28 Oct 2008

Thinking aloud

Generally Malaysia is a great country. We don't have floods, earthquakes, volcanic erruptions or even cyclones. The tsunami that hit us in 2004 was so mild compared to the one that hit the coast of Sumatra. Yet, its as if we Malaysians want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. We brag of our multi -ethnicity and talk of our ability to live in harmony all the time. Its right there in many of our advertisements showing all the races living together happily. But is all this just what it is - a brag? Something that is as real as the plastic plates we love so much. Just yesterday I saw in the papers (Utusan) the criticism of so many supposedly educated people about Penang's proposal to use all main languages on the road signs. What is so wrong that we cannot use English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil on our signages? How long are we to cling to the old and much used phrase - negeri Melayu? Will we actually lose our Malayness if we have the 4 languages on our road signs? Think of how easy it would be for our foreign guests if we have signs in English. In Singapore, not only are the signs in the four languages, all announcements at the MRT stations are in the 4 main languages. We teach our children to respect the other races in our country but in action we are not really showing them a good example. Just tune in to the parliament sittings either on the radio or on tv and you'll know what I mean. If we want Malaysia to survive, we have to start thinking as Malaysians and not as Malay or Chinese or Indian. Saying that we are a multi -ethnic nation and yet not giving a chance to the other races to be heard or seen is as good as being a hypocrite. Sometimes I wonder what we are afraid of. Is it losing our language? I doubt we'd lose it since the schools are teaching it anyway and it is the national language. Is it our cultural superiority? That is again not the answer because by learning and having more languages at our disposal we add value to our culture rather than detract. So what is the problem?

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