We’re the kids in Malaysia
Whoaooh! On the occasion of Malaysia Day on September 16, Komunitikini’s semua taruh Dan Lain-Lain section is proud to present a snapshot of the country’s cool young things with a cause, in their own speak (and text). So, thank you for finally deciding to repeal the ISA, Mr Prime Minister Najib Razak Gorbachev; this generation might thank you for it. The future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades.
Lovingly compiled by Temily Tianmay Jaya Gopan
My dad’s Kenyah and my mum’s Bidayuh, both from Sarawak =D
I’ve always believed tolerance and understanding are key to solve all issues =)
Luqman Sheikh Ghazali
Malay + Chinese + Indian + Arab + Indonesian.
Gotta love having 1Malaysia in your own blood.
Ravin Kumar Balbir Singh
25% Chinese + 25% Punjabi + 50% Indian = 100% Malaysian! :)
(Chinese+Indian) with her family
“Prejudices of all kinds – religious, racial, national, political, etc – are destructive of divine foundations. All the warfare and bloodshed in human history have been the outcome of prejudice. This earth is one home and native land.
“God has created mankind with equal endowment and right to live on earth, just as a city is the home of all its inhabitants, even as each has her individual place of residence therein, so the earth’s surface is one wide, native land; home to all humankind.
“Racial prejudice or separation proceeds from human wants and ignorance. All are the children and servants of God. Why should we be separated by artificial and imaginary boundaries?
“In the animal kingdom, doves flock together in harmony and agreement. They have no prejudices. We are human and ‘superior’ in intelligence. Is it befitting that lower creatures should manifest virtues which lack expression in man?”
Nuril Junaidi Sim Al-Yahya
25% Arab, 25% Malay, 25% Chinese, 25% Portuguese. Still Malaysian ;D
25% Indian, 25% Thai, 25% Chinese and 25% British. 100% Malaysian :)
25% Berawan, 25% Kelabit, 25% Sarawakian, 25% Malaysian = 100% Human
Half-Malay, Half-Chinese and fully proud ;D
Danutcha Catriona Singh
Indian + Irish. But I always refer to myself as Malaysian first =)
Edmund Jonathan Ignatius
Stranger: So what race are you?
Stranger: Haha, come on. Really now, what is your race?
Me: Ok, I’m 1/4 Portugese, 1/8 Punjabi, 1/8 Indian, 3/8 Bidayuh and 1/8 Chinese.
Me: Well, in short, I’m Malaysian :)
Malay-looking, Chinese-speaking Indian!!!! Beat this ONE MALAYSIA!!!
Indian (but really Ceylonese) + Persian = Pindian.
(tho ppl think im Chinese when i speak Malay! )
“The earth is one country and mankind its citizens”
Adonis Bhullor (Punjabi+Chinese)
There’s nothing better than a lil bit of this and a lil bit of that, topped off with a lil more of those, and sprinkled with a tinge of that.
Sino-Kadazan mixed with Chinese + ? My grandfather was adopted so I don’t know what I really am!
Indian + Indonesian + Japanese
Straight-up Serani :p with a bollywood and gong xi gong xi twist.
My dad is Indian Portugese Chinese Thai and my mum is Chinese Filipino Spanish. Guess I am also rojak!
Mums german, dads from Sri Lanka, and i was born in KL :)
mom filipino dad indian, i’ve been called ‘findian’, ‘indino’, and lots more. lol
anyways, call me watever u like, i’m still a MALAYSIAN. :)
Dad’s Indian Japanese.. Mom’s chinese indian.which makes me…half indian quarter chinese quarter japanese which makes me a… Chipandian?Chindpanese?
Oh well…whatever terms there are me still anak Malaysia!
My dad has some north indian/pakistani thing going on, my mum’s all chinese. My boyfriend’s dad’s pakistani and mum’s chinese. Might’ve been why we were attracted to each other… Proud of our heritage, we’re Malaysian! :)
Mixed race kids like us can be either fit in both cultural differences from the parents. We stand on the fence and never take sides, agreeing each races strength and weaknesses. As first generation of Malay-Chinese, I’m proud preserving my parents culture and next will continue cultural mixture for my next generation:)
Your heritage is a part of you that you can never remove, but by no means let it define you. My mum’s malay-minangkabau and my dad’s an indian muslim. Maybe it was because I had hardships in fitting into any specific group while I was a kid that had caused me to be more open and attentive to the people around me while growing up. It led me to conclude that race is just superficial, skin-deep. Instead, it is the individual life-stories and personalities in the people around me that I found joy in. What’s great about Malaysia is that We are all similar in that we are different, but nevertheless we respect those differences and accept and love each other anyhow (or atleast, that’s how TRUE Malaysians should be). That is the basis in which I define myself now, and I can say I’m pretty happy :)
1/2 Chinese, 1/4 Swiss, 1/8 Italian and another 1/8 Dutch
Marlene Miranda (Indian+ Korean)
Proud to be Malaysian. Thumbs up.
