13th May: Give us a chance to achieve true national integration
This date passes every year and each year the date keep reminding us of the tragedy that have befallen our nation, a black spot in the history of a multi-religious, multi-racial society of Malaysia. It is unfortunate, that after such tragedy the nation does not completely heals itself and with the racial divides continue to be an issue that we cannot simply deny. To date, the racial polarisation continue to grow amid various programmes that suppose to promote national integration.
I am of the generation that born in the early eighties, growing up with the chant of “Malaysia Boleh” and seeing the fast development of the nation. I remember that throughout my upbringing, the issue of races keep coming to me in many circumstances.
I would consider myself unfortunate that I only got to know a chinese friend when I was nineteen years old, being ‘forced’ into the same house and we became housemates for two years. It was an eye-opening experience when I got to know a person from other race, in such a close encounter. The experience was truly humbling, learning to appreciate the culture, the wisdom and how different we see our life from our own perspective. It was then that I started to appreciate that there are a whole lot more meaning to the word ‘chinese’ that I know earlier, the chinese are not a single entity, rather a complex mixture of different origins or clans, different dialect, religion and belief system.
It was then that the friend also learn about my way of life, culture and religion. In his word “I have been raised in a Muslim country for 18 years and I only get to know Islam in a foreign environment, in Melbourne.”
Looking back to those experience, I dare to say that the lack of racial understanding, the growing polarisation nowadays became an issue because our generation have not been given the opportunity and the chance to get to know each other, understand and assimilate as coherent society.
We grew up living in our own community without really knowing other culture. We grow up in our cluster, we go to different school, we live in a separate community and the chance to get to know one another are very few and far between. Our inter-racial communications are limited to the unavoidable buyer-seller relationship and seldom goes beyond that.
In those circumstances, we grow up knowing each other true our own perception, suspicion and distrust. We all have a fair share of those, we always here people say that “those Indians suka belit, those china-man always find a way to charge you more and the Malay always backbite. Sooner or later those suspicion became the seed for hatred.
Sad to say, although we all still live as a nation, as Malaysians, but deep inside we are very divided.
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” Al-Hujurat, 49:13
When Allah talk about races in the Quran, it was clear that the different races and tribes are there for mankind to get to know each other, and no races are superior than another in the eyes of Allah other than their closeness to Allah.
We will never achieve the integration without passing the first step: to get to know each other.
Please, I plea that we give us a chance to get know each other, understand, assimilate, truly heal the wound of the 13th May and truly achieve our national integration. And for that to happen, our language policy and our racial-based education system clearly need to be revamped.
Let our children’s generation grow up knowing each other, celebrate the differences, and get the best out of every culture that exist.