‘… I am proud of my ethnicity …’

By K Temoc | Letters

I refer to the article titled Behind Perkasa’s pig obsession by your columnist Helen Ang. While I find it interesting I must take issue with her on two points, both related to DAP. Firstly (excuse the pun) it’s about her criticism of Lim Kit Siang’s ‘Malaysian First’.

She made a motherhood statement that the Malaysian First-ers hate to be called ‘pendatang’ and don’t like to be told ‘balik Cina’, but one that lacks relevance because really, which Chinese does?

Then she argued that though Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah has Chinese skin tone and Chinese facial features, no one has told him to ‘balik Cina’. And the reason is of course that Ridhuan is a Malay-speaking Muslim, ipso facto the ‘balik Cina’ jeer does not apply to him as he belongs here.

Then her logic plummeted when she averred that for Malaysian First-ers to avoid the ‘balik Cina’ gibe, they should emulate Ridhuan who is the model Malaysian First-er. She also quoted a blogger (I believe to be Shuzheng) who also argued that Malaysian First requires doing a Ridhuan Tee. Shuzheng argued that if a Chinese, like Ridhuan, no longer possesses Chinese characteristics, then nobody can ask him/her to ‘balik Cina’.

Ang and blogger Shuzheng both failed to understand two things: (a) Dr Ridhuan tee is not a Chinese by choice and a Malay through his constitutional rights, so how and who he looks like is totally irrelevant, and (b) Lim Kit Siang’s ‘Malaysian First’ is not about acceptance per se. On July 5, Lim Kit Siang made a media statement (available on his blog) in response to a second challenge by DPM Muhyiddin to state whether he is a Chinese or Malaysian first.

Lim said: ‘I had already stated in Parliament that I am a Malaysian first and Chinese second. I am proud of my ethnicity but I have always believed that all Malaysians must rise above their ethnic, cultural, religious and geographic differences to seek a common bond with the Malaysian identity transcending all ethnic, cultural, religious and geographic identities.’

That’s a political vision statement of the highest merit, akin to one made on Aug 28, 1963 in a distant land by another visionary who said the following immortal words during an era of seemingly impossible struggle for racial equality, and for an end to ethnic discrimination.

Those words were: ‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ […]

‘This is our hope. This is the faith ….. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.’ […}

‘Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.’

That visionary, Martin Luther King Jr, didn’t have to abandon his identity, heritage or convert himself into a white man as Michael Jackson did. And he wasn’t alone nor the first in the struggle – there was Rosa Parks nearly a decade before him – to chip gradually but perseveringly away at what was then seen as the insurmountable odds of invincible racism.

Thanks to their efforts, endurance and faith in themselves, today an African American sits in the White House as the 44th President of the United States of America. At home Lim Kit Siang espouses the Malaysian First doctrine to seek the same outcome. His objectives are clear and straightforward, and he knows he would still need many like-minded successors to chip away at the vested interests of Malaysian racism before his dream can come true that all Malaysians ‘will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character’.

Lim Kit Siang and many like me do not want to see a Chinese as a future prime minister of Malaysia but rather a Malaysian.

Secondly, I regret very much Ang made a double incorrect statements that the wearing of selendang (presumably by Teo Nie Ching) to a surau and Lim Guan Eng ‘Photoshop-ed’ slaughtering cow in Islamic ritual were examples of DAP preaching Malaysian First in the hope of gaining privileges as first-class citizens.

I believe by now we should be able to easily disregard her bizarre accusation of Malaysian First as a concept to gaining privileges as first class citizens, but I lament her refusal to acknowledge that Teo Nie Ching had to wear a selendang after a faux pas already chided by the Selangor Sultan; and if Teo visited her Malay constituency, what better place than a surau, the traditional gathering place for kampung Muslim Malays.

I would like to ask Ang what’s wrong with the DAP current program of seeking Malay acceptance through more direct socio-political intercourse. After all, the Malays represent more than 60% of Malaysians. Why disparage a political party for striving to demonstrate their Malaysian character as well as enlarge its voters base?

The only area I agree with Ang would be in her concerns with the DAP’s unnecessary flirtation with Islam. I believe the DAP can seek rapprochement with the Malay community without over- the-top fawning over a historical Muslim leader and his exemplary governance, and

perhaps in that process, misleading some Pakatan Rakyat Muslims into believing Lim Guan Eng is so enamoured of Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz that he will soon be embracing Islam.

But unfortunately the worst of her attacks against DAP was when she made no mention of the fact that the photo showing Lim Guan Eng slaughtering a cow in Islamic ritual was a forgery. I hope it’s a genuine slipup and not a Shuzheng type of insecure creativity, where that blogger (in a letter) had accused Lim Kit Siang, in promoting the Malaysian First concept, of denying his (Lim’s) ancestral roots.

