Thursday, November 16, 2006

Malaysians First

It is heartening to note, during a week infested with politically motivated racial rhetoric during the UMNO General Assembly, that there are journalists who speaks up and looks forward to a better Malaysia. Jacqueline Ann Surin, an assistant news editor for The Sun, "believes that you cannot be neutral on a moving train". And she wrote today a simple personal piece on the fact that "We're Malaysians First".
My name is a constant cause for confusion, and nearly always for fellow Malaysians. It's not rare for me to be asked if I'm Thai, and when I proudly declare I'm Malaysian, I'm asked: "But, what are you?"

"I'm Malaysian" never seems to be enough to help people locate me within the Malaysian miliew. A colleague once demanded to know what my parents were. "Malaysians," I said. "Yes, but what are they?"
But that's the problem we face here in Malaysia, isn't it? It's its unfortunately perpetuated by our national leaders who govern along racial lines, and our civil service who mengikut perintah beyond the spirit of the letter.
From our identity cards to bank forms to the new racialised shoppoing lanes in Central Market, we are all conditioned to define ourselves and other Malaysians according to British's colonial formula.

These racial categorisations presuppose that we are either one or the other. It presupposes that race is a neat and natural iven, rather than historically constructed... Official attempts to box Malaysians into oversimplified and neat categories do not do justice to who we are, and what potential we have for identifying ourselves as Bangsa Malaysia first before anything else.

Ironically, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, in attempting to justify the Never Ending Policy, cited the need to "correct the 446 years Malays were oppressed under the rule of foreigners between 1511 and 1957 within a period of 20 to 30 years" when the very "divide and rule" formula started by the British is retained and even arguably strengthened to this very day. So engrained is this colonial mentality, the very mentality that UMNO and Barisan Nasional seek supposedly to "eradicate", that even senior leaders of the country like the Menteri Besar of Johor, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, spews incredulous nonsense rejecting Bangsa Malaysia.

I solemnly and proudly declare that I'm Malaysian First, and I implore all like-minded progressive Malaysians, regardless of race and religion , to declare the very same, as Jacqueline has publicly done.
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