A Walk down Memory Lane:Flashback of Bangsa Malaysia

Posted: August 10, 2007 in Freedom of Speech

 I know this is rather different from my usual postings but you know what they said there are 2 sides to a coin. Lols I think that’s not so accurate about me though, I think they are many sides to this coin, don’t know how many yet..Hheheehhe.. Oh well, just my ride down to memory lane in my young and naive notions of what should be then..

As I walk down my memory lane I’m reminded of one of my very controversial presentation I delivered at my LKM 400 class which was a Bahasa class that I had to attain as a part of my requirement to graduate. When I joined the class, I entered the class with a vengeance to excel as previously I had been insulted by one of the administrative staff at the communication school who assumed that I did not have a good command of the language since I spoke and wrote in English all the time.(That’s besides the point but will illustrate my drive to make things happen! 🙂

Anyway we were all assigned to do a project about Malaysia and its people. My group in particular decided to talk about the diversity of Malaysia in relation to Malaysia’s background in terms of diversity of its people. There was 4 of us in the group, I can barely remember who my group members were but what I remember was my lecturer and my audience during the presentation. As can be understood being university students, when you present an assignment or project you will be graded and controversial issues or topic are mainly avoided. You can definitely have your say but then you need to worry what sort of grades that would get you.Everyone who presented before me, was very subtle in their presentations.But when I was given the topic, I ended up choosing to talk about Bangsa Malaysia.

A product (wipe that smirk off your face!  I know that you know what I mean!) of a mix marriage, I grew up with a very open-minded notion of how things should be and how to relate to people of different backgrounds and ethnicity. My dad is a Sinhalse-Buddhist and my mum is a Indian-Christian. Coming from such a background growing up I had to learn how to accept the uniqueness of that combination in everything that I did and it indeed thought me how to tolerate and understand people who were different from me in terms of background, ethnicity, opinions etc. My parents thought me well, they never instilled any form of racism in me and I always mixed well with people from all sorts of backgrounds so when I presented that particular piece I knew what I need to say despite that I still grew up with a lot of prejudices around me.
Anyway back to the class…

When I stood up in front of the class, me being the “cracko” I am, got the attention of the class as I had a knack of making everyone stand in amusement due to my antics. As I was delivering my thoughts on the matter, I thought in English and spoke in Malay( very difficult thing to do). I spoke of how Malaysia is so beautiful and unique due to its differences- blends of cultures, blends of people…etc and then the story kindda of turned …well let’s just say it wasn’t a bed of roses no more.

I asked the audience, why we were Malaysian? How did we classify our status? Is it because we were all born here? Was it merely because of that? What did being Malaysian means? I rewind my story back to the day of 31st August 1957 and asked the class what was that day all about? Why was it so significant? From the back of the class one of my friends, Halim shouted Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! The whole class came to live! But I asked him what was Merdeka? What did it mean to be independent? How did it affect the people? I asked them what was the point of calling  ourselves Malaysians when we are still divided, when we still flock to our own race, when we need to fill up forms stating out race, when we need to apply for jobs and worry of the outcome due to our race., when we judge others with race stereotypes? How can we be then called bangsa Malaysia? Will we ever be Bangsa Malaysia I finally probed and ended my presentation.

The class had certainly woken up. What they thought of me I don’t know…most importantly I looked at my lecturer, she didn’t seem to disapprove but neither to approve. I felt a certain sense of worry, what will happen to my grades? Will she fail me for saying as I did? Well it was no point of worrying about it as “nasi sudah menjadi bubur” so I just left it as it was.. At least I had said what I believed in true and true it wasn’t just another assignment to me.End of semester when the results came out I was shocked, she actually gave me one of the best grades. I went to see her and spoke to her about the paper and how I felt that I had ruined my grades. She gave me that look knowingly. Years later when I returned to see, I asked her Puan, “Ingat saya lagi ker?”she said how can I forget..

Back then I thought I was in a world of my own, only I felt that things should be different when I spoke to passionately about stuff like this to my friends they would ask me to chill and not bother about this sort of things. As I went on further in my life I met a lot of people I knew are truly bangsa Malaysia, not Indian, not Chinese, not Malay but Malaysian. How many can say when someone asks you what are you? You say Malaysian. If you were in any other country and you ask them they would say I’m an Australian, German,American etc despite their ethnicity. I don’t blame people who do say I’m a Malaysian Indian, Malaysian Chinese or those who just simply say I’m Malay because that’s how we have perceived our world from young as we have been accustomed to from young.

But I see a glimmer of hope…perhaps the concept of Bangsa Malaysia will not be something so difficult to attain or conceptualize for our children. As people now are beginning to realize, it’s not about being any particular race that matters but being Malaysian. Loving the soil you were born on, loving to be a part of this land, apart of this beautiful people and culutre, apart of our world. I’m glad that people have opened their eyes but much work needs to be done just to create the awareness that it does matter, that it does reflect on us and I salute Haris Ibrahim and his whole team of volunteers whom are striving hard to make this happen, it probably won’t happen in a day or two but we can always start small and work from then on…

Now when I ask, will they ever be a Bangsa Malaysia…it is no longer bleak, as the light has shined and hopefully will continue to shine long after the 50th Merdeka Celebrations..

  1. LC_Teh says:

    Well said. Keep making these statements and keep the snowball rolling. It should gather momentum.

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