted into a racial or religious issue, no matter how fake it is.”

The DAP has of late faced a barrage of fake news depicting the party as unpatriotic, anti-Malay and anti-Muslim.

“DAP, a predominantly Chinese-based party, is and will always be targeted by the opposition, the racists and religious extremists when they plot to stoke racial and religious issues,” Lim said.

DAP’s secretary general Lim Guan Eng was in 2018 appointed the country’s first ethnic Chinese Finance Minister in 44 years after Pakatan Harapan staged an upset to win the general elections.

The appointment of ethnic Chinese to strategic positions in the government has caused unease with certain segments of the Malay-Muslim populace, according to political analyst Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani of BowerGroupAsia.

“There is still distrust among the Malay community with Chinese leaders in Pakatan Harapan. The fake [identification] issue will only validate their racial narratives,” Asrul said. “This is an attempt to stoke racial sentiment and legitimise the narrative that the Chinese are pendatangs [foreigners or immigrants] in this country.”

While the country’s Penal Code has provisions to deal with insults delivered with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, it does not have specific legislation against racism – something Lim from the DAP wants to see changed.

“I have told the Pakatan Harapan government to rein in fake news by the freewheeling social and printed media with tougher penalties before Malaysia is out of order and the economy plummets,” he said. “The cabinet must come out with plans to criminalise racism and religious hatred.”

Azmi, the political analyst, said Malaysia’s 62-year existence as a multiracial nation has been held together by mutual trust and co-operation between the different races.

“It does concern me … with all the fake news circulating, I’m afraid that the bond that binds us together will be broken and if this happens, it is going to take a long time to mend it and Malaysia will be at the losing end,” he said.

Source: In Malaysia, fake news about citizenship for Chinese stokes racial tensions

Meet the wealthy immigrants at the centre of Vancouver’s housing debate

Good in-depth profile of some of the background and stories regarding mainland Chinese immigrants:

The mainlanders are the most recent of several waves of Chinese immigration to Vancouver. But they are not from the places familiar to Vancouverites for the past 160 years, like rural Guangdong, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

The 139,890 who have arrived since 2000, according to federal statistics, are from Nanjing, Shanghai, Harbin, Beijing, Guangzhou, Qingdao.

And they are a kind of immigrant Canada has not seen before, at least not in these numbers. They are here with money and confidence after surfing the wave of one of the world’s biggest economic booms, the result of people from Regina to Rome buying stuff stamped “Made in China.” The boom produced 3.6 million millionaires by 2014, up from 2.4 million in 2013.

…But they wonder why Canadians are ready to take their money for their houses – perhaps more money than they thought they would ever get – and then complain.

“A woman I know, her house cost $400,000 19 years ago and she sold the house for more than $2-million. She was happy, she has a studio now for her painting,” Sherry Qin said over coffee at UBC’s Old Barn Community Centre with three of her friends, including Ms. Yin. They like to gather here because one member of the group lives in a townhouse nearby.

And they do not understand why, if Canadians do not like the way things are, their governments will not change the rules – for investment, for preserving old houses, for citizenship, for paying taxes, for charges on vacant houses – instead of blaming newcomers.

And they were as divided as others over B.C.’s new tax for foreign buyers. Sherry Qin said B.C. should remain a free market. Anita He said it will send a message to all Chinese: “We don’t like you.” Alan Yu said it was a good idea. “I think it’s good to suppress the speculation in the real-estate market and it helps to fulfill the needs of affordable housing. I hope it could lower the housing price in Vancouver.”

But such government regulation is not new to them.

Chinese cities, which control who can be defined as a legal resident, are imposing their own restrictions. Shanghai has strict rules. In February, after house prices had jumped by 21 per cent in the previous years, it tightened the approvals for non-resident buyers even more.

Vancouver’s new arrivals also are puzzled why Canadians complain about wealthy people moving here when their government decided which kinds of immigrants it wanted.

“The government just chose rich people so they have lots of money,” said Mr. Liu, who immigrated to Canada in 2005 through the skilled-worker stream, not as an investor, even though he owned a chain of Best Buy-like stores in China. He is doing well, with a home he bought in Kerrisdale so the family could be close to Crofton House, where his daughter went to school.

(The proportion of immigrant-investors to Canada never exceeded more than 4.1 per cent of the total number of permanent residents. About 8,500 immigrant investors came from mainland China to B.C. between 2000 and 2015, along with 23,000 family members. In the same period, B.C. accepted 23,000 skilled workers and their 33,000 family members.)

Source: Meet the wealthy immigrants at the centre of Vancouver’s housing debate – The Globe and Mail