Wednesday, August 6, 2008

This is what I sent to one of the NST editor last year. It was not published, and in a way I was glad because firstly, although the article had good points to ponder on, it was badly written in term of construction and grammar. I was in such a state at the time I was writing it, and I have no intention to reveal in what way. Secondly, some of the points were considered sensitive to many, and I am sure I would have trouble if it was published. Anyhow, the editor kindly replied the email.

"Hi yap,

I read your article (What's the point?: What maketh a Malaysian, anybody?) today with so many questions about myself, my race and my country and how frustrated I am with the current political views regarding racial interaction (relationship?) among Malaysians. It feels like we have moved backwards as a nation in terms of racial integration, and we as Malaysians have failed to progress mentally (and socially) in unity and in harmony.

I might be crucified to say what I am going to say next but I need to tell you personally how I am glad to have u around and challenge the mindset of the few (the many rather) in public (I assume they are from my race, the malays).

Let me tell you my story. I was from a small village. A malay village (very malay) somewhere very remote in negeri Sembilan. My family lived in proverty as rubber tappers. I was lucky (very indeed) that I was sponsored by yayasan sarawak to further my secondary education in Miri, Sarawak under student interchanges programme that my family didn't have to pay a dime for my education from that point. My mother let me go (out of our proverty) although it meant I could only see my family for one month a year. I have to tell you that I had one of the best years in my life. There I had the opportunity to know people from different races and religions but unfortunately it lasted only for 3 years before i was sponsored to study in a college which students were exclusively malay (namely MRSM) and had a chance to further my studies abroad under a government scholarship.

Having had a chance to visit many countries and learnt many different cultures in the world after my graduation, I have had difficulties to accept my position professionally in the name of fairness and justice. I had discussion with Malaysians (malay , Chinese, Indian) and my western friends about my background and how I end up to where and what i am now and it makes me wonder what if I were not malay. Would I be in the position where I am now if I am not a malay malaysian? Many would say you should be grateful, because you are malay and a malaysian, you have been given the 'special treatment'. Of course I am grateful but do I deserve it when probably (a fact likely) many Malaysians who are not malay and poor (but have the same potentials) continue to be at a low level of ladder of social hierarchy.

Live is about survival and only the fittest will survive but the situation (politically and socially) in Malaysia seems like its programmed based on who you know and what your race is. This is a social injustice and understandably (considering where I came from) I am propelled into dilemmas in trying to understand the whole situation. Am I proud to be Malaysian or should I be proud to be a malay? But what is a Malaysian when it is divided socially, economically, politically
(emm..sounds like in every sense) based on races? What is the meaning of being a malay? A muslim who is born in Malaysia and has chance better than the others to gain everything from the government? What do I know about a Malaysian? Malay, muslim and born in Malaysia? Doesn't sound right, does it, when you can physically see the varieties that exist in Malaysia? Why should the meaning of being Malaysian be divided by races and religions? Should not it be on how much you have contributed and want to contribute to your own country?

Young politicians today apparently haven't learned a lesson from history - May 1969 in Malaysia. I read with shame the recent news on the malay supremacy and why they think (the malay mainly- forget the other bumiputras!) are better than the others to deserve the 'special treatment'. They might incite the same racial confrontation but in a different context. The politicians are mainly to blame for all the fiasco. But again they are the product of an ideology that was established to purportedly correct the social injustice that existed just after the independence but is it (the ideology) relevant now? Should the definition of a Malaysian be changed now? But what is to change if we can't understand or accept what it is truly meant in the first place? Many more things I want to say but I will save them for the next time.
Terima kasih"

This is Mr Yap's reply:


Thank you very much for sharing your story with me. I wish more people were as open. I too, have many Malay friends who ask me and themselves very similar questions. It truly is a shame that people have trouble accepting themselves and others for what they are - people like everyone else.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write and I'm glad that the piece touched you in such a manner. I was very nervous about the kind of response the piece was going to get because experience has taught me that not everyone likes addressing this issue.

Take care of yourself and sorry for the late reply."

Well, something to think today.........

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