Let me conclude by reproducing for both Helen Ang and blogger Shuzheng a crucial sentence of what Lim Kit Siang had stated in his media statement of July 5, 2010.

‘… I am proud of my ethnicity …’.

  1. #1 by dawsheng on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 12:44 pm

    Then she argued that though Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah has Chinese skin tone and Chinese facial features, no one has told him to ‘balik Cina’. And the reason is of course that Ridhuan is a Malay-speaking Muslim, ipso facto the ‘balik Cina’ jeer does not apply to him as he belongs here. – KTemoc

    Just because it was not published in the news doesn’t mean that no one has ever told that muslim celup to go back China or wherever one thinks he belonged. Take me for example, I think that muslim celup should go pakistan to be a suicide bomber.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 12:54 pm

    Ridhuan Tee Dollah has Chinese skin tone and Chinese facial features [deleted]

  3. #3 by dagen on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 1:15 pm

    After GE13 I wonder what that tee guy would do.

    And for the sake of argument should the 6m chinese in the country were to convert to islam, speak the malay language at home and adopt the malay culture would umno and perkasa no longer feel threatened? Remember, the control over 60% of the economy will not change as a result of the conversion.

    Look at umnoputras. Amongst them we can hear terms like OKL and OKB – orang kaya lama and orang kaya baru. Terms like these were a result of animosity, greed and envy amongst their own kind. I dare say umno would then brand us as melayu celup in constrast to melayu asli. And current policy will still carry on in the name and interest of helping melayu asli (meaning umnoputras).

  4. #4 by k1980 on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 1:35 pm

    Now that there is a vacancy for gerakan head in Penang starting 10.10.2010, Ridhuan Tee-Koos (pronounced as ‘tikus’) should persuade jibbi to install him in that post.

  5. #5 by DAP man on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 1:39 pm

    When I first read that Helen Ang’s diatribe, I ignored it as a rambling of a very confused person – like a kindergarten kid trying to undermine a university dean.
    That lady has to eat more salt to stand aside Kit.

  6. #6 by manusia ada akal on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 2:10 pm

    Migrating Chinese to new lands soon adapted to the local customs, such as here in this land, called “Baba and Nyonya”. Local customs were adopted and thru time refined into an exquisite culture. The foods were improved with time and the pantuns were accepted as an important pastimes. This has taken place several generations ago. The Chinese has proven to be adaptable without losing their identity and prosper economically in the chosen land.

    However, now it is the other way around with the food and culture of other races being copied, such as, giving of green packet during festive period and various ethic’s foods have its halal version.

  7. #7 by Taxidriver on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 2:25 pm

    Helen Ang fired a shot at the racist ultra Malays, but they couldn’t fine any gun on her. A stylish way to send drive home her message.

    No Chinese likes to be called ”pendatang” or be told to ”balik cina” The Malays would react the way the Chinese do if they are called ”anak indon” and should ”balik indonesia”, wouldn’t they?

    …. ”I am proud of my ethnicity” -LKS. So is everybody else. It is not by choice that we are born into our ethnic group. Our ancestry and our race cannot be deleted and changed by embracing a certain religion. The Malays need to understand this. Don’t pressure the Chinese into doing a Ridhuan Tee before stopping your racial insults against them ( the Chinese ). That kind of act and thinking contradicts Islamic teachings.

    Ridhuan Tee is of Chinese patentage. He converts to Islam and is a Muslim. He is not a Malay. Ridhuan Tee is 100% Chinese with Chinese genes and Chinese blood. No one can change that!

    For decades, LKS has been consistently pushing for a common Malaysian Identity to build a progressive and peaceful Malaysia.

    Being a Malaysian will not cause one to lose his/her ethnicity. ETHNICITY cannot be ERASED.

  8. #8 by Taxidriver on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 2:52 pm

    Corrections: ‘find’ not ‘fine’
    ( One’s ) ETHNICITY cannot be ERASED

  9. #9 by Loh on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 3:44 pm

    Martin Lurther King Jr. would have been arrested in Malaysia under Seditious Act had he made the statement here after May 13. Lee Kuan Yew’s call for Malaysian Malaysia while Singapore was in Malaysia has been said by Mamakthir recently as the cause of racism in Malaysia. Martin was lucky that Americans and the US Presidents did not accuse him of starting racism. If Mamakthir had his say Martin’s statement implied inequality in USA. 200 million Americans did not agree with Mamakthir on his remark made against Lee Kuan Yew based on their support for Martin’s carrying similar message. So Mamakthir would be right while all 200 million Americans were wrong, or alternately Mamakthir is wrong. For 22 years, only what Mamakthir said mattered; he had absolute power.

