6 Nov 2009

One Malaysia

Daily we are bombarded by the one Malaysia hype. I can't but be sceptical about where all this is going to take us. It's a noble aim, true, but when politicians do anything we can't help but wonder about the truth of anything they say. Is there any political will in it? Or is it only a gimmick to help garner the waning support from the community? If the PM really means what he says then I think he should also be brave enough to allow everything to be done by merit only. Scholarships, placings in universities, contracts for government work, promotions and so on. Nothing should be based on whom you know, or on the accident of birth. Whether a person is a bumiputra or not should not mean anything when being given a scholarship or a place at university or a promotion at work. There should not be any quotas for certain groups. Fair and square. Then only can we know that he means what he says. Its time too for everyone to wake up and realize that being given a scholarship is not his birthright. I am a Malay, but grew up during a time when merit is given precedence over race. I had to fight for any scholarship I received. When I received a prize for English, I knew it was because I earned it. I won the prize fairly over other girls who were good in English too but I was better. When I was offered a place at a university overseas, that too was based on merit and not just because I was a Bumiputra. This was because in those days the term bumiputra wasn't even coined yet and I had to tough it out with my peers.

Today's kids, especially those lucky enough to be chosen to go to boarding schools from young, can never really understand this concept of working hard for what you want. Everything is handed to them on a platter - pocket money, school books, uniforms are all more or less paid for by the government. To them it is their "right" to be given a scholarship when they get even 7 As. There is no such thing as 'right" to me. True many of these kids are bright enough, but there are others who deserve scholarships too, brighter than they are and often from poorer families. But because of an accident of birth, many of these kids cannot get into universities, because the "quota" is full.

So if the PM really wants Malaysians to think as one people, I think this has to go all the way. Not just where scholarships are concerned. But everywhere. At one point there was a lot of talk about why non Malays or non bumis refuse to work for the government. I think many people know this answer. They do not want to work in the government service because promotions are often mainly given to bumis. Let's just look at the top most post in the government - how many Indians or Chinese or other races are there holding the top post? Don't tell me that there aren't any suitable candidates for the post of DG from the other races? How many Directors of government agencies are there from other races? At one time, when I was a small girl, there were names like Tun Tan Siew Sin, Manickavasagam and so on heading very important portfolios.

I know whatever I say, may sound as if I'm being anarchic but I'm not. I only want what's best for my country. And if the best is not a Malay, so what? Maybe at one time we need to show that Malays too can be directors and director generals, but not anymore. Today everyone knows that we are all just as good as anybody else. We already have hundreds if not thousands of good Malay doctors, scientists, engineers, lawyers. Ours is a beautiful country and we have a lot of wonderful people - just look at all those people who run away to Singapore and Australia to get better recognition, better pay, better appreciation - are we being fair to them? Are we being fair to our young Malays who never have to fight to get what they want? People say that if we are always given things freely, we never learn to appreciate them. I think many of these young people who were given scholarships to study in the US and UK, Australia and Canada don't really appreciate what the government has done for them. Many are in the opposition, biting back the hand that used to feed them. Look at the credentials of many of our young opposition members - I know that many if not most of them were from the boarding schools, given special priviledges from the word go. But do they appreciate what the government has done for them? I don't think so.

So, 1 Malaysia. Is it going to succeed? I hope so because we do need to unite, not just among the other races but also within our own. There are factions everywhere, in all the political parties. People who join politics today are merely doing so to gain something for themselves, not to help the nation. And where does all this leave us, the silent majority?

Many from my generation are united. We have friends of all races. Most of my best friends are actually non Malay. During Hari Raya you only have to visit my house to see the true one Malaysia concept. My in laws are Chinese. I have uncles, cousins and a myriad relatives who are either Chinese or mixed. On the first day, friends of my husband (his x classmates from the class of '66) are people from all walks of life and from all the various races. When my children were growing up I encouraged them to make friends with all races. Some have remained their friends till today.

When I was growing up I used to play with friends of all races. There was Visalatchi, Letchumi, Violet the Eurasian girl, Cheng the Chinese boy, Lai Lee, Ah Kim and so on. When it rained heavily sometimes my mum would ask either 16 year old Eddy or Cheng the Chinese neighbour to go over to my school with an umbrella for me. Often Cheng would cycle to my school and take me home on the carrier behind him. Can such a thing happen today? I remember the days after sports practice at school when I would go back with one of my Chinese friends and eat at their house - normally fried kway tiow with lots of cockles. They knew as Muslims we can't take pork and we trusted that there would be no pork in our food. Trust. Its a big word. Do we trust now? I think many adults today have done a big big wrong - we have taught our children NOT to trust. I once heard a child, a 3 year old, scream in mock fear whenever his mother drove pass a masjid.
"Ada hantu! Hantu!" And who taught him that? Not another child definitely.... but his own mother. Need I say more?

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