My mum’s British, my dad’s Malay… But I was born and raised in Malaysia, so I’m pretty much as Malaysian as you all are! :)
Colleen Daphne Chung
Dad (Chinese) & Mom (Indian + Portuguese) = Malaysian!! :)
Dad’s Indian, Mom’s Chinese. People Say I look Malay. I think I look Malaysian, rojak style :)
Adrian Gradinko Tan
Mum’s Ceylonese, dad’s Chinese. So according to the periodic table of mixes, I’m under Chindian Malaysian.
Jessica Mia Dias
Both my parents are portuguese and my whole life in high school I’ve been under the category of “lain-lain”… wasn’t a nice feeling knowing you’re an ‘other’ and don’t belong… the whole race category is uncalled for… We’re all human. We’re all Malaysian.
Mom is Chinese, her parents were born here… dad is Indian, his parents were born in India. In legal documents, I am Indian. I find this insulting towards my maternal roots. When my parents got my birth certificate registered, they were told they could only choose one race and only of my father’s. I am neither Chinese nor Indian, I am both! What i want is to be able to see that the “race” and “religion” column be taken out. There is no need for such things anymore, for we are all Malaysians!
Dad’s Indian, Mum’s Nyonya - which makes me 100% Malaysian!
Scott Lee Yuen Mann
Hai :) My dad is Chinese. My mother is Kadazan. So, it’s called Cizan? But I answer to Malaysian all the time. How one generation loves, the next generation learns.
Levin Kesu Belani
It is our diversity that makes us blend in so well in society. It has always been a great pleasure being one… especially when we get to celebrate more than 1festival…I’m Chindian.
Dad’s pure Punjabi. Mom’s 1/2 Punjabi, 1/2 Chinese. That makes me; 75% Punjabi, 25% Chinese And 100% Malaysian. Cheers!
My father’s Indian, my mother’s 3/4 Iban and 1/4 Chinese, which makes me 1/2 Indian, 3/8 Iban and 1/8 Chinese. I don’t quite identify with being purely (whatever it truly means) Indian, Chinese or Iban. I also believe there’s a very distinctive mixed race culture in Malaysia (so someone should do research on us). What’s for sure is this - I know I’m Malaysian! :)
Marsha Ann Mascringhas
Dad’s Indian and mum’s Filipina. Basically, I’m Philindian and proud to be Malaysian!
Xaviera Cheryl Riji
My Ah Ma is a product of a Chinese father and Malay mother. She later married my Chinese granddad who later produced my mother. My father is Kelabit. My husband’s father is Eurasian (Chinese+Caucasian) and his mom is Malay. We are expecting a child. Our son will be a ‘rojak’ like us. We come from a long line of mixed parentage and we are proud of our colourful heritage.
My dad is Indian and my mum is Chinese=) Although I believe my dad is more Chinese than my mum. Hahahahaha! He’s the one that thought her how to eat Bak Kut Teh=) Colour does not matter=) I am Malaysian through and through.
Punjabi father, Nyonya mother. Through & through Malaysian
I’m an indian chinese hybrid…i feel privileged growing up with both cultures. it certainly has made my life colourful and has moulded me into the man I am today. Us mixed raced kids contribute to the ethnic assimilation identity of malaysia
Ian Mark Santa Maria
Portuguese + Indian.. aku anak Malaysia
my dads English and my mum is half malay half chinese.. and i’m proudly Malaysian :)
Sanjiv Wei Xian Singh
Dad’s punjabi, mum’s chinese.
People should not be differentiated by race because we are all humans. Nothing different.
Mom’s chinese, Dad’s punjabi
People should realise that there is only one race - the human race, and that we are all members of it.
What we know: an open letter to the Prime Minister of Malaysia on the day of the Bersih rally
(Photo courtesy of Dr A Bahardin/ afifbahardin.wordpress.com)
Dear Prime Minister,
This is being written in the early hours of Bersih Day, July 9, 2011. It comes probably too late, but one must try.
The news last night told of blockades around the country, monstrous traffic snarls in the Klang Valley, and raids on hotels in the city – all by the Polis Di-Raja Malaysia, to thwart a public rally peremptorily declared as illegal by your administration.
More worryingly, the name of the PDRM is once again mud in the eyes of the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Malaysian voters who have been ‘inconvenienced’ by the ostensible efforts of your government to ensure public safety.
If there is a crisis of confidence in the neutrality and professionalism of the PDRM in fighting crime, then its cause is plain for all to see: the PDRM is used, and blamed, for persecuting those who might not agree with the government of the day.
Pemandu, the new and inspired agency which you have entrusted with the GTP – the government transformation plan – recently announced a series of town hall meetings between the chiefs of police and the rakyat, in an effort to restore the credibility of the PDRM in the eyes of the latter.
But how credible are the chiefs of police when the PDRM itself has been used to water-cannon, tear-gas, or otherwise coerce the Malaysian public to submit to government rule?
How credible can the PDRM be, when it is ordered to arrest and re-arrest those who have dedicated their lives to equalising the lot of the poor Malaysian majority – who do know the score and will vote accordingly in the next general election?