    It is people like Ridhuan Tee Abdullah who would support Ketuanan Melayu not because he had any love for Melayu but because he happened to be allowed to be classified as members entitled to receive some crumbs. For that interest he would have sold his ancestors who were obviously non-Malays. Call Ridhuan Manchu and he would have gladly obliged and treasured that classification last century. Opportunists have different prices, and Ridhuan is dirt cheap. Article 153 and NEP would continued to be supported by the people who were at the fringes to gain unfair advantage for they know the pride to lose belongs to true Malays.

    Mamakthir said that Malays have been divided into three parts. At least one-third of them would forgo the unfair advantage quoting Islamic teachings which respect equality. For a non-Muslim to become Muslim, he must have been influenced by the teachings and have appreciated in depth the beauty of the religion. Ridhuan Tee did not promote the sense of equality like one-third of born Muslims in Malaysia do. So he was not attracted by the teachings of Islam for his conversion but for the benefits that accrued to him as Muslim, and hence as pseudo-Malay. Ridhuan is as non-Malay and Mamakthir, though he chooses to use the skin other’s buttock for his face.

  10. #10 by Loh on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 4:06 pm

    dagen :

    Look at umnoputras. Amongst them we can hear terms like OKL and OKB – orang kaya lama and orang kaya baru. Terms like these were a result of animosity, greed and envy amongst their own kind. I dare say umno would then brand us as melayu celup in constrast to melayu asli. And current policy will still carry on in the name and interest of helping melayu asli (meaning umnoputras).

    Melayu Asli should stand up and demand that their right and dignity not be hijacked by the NEWMalays, in particular the Mamaks. Had Orang Melayu Asli stood for their right, Mamakthir would not have become President of UMNO, and other Malays who have the pride of Malays at heart would have not allowed institutionalized corruption to take place. If a truly religious Malay had been in power, the thousands of billion of Petronas revenue transferred to government coffers, and other thousands of billions operating revenues available to Petronas would have wiped out abject poverty in the country. In fact a billion ringgit handouts a year to the hard core poor would have allowed them and the children sufficient nutrients to stay healthy and become productive. With healthy bodies the people will know how to create their agenda for life. There is no need to make anybody entrepreneurs if that were not their interest or capability. One can neither make fish climb trees nor make monkeys dive in the sea, though it might be fun to watch them do. Government policy should not be to micro-mange peoples’ lives, in the name of loving the race the leader belongs. Over time it has been proven that the word love of one’s race was just an excuse to enrich oneself. How much love did Mamakthir have for Anwar to give him black eyes?

  11. #11 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 8:17 pm

    And members of UMNO are not all Malays

  12. #12 by Taxidriver on Wednesday, 6 October 2010 - 10:41 pm

    If I were to embrace the Islamic faith, I would not want to be called a Malay. Not that I despise the Malay race or that my own race is superior. That is not the point. The fact is one cannot change one’s racial origin by choice.

    Whatever race we belong to is not really important. We are equal human beings as Allah wants us to know by providing the air for every being of every race to breath.

    But in Malaysia there are many people who change their religion to change their race. Such people cannot be trusted. We know their ulterior motive.

  13. #13 by cemerlang on Thursday, 7 October 2010 - 12:56 am

    Some people are ignorant. Some people want to be polite. Instead of saying they have converted to Islam, they prefer to say they have become Melayu. In Malaysia, once people say they have become Melayu, we automatically know that they are saying they have converted to Islam. Do you know your religion ? In fact, do you know yourself ? Do you know who you are ? Race is different. Religion is different. Dialect is different. Nationality is different. Probably people are suffering from a denial syndrome. They deny the truth but they trust the lies. Datuk Tee Abdullah was a Chinese, is a Chinese and will forever be a Chinese. He was not a Muslim, he is a Muslim and whether he will remain a Muslim will be his own personal conviction. He was not a Melayu, he is not a Melayu and he will never be a Melayu. But it is difficult because many want that sense of belonging. So they would rather betray rather than to face the truth and the facts. Your DNA, your gene carry your race.

  14. #14 by Taxidriver on Thursday, 7 October 2010 - 2:16 am

    Let the senile mamak talk as much as he likes. Malay support for him is dwindling as more and more of his corrupt deeds are exposed. In his 22 years as PM, only a handful of Malay elites benefited from the NEP. The vast majority received crumbs. Malays are still poor and lagging behind other races because the billions of ringgit meant to lead them out of their economic doldrums ended up in the hands of a corrupt few namely, Mahathir’s family members, the UMNO elites and their cronies.

