I am Zan Azlee first!

FEB 3 — When I meet people for the first time, I always introduce myself as such: “Hello! My name is Zan Azlee.”

But if the ruling government has its way, I would be introducing myself like this: “Salam 1 Malaysia! I’m Malay, Muslim and Malaysian. By the way, I happen to be Zan Azlee.”

And if the opposition has its way, I would be introducing myself thus: “HIDUP RAKYAT! I’m Malaysian, Malay and Muslim. By the way, BEBAS ANWAR!”

As far as I’m concerned, I am Zan Azlee first and everything else comes second. So we can forget about using the 1 Malaysia concept to define ourselves. In fact, we can also forget all those psycho-religiosi who angrily and fiercely say that they are Muslim first before anything else.

Of course, what contributes to who I am is me being a Malaysian, being a Malay (a very impure one!), and also a Muslim (pure or impure is not for me to say!).

And there is much more that defines me than just those three things. Here’s a list of just a fraction of what I am in no particular order:

1. I ride BMX bikes.

2. I’m a documentary filmmaker.

3. I like to squeeze, bite and kiss my daughter until she cries and slaps me.

4. I like making fun of my father’s computer skills.

5. I’m my grandmother’s favourite grandchild.

6. I’m a basketball player.

7. I like to spoon my wife.

8. I’m a lecturer.

9. I’m funny (believe it or not!).

10. I hate driving.

And no one has the right to tell me which of these really define me, or which is more important, or if they are all equally important! This doesn’t mean that I am any less Malaysian. I was born in Malaysia, I have lived in Malaysia for the most part of my life and I plan to be Malaysian for a long time.

In my honest opinion, being Malaysian does not define me. Neither does it define all Malaysians, whether they are living in the country or not.

What I do believe though is that Malaysia is really defined by Malaysians. It’s the people who build and steer the country the way they see fit.

It is also the people who should actually be the ones defining the government and not the government who defines the people.

It makes me sad to see that at 55 years of age, Malaysia is still harping on about trivial race and religious relations issues.

It makes me sadder to see that at 34 years of age, I am being dragged into discussing trivial race and religious relations issues.

It makes me even sadder to think that maybe this is how others on the outside define Malaysia and Malaysians.

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.


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