The deep and lasting value of the PDRM is as an institution; it is a powerful symbol of authority and source of respect for the rule of law. Its value hinges on its being perceived to be unerringly neutral.
As things stand re: Bersih, the PDRM will inevitably be associated with the country’s systematically dysfunctional politics, and worse, blamed for a potential conflagration.
And what of the hundreds of Malaysians who have recently been arrested for no reason other than wearing yellow t-shirts or possessing yellow items declared ‘illegal’?
(Fashion police: “This is last year’s colour”)
You, your ministers and the country’s top policemen say that Bersih, despite its seemingly neutral civil society credentials, is really an Opposition rally.
(We also know that it is an opposition rally, with a little ‘o’, whose causes some among us are minded to support.)
You say the Opposition is not bersih.
You say Bersih is illegal, and that the police will stomp – from a great height – on any member of the rakyat, who chooses merely to wear its colours.
Here, we scratch our thick and aching heads and ask: just what are you saying?
That it is illegal to support the Opposition in this country, and thus, that the democratic parliamentary system is bad?
That it is illegal to not support the policies of the government of the day?
That 1Malaysia = 1Government to rule them all, for all time?
This, surely, we know, is not what you mean.
We know that what is legal is not always what is just and fair. Sometimes, we cannot but support that which is declared illegal, because it is just and fair to do so.
Legitimacy derives from fairness, not legality. History shows that to ignore this truism is to invite profound tragedy.
And so, please: restore the dignity of the Polis Di-Raja Malaysia, who are surely better than playground bullies. Restore their role as public guardians and watch popular support for your government swell.
And as Malaysia becomes a nicer place to be, prepare to welcome back her many, formerly disenchanted diaspora, and bear witness the restoration of the Malaysian dream.
Mendepani transformasi ketiga demokrasi
Oleh Saifuddin Abdullah
Perkembangan politik mutakhir, sama ada di tanah air ataupun di seberang laut, menimbulkan beberapa persoalan tentang demokrasi. Ada yang mengungkapkan fenomena defisit demokrasi, iaitu perihal terhadnya partisipasi rakyat. Ada yang mengatakan dunia berada di zaman pasca-demokrasi, iaitu natijah daripada kecanggihan masyarakat moden. Manakala ada yang menyifatkannya sebagai krisis politik egalitarian.
Adakah zaman keemasan demokrasi telah berakhir, iaitu akibat arus globalisasi dan terhakisnya fungsi negara-bangsa?
Demokrasi masih sistem politik yang terbaik. Tetapi, untuk menambahkan kekuatannya dan mengurangkan kelemahannya, maka, kita perlu melakukan pemikiran-semula tentang demokrasi, iaitu cara kita berfikir dan berbuat atas nama demokrasi, malahan, tentang gagasan demokrasi itu sendiri.
Dalam konteks ini, saya telah menyarankan agar kita melakukan sesuatu untuk mematangkan demokrasi negara ini. Ia selaras dengan salah satu daripada cabaran Wawasan 2020, iaitu mewujudkan masyarakat demokratik yang matang.
Saya telah mencadangkan pendekatan politik baru, yang antara lain, meliputi ‘kerangka governans baru’ dan ‘inovasi demokrasi’. Kedua-duanya merujuk kepentingan untuk meningkatkan partisipasi rakyat dalam struktur dan proses membuat keputusan.
Pada masa yang sama, sebenarnya, kita sedang berhadapan dengan ‘transformasi ketiga demokrasi’, iaitu frasa yang digunakan Robert Dahl (1994), dalam tulisannya, “A Democratic Dilemma: Systems Effectiveness vs Citizen Participation”.
Transformasi pertama demokrasi
Menurut Dahl, ‘transformasi pertama demokrasi’ telah berlaku pada separuh pertama abad kelima sebelum Masehi, di Greece, di mana wilayah-wilayah yang tidak mengamalkan demokrasi, iaitu mengamalkan aristokrasi, oligarki, monarki, atau campuran antara ketiga-tiganya, telah berubah lalu mengamalkan demokrasi.
Demokrasi dilaksanakan dalam ruang lingkup negara-kota yang kecil. Institusi demokrasi yang utama ialah dewan perhimpunan di mana semua rakyat dapat berpartisipasi secara langsung. Ini dapat dilakukan kerana jumlah rakyatnya kecil sahaja.
Transformasi kedua demokrasi
Dalam ‘transformasi kedua demokrasi’, demokrasi telah bertukar daripada negara-kota yang kecil kepada peringkat negara-bangsa yang lebih besar. Partisipasi semua rakyat secara langsung tidak lagi praktikal kerana jumlahnya sudah besar. Apa yang menyebabkan transformasi kedua ini berjaya ialah idea dan amalan yang kini dianggap amat penting bagi demokrasi, iaitu perwakilan.
