Aren’t we all Malaysians?

By Dr Kamal Amzan | The Malaysian Insider
July 11, 2010

JULY 11 — When I was in standard one, my religious teacher asked the class ‘Is it okay for Muslims to worship praying idols?’ To her shock and horror I stood up and said, ‘Yes!’

I was asked to stand on the chair and my parents were called to school on the very same day to see the headmaster. At that moment I didn’t know why.I can vaguely remember words like naughty, hyperactive, less — Muslim used in their conversation.

I still remember the expression my teacher had on her face. It was a cross betweenSimba the lion cub and one of the gargoyles you see in the cartoon, ‘The hunchback of Notre dam.’

I know. It was scary. Imagine the trauma I had to go through then.

Some 20 years ago, my grandparents (from my Chinese side of the family) brought home some roasted meat and claimed that it was chicken. I remembered stuffing myself one after the other because it was very good. I ate so much that my tongue was numb and red (from the colourings) afterwards.

Later, the shock and horror were on the face of my parents when they came home. The chicken was not actually chicken. Apparently it doesn’t even have wings to begin with and were not available in the Halal version. (Thank god we can now find many Halal outlets selling such delicacies.)

These were few of the many memories I had when I was young, when religion and race were of no importance to me. It was so unimportant that I thought my father was Chinese and my mother was Malay and my grandparents Indians until I was about 5 or 6. And the fact that we speak Chinese, English and Malay at home did not help clear the air at all.

So if you think you were confused as a child, think again.

And as we approach Aidilfitri this year, I was reminded of the past when I collected both green and red packets from my family members. It doesn’t matter whether it was Aidilfitri or Chinese New Year, red and green packets were part of the celebration.

We had Chinese kiam chai theng (soup made of pickled vegetable) and Malay rendangon both occasions and life was great.

I was brought up as a Malaysian first and a Malay second and not the other way round. And I’m proud of it.

Racial identity is so important to many Malaysians. And after 49 years of nationhood, one would think that we would be more mature and wise in terms of racial relationships. But somehow we are more and more worried that we would lose our identity if we are not careful.

We see parents squabbling on whether ethnic and religious schools are better than national schools and not wanting their children to mix.

We see Malaysians debating and arguing whether it is appropriate teaching English and Science in school. Never mind the fact that it is the lingua franca of this planet.

We hear individuals not wanting to celebrate Raya and other celebrations together, citing religious reasons and wanting an end to our Kongsi Raya tradition.

Why are we so worried about becoming less Malay, Chinese and Indian? Aren’t we all Malaysians?

Have we not realised that the fundamental nature of our country and society does not lie with a single racial entity, but as a whole?

If the Malays, the Chinese, the Indians or any other races were to stand alone, they cannot claim to be Malaysian. They are simply Malays, Chinese, Indians and other races, period and should not claim to be citizens of this beautiful country.

Sorry I digressed a bit.

But to continue with my story, I still celebrate both occasions regardless of what some people think. And to be frank I will continue to celebrate both occasions, and will definitely give my children ang pau and qing pau (green packets) on both occasions. (Please note that I do not have any children)

My grandparents (from my Chinese side of the family) passed away more than ten years ago. But somehow it seemed like a longer time to me. I miss them, especially at times like this. They somehow made each celebration a momentous occasion. Somehow.

But as my mom always says, let us count our blessings.

We have always been able to observe Ramadan in peace, and soon celebrate Raya with our loved ones (sorry to those who will be working). And definitely later in the year we’ll celebrate Christmas, and then Chinese New Year early next year.

At the risk of sounding corny, I should also add that we should be thankful to live in such a peaceful country. And in this world and age, they both are a very rare commodity. We should cherish it and maintain it at all costs. For better or for worse, for richer or poorer till death come knocking on our door.

I offer no apology for saying all this and more.

To all Malaysians, Happy One Malaysia.

* Dr Kamal Amzan is a Malaysian at a hospital in Kuantan, Pahang.

