The month of August is known as Bulan Kemerdekaan (Independence month) where we, Malaysians are supposedly obliged to fly the Malaysian flag in our homes, vehicles,business premises and wherever applicable. The Jalur Gemilang sport is to showcase our patriotism which now is on the wane because of a myriad of reasons we already know – disillusionment with the government and politicians, inequality based on race, racism and religious impositions.
It won’t be wrong to say that Bulan Kemerdekaan is our government’s 11th hour attempt to make Malaysians feel like Malaysians in Malaysia instead of, “Saya Melayu, dia Cina, kamu India,” and to feel equal despite the non level playing field and prejudices. Indeed, the month of August is designated for us to put all our differences aside and just be Malaysians in Malaysia.
You may wonder why I keep using the phrase ‘being Malaysians in Malaysia.’ I am reiterating that phrase because, apart from the 1 month we are suggested to be Malaysians in Malaysia, we are known as Melayu, Cina dan India at both personal and official levels the rest the year. Worse, we leave out east Malaysians, the Sabahans and the Sarawakians of the states of Sabah and Sarawak in the Borneo island and real and true Malaysians, the indigenous people and people of Malaysian mixed parentage, people like Chindians. In governmental forms, the latter are categorized as Lain-lain.
Currently, we only recognize ourselves as Malaysians in KLIA where the sassy yet ensuring voice of the chief stewardess rings, “Welcome home fellow Malaysians,” and outside Malaysian borders where we identify ourselves to foreigners as Malaysians and to our fellow compatriots with our nationality, going, “You Malaysian ah? Wallawei, me too! So nice to meet another Malaysian in London la (or any other foreign city or country)!”
At home, we are ironically Malays, Chinese and Indians and Lain-lain instead of Malaysians.
When I was in primary school (SRK) I never felt that I am an Indian – in fact, I was unaware of my race because it wasn’t a matter at all. I had an east Malaysian classmate, an Iban and her name was Jessy. Another classmate of mine was half Portuguese and half Filipino. Our class teacher was a Chinese and my classmates were predominantly Malay. Never once we felt alienated with ourselves except when filling up official forms and during Islamic studies where non Muslims go for Moral class but as children, we didn’t mull into them. They were only a procedure and a temp class switch for us. We filled the forms and heeded to the subject separation and a nanosecond later, hopped off to recess or play, holding hands and tittering. Our class teacher for 3 consecutive years used to give us the Malaysian flags that have candies in their post in the month of August. It was a delight and a treat for us – we’d eat the candies and wave the flag at each other, sticking them in our school bags when it was time to go home.
Then I went to secondary school and had the first culture shock and a dose of racism – I got to know what is Remove class and I saw my schoolmates from Tamil schools be denied places in the top two classes no matter how good their UPSR results were just because they took Tamil as a subject. I also saw the ‘flocking tendency’ where only those of the same race would hang out together and that custom rubbed off me a little bit.
Then after SPM, I came to know why the ‘Keturunan’ (race) column exists in IPTA application documents and identity card – it’s to identify whether I qualify for public university seats by race as opposed to meritocracy. At that point, I felt pseudo Malaysian. I am sure, you, the reader can relate to my story one way or another. This is the way we eventually lose a slice of patriotism that we initially have in our hearts. If a national school goer like me felt like that, imagine how those who went to vernacular schools feel. The latter is why talented and deserving non Bumiputera leave Malaysia in droves going by the logic, “Why stay in my country which treats me like a 2nd class citizen when the world welcomes me with open arms?” Some Bumiputera and Malays here, every time when they feel threatened ironically by the minority, they go, “Balik India, balik Tongsan kalau tak puas hati dengan apa yang diberi di sini!!!”
Kakak Listen beraksi mantap nih:
With race based politics and race based quota cunningly interspersed into the Malaysian society fabric as well as lots like ISMA and PERKASA periodically calling the non Malays ‘pendatang’, in the proposition that they are protecting Malay rights, we have subconsciously settled in the mind frame that only those who belong to our own race will help us. Our dexterous politicians have successfully entrenched that belief in most of us. Injustice meted out at minorities of Malaysia that are either made with impunity or gone unpunished has left a bitterness in Malaysians, especially in non bumiputeras and that bitterness has translated into Bulan Kemerdekaan being unintentionally sabotaged in recent years.
It’s time Malaysians get their patriotic groove back
It’s easy to get the patriotic groove of Malaysians back, to get a grip on Onn Jaafar‘s ahead of time idealism instead of succumbing to the expedient ‘divide and rule’ statecraft introduced by the colonial British and perfected by the longest ruling Malaysian PM, his legacy, continued by his successors.
All we have to do is think a little and make connections the way the brain of a child who drinks milk rich in DHA does, in the advertisements. It is time not to let our politicians think for us and not let them hijack independence for their political mileage like last year’s ‘Janji Ditepati’ (Promises Fulfilled) merdeka slogan.
Last year, three sisters were murdered in Kedah; the eldest was 14 and she wasn’t attending school – her parents were too poor to send her to school and she was helping them out financially by cleaning bottles. They were Malays, supposedly protected by NEP, Malay supremacy and the social contract. Our Education Minister did not give a hoot about the girl being out of school and her family’s penniless status. You might say it’s only one case but if you see programs like Bersamamu on TV3 and go to backwater areas, you’ll know that impoverishment in Malays here is quite ubiquitous.