Akibat transformasi yang meliputi saiz dan bentuk demokrasi ini, maka, wujudlah institusi-institusi dan amalan-amalan demokrasi yang sedang kita laksanakan hari ini, seperti pilihan raya dan parlimen. Rakyat berpartisipasi dalam pilihan raya dengan memilih wakilnya untuk berhimpun di parlimen.
Kini, transformasi ketiga demokrasi: kerangka lama memerintah tidak lagi boleh dipakai
Kini, ‘transformasi ketiga demokrasi’ sedang berjalan. Modelnya belum begitu jelas. Tetapi, apa yang jelas ialah dua perkara. Pertama, rakyat, termasuk belia/mahasiswa dan wanita, mahu partisipasinya ditingkatkan dan diluaskan. Ini memerlukan inovasi demokrasi. Dan kedua, kerajaan tidak boleh lagi menggunakan kerangka lama, iaitu memerintah, tetapi perlu menggunakan kerangka baru, iaitu governans. Ini memerlukan kerangka governans baru.
Untuk membicarakan transformasi ketiga ini, Hubert Heinelt (2010) menulis buku Governing Modern Societies: Towards participatory governance. Ia menyorot keperluan diwujudkan sistem dan amalan demokrasi yang melampaui struktur kerajaan yang sedia ada. Ia menekankan soal governans yang bersifat partisipatori.
Siramlah benih demokrasi. Gambar ‘watering can’ oleh techny57
Perlu digalakkan banyak diskusi dan debat tentang reformasi, inovasi dan transformasi demokrasi dan governans
Heinelt mengemukakan lima perspektif. Pertama, governans bersifat partisipatori beroperasi dalam satu model yang terdiri daripada dunia-dunia demokrasi yang berbeza-beza, iaitu yang pelbagai norma governans dan makna demokrasinya.
Kedua, governans beroperasi di tengah-tengah sektor-sektor kepentingan yang berbeza-beza dan saling lengkap melengkapi, yang memerlukan legitimasi yang berbeza-beza juga, iaitu mengikut keperluan masing-masing sektor.
Ketiga, perlu digalakkan banyak diskusi dan debat tentang reformasi, inovasi dan transformasi demokrasi dan governans, iaitu berhubung soal legitimasi, keberkesanan, akauntabiliti dan sebagainya. Kita tidak sepatutnya menonjolkan perbezaan-perbezaan dalam perbincangan dan pendekatan tersebut atau menolaknya semata-mata kerana ketiadaan kata sepakat. Sebaliknya, kita patut menggunakan apa-apa yang baik dalam setiap perbincangan dan pendekatan tersebut sebagai saling lengkap melengkapi.
Keempat, perlu diwujudkan model baru geometri politik yang anjal. Mengikut model ini, struktur governans yang vertikal diapit oleh peranan masyarakat sivil yang diiktiraf. Ini menambahkan peluang yang luas untuk menyelesaikan masalah dengan berkesan dan meningkatkan partisipasi rakyat di pelbagai peringkat melalui pelbagai amalan demokrasi.
Kewujudan kepelbagaian dan perbezaan perlu diraikan dan keseragaman politik dalam semua hal perlu dipersoalkan
Dan kelima, walaupun untuk mencapai matlamat bermasyarakat, beberapa peraturan dan norma diperlukan, tetapi, kewujudan kepelbagaian dan perbezaan perlu diraikan dan keseragaman politik dalam semua hal perlu dipersoalkan. Ini kerana matlamat dan keberhasilan politik ditentukan sendiri oleh mereka yang berpartisipasi dalamnya dan oleh orang lain yang menerima kesan daripadanya, manakala keputusan boleh berubah mengikut ruang dan masa yang bergantung pada konteksnya yang khusus.
Kesimpulannya, sistem-sistem demokrasi perlu dilihat sebagai bentuk-bentuk artikulasi, intermediasi dan pembuatan keputusan yang kompleks dan pelbagai.
Pengemudi, penumpang atau penghalang tranformasi demokrasi? Bandar Kuala Lumpur dengan monorail / Gambar oleh greenolive
Sejauh mana sesebuah kerajaan mengamalkan governans bersifat partisipatori?
Untuk menilai sejauhmana sesebuah kerajaan mengamalkan governans bersifat partisipatori, lima elemen perlu diambil kira, iaitu: keterbukaan dan mudah akses; mutu perbincangan yang diadakan; keberkesanan mencapai objektif yang dibincang bersama; saluran dengan ruang awam; dan kebersamaan dalam membuat dan melaksanakan keputusan dan tindakan.
Proses pembentukan model demokrasi terkini hasil daripada transformasi ketiga ini kelihatan bergerak dengan pantas. Sebahagian daripada kepantasannya itu disebabkan oleh faktor yang berada di luar domain demokrasi, tetapi memberikan dampak besar yang saling lengkap melengkapi, iaitu teknologi media baru.
