I was shocked and disturbed by the statement made by YB Dato’ Tan Lian Hoe, Deputy Minister of Information and Head of Women’s movement, Parti Gerakan. She said in effect the Malays, Chinese and Indians were all outsiders who came to Tanah Melayu to reside here. Quote from a newspaper – “Orang Melayu datang dari Kepulauan Melayu di Nusantara. Orang Cina dari negara China. Orang India dari negara India.” Unquote..
We can argue until the cows come home on this one. However, quoting Assoc. Prof. Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan, back then, Malaysia (Tanah Melayu) was part of the Malay Archipelago in the first place. So the question of coming from a totally unknown place did not arise.
Flipping through history books, the widely accepted view is that the Malays and the Indigenous people are the Bumiputeras in Tanah Melayu and now Malaysia. All of us acknowledge that the Chinese and the Indians came from China and India in the early 1920s onwards, brought in by the British to toil the mines and estates then. However, let us not forget that in 1956, our forefathers, leaders then of various communities sat together and signed on a historic agreement. In effect, 1,000,000 new citizenships were given to the Chinese and Indians, whilst the Malays and Indigenous people, known as bumiputeras were given certain privileges to help them be at par with others.
Let us not forget also, amongst those prominent few who “fought” for the independence for Tanah Melayu included Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Dr Ismail, Tun Tan Cheng Lok, Tun H S Lee, Tun V T Sambanthan and a lot more who played a role in their own way. By the way, it might be of interest to us that the first person to hold the identity card we have now was Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra with the number 0000001 . Just learned about this fact recently.
And now, after 51 years of independence, what we have in Malaysia is no more Ahmad from Kepulauan Nusantara, Ah Chong from China or Maniam from India. What we have now is Ahmad, Ah Chong and Maniam – all of them born and bred in Malaysia. In fact, if you ask Ahmad where til where Kepulauan Nusantara Melayu is, ask Ah Chong or Maniam about China and India being their homeland, I am very sure you will see only blank expressions on their faces!
Malaysia is extremely unique. We have Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Paganism, Bahaism, animal worshipping and so on in Malaysia. Some are even Agnostic. Race wise, we have Malay, Chinese, Indian, Benggali, Kadazan, Kadazan Dusun, Murut, Bidayuh, Iban, the Orang Asli, the Penans and I am told loads more especially in Sabah and Sarawak. We are even more unique than the US (the so-called melting pot of the world) and the UK. I would actually liken us to a bowl of Rojak. In Rojak, there are many fruits involved – pineapple, apple, cucumber, young papaya and what nots. Each has its own unique and distinctive taste. However, when put together, added with ‘kuah rojak’ these fruits whilst still maintaining the distinctive flavour, blend into a smorgasbord of taste which become very nice and tasteful. That is Malaysia, very diverse in terms of religious and cultural beliefs, but together we make Malaysia the very wonderful country we live in.
Guys, we are all Malaysians. Each and every religion, race and culture have a place in Malaysia. No one race can claim total supremacy over others in this great country of ours. No one race can live in isolation of another. In fact, I want to state that we need each other. Face facts!
Can you imagine what will happen to us as a nation and to Malaysia as a country if we cannot accept and live with each other? I shudder to think of the calamity and wreckage that would ensue if we were so intolerant of one another.
I hope all politicians (and this includes me!) will be very careful when they talk about race relations and other sensitive issues. We can discuss them but not until it hurts the feelings of our friends, colleagues, relatives or even families. After all they are whom are dearest to us and whom we care most for.
I hope Dato’ Tan Lian Hoe will apologise. What she has done can spark another round of ill-feelings on race relations as what had happened because of Datuk Ahmad Ismail’s ( Bukit Bendera UMNO chief ) remarks. If she does not apologise and explain herself, I hope Parti Gerakan will take a leaf from what happened to Datuk Ahmad Ismail. We cannot tolerate such insensitive and provocative remarks.
Me…… I want to learn about all the religious and cultural beliefs that Malaysia is so rich of. It does not hurt to know and will actually help me understand my friends more and the Malay, Chinese, Indian and Siamese folks back in my division. That is one way to help my division, my state and my country to develop and for me contribute towards nation building – by understanding and respecting all religious, racial and cultural practices that we have in Malaysia.
Malaysia is our one and only home for all of us.