Ada Apa Dengan 1Malaysia?

A college student’s reflection on what 1Malaysia means to him and his personal journey in celebrating diversity.

Photo courtesy of Adam Lee

Photo courtesy of Adam Lee

1Malaysia is being widely used for the purpose of uniting Malaysians. Many believe that this is just a political gimmick from the ruling government. This has sparked criticisms and debates from certain quarters. Although many Malaysians are still unsure about the direction and sincerity behind 1Malaysia, the idea of it is undeniably preparing us to look forward to a better Malaysia.

I think I am not the right person to review this concept. For I am no politician nor am I an academician or historian. I shall not presume to be capable of explaining how a slogan can unite a country.

However, I can provide my own version of 1Malaysia based on my experiences thus far in my college life.

My college is located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Being a recipient of government scholarship, one is expected to consistently produce good results and perform better than other students (and so far my performance has not been very consistent!).

Here in college is also the beginning of me having friends from different races. I used to live in “that kind” of environment when I was in a primary school, but that changed completely once I enrolled in MCKK. So for me, stepping into this melting pot cultures and heritage in college this was quite a new experience and very much an eye opener. I even had to make some adjustments.

I am so blessed to have an Indian friend from Sarawak, several Chinese friends from Sabah and a few more from Peninsula Malaysia. When we first entered the college, some of us preferred to stay in our own clique. I did the same thing too. I feel some people tend to do that as they like to live in their own comfort zone. For example, studying with a friend of the same race is a lot easier as you are both conversant in the same language and both share a similar cultural background. You don’t have to make an effort to get know about other peoples, you don’t have to think about acceptance and tolerance, let alone “celebrating diversity.”

I think that is where we go wrong. We isolate ourselves from the idea of engaging with others without realising that we are actually putting forth a propensity to racial segregation.

That is why I feel I am very fortunate, because here in my college, things have changed so much for me and my perception has greatly benefited. I have witnessed so many good souls of my Indian and Chinese friends lending their hand to their Malay friends when it comes to studies. I have also seen my Malay friends roping their Chinese friends in to play football when the latter are a lot more interested in basketball.

It touches my heart because some of them had never had a friend from another race. Hence, a quick adjustment and tolerance from them is something that I am very proud of. These experiences so far are the living proof that unity among us is not impossible. It proves to us that understanding others is not difficult. It is not a rocket science where we need a special formula.

It is only difficult when we refuse to listen to each other, when we start seeing it “their” problem and not “ours” as one nation. When it becomes “them” versus “us.” It is only difficult when we prefer to stay in our own cocoon and start asking others to solve our problems when others strive for something impossible.

In conclusion, I would like to make one plea: Please do not corrupt our young souls and good hearts. We are all happy here so please leave us alone.


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Posted on 29 October 2010. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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12 Responses to Ada Apa Dengan 1Malaysia?

  1. LN

    We ARE different. But there are more things that put us on common ground than race. We want a good education, we want to have access to a good life. However, we've been brainwashed for so many years to see our country as a "three races in one". What is so important about racial difference when the country's prosperity and all government programs are economically driven? What do all Malaysians want in common? To survive, thrive, succeed in life in a country that looks after their needs and gives them a fair go at life. Shouldn't we focus on class then? We have poverty-stricken Malaysians, lower-middle income Malaysians, middle-income Malaysians, upper-middle income Malaysians and the super rich. The special position that Malays have may complicate things a little. But non-Malays have lived with this clause for so many years. It's only when this "position" is misinterpreted as having to be protected at the expense of other Malaysians, that you hear rumblings. I'm telling the younger generation that this segregation didn't exist 20-30 years ago. Unscrupulous politicians and their racist institutions have contributed to this.

  2. vsvsv

    honestly, your acticle speaks so well how we should live. But some people are playing this issue up and I am afarid these people do not agree with you and deep inside they are calling other races names and insulting them because of the skin colour issue. By the way, can you convince your family members and your relatives to think like you? Pls stand up tall and speak to them ….for us and for malaysia.

  3. J. Rui

    I think the reason that this "existence of peace and harmony despite living in a climate of different cultures, races, religion" is constantly being emphasized is because it has become taken for granted that differences will always somehow build ridges in relations between people. We are surrounded by people who believe that being of a different race/religion/etc means that getting along would be that much harder, so 'we' are always congratulating ourselves for this relative harmony that we have; or rather, that we aren't tearing each other up already.

    Yet to some extent that is already happening, at least on a political level, so why are 'we' still patting ourselves on the back?

    @Young generation,

    "As if we should expect some violence by the mere fact that we are multicultural. It was so sickening."

    Exactly! And proud emphasis is always placed on the "tolerant" nature of Malaysians. Just an opinion of mine, but in the hopes of moving forward towards a truly developed nation, shouldn't we be expecting something more of ourselves than just "tolerating" people of different backgrounds? Maybe something more along the lines of embracing, or celebrating, our differences.

  4. IsayNo2ISA

    Thanks for a well written article.

  5. N.G. Vinod

    Nice one bro..straight from heart..

    In conclusion, I would like to make one plea: Please do not corrupt our young souls and good hearts. We are all happy here so please leave us alone.

  6. kickass

    @AgreeToDisagree

    We hope so but nobody is perfect. barang keluar kilang tak ada 100% sama.

  7. Marc

    @Young generation

    I'm sitting for SPM in a few weeks. I know how you feel. Disgusting isn't it. And in my personal opinion, the Malayan Union would have been the best thing that ever happened to this country, had it not been abolished.

    @AgreeToDisagree

    That's what all nations should strive to build.

  8. Young generation

    I grow up with the textbooks constantly reminding me that "ALTHOUGH Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multi-religous country, all its people live in peace and harmony"

    As if we should expect some violence by the mere fact that we are multicultural. It was so sickening.

    And I remember crying the whole night a few days before my SPM for having to memorise chapters from Sejarah textbook, the contents of which I believe to be biased and untrue. Yet I had to make myself memorise all of them. The government took away my dignity as a student when they left no room for thinking and FORCE me to write the answers they want to read. Everytime I open a Sejarah textbook, I felt molested, by the government's brainwashing machinery.

    And now they've announced Sejarah to be an SPM must-pass subject.

    LEAVE US ALONE!

  9. MakePlea

    @AgreeToDisagree

    "I would like to make one plea: Please do not corrupt our young souls and good hearts. We are all happy here so please leave us alone."

  10. Jasmine

    I personally believe that the younger generation do not need 1MALAYSIA. A child's mind is pure and innocent, we have never looked at one's background before mixing with them. We have always been united even before this concept was introduced. I believe that 1MALAYSIA should be aimed at certain individuals who corrupt the young ones' by the malicious comments. It's time they learn to emulate the children. Only when they turn over a new leaf can this concept will be applauded. I would say that I voice out for the majority when I mention that the younger generation will never feel the need for 1MALAYSIA for we have already built a firm foundation on our own, strongly supported by each other.

  11. Would the below be alright with you Affendy?

    1) Freedom from Apartheid/Fascism

    2) Freedom from Religious-Persecution/Religious-Supremacy.

    3) Equality for all ethnicities and faiths in all aspects of policy, Law and Constitution.

  12. Najib

    Affendy

    Good reminder!

    What do you think 1malaysia is about then?