All it took was 24 hours

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

FRI­DAY was not ex­actly a bad day in the of­fice. Hav­ing com­pleted some out­stand­ing work, I cleared and replied my email; surfed a few news por­tals and read the news­pa­pers. Then, I de­cided to “tell it as it is” in my post­ing on so­cial me­dia.

“I HAVE just com­pleted read­ing four English news­pa­pers. All of them had ‘feel good’ stories on unity, per­pad­uan, sac­ri­fices, etc. Ev­ery de­scrip­tion was used to de­scribe the coun­try, its peo­ple and the govern­ment. There were mes­sages from ‘lead­ers’ ad­vo­cat­ing open­ness, unity and work­ing to­gether as Malaysians. Won­der­ful. Happy Malaysia Day ... but wait.

“Next week or even to­mor­row, all these niceties will come to an end. Words and phrase like ‘pen­datang’, ‘kafir’, ‘anak ke­l­ing’ or ‘apa lagi Cina mahu?’ will occupy the vac­uum left by the Malaysia Day mes­sages.

“So, what is the sig­nif­i­cance of Malaysia Day when Sarawak and Sabah con­tin­u­ally ban fel­low Malaysians to their states?”

Had I spo­ken too soon? Then I read a Ber­nama re­port that five mul­tira­cial Malaysian youths who call them­selves “Colour of Voices” (COV) are us­ing mu­sic as a plat­form for unit­ing mul­tira­cial and multi-re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties in Malaysia.

One of them, As­nal Nashriq Khirrudin, from Gom­bak, said COV of­ten in­jected the 1Malaysia spirit into their mu­sic with the hope of fos­ter­ing unity among Malaysians.

Then, there was a poignant let­ter from Dharm Navarat­nam who talked about chil­dren who choose not to see their dif­fer­ences, but rather to cel­e­brate them. They em­brace their dif­fer­ences and they learn from their dif­fer­ences and in turn be­come bet­ter peo­ple in do­ing so.

Yet, he lamented that the govern­ment in­sists on mak­ing us fill out forms that re­quires us to tick our eth­nic back­ground, based on Malay, Chi­nese, In­dian and Oth­ers.

“At the same time, we hear speeches es­pous­ing and ex­tolling the virtues of 1Malaysia and how Malaysians need to come to­gether as one to cre­ate a more pros­per­ous nation.

“How are we sup­posed to be 1Malaysia when the ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties are built along racial lines and each one claims to de­fend the rights of each par­tic­u­lar race but seems to for­get the big­ger pic­ture of Malaysia? The much, much larger pic­ture of serv­ing Malaysians!”

Then came the bomb­shell from Ger­akan Youth’s deputy chief, Andy Yong, who on Satur­day told that the pro­posed changes in the elec­toral bound­aries re­flect that the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion has torn apart any re­main­ing fic­tion about in­ter-eth­nic har­mony in Malaysia

“The re-de­lin­eation is sup­posed to look at the com­po­si­tion of eth­nic Malay, In­dian, and Chi­nese, in short rep­re­sent­ing all Malaysians, in­stead of the dom­i­na­tion of a sin­gle race,” Yong said.

For­mer MCA pres­i­dent Tan Koon Swan rea­soned that some Chi­nese may have mi­grated abroad due to un­hap­pi­ness with the sit­u­a­tion in Malaysia, but Tan thinks the com­mu­nity still has a bright fu­ture in the coun­try.

He said while some Chi­nese be­lieve they are mis­treated by the govern­ment, or that there is no fu­ture for them in Malaysia, the re­al­ity is the op­po­site, he told Sin Chew.

In an in­ter­view with the Sin Chew Daily, the politi­cian turned en­tre­pre­neur said al­though a num­ber of large com­pa­nies ap­peared to be con­trolled by other races, deeper anal­y­sis re­veals that the Chi­nese still con­trib­ute 70% of the coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP). Yes, ev­ery­thing is seen through the blink­ers of race – suc­cess, fail­ure and even ma­te­ri­al­is­tic gain.

Doesn’t any­one want to see suc­cess and fail­ure through in­di­vid­ual ef­forts, tal­ent and en­trepreneur­ship? What is wrong with us? Is this a true re­sult of hu­man in­fal­li­bil­ity?

Then there are sa­tay sell­ers and ikan bakar stall op­er­a­tors who think it is their God-given right to rep­re­sent and de­fend their race on the ba­sis that “our su­pe­ri­or­ity is be­ing chal­lenged”. They threaten the peace and defy logic. They want to de­stroy what­ever is left of sanc­tity in our beloved coun­try.

On Satur­day, I re­ceived this mes­sage from Dr S. Parthe­ban, the pres­i­dent of Yayasan Ke­ma­juan Rakyat Mi­noriti Malaysia, for some cov­er­age as a me­moran­dum is be­ing handed over to the prime min­is­ter.

This is the dif­fer­ence 24 hours can make. One day, we are all talk­ing about unity and good in­ter-eth­nic re­la­tions and the next day, we are tear­ing each other with the same old rhetoric.

Is Malaysia Day for real? Are we em­brac­ing the prin­ci­ples of the found­ing fa­thers? Are we treat­ing it as just an­other day added to the long list of pub­lic hol­i­days that we have?

Why are our “lead­ers” so pre­dictable? Is it be­cause of the race-based party pol­i­tics where one wants to outdo the other? Why is there this “threat” that one race or re­li­gion is “un­der siege” by the other? Who started this need to de­fend his race and re­li­gion by spew­ing ha­tred and con­tempt?

I don’t have the an­swers but his­to­ri­ans of the next gen­er­a­tion will record how this coun­try took a long and wind­ing road to in­de­pen­dence. Then they will tell us how it went on a free fall from the peak.

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