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Can we be truly united?

  • All discriminating policies must be abolished. Bring in meritocracy, and help those who deserve the help regardless of race and religion.

By Mohsin Abdullah

We have read or heard of Malays (or should it be some?) reminiscing of their childhood and growing-up years of Malaya or even Malaysia when all races respected each other, eat together, play together and work together in all togetherness.

In a nutshell, when race and religion were never divisive.

Then we have non-Malays (again should it some?) who say or rather reminisce the same happy moments.

And they are not only talking of the 60s but also the period as recent as the 80s. So, when, then if I may ask, are the "bad" years?

Now take a look at the Malay politicians who are "fond" of playing up race politics, and "perceived" as "anti-Chinese". See who their best friends are – yes Chinese. The rich maybe, but Chinese all the same.

If all that are listed above are anything to go by, then just who among us are the racists? And based on all that which was said, it seems that we do not have a racial problem in this beloved country of ours.

But many of us, regardless of race and religion, have in one way or another had our share of being discriminated and become victim of racial abuse, making us to "care" for our "own kind" more than the "other kind".

Still I dare say the hard core racists among us are not many (at least not in the open) I would say the majority of us are harmonious, with a distinct dislike for racism

Hence, many of us point to politicians with their divisive politics as the culprits. Whether they are "real" racists or merely putting up a show , they do fan racial and religious sentiment.

Politics of race and religion are the easiest way to garner support and win elections. The politics of "us" and "them", profiling "them" as the bad and ugly enemy to get us. So, support "me" to survive.

At this stage I've brought in an old friend of mine whose view as I see is pertinent.

His name is Chang Kum Yuen. We grew up in the same village, Kampong Baru in the heart of Kuala Lumpur

Yes, those were the days when there was a Chinese kampong in a Malay kampong. A village within a village.

We went to the same school and we remain good friends until this day.

When the May 13 tragedy broke out, Kum Yuen and his family were set upon by an angry mob of Malay youths .

Thank God they escaped in the nick of time. But their house was burned to the ground .

Yet, despite the frightening and bitter experience, Kum Yuen never hated the Malays. So too his family. I can vouch for that.

To him, although the mob made up of Malays, there were Malays who helped him and his family.

So I say his views on interracial relationship are not only relevant but valuable

To Kum Yuen, racism is entrenched in our society because it is "actively practiced by the government, by choice for its own survival."

I must say I agree.

As Kum Yuen sees it, on individual, personal, people-to-people basis, there used to be no detectable considerations of race in most daily interactions up to the 1980s.

"Only since the early 90s did race considerations seriously surface, coinciding with the push for increased Islamization in government.

"I would put the fault for increased polarization since then squarely on Umno," said my old friend.

The obvious consequence, according to my friend, is that the non-Malay youth of today, those below 35 years of age, have been subdued into silence, not willing to be actively engaged and involved in voicing against wrongdoings of the powers that be, such as corruption and abuse of power, among others.

The young people would surely beg to differ. As for me, I say my friend is both right and wrong. There are the silent young people and there are the vocal ones too

The question is, what do they want to do next?

Kum Yuen is not a politician. He is a man who loves his country and wants to see the country and its people of all races progress.

I share that dream. But first, all discriminating policies must be abolished. Bring in meritocracy sincerely. Help those who deserve the help regardless of race and religion.

Said Kum Yuen, leadership in the next ten years will define whether we can ever be united

Again, I must say I agree with you, my friend.

(Mohsin Abdullah is a veteran journalist who writes about this, that and everything else.)



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