The below is my Facebook post regarding the Malay girl above at my friend’s discovery of another similar case in Taiping:
So I was scrolling down on Facebook today and saw a friend's post on a simple incident yet so important and impacting that portrays the harsh realities of our country that many people don't know or just turn a blind eye and a deaf ear. My friend saw a 12 year old Malay girl scavenging for bottles and recyclables to sell at 20 cents per kilo. Her dad was laid off and she and her 6 siblings haven't eaten for two days. My friend and his friend who was with him gave her some money but of course that is not enough. This is appalling. I don't know if you guys remember but last year, 3 siblings were found dead in their kampung. The eldest girl was only 14 and she had to collect and clean bottles to help make ends meet for her family. Of course she wasn't going to school! The pitiful condition of the family only became known publicly after the trio's tragic murder but no one seemed to care about the fact that the girls dropped out of school simply because their parents couldn't afford it.. I remember thinking why such pitiable states still beleaguer our nation when it is just short of 6 years for Vision 2020, to achieve a developed nation status! Heavens know how many kids are out of school, kids of all races just because they are too poor! And, I don't even need to mention kids in east Malaysia! And, to think our Education minister being silent about this all speaks volumes of his concern over such poor kids and they don't even belong to the minorities; they are Malays! Why did Malay affirming policies did not see such kids through school? This is contained in politics; this claim that UMNO/BN champion the rights of Malays is all talk cock. They only champion themselves. Yesterday, I shared a link about allocations for poor and malnourished kids being used for hidangan mesyuarat. I believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg. What kind of people would steal from poor kids' plates?? This issue should be addressed on a big, national scale but of course we can at least do whatever we can to help such needy people, regardless of race and religion, for now, aspiring to be true Malaysians instead of the veneer 1Malaysia.
We also know that some quarters who claim that they champion the Indians here pocket the money allocated for Tamil schools. The kids in Tamil schools study in squalor and dilapidated buildings while those ‘you know who’ drive around in posh cars and lead opulent lives.
So you can see that it is the same race which screw those from their own race. Let’s discard the devious phased in mindset that only one from your race will help you. That’s how our politicians have divided us for decades and it’s time to break the mould for the sake of the next generations. At least they should recognize each other as Malaysians in Malaysia instead of Melayu, Cina, India and dll..
I know that it is not easy – it’s indeed an uphill battle impinged with obstacles in the form of institutionalized racism and race based politics and controlled media (and now Malaysian government is mooting banning Facebook) but that was the dream Tunku Abdul Rahman had for Malaysia.
We can start by calling ourselves Malaysians of Malay descent, Malaysians of Chinese descent, Malaysians of Indian descent, Malaysians of indigenous descent and just Malaysians for those from mixed parentage before gradually shifting to the term Malaysians. UNITY IS THE ONLY WAY TO PROGRESS IN STUFF THAT MATTERS.
Singapore unwillingly separated from Malaysia in 1965. Lee Kuan Yew worried how he’d manage Singapore without Malaysian tutelage. At present, Singapore is a first world country, an Asian tiger while Malaysia remains a 3rd world country and has a lot of catching up to do with Singapore. Singapore is having the last laugh while we are literally the laughing stock of the world for various reasons.
Indonesia, with a 90% Muslim population, a majority ethnic Malay make up, made an ethnic Chinese protestant Governor of their capital Jakarta and Indonesia is perceived as the most dynamic nation in South East Asia, if not Asia. Malaysia was once that promise. Now Malaysia is embroiled in racism and religious extremism.
Myanmar and Vietnam were once behind Malaysia, but now they have overtaken Malaysia in many aspects. Myanmar’s broadband speed is faster than Malaysia’s and despite having fields ridden with land mines, the country is progressing like anything. Since 2000, Vietnam’s economic growth rate has been among the highest in the world. And, in 2011, it had the highest Global Growth Generators Index among 11 major economies.
India uses electronic polling system that minimizes vote discrepancies and Malaysia is still using the traditional voting system. Both China and India are the fastest growing economies in the world.
Japan was routed by nuclear bombs in WW2 but today it’s one of the most developed country in the world despite being battered by earthquakes and tsunamis round the clock. Imagine Japan’s growth should it has Malaysia’s geographical location and natural resources. It is also one of the countries with the lowest corruption rate in the world
Bosnia, a country which endured genocide and once relied on Malaysia for aid qualified for the World Cup and Malaysia can’t even beat Laos in football. And, the Malaysian contingent’s performance in the recent Commonwealth games in Glasgow was abysmal. We are yet to get an Olympic gold medal.
All of the achievements attained by the countries above, which were, once, riddled with unrelenting impediments and nowhere near Malaysia’s glory are incredibly neat feats, to say the least. Against the odds, they are flourishing now, on the platform called unity and competence which Malaysia has claimed disposable, hence leading to this great slip of Malaysia, the once most promising and progressing nation in the Asian region. We are now regressing because raw talent gets spurned and disunity has become the order of the day.
Our incumbent leaders are content in being pipe dreamed and comparing Malaysia to countries that are behind us rather than those countries that are leaving us in their dust without an ounce of shame.
Either we emulate Singapore, Japan and Indonesia if we want Malaysia to forge forward or be complacent with the status quo and lag behind the other Asian and other countries that were once behind us. We cannot achieve heights if we bicker with each other over petty issues involving racial and religious sensitivity. We can only progress and carry this nation inherited from our forefathers if we see ourselves as Malaysians and annihilate bigoted, midget and racist minds. Time to be Malaysians in Malaysia
In actuality, Malaysian was not formed yet on 31st August 1957; it was just Malaya’s (the Malayan peninsula) independence. Malaysia was only formed on 16th September 1963 after Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah agreed to join the Malaysian Federation thus, rightfully, 16th September is the day Malaysia gained her name and independence.
Nonetheless, Happy 57th Independence Day Malaysians!