Every country in the world, 1st, developing, 2nd, 3rd, or whatever title they wanna throw at you, has immigrants. We can’t deny that.
America, Australia are two examples that immediately spring to mind of those countries who have thrived based on the immigrants who have sought a life on their shores (whether it was a better life or not, depends on the individual).
They take pride in their immigrant past. (well most of them, there’s always those naysayers). It is what built their country into what is. That is why they still court immigrants, usually of a certain level etc.
Why am I mentioning this? Well, our country is also a nation of immigrants. Not just the real “bumiputras” but those who came from all over the world seeking a better life for themselves and their future generations. India, China, Indonesia are just some of the countries from where Malaysians spring from. There’s no shame in it. We all had to come from somewhere 🙂
The sooner we acknowledge that we have pride in our history (and not just selected or edited elements of it), the sooner we can come out of our present status. Perhaps it’s more of a naive viewpointlah. But I feel that the sooner we give a proper nod to our immigrant forefathers and preserve their history (our buildings, artisans etc), the sooner we can be more accepting.
Tolerance is not a word I’m advocating. I;m all for ACCEPTING. Our immigrant forefathers are part of our history, our culture, our heritage. It is what shapes us as MALAYSIAN. NOt just in our food but many of our daily practices. IT’s about pride. Pride of our heritage (no matter where it origainated from). Walking around a shopping mall (that’s a very Malaysian habit these days!), you see the faces that are milling around. You can’t always tell who is Malaysian and who is not.
The sooner that the powers that be ACCEPT this, the better. Although I guess for certain groups, ACCEPT means a loss of power and privilege. Thug Rule shouldn’t be the way. We see it in our daily life. The “louder” you shout (never mind what the majority feels), you can “win”. How is that acceptable to us? Is that how Malaysia has turned into?
As a kid growing up here (in Penang!), there was more acceptance, (allowing for a tinge of nostalgia), less of any idea of superiority, one group above the other. I saw it in grown ups, not just among kids cos kids are colour blind.
I see such potential in our country, such capabilities, and I don;t mean the biggest shopping centre, building or ketupat in the world, I mean artisans, artists, scientists, everything. It’s being squandered right now, for power and privilege.
Many lament the state of things now, they can yak away at our mamak stalls and kopi tiams. Then you find out they don’t vote or they aren’t even registered to vote. They say oh haiya, doesnt make a difference lah. .. Apathy is what got us to this level (other than the divide and rule idea). One vote can make a difference. Would you rather wait until there’s NO vote whatsoever? Emergency rule declared, all elections no longer an option. IF the superiorists win at all costs, and they take away a non-believer’s right to vote, then how?
Why am I rambling about this? I guess after reading the headlines, moreover in the last 2 months (At least), Im increasingly saddened by what’s happening. I didn’t feel like celebrating merdeka day, or flying a little flag or 2 (for which my kids did tell me off for lol), we watched what counted as a “merdeka” celebration, it was more like an elitist lil get together than anything real.
What do I want for my country? I want to stop cringing now every time Malaysia is mentioned everywhere. I want to continue to feel pride, pride that I am Malaysian. Pride that I represent my country where I go. I want to continue to write MALAYSIAN in big black letters across the race section of any form or ITS PERSONAL across the religion section of the same form until all that disappears. I want my children to feel the same pride, the same idea of everyone playing together, hanging out together, a great sense of community. I dont want them to start saying “this is my chinese friend, my indian friend, my malay friend etc”. We are trying to teach them that we are all Malaysians together, whatever our heritage and the only time anything needs to be different is when it comes to food, non halal, halal, no beef, or vegetarian, and that’s only a matter of RESPECT and understanding, not “TOLERANCE”.
Things have to change and it does start with us, the grown ups, the parents. We have to teach our kids this ACCEPTANCE and RESPECT and NATIONAL PRIDE not this sense of elitism, this thuggish style. Education is not just how many As you score, it’s so many levels.
I have to believe that my country is going through “growing pains” right now, that we have to hit rock bottom before we can climb up to be the glorious country that I know we can be, and I will continue to do my small part of teaching my kids the above as my parents had taught me, both by example and speech, after all, they are our country’s future. I;m sure I will stumble at times or catch myself doing/saying things that perhaps I shouldn;t or cynicism will pop up now and then 🙂
The sweetest moment on merdeka day for me was singing (and I use this term loosely when it comes to my singing ability) the national anthem with my kids who sang it with great pride (and volume haha) and a smile, when it was playing on TV. May that feeling last their whole lives.
Being Malaysian is what we are, it’s what shapes us at so many levels. The sooner we ACCEPT that, the sooner things will improve.
Selamat Menyambut Tahun Merdeka yang ke-52.
Dari Satu Anak Bangsa Malaysia.