Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Thought you all might be interested to read this fascinating piece--that I also happen to agree with--written by a good pal of mine.


I'm trying to get my head around Chinese school education and building a cohesive Malaysian society. I am a national schooler and whenever I try to discuss with my friend who is from a Chinese ed school, we would surely hit a brick wall.

Even though she is my close friend, I cannot stand it when she says that Chinese schools are superior and Chinese kids have a right to study their language, culture etc. Yes, but you are also a Malaysian, not a China Chinese. Yes, you have your ethnic rights, but how can you justify having kids just growing up and mixing just with their own ethnic kind in a multicultural country?

When I was growing up, I think some 30% of Malaysian Chinese parents send their kids to Chinese schools. Now, did I read from somewhere it is 90%? Shocking! It's a real recipe for disaster in building a young multicultural nation. I blame the government and Chinese chauvinist for allowing that to happen. The government has really failed in nationalizing schools and making them a preferred place for education from all ethnicities.

How could it have happened?

I believe the situation is as it is now because of racial politics played by the BN all these years. In order for the BN to govern without problems, each racist party is supposed to take care of their own race, so they are left to their own devices to feed into race chauvinistic sentiments. One of the outcomes - instead of developing national schools to fit the needs of Malaysians, it has allowed communal schools to thrive and develop.

But listen to the parents. Parents who send their kids to Chinese schools complain that national schools are becoming so Islamic. And the quality of education has gone down. They also want their kids to learn Mandarin, not just because of Chinese chauvinism, but I believe it is because China is coming up as a superpower, and they think it is practical to have your kids know the language to compete in the global world.


I do not agree that ethnic based schools – Chinese, Tamils, or Islamic schools – should be banned. Each ethnic groups do have a right to set up schools and make sure that their kids learn their mother tongue or religion, but the government should make it more ATTRACTIVE for parents of ALL ethnicities to send their kids to national schools. Don't use the stick, because, yes, it is their rights, but use the CARROT method.

1) Stop making national schools more Islamic. National schools are for all Malaysians to get an education and mix freely with students of all background. Stop playing on racial and religious sentiments.

2) Improve the standard of education. Pay teachers more money so it is attractive to good, capable people. Take lessons from other countries that have good teachers and good systems. Allow more openness and play to education. Respect kids point of views, allow that flourishing of young minds to think and create.

3) If Mandarin is a priority, then make Mandarin important. We're talking about practicalities, not chauvinism. Even non-Chinese realize this, and many Malays are actually sending their kids to Chinese schools so they can be fluent in Mandarin. English is important, it's a global lingua franca and we recognize that. But China is really becoming important, maybe we should have a Mandarin subject in its own right. Not just 2 hours a week. Offer it as a choice but with more seriousness. Goes the same for Tamil and Kadazan, Iban language. It's not impossible for a student to learn BM and other languages, in fact it is good for us.

I don't think those are difficult things to do. Why can't we do it as a nation? We have not been doing that because instead of thinking of ourselves as Malaysians, we think only of our own ethnic survival. And that, I believe is fed by the racist, racialist government that has continued the same divide and rule method.

BTW, this is a good site for discussion based on one parent's dilemma of whether to send her/his Xin Yin to SK(J) Cina or national school.


and Tony Pua is also thinking of his 3 year old


peiling said...

I do not agree that ethnic based schools – Chinese, Tamils, or Islamic schools – should be banned.

I personally feel that there should only be national schools and we could have the teachers in Chinese schools who teach Mandarin to teach in the national schools. Make everyone learn the four main languages (Malay, English, Tamil and Chinese)in Malaysia.

I think if we grow up being comfortable with that language, and naturally with the people who speak these languages (who are also all around us - if they ban Chinese schools), I think racism will not be as huge a problem as it is now. I know Chinese kids who want to gossip about their Malay or Indian counterparts but do it in Mandarin just because they know they won't understand. Which shows that language separates.

When I was in primary school, I was the only Chinese girl in a school populated by 99% Malays. Up till today, I speak colloquial Bahasa Melayu and I feel comfortable around Malays. I think it's mainly because I have been "normalised" into it, so to speak.

If the Chinese/Indian parents are worried that the quality of teachers who teach Mandarin/Tamil in national schools are worse than that of Chinese schools, then all the more should the government make an effort to ensure this will not be a problem at all.

If it's not too much to ask, other languages like Kadazan, etc should be made compulsory too but perhaps in places where it is more practical i.e. East Malaysia.

peiling said...

Oh, just another thing to add. My baby brother grew up in a Chinese primary school and switched to a national school in Form 1. He has always been very racist, thanks to my mum who is always pumping racial sentiments in him, but I believe it was also the company he was mixing. After switching to a national school, he has more opportunities to interact with more Malay and Indian friends and I feel that has changed him a lot. While he can't speak proper English and Malay, he mixes with them happily and I'm really proud of that (of course not without some initial lectures from me for calling his Indian friends 'Keling' at the early stages of his secondary school stint).

