I am a Malaysian…Clarence Choong | 3 Sep, 10 2:13pmI share a common heritage, language, and culture with the people of Malaysia; what’s more, we even share the same festive celebrations together. Heck, we are in fact pretty much identical with each other, as far as nature permits; except maybe for the negligible differences found in our physical appearance. But why is it so hard for certain quarters to accept this fact?
There were many preposterous news of late; one Malaysian telling some to go back to ‘China’; another Malaysian condemning her actions with a rap video. But what is the heart of this failure to accept that we are all of one ethnicity known as ‘Malaysian’?
One of my lecturers said that we are all racists to a certain extent. Somehow, deep within us, there is this sense of prejudice towards fellow Malaysians we term as ‘other races’. We are all ethnocentric to a certain degree; some believe that their forefathers were the founders of this land and therefore, the rest are just pendatang; some believe that their forefathers helped build Malaysia’s economy to what it is today and the rest did not contribute. These thoughts, and so much more, have crossed our minds, at one point or another.
To think about it, nothing really can be done about this racism embedded in our subconscious because from young, we have been taught to be Chinese, Malays, and Indians; not Malaysians. And to remove this thorn in the flesh instantaneously at this point where we have all grown up is nearly impossible. As the proverb goes, Melentur buluh biarlah dari rebungnya.
However, the real problem is not this inert racism which comes to life every now and then when instigated. The real problem is how this racism has been encouraged and bred to be little monsters inside each and every one of us.
Take a look at Barisan Nasional. It was a very appealing concept when it was first formed but it turned out to be nothing but a party that cultivates racism. Why do we need a party with different race-based component parties to attend to the needs of Malaysians? Wouldn’t it be better if we had a more generic party which all Malaysians can fully identify with instead of United Malays National Organisation, the Malaysian Chinese Association, or Malaysian Indian Congress? Why do we have to be denominated by our so-called ‘race’ in our strife for better welfare as Malaysians?
While Umno is obsessed with retaining its Ketuanan Melayu, 30% equity and whatnot, MIC is embattled with internal strife; neglecting the people who voted them in. And I remember not too long ago, someone from MCA proposed an establishment of a Chinese version of Perkasa, to serve as an antithesis to the current Perkasa.
While the idea might appeal to some narrow-minded Malaysians, I see it as a politicised, childish ‘you don’t friend me, I don’t friend you’ scenario. Instead, Malaysians should take heed from the infamous line that an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind; which in this case, leaves everybody a racist.
And this disease of racism which stemmed from the government morphed into an epidemic which penetrates all levels of society. A good example would be my university, Universiti Malaya, where each residential college has its own race-based society such as the Chinese Community Club or Indian Cultural Community.
And it is these frequent meetings that endeared us to our ‘race’ while further engendered the spirit of racial assabiyyah. If nothing is done to address this subtle but growing racism in universities, I can only envision a dismal outcome of a gloomy Malaysia where these undergraduates would be leaders of the nation.
Sure, we can have appealing national policies such as ‘1Malaysia’ but what happens when the ‘feel good’ effect fades and the curtain is drawn? ‘1Malaysia’ would be nothing more than a larger epitome of Barisan Nasional and all the racism it propagates; where marginalisation and double standards continue to spread like a malignant cancer.
If our leaders are serious about ‘1Malaysia’, mentalities first have to change; not policies. Any policy can be packaged, re-packaged and sold to the people but what matters most is the substance beneath the facade; the actual implementation of the policies.
Maybe it’s time for a political, social, and economical revamp just as the sentiments of the people are a-changing. Malaysians don’t need race-based parties to champion for their rights in order to be better off than other ‘races’. Malaysians need a party which champions their rights as Malaysians. Everything race-based needs to go; from parties to university-level societies to schools.
Political opportunists who capitalise and thrive on racial issues to rise through the ranks need to go. I believe that Karl Marx’s conflict theory aptly explains the current situation in Malaysia. Too long have we been oppressed by racism that we no longer remember the love for our country or the passion of being a Malaysian.
In the spirit of our 53rd Independence Day, let us step up to the challenge and say no to racism.
I am a Malaysian. I believe you are one, too.
Again, I’m not Malaysian, but somehow, this article makes me feel like I am a part of Malaysia. I guess I can relate myself to this as we, Indonesian Chinese, had been experiencing similar races-related stuffs for a long time as well. If you remember the riots in Jakarta in May 1998, yes, it did gives the Chinese deep scars that may never be healed. Honestly, I am scarred too. You may say I was still very young when it happened (I was in Primary 6 that time, 11.5 y.o), but trust me when I said I was feeling freaking scared that I could not sleep well, that I packed my clothes and kept it close to me so if anything happened we (my parents and I) could escape right away.
For those who have never experienced such things, I guess it’s hard to imagine. You have no idea how it felt seeing my parents packed our important documents, our fathers did rotating shifts to watch over our housing complex to make sure the mass didn’t manage to go into our complex. Although my living area (it can be called a ‘city’ in a city) was pretty much safe and there was nothing harmful happened, it was terrible. I couldn’t go to my best friend’s house which is just 5 blocks away from mine (same housing complex) without my mom feeling worried and kept on telling me to be careful and not to stay till late, to had our schools closed due to safety reasons (and it happened to be the time for our National Final Exam. Talk about the right timing).
Watching news on TV was a painful experience as we could see the conditions on the streets where riots happened, people throwing stones on houses and buildings, people raiding stuffs from shops and offices, polices and armies everywhere to control the masses, cars, houses and buildings being burned down (Thank God no raping scenes were shown). It was scary. Plain scary.
And with the scary news of Chinese women being raped all around, it didn’t make it any better.
After it had started to cool down, my parents and I, together with 2 cousin sisters of mine, went for a ride around the city to see how it looked like. The city was demolished. Not to say demolished as if we were on a war or something, but it was really sad to see burnt buildings and houses, shattered glasses, and pieces of anything and everything on the road.
That, my friends, was what make me a racist now. Frankly speaking, I did not know that I was a Chinese until the riots happened. What a big influence it had on me, ay?
I don’t really see the point of being extremely rude to certain races. I have made friends from diverse race and religion backgrounds, be it Malay, Indian, Chinese, African, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, you name it.
I am actually a person who gets along easily, but I do admit that sometimes I am racist to certain extend. Like what the above article has said, everyone is racist to a certain extend. It’s inside us subconsciously, whether we like it or not.
Indonesian Chinese used to suffer in silence a long time ago, where we were not allowed to celebrate Chinese New Year (OMG!!!!), not allowed to learn Chinese (and that what makes people rolling eyes when we said we could not speak Chinese. Like “Duh, you are Chinese yet you can’t speak Chinese?”. This is also one of the things that encouraged me to learn Chinese more), and many other things.
After Soeharto was down and a few years after that, it started to get better. We could celebrate Chinese New Year (and it was finally marked as public holiday), we are allowed to learn Chinese (heck, most schools – especially international schools- even include Mandarin in their main curriculum now! If only I had it when I was still in school), we could speak our mind out, etc.
After all that has happened, will you blame me if I say I’m not that proud of being an Indonesian? Can I just say that I am an IBC (Indonesian-Born Chinese)?
Will us, the IBC, will be able to heal ourselves from the deep and rough scar within us? When can we achieve a united Indonesia? Where everyone lives in harmony…