Media baru, gelanggang baru
Menurut Leah A. Lierouw (2011) dalam bukunya, Alternative and Activist New Media, media baru ditandai oleh tiga komponen utama, iaitu ‘artifak’ atau peralatan yang membolehkan dan memanjangkan kapasiti rakyat untuk berkomunikasi dan berkongsi; ‘amalan’ dan aktiviti komunikasi yang dilakukan rakyat dengan menggunakan artifak itu; dan ‘aturan’ sosial dan organisasi yang lebih luas yang bentuk oleh rakyat dengan mengoptimumkan artifak dan amalan tersebut.
Apabila aktivis demokrasi menggunakan media baru, terutamanya dengan mengintegrasikan artifak, amalan dan aturan itu hingga menjadi ‘gelanggang’ baru, seperti e-demokrasi, maka kepantasan transformasi ini menjadi semakin memuncak.
Umpama keretapi laju
Transformasi ketiga demokrasi bergerak umpama sebuah keretapi laju. Kita ada empat pilihan. Pilihan pertama, ialah segera menaikinya dan mengemudinya ke arah dan dengan kelajuan yang kita ingini. Pilihan kedua, ialah lambat menaikinya lalu hanya sempat sekadar menjadi penumpang sahaja. Pilihan ketiga, ialah terlalu lambat menaikinya hingga ditinggalkannya. Dan pilihan keempat, ialah menghalangnya lalu mati dilanggarnya.
Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah ialah Timbalan Menteri Pengajian Tinggi II, Ahli Parlimen Temerloh dan ahli MT Umno
A nation of cowards
I’m Hindu, you’re Muslim. I’m black, you’re white. So what?
by Ram Anand Subbarao
Melayu, Cina, India, dan lain-lain? Happy kids in… Hyderabad, India. Photo by Schlitzky
A fortnight ago, at the World Bloggers Summit in PWTC, a woman who identified herself as a medical practitioner walked up to the mic and directed a question that smacked of ‘gratefulness’ to Malaysiakini CEO Premesh Chandran and his co-panellists who were discussing the impact of social media on politics.
“What cars are we driving now? What houses we live in? Are we better off? You tell me,” she said. Of course, she was not asking a question and wasn’t inviting anybody to answer one either.
Her rhetorical question was a finger pointing directly at ‘the facts’ so that all other arguments about Malaysian politics could be put to sleep: we have economically progressed as a nation in a just few decades, so what are we complaining about? In short, she was asking us to be ‘grateful’ instead of questioning the current state of Malaysian politics.
‘Grateful’. I could afford a sly smile. The very same word that I heard over and over again throughout my childhood, so much so I have become sick of the words, ‘grateful’ and ‘loyalty’.
When the only option of a newscast in my house was a monotonous Buletin Utama when I was a kid, my eyes were trained to watch images of massive destruction whenever the ‘world news’ segment came over. There are wars and conflicts and earthquakes and volcanoes and chaos and murder and hurricanes everywhere else in the world, except for Malaysia, of course. All is good and prosperous, and all multiple races co-exist in such harmony and, not to forget, this is one country that is so strategically located in the equatorial zone that it is gets away scot-free from natural disasters. I can’t remember how many times my mother told me to be grateful that I was born here and not elsewhere.
The grateful dead
Fast-forward a decade, and I have been wishing I were born anywhere else but Malaysia. I was seated for lunch opposite a friend recently when he remarked that Malaysia should indeed be shaken by a natural disaster, because only then will the people ‘wake up’.
If we are constantly grateful for what has been given, we will never strive for the better. And without that drive, our lives will be nothing more than a plain, boring, incrementally rising graph.
“Would any parent give full freedom to their child?” the woman had asked further.
I found that argument a very dangerous but sadly commonplace Malaysian attitude. Politicians are not our ‘parents’. We, the rakyat, who elect today’s government are mature adults who make our choices based on our expectations of the party we vote for. It is the politicians who should be grateful to us for keeping them in power, not the other way around. Politicians know just as much about life as we do; not more, not less.
It is ridiculous to place politicians on a pedestal, and regard them as parents of the country. And it’s plain stupid on the rakyat’s part to say the prime minister knows best.
Melayu, Cina, India dan lain-lain? Happy kids in… Vietnam. Photo by mailme
What’s the big deal about being multiracial?
I have developed a strong affinity for India over time and often have skirmishes with those around me who simply see India as a less developed country than Malaysia. I have, for almost half of my life, wished that I was born in India instead.
My love for India is similar to the love for Vietnam harboured by a close friend. He spent a year teaching in Vietnam and now breathes and talks about Vietnam to the point of obsession. These countries — India, Vietnam — in the eyes of Malaysians who have never bothered to travel abroad, might be ‘less developed’, but the fact remains that their peoples and social structure have distinctive identities compared to the ones that exist here.
Our multi-racial fabric is nothing to be especially proud of. In a globalised world, almost every other country is becoming multi-racial in its own way. But no other country in the world harps on about being ‘multi racial’ as much as Malaysia does. We are all human beings. I’m Hindu, you are Muslim, I am black, you are white, so what? Each of us aspires to this level of social maturity, but here in Malaysia, we still have factional, divide-and-rule politics where political parties represent one race or religion. Truth is, race and religion is still a big deal in Malaysia.
