Aruna Sena denounces the onslaught of racism of late.
Malaysia, the land of multi ethnicity, faith and culture, Harmony and stability, not to mention the tagline “Truly Asia” But is that truly the case with the people of Malaysia? Yes and no.
Because of racism.
Yes. Racism exists in Malaysia. There’s no point beating around the bush with it. As much as we love to sugarcoat the image of this beautiful country, this disease called Racism exists and thrives. It is something we can’t deny and it is becoming worrying of late. Politicians continue to vocally play the race cards. We have mainstream media doing it, we even have everyday joes who walk among us doing it. Honestly, at times we ourselves are guilty of it without us realising.
Many of us point fingers at the politicians for these sentiments and the media for hyping it up, especially during the recent events which unfolded after GE13. We look at the numerous racial-based political parties that cater to different ethnicities. Some of us continue to support them. But I believe if we truly dream of a single united Malaysian, this manner of race-card politics must come to an end.
Say we kill off race politics to pave way for parties that champions the rights of Malaysians. Does racism die with it? No. We, the people, are the carriers of this disease. We need to be cured and there’s no doctor to do it but ourselves.
I had a conversation recently about racism and it was pointed out to me that there are people who still refer vegetables based on race. For example, I’ve heard someone say, “sayur cina untuk masakan cina, sayur India untuk masakan India” (“Chinese vegetables for Chinese dishes, Indian vegetables for Indian dishes”). I’m guilty of this myself, as my parents taught me the same thing when I was growing up. For example, buah murugay is referred to as ‘sayur India’ and something only Indians know how to eat.
Vernacular education — schools are segregated into Indian and Chinese-type schools, apart from national schools. Forms that we fill up still have the category of race on them. Why do we need race in forms that we fill up for subscription to service providers? Are we getting services specifically tailored to which ethnicity we are born into?
Why can’t we just be labelled as Malaysian? Why can’t we have a single type of school or an education system which churns out a single kind of school that caters to all ethnicities and provide language and culture classes for the diverse ethnic groups in the country? Why can’t we be recognised as Malaysians first, followed by ethnicity and religion in our birth certificates?
How do we combat this? By teaching our children, the future of this nation, to put their race behind and identify themselves as Malaysian. Our parents and their parents’ parents were taught to identify themselves by race first, and then religion. I’m not saying that you don’t have to be proud of your ethnicity. Be proud of it, but take pride into being a Malaysian first and foremost.
I never once thought it was impossible to have a united Malaysia, free from racism and race politics. I believe it is possible. There are many NGOs which champion this cause.
Politicians should start doing the same. Race politics and parties are an outdated concept. Things have changed in this country. The people’s mindset has changed. The government needs to uphold the law and punish those who stir up racial sentiments, even if it means those people are one of their own.
My dream is to have a united Malaysia. It might not happen now, but I’m doing my part to achieve that dream, by filling up forms with ‘Malaysian’ when I am asked for my race, and by educating my parents and relatives to identify themselves the same way, but I cannot do it alone. I need you, my brothers and sisters, to join me.