Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stop it, 1 Malaysia!

I am really tired of 1 Malaysia. I am really tired of everyone trying to outdo each other in saying how united we are, how 1 Malaysia is already embedded in our daily lives, and how we love each other so much because of mamak stalls, our shared childhoods and “teh tarik.”

Seriously, let’s cut the crap. 1 Malaysia is not a party theme where we all dress up in Malaysian flags, cut into the shape of the number one; or an essay topic where we all write about and then read out what it means to us as individuals.

Come on! Spare me the nauseous faecal matter. Some of us are older than 12 and have already left primary school. Some of us are just fed up! Stop talking about it!

What we’re not talking about and what is the real crux of the matter: we are all racists. It’s part of us, part of how we grew up. We were all taught — intentionally, most of the time; unintentionally, sometimes — that each race is different.

Flip open any school textbook and you will see the description of the typical characteristics of a Malay, Chinese and Indian, the costumes, the food. Yes, the kids from different races play together and ask inquisitively (for those lessons in grammar) about each other’s customs but at the end of the day, our race is a fundamental part of our own identity.

Seriously how many people say: “I am a Malaysian...” and stop there? Try it. It’s hard, isn’t it? The urge to continue your introduction with “I’m a Malay” or “I’m a Chinese,” etc, is just so deeply embedded that it would take tremendous effort to stop yourself from saying your race.

Everyone laughs knowingly when someone gets your race wrong. A Malay mistaken for a Chinese probably has very fair complexion. A Chinese mistaken for a Malay would be furious or embarrassed or both because the Chinese are extremely proud of their family name and heritage. (To the Chinese, Malay families are “nameless” because names are not passed down through the generations). We all know that. I know many Chinese people would be insulted to be mistaken for an Indian but let’s not even go there.

Yes, the tick box for race has to be removed from our official forms, bladiblabla. But can we remove race as a subject in our conversations? When someone describes another as “so Cina” or “so Melayu”, can you stop the conversation and reprimand the person for being racist?

When someone asks you about your culture, can you describe it without using any reference to the race of your family? When someone says “he’s a Chinese”, just say back: “He’s a Malaysian and that’s all I care.” No “buts”. I don’t care if he’s a descendant of Mao Tze Dong, as long as he has a Malaysian passport, he’s a Malaysian and that’s all that matters. Say it. Try it out on your own tongue, and see how the words roll off it…

It sounds weird, doesn’t it, because it’s hard. As well-meaning as you might be, it’s almost impossible to talk about yourself, ourselves, without referencing the race that our families come from.

And you know what? That’s not good enough. Because that means we’re not trying hard enough. Racial differentiation in our country has been a source of disunity, party politics (which we are all fed up of), and pesky social tension that serves no one (except those playing racial politics to manipulate us citizens)! So we must try harder to drop racial differentiation in all of our daily discourse.

Here’s the challenge: Don’t mention, refer to or even think about what race you are, or the person you are talking to. If you just met the person, ask for the name and where he/she is from. Full stop. Don’t even think about asking for the race, even though you can probably guess from the name.

A person’s identity is made up of lots of things, not just race. So instead of pigeon-holing the person into a race box, put him in a different box instead. Such as: Where he was born, where he lives, what’s his hobby, or the type of car he drives.

Like all bad habits, it’s much easier to get rid of the old habit if you have a new one to replace it with.

See how long you can go without referring to a person’s race. A day? Two days? Two weeks? Two months? Only when you can go about your daily life, interacting with all your family and friends without referring to anyone by their race, at all, can you say you are truly living the 1 Malaysia life.

So, stop talking about it. Please. Just live it.

ps. try look at those comments by others too..

Let's be realistic! We will never be able to get away from this issue. Not now, not by 2020 or beyond. Deal with it!

Why put on a new coat of paint and call it 1Malaysia when the political parties are fishing for votes right before an election. After all the dusts have settled down post election...we are back to the same, Malay, Chinese, Indian and lain lain.

A leopard will never lose its stripes. Don't waste time. Be productive and channel your energy to make a decent living for yourself and your family, unless you are in the PR department looking to do a make over for the country.

No comments: