Saturday, 14 September 2013

I, Too , Am Malaysian

Day by day, the spirit of unity has been waning; we are no longer close to one another as reflected by the racial polarization that became more obvious. When Malaya gained independence in 1957, and when Malaysia was formed in 1963, not many gave them a chance for they ticked all the wrong boxes for perfect unions -- they were too heterogeneous, too complex to manage, especially with a large migrant population and the whole baggage of urban and rural divide.

We are a country created by circumstances, yet our inherent practicality moved the nation forward against all odds. Yet, this young nation still faces challenges. The most significant is how to future-proof it -- to make sure it continues to shine and keep chugging along. A nation united by a common purpose and the belief that we are all in this together, goes a longer way.

As a nation, we are defined by our desires and dreams. How then do we make all of us share a common set of desires and dreams, as well as values that are uniquely Malaysian?

We must admit that we have drifted further apart these past few years. It seems that we are likely to pin the blame, with some justifications, but not entirely, on politics for the state that we are in. I think we drifted further apart because we know less of one another. We see each other in stereotypes like Malays must be in government and Chinese in business.

The situation in Malaysia is like this-people think that the Malays are lazy, the Chinese are fraudsters and the Indians cannot be trusted . It has been the perception passed down from ages. People find an easy way to blame vice on people based on their race.

Yet, the elephant in the room that begs our acknowledgement is our education system that is designed to keep our children separate. These days, by and large, our children in their early years are less likely to encounter children of other races than their parents or grandparents did. Our overly generous education policy inadvertently segregates them, between national, vernacular and religious schools, for example.

Unfamiliarity leads to misunderstanding and misconception, and as they say, also breeds contempt. There is a simple solution to this issue: the nation needs to have its people together.
Although there are valid arguments for both, I personally prefer single stream schools to vernacular schools which, I believe, create racial disunity and destroy relationships among the different races.

This, to me, can be easily solved by never forgetting the myriad of races in this country and by encouraging and allowing diversity to be part of our national school system without compromising the roots of each ethnicity.

Our children must learn to play together and share common experiences, rites of passage and values. Getting our children together is the most effective way in future- proofing the nation, and driving it forward.

In this way – all races can learn and understand the culture of each ethnicity.

Only then can we truly say we are “1Malaysia”.

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