Monday, August 24, 2009

Merdeka 52- A truly1Malaysia is the way forward

Where are we heading as a nation?

One of the greatest problems that plagued mankind throughout the ages and continue to do so till today is racism. The Cambridge dictionary defines racism as the belief that people's qualities are influenced by their race and that the members of other races are not as good as the members of your own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races. A racist is therefore someone who believes that other races are not as good as their own and therefore need to be treated different often unfairly.

Basically all of us are racists to some extent as this feeling of superiority exists in the hearts all of us. Racism is an evil that is never condoned by any religions in the world. If we sincerely mean well for the future of our nation, and strictly adhere to our respective religious values, we must strive to rid ourselves of the inherent racist trait from our hearts and regard all men as equal. We are all equal in the eyes of God but not in the eyes of men who claim to profess in Him.

As the nation is gearing up to mark its 52nd year of independence with various elaborate programmes, it may be pertinent for us Malaysians to pause to ponder on our achievements, our problems and the direction we are heading as a nation. Can we say that we are far better off as a nation than we were at the time of independence? In physical development, economy and technology there is no doubt we have advanced tremendously but when it comes to basic human development, democracy and racial unity we must admit that we have failed badly.

Fifty-two years may have passed but the nation is deeply divided by race and religion. In fact the biggest problem that we face today is the deteriorating race relations and its repercussions are threatening the peace, progress and prosperity of the country. It is unfortunate that we have today a new generation of Malaysians, political leaders, parents and the people in general, who are so racially charged so much so they become over sensitive and intolerant to the most trvial comments and criticisms from members of other races. In fact we have succumbed to the ugly influences of racism losing all the goodwill and tolerance that were once our national pride.

The people rose above the racial divide to vote for the adoption of a multiracial concept but this has been severely thwarted by our politicians who are bent on resorting to racial and religious issues to gain support. The divide and rule mentality of our colonialists is still very much alive and active today. Those who advocate a multiracial approach are condemned as traitors ready to be persecuted.
We seem to be going backwards to the era of politics based on race that existed at the time of independence 52 years ago. At that time race politics might have been necessary to unite the individual ethnic communities who had immigrated from other lands but is it still needed when today the people of all races were born and bred in the country with many not having set foot on foreign soil?

Today wherever we go; schools, government offices, places of work, recreational areas and even places of worship we are reminded of our ethnicity. We are constantly reminded of our differences rather than the similarities as Malaysians.

The 1Malaysia concept initiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he took office brought some hope to Malaysians that the era of differential treatment is finally over. There were hopes for the dawn of a new era where all Malaysians will be treated equally but whether these hopes will materialise remains to be seen. A number of incidences since then have however shown that it is not that easy to shred of this emotionally charged racist tendencies from our lives. It is made more difficult by the existence of those opportunists who capitalise on it for their own monetary and political benefits.

We may have attained self rule 52 years ago but where are we as Malaysians today? By right we should be nearer to the ideal state of a united Malaysia where everyone regardless of race and religion will have an equal stake in the fortunes and misfortunes of our nation. We should be nearer a state where all citizens must be treated equally with regards to education, scholarships, job opportunities in the civil service and armed forces. We should be nearer a state where we should have respect not just tolerance and accept the traditions and cultures of those different from ours. Unfortunately we are nowhere near to this ideal scenario; instead we seem to be on divergent paths, moving away from that situation.

We have achieved a state where we have a new generation of Malaysians, political leaders, parents and the people in general, who are born and bred here but so racially charged that they have become over sensitive and intolerant to the most trivial provocations from members of other races. As a result of the suspicion those of other ethnicity we have become comfortable living within the cocoons of our own community and find it insecure, difficult and odd to mingle with fellow Malaysians of a different race and religion.

Under these circumstances forging racial goodwill and integration may be a difficult task but if we do not start now in the small environment around us how can we expect our politicians to do so at the national levels where it is far more complex and challenging?

It is sad that despite our leaders calling for an end to racism, there are no genuine attempts or political will to eradicate it. Our leaders should conduct themselves in a manner that they are seen to be caring for all regardless of ethnicity. As parents we must show our kids an exemplary behaviour that illustrates the right attitude towards our people of different race. In short, while it may be important to propagate our own ethnic cultures, what is more important is for us to adopt a Malaysian culture that is colour blind and which does not distinguish one by his ethnicity but by his comradeship as fellow humans.

On this National day let’s ponder where is all this racism is going to lead us? Unless we unite and say ‘NO’ to racism now we will definitely be heading for self-destruction and doom. As citizens we have to decide our destiny and not allow others with ulterior motives to lead us astray. We must believe and propagate that believe to all around us that what brings us together as Malaysians must be stronger than what pulls us apart.

It is time for all Malaysians to share a common dream, a dream that one day Malaysia becomes a developed nation by the whole-hearted contribution of all its citizens regardless of ethnicity, a day when all communities are accepted as equal and every citizen feels equally proud to be called Malaysians.

Prime Minister has pledged to be the leader for all Malaysians alike; Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans and others. On this 52nd.Merdeka let’s pray fervently that God him the courage and the political will to work together with all parties including the opposition to initiate the cascade reactions that will lead to the dawn of a new Malaysia where all races can work together hand in hand without fear or suspicion to realize our dream of a truly 1Malaysia?

Dr.Chris Anthony

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