Why is it that I feel more of a sense of belonging in India, even as I see its poverty, a lady crossing the street carrying woods on her thin, almost non-existent shoulders, than I have ever felt in my entire lifetime in Malaysia?
How many of us Malaysians ever bother to defend our country from criticism? Try to bitch about India to an Indian national and you will be given a stern telling off, or a punch will meet you. You can try it with an Indian national or an India-born NRI and you’d meet the same fate.
Truth is, we are nation of cowards. Cowards who have never had the courage for radical change. Cowards who would never bother taking to the streets to voice discontent. Cowards who would cave in for the ‘safety’ of the family. Why, this is even evident in the professions we choose for our kids.
Doctors, lawyers, engineers and all that
Ask any parent of academically excellent children — what courses do they wish their children to pursue? Nine out of ten will name any medical and engineering related field because these are jobs that invoke social respect, pay good money, and come with an almost universal job guarantee.
How many open-ended questions do our examination papers ask? All of them are restricted to right or wrong answers, which militate against students thinking creatively and from presenting an argument from their viewpoint.
(Don’t be surprised if you ever see an MCQ asking, what is the party that has the God-given right to rule the country? And you’d see BN in the list of answers.)
The arts, and other related fields in Malaysia, are and will remain infant for a lifetime because not enough people have taken to these fields. From our geography to our professions and political aspirations, we are country best known for playing safe.
As the saying goes, no risk, no reward. I have to admit that the coward mentality has begot me as well and I am no risk-taker.
It’s just a matter of time before I let go of the coward that Malaysia has bred in me.
by Temily Tianmay Jaya Gopan
(photo by sateda)
The birth of Baby Shay to Subang Jaya assemblywoman, Hannah Yeoh, has shed light on a minority population that has yet to receive significant attention. Shay’s father, and Yeoh’s husband, is Indian. Most Malaysians are familiar with the local term ‘Chindian’, which describes children of Chinese and Indian parentage. As a Chindian myself, I feel particularly connected to the ongoing controversy surrounding the baby’s race and can’t help but notice that the Chindian narrative regarding this matter has not been considered.
When I told my 10-year-old sister about the debate sparked by Baby Shay’s Chindian roots, she told me that her own teacher had insisted that she was Indian even though she clearly told her she was Ch-indian.
“I am not Indian. I am different from the other Indians at school even though my paper says Indian. I look Malay but I’m not. But I am also not Chinese. So I can only be Chindian”, she said.
She knows first-hand how it feels to be shoved into a category which means nothing to her.
(Image of Orissa by barunpatro)
As a child, I too got into trouble for raising my hand for both the Indian and Chinese categories. But I always felt like I had to say I was both. Otherwise, I would feel guilty because it seemed like my Chinese heritage was being left out of everything and that would not be fair to my mom. Guilt is a heavy burden for a child to start carrying on the first day of school. As I grew up, I would sometimes tick the box that said “lain-lain” because it seemed like a better description of who I was.
But does my race define me? What exactly do we mean by “race”? We seem to be having a debate without really defining the term. The Oxford Paperback Dictionary defines “race” as, (1) one of the great divisions of mankind with certain inherited physical characteristics in common (e.g. colour of skin, shape of eyes and nose); (2) a number of people related by common descent; (3) a genus or species or breed or variety of animals or plants.
If definition (1) were true, then all Chindians should be considered Malay because we have the same skin color. But then again, there are also very fair Malays and very dark Malays. Should they be considered Chinese or Indian or “lain-lain”?
If definition (2) were true, then we are all one race because we are ultimately from a common descent if we trace it far back into our evolutionary history. Why stop at tracing it back to just a hundred generations?
Definition (3) reinforces that we are one human family. My point in this is to show that the definition of race is arbitrary. It is impossible to categorize people based on their “race” and using the word “ethnicity” instead of “race” does not change the fact.
Ever since I left Malaysia for university abroad, I have filled in forms for university applications, scholarship applications and visa applications to multiple countries and not a single form required me to state my race. It is every time I come home, ironically, that I am asked about my race, a painful reminder that different races have different benefits in this land.
The message is loud and clear: Your race is who you are.
And this message is heard not just by adults, but subconsciously absorbed by children who can’t yet think for themselves. A five year old Chinese girl came over to my house to play one day. She never second-guessed being comfortable with me because I speak Mandarin. Upon seeing my father, however, she came over and whispered in my ear: “Who is that dirty man over there?” It turns out that she had been told that all people who were darker than her were dirty. But still she ran into my fathers arms with a big smile when he initiated a game with her. Prejudice had not yet consolidated itself in her heart.
(Photo by asifthebes)
Our message seems to be contradictory. On the one hand, we proudly parade the 1 Malaysia sign. But on the other hand, we have institutionalised practices that remind us at every turn of how we differ from each other. Malaysia proudly proclaims its unity in diversity, but then forces the literal embodiments of this, children of mixed race, to give up their diversity and tick only one box.