  15. #15 by borisood on Thursday, 7 October 2010 - 2:56 am

    Agree with #13 by cemerlang and others who wrote along those lines so Helen Ang, its not that no one has told him to ‘balik Cina’ but that Tee fellow having converted his religion to the Islamic faith and being a muslim CLAIMED that now he is a “Malay” and any reference to Chinese, Si Mata sepek. pendatang, penumpang etc … etc to balik Cina does not refer to him because he is a Malay as and so he claims. He was, is and forever will be a Chinese. So Ms Helen Ang its not that he was not asked to leave ‘balik Cina’ but he refuse to hear, listen, comprehend or may be you Ms Helen Ang has his mentality

  16. #16 by k1980 on Thursday, 7 October 2010 - 7:40 am

    What is with these mata sepat kingkongs who converted? Hoping to be appointed as state muftis?


  17. #17 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 7 October 2010 - 7:54 am

    I am disappointed with Helen Ang’s opinion attributed to her, if accurate, that ie since “the Malaysian First-ers hate to be called ‘pendatang’ and don’t like to be told ‘balik Cina’,” to avoid that, they should (quoting Shuzheng), do a Ridhuan Tee.

    I agree with Kit’s position of Malaysian First and ethnicity second. There is nothing wrong, – and in fact everything is right – in identifying with one’s country and national identity first and placing ethnicity second.

    By this order of priority in seeing oneself, it does not mean one is either (a) not proud or (b) ought to be less proud of one’s ethnicity/racial and cultural characteristics, whether one is Chinese, Malay Indian, Caucasian etc or (c) though proud, shelve that pride aside, by doing a Ridhuan Tee.

    Malaysian First and Race Second does not imply that pride in both is mutually exclusive in an “either/or” situation even though priority is placed on the first.

    Who wants to be a Riduan Tee? Just so in order to enjoy material benefits, survive on this land, avert being called a ‘pendatang’ and and ‘balik Cina’?

    No Malaysian Chinese likes to be called ‘pendatang’ and ‘balik Cina’ but people who make such a call are extremists lacking manners and cerebral substance and therefore ought not to be taken seriously.

    To hide one’s pride in one’s ethnicity – or to try extinguish it – in order just to avert being called ‘pendatang’ and ‘balik Cina’ is the calculated wisdom of a fool.

    As regards other benefits in doing a Riduan Tee/Mamakthir, not everyone agrees that it is worthwhile or dignified to do so. Some even think its driving a Faust’s bargain!

    I don’t know what’s wrong with columnist Helen whose slant of writings seemed to have changed a different track after being threatened with police action incidental to Perkasa’s report lodged against her for sedition over her article “Enforcing NEP on minority religions”.

    I hope it is not in mitigation of the threat – for that is driving another Faust’s bargain!

    The better course, if one is afraid of being demonized by persons or groups with political agenda for one’s honest writings, is either to continue writing (but with greater care to prevent one’s words being taken out of context for the so called demonization objective) or to desist from further writing altogether.

    Like the say if you can’t stand the heat of the kitchen, get out and don’t try to remain a cook.

    So the case of a writer. If honesty of beliefs in one’s writing is a signature but too high a price to pay, then don’t write – than to continue to do so for whatever other motives sullying and deviating from that signature.

  18. #18 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 7 October 2010 - 4:30 pm

    If I am Malay speaking but not Muslim then where do I go?

  19. #19 by David69 on Thursday, 7 October 2010 - 10:40 pm

    Lets us be proud of what race we are. A multiracial and multicultural country.

  20. #20 by Loh on Friday, 8 October 2010 - 3:33 pm

    Malaysians hate to be told to go back to their ancestor land simply because they hate the party who uttered those words for not recognizing their rights as Malaysians. They are entitled to live here or leave here as they please. There is no question of pride for the race.

  21. #21 by ktteokt on Sunday, 10 October 2010 - 6:54 pm

    For me, ethnicity isn’t all that important! What is important is how we carry out our thinking. Keep an open mind and give credit where credit is worth, without taking into consideration the racial, political or religious factors!!!!!! Malaysia has become TOO POLARIZED by fanatics who measure things by the racial, political and religious factors!!!!!!

  22. #22 by cemerlang on Monday, 11 October 2010 - 6:55 am

    Do research. Find out your gene. Then determine which race you belong to. In Malaysia like in Indonesia, everyone speaks Melayu like their counterparts speak Indonesian.

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