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Is racism too entrenched in Malaysia?

Is racism too entrenched in Malaysia?
Is racism too entrenched in Malaysia?
KUALA LUMPUR: The fact that racism is so entrenched in Malaysian society is something I find very troubling. It is in our system and in our mentality. Sometimes, I find that it is almost hopeless.

Many blame it on how the ruling party’s (Barisan Nasional) components are based on race; Umno represents the Malays, MCA represents the Chinese, MIC represents the Indians, etc.

Of course we cannot allude from that fact because if you have political parties based on race and ethnicity, how else will society make their choices?

That’s why people start grouping up within their own race. They will feel that their ethnic group needs to be represented in order for their interests and welfare to be safeguarded.

If this mentality is already so entrenched in Malaysia’s DNA, how then can we ever reach a point where we elect leaders because they will protect the interests of Malaysians as a whole?

The opposition like to think themselves as a multiracial party. But let’s be real. Take a good look at the component parties that make up Pakatan Rakyat.

Sure, the names of the parties don’t refer to any particular race. But each party in the pact has an identity that the different racial and ethnic groups relate to.
If one is to mention the DAP, what race would immediately pop into mind? I can honestly say that ‘Chinese’ is what I think of. What about you?

And if one is to mention PAS? Hey, that one is pretty obvious. Islam and Malay is so synonymous in Malaysia that I can safely assume that their core support is almost all Malay.

PKR can be a bit tricky. They have members, candidates and elected representatives from many races, although a majority of them are Malays.

But seriously folks, correct me if I’m wrong here. No one can outright deny that the Malays would be the ones who will most likely identify with PKR, right?

If you still don’t agree with me, then allow me to give you more anecdotal evidence for why I say that racism is so entrenched in the minds of Malaysians.

Look at how the older generation always like to remind the younger ones that it was better back in the day when they would mingle with all their Malay, Chinese and Indian neighbours.

Yet, in that sheer reminder, they are already so conscious of racial lines that it seems integration was something forced – “Look at me! I’m Malay but I hang out with other races!”

But let me tell you one thing. Although things may look hopeless, I personally have hope. I have hope because I don’t tend to see things along racial lines (if I may say so myself).

I can honestly say that I am convinced that any other person who is not my race (I am officially Malay) can be just as much a Malaysian as I am.

It doesn’t matter if they are first, second or third generation Malaysian. A Malaysian is a Malaysian. And even though I am officially Malay, I’m actually third generation Malaysian.

I can honestly say that when I go out to vote in an election, I do not vote for a candidate or a party that I see will protect my racial and ethnic interests.

And what makes me even more hopeful is the fact that I know so many of my peers (although not all of them) who believe in the same thing I do.

My peers and I are of the generation that do not relate to the time way back when this land was ruled by the British through their divide and conquer system.

My peers and I are of the generation that do not relate to the time way back when there was the fight for independence (although we really appreciate and honour it).

My peers and I are of the generation that wants to live in a Malaysia that has evolved and developed from the Malaysia (or Malaya) that existed in that time way back.

So, no matter how entrenched Malaysia can be with racism and no matter how hopeless it may look sometimes, that generation that has made it so entrenched will soon cease to exist.

My generation and I, on the other hand, are only growing stronger and we will bring that change. My generation and I are here to stay.