Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

MPS and Merdeka Multiracialism and VOTING

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

50 years on and race and religion divides us more than ever.

I'm of an age when I remember a time when all my friends from my primary school used to sit at the back of the church and sing hymns together. And all of them are still good muslims, hindus, and buddhists. We were so comfortable with each other then. And many of those friends still get together today every so often and giggle about those times.

Now, I'm not advocating that all our troubles will be solved if all religions get together and worship in each other's houses of worship. Far from it. It will be a cold day in hell when something like that happens on a large scale. Oh, you'll have a few people comfortable enough with themselves to be able to do it and not worry about what other people think.

But more than that, what happened all those years ago was something we can grow from. Yes, grow from!

It wasn't tolerance. But acceptance. A huge difference. The colour of our skin, the faiths we profess all have much alike. But for some reason, in the ensuing years since Merdeka, what has been promoted are the differences. And so we promote, tolerance.

We've been preaching the gospel about tolerance to the point that that's all we have now. And what is tolerance?

One of the given meanings is "The capacity of enduring hardship or inconvenience without complaint" or "the act or capacity of enduring; endurance." And that is what we've got now. You hear about University students moving in cliques, you see people being segregated by restaurants, you hear it in our language, about race, about religion. The worst part is the people involved in all this don't even see it as being wrong. We "tolerate" each other. We're civil (mostly) to each other. But is that enough?

Oh sure, in the cities, we do mix. Allan and I have a mixed group of friends. And we love them all. And wish we had more time to spend with all of them. But I'm not certain that's the true picture of what's happening here in our country.

In a way though, the way I see it, our country is in it's adolescence. You know how the larger of God's creatures take longer to grow? It's almost like that with our country.

You see, I grew up as a 7 to 12 year old in a country that was itself "7 to 12." (Well Malaysia was 27 years old at the time but as I said, at 27, countries are large beings and at 27 still very very young.) At that age, all kids play together and they don't know the meaning of the words, race, difference, until we're taught them.

In the ensuing years, as we discovered ourselves, we travelled in paths which were perhaps not the best paths to travel on. There was an emphasis on race that was inculcated into our present twentysomethings and thirtysomethings. A heightened awareness of race and religion that had the insidious effect of segregating us.

But again, I believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe being "human" our country needs to travel through paths that it was NOT meant to take to realise the paths it was meant for. We were playing a board game yesterday and we were taunting the opposing team by saying "that's ok. you'll learn by your MISTAKES." And well, I believe that's exactly true of our country.

Marina wrote a gorgeous article about her family the other day in The Star. About how her family is truly Malaysian with all sorts of races in it. And how, even though they were all of different races, the first thing that bound them all was their love for each other. (I'm paraphrasing. If you're interested, you can click here to read the entire article.)

So people, speak up, say what you think is right, but say it in a way that people can accept, learn from and maybe, just maybe, be persuaded to your way of thinking. But MOST IMPORTANTLY, vote to let your leaders know what you want.

Register to vote. As a citizen, it's not only a right, but a duty/responsibility. After all, if you don't make use of the most fundamental right of a democracy, I don't believe you should complain. It's almost like the message you are sending to the government is "hey, it's ok to do what you're doing, and I'm leaving it in your hands." I guess what I'm trying to say is, do what you need to do. And when you do, you'll be surprised at how people will respect you for it, and maybe even emulate you. Don't worry about the naysayers who say nothing will change. It may not change for 5, 10, 20 years. But it will. Of that you can be certain. But if you truly value your citizenship, then do what you need to do now and register to vote and VOTE!


The voting bit at the end was surprising :)

But no worries, I signed myself up the minute I turned 21. My parents are terrifyingly political.

Paul. Hahahaha! Hey after the diatribe, there needs to be some action! ;-)

hmmmm... i tot you dont want to touch on such topic.... certainly a very refreshing piece. like you mentioned... i guess malaysia does have to go thru the 'tough' path before it can finally be called a great nation.

Hey dude :-) Topics such as these are covered in quite a few blogs. And other people say it better than mostly I ever could. But there are times when I feel like I should add my 2 cents. Like during our nation's 50th birthday. But to say it every day? no lah

Before I turned 21, I complain a lot about not getting to vote. But now... so lazy to even get my butt to register myself. Told myself before, I'm surely vote. Got to practice my rights. Can't be so ignorant about it.

I registered myself as a voter a long time ago when I turned 21. Let's hope and pray for a future Bangsa Malaysia indeed.

teckiee; yup hun, get registered and vote!

wmw; Amen!

i dun usually comment on politically inclined post, but yours isnt quite that way, and it also touches a... whats the word? (not raw nerve)...as in, i totally agree with you.

back when we were growing up, my neighbours were malay, and they'd come over to play, eat, drink, without any hesitation. now, i have office staff and colleagues who refuse to share common cutlery. while i suppose i can understand such zeal to a certain degree, for keeping oneself holy, pure and chaste, sad to say, it is at the cost of tolerance, and unity, etc.

which begs the question, how, why, when did we change...and well, if the youth of today are like that, who made the mistake? in my parents time, university malaya students mixed so well, they had separate queues for non halal and halal food, but they all cohabitated, and till today, are still friends. but somewhere along the line, this was lost.

i am one of those who prefers not to complain about things unless i can contribute to the change, but this issue only brings a big sigh, of sadness to see what we've become. like you and allan, i too have many groups of friends, of all colors and creed. but i fear i am the minority. a malay friend told me once i am his ONLY chinese friend. oh dear oh dear.

thanks nigel, now i am depressed on a monday morning. but yes, i am a registered voter.

Hey FBB Aiyo. No need to be depressed lah. We do what we need to do, and we do what we must. The future is in the hands of God and will be fine. But maybe, our little country just needs to go through this shit so it can sort out where it wants to go. Without experiencing the idiocy, people like you and me would never sit up to be counted. So let's do what we need to do according to what we feel is necessary.

hear ye hear ye. yup, hopefully we can make a difference lar hor.

I believe every vote counts. Pity too many believes otherwise.
On a lighter note, I just luv d 'Mari-lah undi (err can't remember title)' song.

Well said.

...did anyone else catch the reprint of Tunku's Merdeka speech?

well said, my brothers from another mother!

tummy; absolutely. Must do what each of us needs to do.

sneexe; no lah. Got a copy?

Shaz; Thanks for stopping by, sis! ;-) hehe Absolutely. Am so glad I'm not the only one who thinks this.

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