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