In order to achieve unity and truly establish one common identity, shouldn’t we instead be reminded at every opportunity of what we share in common?
And if we really can’t get over the urge to physically distinguish ourselves from each other, a better way of going about it would be to actually look at our genetic differences. At least we would have a clear defining factor. Japanese researchers have found that people who have dry ear wax and wet ear wax have a different gene.(http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/science/29cnd-ear.html) Perhaps our forms should now have a “dry wax”/ “wet wax” category for us to choose from.
The fact is that we are one human family. Science has proven it. But how long will it take for us to start practising it?
I am proud of my Malaysian heritage. This includes, among others, Indian, Chinese, Malay and Asli heritages. I do not prefer one over the other just because of who my ancient ancestors were. They all contribute to my thoughts, emotions and ideals. How then is it fair to force me and other children of mixed race to choose one over the other? I refuse to pilih kasih.
I praise Hannah Yeoh and her husband for at least attempting to do justice to their child. Shay is definitely not just “Chinese”, as her papers now show.
Home Minister Hishammudin Hussein was quoted saying that “Whatever changes involving this matter will need amendments to the law and considerations on the constitution.”
Laws and constitutions are man-made to safeguard the interests of the people. Once upon a time in history, highlighting our racial differences may have safeguarded our common interests. But this is no longer the case. Law and constitutions are man-made and therefore can change to cater to the needs of the present time.
One of my favorite authors, Shoghi Effendi, wrote:
“If long-cherished ideals and time-honoured institutions, if certain social assumptions and religious formulae…no longer minister to the needs of a continually evolving humanity, let them be swept away and relegated to the limbo of obsolescent and forgotten doctrines…For legal standards, political and economic theories are solely designed to safeguard the interests of humanity as a whole, and not humanity to be crucified for the preservation of the integrity of any particular law or doctrine.”
And if it doesn’t change, let us all, Chindian or not, tick “lain-lain” in an attempt to blur the lines that divide us.
Watch Temily’s interview on the brand new Komunitikinitv show, My Dua Sen, here, where she takes on the infamous Brain Drain, and introduces his kissing cousin: Love Drain.
Cluck yeah! The best chicken festival in the universe
By Leven Woon
It’s April, it’s cats and dogs in the southern Thai provinces.
But the Betong folks want to have fun.
They have a tsunami-size brainwave.
They will RAWK the rafters with the first-ever annual Betong Chicken Festival!
Cluck yeah! Komunitikini was invited!
* * *
Don’t mistake this town for its Sarawak namesake. In fact, this Betong (pronounced “beh dong”) finds its place at the southern Thai province of Yala, bordering Pengkalan Hulu of northern Perak.
With a population of over 20,000, mainly rubber tappers and petty traders, Betong was once a bastion of the Communist Party of Malaya and is now home to the Peace Village, settled by ex-CPM members after the truce with the Malaysian government in 1989.
The three-day festival saw the hazy border town go gaga. Its river front became a feast of eclectic food, scrumptious insects (yes, insects), shopaholical clothes and good beers.
One end of the market connected to the town’s iconic Monglikit Tunnel, which was turned into an exhibition venue, while at another end was the town stadium, where the music was pumpin’.
But for all its chicken-themed fun, the festival was neither chicken-oriented nor food-related. It was just a yummy stunt that played on the town’s well-known reputation for chicken meat, kinda like how elephant=Thailand. The ultimate goal of the festival, in Komunitikini’s opinion, was to foster a sense of belonging among the locals by heaping praise on the town. Genetic blessings help a lot towards this end… or maybe they look this way because they’re happy.
And so the big bash was scheduled from a Sunday to a Tuesday, as opposed to a more tourist-friendly weekend. Foreign tourists did not make up a large crowd; instead, Thais from other southern provinces such as Narathiwat, Pattani or Hatyai city flocked in to discover the border town’s charm.
An exhibition in the Monglikit Tunnel quickly grabs my attention. I learn that the 273-metre long, nine-meter wide, road tunnel was completed in 2001 to connect the northern and southern parts of Betong. This is the venue for the Chicken Festival’s outdoor activities.
The tunnel is closed to motorists and is gently and tastefully illuminated. Popular Betong landmarks, such as a Srivijaya-inspired temple, church, mosque, the largest mailbox in Thailand (yes, Betong owns it), the municipal council building, and even border milestones to Malaysia have been made into vivid sculptures and displayed in their full splendour.
Much to my surprise, the locals appreciate these replica sculptures, even if they can see the actual things in real life everyday.
It all reminds me of Tropical Village in Air Hitam, Johor where scores of popular world landmarks have been turned into replicas. But when replicas of local landmarks are presented to local audiences, a bond between the town and its people seems is established.
Seeing Thai people posing, taking photos, poking fun at each other with the sculptures, I wonder if people from the other side of the border would ever hail their land like this.
Somehow, the organiser knows how to get a good gig going. There’s a photography competition for pictures that best depict the town.