  1. #1 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 12 July 2010 - 10:33 am

    What does Myfootdin take Selangoreans to be? Asking us to blame the State Gomen when the Federal Gomen hide the Water issue under OSA? All these talks would not fool the citizens anymore. The tolls, the Water issue , and all the piratized projects are under OSA. Explain to us when the 13th GE is takibg place!!!

  2. #2 by Bigjoe on Monday, 12 July 2010 - 10:45 am

    Forget about the suppose rights, history, morality or sentimentality of Malaysian first. The fact is, its only practical to do so.

    The Chinese owns less than 30% of the economy. The rest is multinational that cannot or should even not decline. How much can be gained by taking the Chinese share of what is a slowly growing share. Its because the Chinese share of the economy here is not growing fast enough, they are seeking opportunities abroad. Make no mistake, most of Malaysian investment abroad are either Chinese or belonging to GLC. If you take 10% more of the Chinese share locally, it would not add up to much for the Malays and it gets harder and harder to take share and if the means is uncompetitive behaviour its probably a declining return on effort.

    Like it or not, the Malays have no choice but to either grow the pie for everyone locally to get their share or they have to seek new pies elsewhere. Its just not practical to just focus on their share locally against their fellow Malaysian. Its just a declining return effort.

  3. #3 by rahmanwang on Monday, 12 July 2010 - 12:12 pm

    Only BN practice racial segregation.Pakatan Rakyat does not.
    Look at what ex Perak MB did (Nizar).He recognised the Malays,Chinese and Indians who toil the land.BN UMNO takes the poor Malay land for their relatives and cronies,MCA & MIC sells their soul for $$.

  4. #4 by dagen on Monday, 12 July 2010 - 1:46 pm

    Yeah. Umno is definately the root of all evil in malaysia. Yeah. That’s it. Umno. And poor dr kamal. For having spoken out his position in the hospital (and soon his career) will suffer. Perkasa and umno will not let him go.

  5. #5 by wanderer on Monday, 12 July 2010 - 1:56 pm

    Some are more Malaysians than others…giving themselves the “[DELETED]” title!
    Having that assumption, they feel the world owes them a living and their supreme rights to lie and rob the country coffers….

  6. #6 by tak tahan on Monday, 12 July 2010 - 2:01 pm

    Bolehland is the only country still harping on race issue which propogated by umnoputras.Shameful and yet becoming more backward nation with no turning point.

  7. #7 by Tikus Belanda on Monday, 12 July 2010 - 2:34 pm

    More tak tahan is that Malaysia was one of the countries against apartheid in South Africa.

    Can’t see the log in front of own eye yet want to remove the speck from other’s eyes.

  8. #8 by frankyapp on Monday, 12 July 2010 - 3:57 pm

    Dr Kamal Amzan,you are a brave man. You have my admiration and I really appreciated your comment. Frankly if all malays be it pure or mixed should think and act like Dr Kamal,malaysia would have been a united ,harmonious and developed country by now. Unfortunately,most especially Umnoputras and the so called “ketuanan melayu” don’t think so. Instead they created a new class of malays who wanted to dominate others and at the same time wanted to have most thing if not all things to themselves at the expense of non malays and innocent malays.It’s this pride and irresponsibility that casuse all the brickering ill will and problems among malaysians. The only solution I think is each race should not think about domininting others and all malaysian must think and act rationally in the interest of one malaysia and one malaysian. Leave race and religion alone as both are personal matter.

  9. #9 by limkamput on Monday, 12 July 2010 - 5:30 pm

    Dr Kamal, frankly I have difficulties to really understand what you are driving at. The problem Malaysia faces today is not about our differences or similarities. I believe we can all live in these differences and similarities rather easily. The problem is dominance and subservient; holier than thou; mediocrity and incompetency; ketuanan and pendatang; mega corruption and pilferage. Racial and religious differences, if emphasised and used, are mere red herrings so that the ruling elites and their cronies can go on rampaging this country with impunity.

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