Photo Credit: Olivander
Outgoing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi mentioned that Malaysia’s race relations are at an unhealthy level and that he will spend his remaining time in the administration to cool these tensions.
I’m aware that being both a multi-cultured and united society is very challenging indeed. At the same time, I can’t help but think that this issue has been blown out of proportion lately.
Seriously, I’m sure that a huge majority of Malaysians have already accepted the fact that we’re a nation of multiple ethnicities and religious backgrounds. Heck, we’ve been this way even before independence. Yet, I’m very sure we recognized that nationhood is not an issue of the individual; but rather, what we can become as a community.
The way I see it, the only people who are making this issue a big deal are the politicians. Both the ruling coalition and the opposition look to me hell bent on making this issue larger than life.
The only reason this issue isn’t 100% funny to me is the fact that these people were more than happy to take the votes of Malays, Chinese and Indians during the election period and suddenly suffered amnesia when they were elected into office. Talk about having short term memory, eh?
At this point, I’m sure that our politicians live in a separate Malaysia than I do.
In my Malaysia, I can go for Malay nasi lemak, Chinese seafood or Indian curry as I please. To the politicians, they are probably wondering why there aren’t many Indians consuming nasi lemak… we must be having inter-racial issues!
In my Malaysia, I provide services to customers regardless of their race or religion. In fact, their race or religious inclinations are absolutely useless to me as a demographic. Politicians on the other hand spend way too much energy arguing why there are Bumiputera contracts for government projects… as if they didn’t notice the contracts without such clauses, which last I checked are just as many if not more.
In my Malaysia, I spend thousands of Ringgits and God knows how many hours finding my son a kindergarten with a healthy proportion of kids of all races and religious backgrounds. I do this to distill in him the fact that there are people other than Malays in this country (and the world in general) and that he should make friends with all of them. Our politicians are still stuck with their superiority complex; and that their ethnic or religious based schools are the best in the universe. Kind of makes me wonder why none of them ever gets mentioned in the same sentence as Oxford or Harvard.
All these and more makes me wonder whether Pak Lah plans to prescribe the wrong medicine for the wrong symptoms suffered by the wrong patients. At best, this might turn out to be the funniest Malaysian socio-comedy. At worst, it might become a case where life imitates art (or in this case, a political plan gone bad)… and we really start having the so-called problems he’s trying to fix!
I’m happy to hear your take on this issue. Do you have experiences to share? Please, leave a comment or two. Thank you!