There’s a Miss Teen Betong competition too (of course), and the finalists are being snapped up (like hot cakes) at the town’s popular hot springs.
On the last day, the Thai band Black Head that has landed from Bangkok gives a free concert.
Never mind that majority of the Betong population is of Muslim and Chinese descent; the moment the band appears on stage… the screams shake the earth. Youngsters surge towards the stage, sing and sway to the rhythm. The band belts out hit songs one after another, and the crowd goes hysterical (which is all-too forbidden in Malaysia).
The festival ends with one massive choral and orchestral movement, performed by both the band and the crowd.
There may be more famous or glitzy festivals in other parts of the world, but none come close to this hail to the town.
Staggering out of the stadium with buzzing ears, I grasp the last chance of a bite of the tender fried chicken.
What a blast. Memories are made of this…
by Hazlan Zakaria
Image by Graf
Hamid runs as fast as his spindly legs can carry him, his ill-fitting yellow rubber work boots flip-flopping on the floor of the 1Africa Putrajaya Nuclear Reactor Complex executive lounge.
“Ya Allah! Ya Allah!” he mouths, gasping for breath, a computer print-out streaming in his left hand as his right flails a clipboard chart in the air, speeding along the corridors.
His white technician’s coat flapping wildly in his rush, his dull-grey hard hat long ago fell off somewhere along his mad dash from the central reactor control room.
Hamid’s eyes search wildly for the arched doorway to the executive dining area, still panting, still rushing, almost running into some suits on their usual morning break.
His security tag dashes against his chest and sides, swinging on the chain a tad too long around his neck.
On most days, a lowly technician like Hamid would stop, shuffling to the side, allowing the well-heeled executives in their wing tips and Savile Row two-piece suits to pass.
“TEPI! TEPI!” he shouts.
A few of them throw him daggers for looks, Hamid ignores them, staring intently ahead, eyeballs rotating to find his quarry.
Feet grasping the distance, Hamid finally arrives at the end of Corridor A, winded as the yawning entry to the executive dining area beckons him.
He runs unto the marble floors under the gilded plaster ceiling of the main executive dining area, gunning straight for the main table at the other end.
The director of the complex, as is his wont, is having his imported blend of Earl Grey, eggs benedict and french toast breakfast.
“Tuan Director!” Hamid cries out.
* * * * *
The director, a lupine pointy-faced man, looks up from his breakfast, bored and annoyed.
“Yes Hamid? How many times have I told you not to bother me during breakfast?” retorts Mr Ranjit, the plant director. Across from him, his deputy Andrew Fong rolls his eyes and looks on.
“Mr Ranjit, this is urgent!” Hamid belts out, still panting. Andrew throws him a baleful look.
“Oh Hamid! You simpleton! Out with it then, you have already spoiled our breakfast!” snaps Andrew.
“Tuan, reactors number 1, 2 and 6 are in meltdown!” blurts out the control room technician, shoving the computer print-out in Ranjit’s face.
The director blanches. “Are… are… are you sure? Check again!”
“Let me look at the readings, he’s probably mistaken,” says Andrew, his face alternating between disbelief and disdain.
“Sir, I helped design the monitoring systems, I know what I am talking about,” Hamid blurts again, handing the clipboard recording the reactor readings to the deputy director.
“Oh my god!” mouths Andrew silently, as his intellect begins to comprehend the reading on the clipboard.
“Initiate SCRAM! Hamid shutdown the reactors!” yells a rapidly panicking Ranjit, meaning the emergency shutdown procedures for nuclear reactors standard to all nuclear plants.
“We have no SCRAM mechanisms, sirs, you both signed the order to divert the money to pay for all this!” yells back Hamid frustratedly, hands raised to encompass the luxurious executive lounge.
“The containment! The containment walls will keep the radiation from escaping! yells Andrew, panicking, looking at Hamid and Ranjit, almost pleading.
Ranjit pales, slowly removes his glasses and stares blankly at the walls ahead.
“It’s no use… when the minister came to visit during construction, he requested a contribution to his political fund.
“I asked the contractors to pad the inner walls with rubble, the money has gone to the minister’s re-election campaign. There is no containtment…” says the director matter of factly, eyes glazing over.
“Ya Allah…” sighs Hamid, softly mouthing the shahadah as Andrew clumsily crosseshimself, and Ranjit looks at the picture of the Tibetan wheel of life next to that of his family he keeps in his wallet.
A soft gentle glow begins to envelope them as the air suddenly gets hotter, the burning reactors overtaking them, turning living flesh to cinders as it churns the complex to rubble.
* * * * *
Meanwhile, a quarter-mile away, the premier and his wife sit down for breakfast on a terrace in their palatial residence.
“Is it hot in here?” asks the self-declared first lady, fanning herself with a suitable fan for the occasion.
“Yes, dear,” says her husband lazily, head buried in the fuel price-hike schedule he is arranging for the entire year, a gift to the rakyat for once again voting his ruling coalition into power.
There they sit, on the terrace, as the expanding glow from the reactor complex slowly engulfs everything…