Such was our upbringing. The fairer-skinned Malaysians were told as children, “If you are naughty the dark-skinned Malaysian will get you.” The darker-skinned Malaysian children were told, “You have to fight. We are the oppressed Malaysians,” and the tan-skinned Malaysians were told, “If we divide, our fair-skinned Malaysians will walk all over us.” And in the midst of all this, we forgot to be thankful to those who truly are of this land. The true bumiputera who for 50 years have received empty promises of progress and protection of their rights. Who instead have lost their homes and their way of life. They have done so for hundreds of years to make way for us and our families who came later and call this nation home. To borrow from Anzac Day, “Lest we forget.”
We all fell prey to this 50-year-old propaganda. Every single one of us, I dare say, are culprits of the racial divide we live in today. We have all made bigoted remarks and we have all made general assumptions of a person’s capabilities based on the colour of their skin. We must now conjure the courage to admit that we were wrong. Our parents were wrong to instill such beliefs in us. But our beloved parents are not to blame. They were falsely led by rulers who pulled wool over their eyes. By a greedy government who would do anything to keep a hold of their power — their power over our roads, our palm oil, our petroleum, our forests, our schools and universities, our media channels, our water… all under the false pretense of providing Malaysians with a better future.
And what is this better future they have provided? In 1967, our per capita income was higher than that of Taiwan and Korea. Today? My father recently shared with me his experience meeting up with Taiwanese friends in the early 70s and then again in recent years. Back then, his Taiwanese friends were in awe of Malaysian wealth. They looked up to us as a shining example for Asia. And Papa was proud. In his recent trips, his friends treated my father very differently, offering to pay for his meals while looking at him with a tinge of sympathy. Sympathy for a friend whose country had defiled their citizen’s wealth. Papa could merely sigh… because he knew his friends were right.
Today, the face of politics has changed. Our incumbent rulers no longer have the rakyat on their side. More individuals voted for change than they did for the lopsided scales. We came out in droves to protect the sanctity of the electoral system… because we knew they would try to pull wool over our eyes once again. We did not sit at home and complain like we have done for 50 years. We stood united, voting, protecting our right, and hoping for a better Malaysia. We continue to demand for answers as to why the elections did not seem fair to us. We are not accusing anyone — we are simply seeking truth and justice. Why don’t you heed our call? The call of the rakyat you claim to care for? Is your election campaign not “demi rakyat”?
But let us never forget GE13 and how we the rakyat, for the first time in 50 years, truly stood united. Let us not fall back to our old ways of finger-pointing and blaming the colour of your skin or mine. This is what our incumbent leaders are trying to incite. We will not fall prey. We cannot!
We must continue stand united – dark-skinned, fair-skinned, tan-skinned — as Malaysians. We must trust that our different cultures will still be preserved. We must have faith that we are not betraying our heritage. What we are doing is showing our children that change is possible. That we do not have to tolerate the quota system, the greed of our leaders, the monopoly of the economy by the elite, the jeering from the international community.
Rakyat, please remember: If we do nothing, if we are influenced once again by these cries of racial “tsunamis”, then my fellow rakyat, we are betraying our nation and more importantly, the children of Malaysia.
I for one would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all my fellow Malaysians for every racist thought and word that has crossed my mind and passed through my lips. I am truly sorry. I know better now.
I am also so very sorry for all those years I did not go out to vote because I thought it was futile. I know now that it never is. I pledge to be an involved rakyat. I vow to do all in my power to defend the nation I love from those who continue to rape her.
I hope my fellow rakyat accepts my humble apology. I will no longer “tolerate” my Malaysian brothers and sisters. Instead, let us educate each other towards a nation where we rakyat understand and respect our differences whilst celebrating our common love for the land we call home — Malaysia.
Let us advance together as Malaysians for a better Malaysia.