I shall end the stream of posts just as I began : I shall answer the questions given to me in interview form.
What do you think of 1Malaysia ?
The whole concept of 1Malaysia (hereafter referred to as 1MY), as I view it, isn’t entirely new. It’s an age-old concept brought back to life, a concept which we should be practising by now : the unity of all ethnicities and backgrounds without fear or favour. Tunku Abdul Rahman obviously had it in mind when he and the rest of the Alliance party fought for our independence some 50+ years ago.
This concept, like many others, does not come without its flaws :
1. Politicians, particularly from the ruling party and the leading opposition, are constantly playing the racial card and undermining the spirit of 1MY.
2. An oh-so-familiar slogan… wait, it’s too familiar, isn’t it ? And it’s coming from a country whose sovereignty we do not recognise, apparently because they don’t have land and/or resources. Pff, so much for “loving our neighbour” and looking with love on the poor.
3. Our elders, some of our teachers and our parents, are the kind to constantly spread statements about racial stereotypes, and because we’re brought up in this manner, we pass them down to our offspring. Until and unless this problem is remedied, we won’t see a day where all youth would act just as when they were kids – colour blind and ready to love the other.
4. The sign for 1MY – the pointer up – is the exact same sign as the French sign for Chut ! (meaning “silence !”). Awkward, isn’t it ? Especially when I’ve been immersed in the language and culture for 6 years and counting. What’re they trying to tell us now, eh ? Appreciate the silence and don’t cause an uproar ? :P
Now don’t call me a naysayer, now – I love my country, and even though it’s too problematic a child for me to handle, there are still things which I cherish… and which I have grown to love. Mixed meals – dim sum, char koay teow, nasi lemak and/or roti canai at various times of the day, Bahasa Malaysia (no, seriously, even though my BM is textbookish, I’ve grown to truly love it), hanging out with friends of all kinds… these are simple things, but these can go a long way in spreading the spirit of 1MY.
I’m not sure what my vision for 1MY would be, even for five years down the road, but I’d definitely love to do my part in uniting the people. Heck, I’ve even imagined myself in a unification concert, a night vigil to promote unity and peace among the many people in MY. That image still remains vivid in my mind.
What do you think about the various races in the country ?
“Races”… Now that’s too strong a word. I’d prefer the word “ethnicities” instead. And in my honest opinion, all of them rock. Seriously. Yes, sometimes we get negative vibes because of what the politicians say (again *rolls eyes* back we go to the whole discussion about their play on words and the racial card), but otherwise, the essence is that they’re people who want to love and be loved, and our calling is to love one another – regardless of ethnicity – just as God has loved us.
A difficult thing to do, indeed, n’est-ce pas ?
Do you think about your race or country first ?
My country first, definitely.
I’m a third culture kid. In essence, I’m Indian. I have mixed Northern Indian and Southern Indian blood, so that makes me a kid from two different cultures altogether. I’ve never had any sympathies towards the values of my ethnicity, and I’ve accepted and embraced Christian values completely. When I was introduced to French culture, I embraced that too. So now, I seriously don’t give a damn about my origins because despite my last name being Singh, my first name is Annette – a name whose origins people might not be able to point out – and it’s taken from the name of a saint, and I cherish it ! Some people have gone to the extent of branding me a devil, an India sesat or a Punjabi sesat because of my disregard towards ethnic values. But do I look like I’m the least bit bothered ? On top of that, did I even ask to be born in any ethnicity ? It’s nothing for me to be proud of, damn it !
I have found spiritual renewal in Christ, I am who I am, the Lord has given me this wonderful person who is… me. That’s all that matters to me as an individual.
As for Malaysia, it’s my home. All the memories which I have, and stuff which I have forgotten (and which I’ve given to God for safekeeping), are in this country. Sooner or later, I’ll be going abroad, but the fact remains that I’m especially proud when a compatriot of mine does well in his field of choice. I salute Nicol David, Lee Chong Wei, Sudirman, Yasmin Ahmad (I was a follower of her blog to the very end) and P. Ramlee, for their heartfelt involvement and their contributions in their fields. I partake in the many things that make us Malaysian – open houses, discussions over teh tarik, Independence Day campaigns, and lots of other things – wherever and whenever I can contribute, I contribute with fervour. On Kingdom Hearts Francophone Wiki, I mention that I’m Malaysian and whenever I find the occasion, I wear my country’s colours with pride. I sing Jalur Gemilang and a whole lot of patriotic songs with pride, because I know they can make Malaysians from all walks of life cry if rendered properly.
To put it simply, I’m Malaysian, and I’m identified by my faith, but I don’t wish to be identified by any other labels, INCLUDING ethnicity.
Do you think there is tension between the various ethnicities ?
Yes, there is tension. More so in the peninsula, and even more in the capital. It takes just one person’s statements to fan the flames of hatred, and smouldering embers, no matter how harmless they seem to be, need to be put out immediately.
I’ve witnessed this during my National Service stint in Camp Miri, Sungai Rait, Miri. To sum up my whole lesson on tension between ethnicities, there were some 200+ trainees, the majority of which came from several towns in Sarawak – Limbang, Miri, Bintulu, Bekenu and Kuching. The rest of us came from Kuala Lumpur, and one trainee hailed from Johor. Now, you and I would agree on the fact that East Malaysians are a lot more overt than we are. They’re willing to touch on things which we West Malaysians would deem as “sensitive”, as “distasteful”, and laugh them off. And believe it or not, all the seven major brawls that broke out in the camp were started by trainees from KL.
There are several factors - *rolls eyes again* politicians playing the racial card, environments where there is only one major ethnicity, or to put it plain and simple, sheer disgust for the other. Just burying the tension or sweeping it under the carpet isn’t gonna be enough. There needs to be a move from all sides to put aside differences and accept others with open arms. (And again, see how muhibbah I’ve become – that was calqued directly from the Malay expression tangan terbuka.)
How do you think people from all over the world see Malaysia ?
Well, judging from the perceptions of my friends from outside MY, they think that we’re a diligent lot, but they also believe that we’re lacking in the human rights department – which is quite true. On the one hand, whenever we immerse ourselves in something, we do it with passion and pride. On the other hand, we parade, make lofty discussions about the right to life when people are still being tried, condemned and sent to the gallows !
I’ve heard a lot of them say that they wanna visit MY one of these days. They love the Petronas Twin Towers. Oh wait, anyone would love the Twin Towers. And we’ve got a lot more to offer too.
And I remember another friend of mine from the Kingdom Hearts Francophone Wiki once remarked that we’re all multilingual, and that he’d love the chance to be just like us. Wow. :D
Do you think there is a typical Malaysian stereotype ?
Not that I know of…
How would you want people to view Malaysians in the future ?
In short – diligent, loving, able to see things from a point of view which people won’t see.
The latter requires a serious cultural change, though. By cultural change, I mean that there are two traits that currently define us – fear and ignorance. We’re either too scared of the people breathing down our necks (aren’t we all ?) that we just can’t bring ourselves to change things, or we just don’t care. Everything is explained by one simple example : the long traffic jams on the highways which turn out to be people watching the aftermath of an accident. We’re too afraid to step out and lend a hand, or we just follow everyone… with the attitude that “if it’s not my car, I’m not bothered”.
In truth, my expectations for 1MY are extremely high. But I have hopes to realise them… because in essence, I’m Malaysian.
À la suite (you’ll soon know why I’m saying this),