For the past couple of years or so, I've read more about ethnic & religious harmony, and national unity in newspapers and seen or heard it on broadcast, than I ever did in my last 25 years of living as a Malaysian. I don't really know how I feel about it. How do you feel about it?
In a way, it's a good thing; every minister in the cabinet came out saying, "Malaysians are lucky to be able to live in a multiracial yet harmonious country..." or "Our achievements today would not have been possible without the unity and stability that we've kept all these years..." or "The government safeguards the needs of all races and religions in ensuring everyone's development..." And then our beloved and respected Prime Minister Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak would every now and then appear on TV to spread the 1Malaysia ideology... Romantic, isn't it?
Okay, sarcasm aside, I do honestly sometimes think that it's a great thing. But what pisses me off is the fact that, before this whole 1Malaysia thing started, before all the ministers and the Prime Minister himself emphasized and kept mentioning about national unity and ethnic harmony these days, we never admitted that we were a racist country for a very long time.
To prove that, we are still so used to classifying ourselves by race and religion, or which state we come from. I can safely say that I'm one of the most non-racist or non-religion-classification-judgmental person (if you have a better noun or adjective for that, please correct me) I know. But to this very day, even after all the studies and experiences that I went through to become the non-racist person that I am today, I'm still tempted to answer, "Sino-Kadazan," or "Sabahan" or "Catholic" when being asked of my race or religion. That is not the worst part. The worst part is, there is a little sense of pride when I say that. Like a chauvinistic somehow... And that's sad...
Whether we like or not, or more importantly, whether we admit it or not, we are proud to be the race that we are, more than we are about our nationality. In a way, that's great. But in a larger perspective, that's not a really nice picture. At least I think so. That is because we are not proud as Malaysians. Even more sadly, I don't think we even identify ourselves as Malaysians, but as our respective races, state of origin, and religions instead.. Prove? Quick test; Try to answer "Malaysian," whenever anyone asks you what race you are. It's not that easy (I've tried). You would find yourself pausing before you could answer "Malaysian." And even when you managed to, I bet that the person at the other end would say something like, "Ya lah, I know. But what race?" Get it?
It's not your fault or mine. I think a huge contributing factor to our mindset today, is the fact that we were subconsciously trained to (I can go into details about this years of 'subconscious training', but that would definitely defeat the purpose of this post). It got so bad that I was ever even asked, "Sudah brapa lama di Malaysia?" by someone from the Peninsular, upon learning that my friends and I are from Sabah & Sarawak. This is an experience that I believe so many others share.
But sadness, anger, and disappointment aside, regardless of how long it took the government to declare September 16th as a MALAYSIA DAY, regardless of how many requests and arguments presented and brought forward to the government to finally acknowledge the day Sabah & Sarawak joined Malaya to FORM MALAYSIA, I think we should just all rejoice that well, Sept 16th is NOW Malaysia Day.
And despite the fact that the 1Malaysia concept came about a little too late I would say (although I think Dato' Seri Najib should have came up with the idea before the March 2008 general election to make it look more real and believable), maybe we should just all put our doubts, differences, disagreements (and sarcasms) aside, and give it a shot. 1Malaysia, People First, Performance Now? Why not. *wink wink*
Happy Malaysia Day everyone.