Of mixed races and races mixing
AUG 12 — We live in a cultural mixing pot, embracing and enjoying close ties and friendships with all races.
The truth is there are still segments of our society that see through racially prejudiced eyes and are unable to truly connect with those from other races.
And by this, I mean to trust a person of another race as though they are of your own race.
Yes, trust is a big word.
Many of us have friends from all races. At the same time, there are still those who keep only a casual proximity with those from other races – feeling closer and more tied to friends of their own race.
And then there are those who despite everything, are unable to fully accept someone of another race when it comes to issues of trust and security.
In the first instance, I’ve seen many who come from racially segmented schools (you know the kind, Chinese or Indian schools and Malay boarding schools) who grow up mixing with only “their kind” and wind up not having any friends of other races. I’ve personally known Chinese youths who only made their first Indian friend in their 20s. Then, there are Malays who treat people from other races as acquaintance and never friends. The same goes for Indians who stick to only people of their race.
This gradually disappears as we move into the work force — unless one joins a typical Chinese or Malay company and the scenario continues to play out.
I can understand why this happens — environment and language. But this is no excuse.
But even among the more open community who accepts — or claims to accept people of different races — there is still prejudice.
Derogative words like janji keling are used without thought and people lumped into racial stereotypes such as “greedy Chinese who always think about money”, “lazy Malays” and “poor Indians.” These words are commonly used and accepted without much thought.
Don’t believe me? Just scroll through any political website and read the comments section. The amount of racial prejudice found there makes one wonder if they have even heard of 1 Malaysia.
That’s what I mean by trust.
Can we trust a non-Malay to make policies for the country that will not chip away the securities of the Malays? Can the non-Malays accept a Malay who makes decisions on their behalf and trust that it will benefit them?
When I hang out with my Chinese friends, I hear them make negative remarks about Indians which offend me. When I hang out with my Indian friends, I hear prejudiced stories about the Chinese — which again offends me.
My question is, can we as Malaysians stop only sticking up for our own race (the way we expect MCA to stand up for the Chinese, MIC to stand up for the Indians and Umno to stand up for the Malays) and ALL feel offended if ANY of our fellow Malaysians are being prejudiced against — regardless of whether they are from our own race or not?
Can we refrain from screaming our lungs out when our race is being threatened if someone from another race is there to stand up for us or do we feel this need to protect the interest of our own race (which we feel is more important than sticking up for another race?)
There are those who say the era of race-based politics is over in Malaysia.
But racial division is still present amongst us.
I’d like to hear of a mixed person who is Chindian for example, in a relationship with a Malay (now that’s 1 Malaysia!). I’d like to know what cultural clash takes place with all three main races in play.
Fortunately, I do know of such relationships. Unfortunately, what I also know is that there was backlash in this particular relationship. There were Chinese and Indian friends who advised against forming such a close bond with a Malay based on “our differences.” What’s more, there were also Malay friends who were against such a union — claiming that a non-Malay can never develop a relationship with a Malay because of core differences.
By that same token, there are many young men and women who back out of the possibility of a relationship with a Malay because their community frowns upon it. At the same time, there are Malays who back out of a union with a non-Malay because of family pressure for “a true Malay.” (Yes, I’m fully aware that there are religious differences at work — but religious acceptance is nobody’s business but that of the pair involved).
The idea seems to be that you can say hi and bye to each other. But form a serious close relationship? No.
True, there are many mixed marriages that work well. But for every one that does, there are others that are against joining the races in relationships that require trust, loyalty, genuine care and love.
And here we are talking about demolishing race-based politics.
I truly believe in 1 Malaysia. And I like the concept of a non-race-based political system, of course. But from what I’ve seen and heard, I wonder if we as a nation are ready for it?
Can we truly see each other as Malaysians first and race second?
If we can’t, then who are we to judge that Muhyiddin fellow who said he’s Malay first and Malaysian second?.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.