KahJoon said...

finally..i'm back in PJ and can reply d.

so here goes..

if i'm the Education Minister, i'll abolish all chinese and tamil schools. if those parents bising that their children have a right to learn their mother tongue and culture, i'll tell them to send their children to national schools and learn the language and culture there. Learn the culture of malaysia. learn how to be a malaysian.

go chinese or tamil schools for wat. we're not chinese or indians anymore. we're malaysians..come on..jadi la orang malaysia.

to the chinese ppl especially. u think u proud to call urself chinese ar? try go china and tell them u're chinese lah. they'll laugh at you. face the fact. you're no longer chinese. you're malaysian. pls la..

there's a good example at my home. my brother had been indoctrinated with racist thoughts since he was small and now he's a racist that is not ashamed to admit it. my grandmother and mum has been telling him about malays not good, lazy and all those stuff and indians being liars because they pandai pusing. i seriously cannot stand this. when they say any of this when i'm around. they'll sure to get hell from me.

during recent elections, they were like so anti-PKR. why? bcoz PKR malay dominated. come on la..thinking along racial lines samore. pls la..they loudly pronounce that PKR wont win many seats and will kalah teruk. when results came in..i laughed at them. i said "nah, face reality..if u still think along racial lines, u'll be left behind."

the same goes to all chinese and indians out there who still stubbornly insist that their children go to chinese or tamils school. pls wake up. you're throwing the spanner into the works of integrating the malaysian ppl. we're taking a step forward now, don't hold us back anymore !

on another note. whats wrong with speaking bahasa melayu? it's our language collectively. our country's language. i dare to say out loud that i love BM. why some ppl feel that speaking in BM brings shame? speaking BM does not make you less a chinese or more a malay. it just shows that you're a true malaysian. pls be rid of the racial mentality.

KahJoon said...

paiseh..i forgot something. lolz.

on national schools being too Islamic nowadays. actually i don't feel any of that sentiment. whats wrong with having doas during assemblies? it just a short prayer session only what? cannot bare meh? the chinese and indians always demand for religious tolerance. look at yourself first. complaining about too much doas. come on lah. get real.

during my parents time. they even learned Jawi. with the introduction of KBSR and KBSM, no more learning Jawi for non-muslims. actually i would love it if i could learn Jawi. can learn another language. oh ya, how come last time ppl nvr complain of national schools being too Islamic? why now?

why now ppl are more racist? whose fault is this? i would point my finger at MCA, Gerakan and MIC.

they always champion chinese and tamil school causes. they also pump racial thoughts into the minds of the populace. their alasan? they say that they are protecting and fighting for our rights. BS lah.

how nice if our country turned out like Indonesia in the sense of nationality and language. they all call themselves indonesian and they all speak one main language. bahasa indonesia. they do not classify themselves according to race. they all have indonesian names. one look at them, you can't tell them apart. they all look the same bcoz they are ONE.

whereas us? we all divided racially. haih~~

kan baik if the leftist AMCJA-Putera coalition had the upper hand instead of the right UMNO..

125z Rider said...

Yeah. Im back. Im doing this so that I can boost my confidence.

Ok. Just because we are talking about malaysia races and schools, let me put my comment in Bahasa Malaysia. I can speak with the nothern accent, I think some of them know this. Hehehe. Jom kita sembang!

Perkara pertama yang ingin dibincangkan oleh saya adalah berkatian "parti kaum harus menjaga kaum masing-masing." Saya percaya ini adalah terlalu subjektif untuk dilihat kerana bukan semua parti memainkan peranan masing- masing. MIC merupakan salah satu parti dimana "dari kepala hingga ke lutut" pemimpin-peminpinnya tidak berguna. Peminpin yang berpotensi dibelakangkan. Macam mana rakyat ingin meminta bantuan. Macam "Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi" Dalam situasi sebegini parti lain dan rakyat berlainan agama harus "memberi tangan" dalam menyelasaikan suatu masalah tanpa mengira kaum.

Saya masih ingat ketika beberapa ahli UMNO menghulurkan bantuaan kepada orang india yang miskin dan tidak berumah, ketua MIC membuat komen yang saya rasa menyinggung perasaan. Komen tersebut mengatakan "Pihak UMNO tidak perlu campur tangan dalam urusan kaum india. Parti saya akan menjaga mereka. Jangan pechakan sistem."
Saya ingin tanya apakah sistem yang dikatakan oleh Yang Berhormat? Dahlah tak mau tolong, tak mau bagi orang lain pun tolong.

Kembali kepada isu persekolahan. Pada pendapat saya,sekolah Tamil, Cina dan Islam merupakan senjata utama untuk meracuni golongan kanak-kanak sekaligus memyebabkan masalah perkauman.Apa yang berlaku dalam sekolah ini adalah dimana pelajar akan berkomunikasi dengan satu kaum sahaja, dan ada kalanya guru mengajar pelajar mereka tentang keunggulan kaum dan agama mereka masing-masing. Sebagai seorang beragama hindu, saya pernah melihat guru sekolah bahasa tamil mengajar perlajarnya untuk memandang rendah kaum lain dan saya rasa inilah yang berlaku dalam bilik darjah dalam sekolah agama yang lain.

Rakyat Malaysia harus berhenti berfikir untuk bersaing dalam semua perkara termasuk didikan anak-anak mereka. Sebab utama masyarakat India and Cina manghantar anak-anak mereka ke sekolah agama adalah kerana tidak puas hati dengan adanya sekolah agama untuk pelajar Islam.

Mengapa kita perlu bandingkan diri kita dengan mereka? Biarkan mereka belajar agama mereka daripada belajar pengajaran sekolah. Siapa yang rugi?
Sesetangah ibu bapa berpendapat bahawa sekolah kebangsaan memberi matapelajaran agama kepada pelajar Islam dan tidak memberi didikan agama untuk pelajar bukan Islam.

Saya ingin tanya sesuatu,
Tahukah apa yang diajar kepada pelajar Islam dalam matapelajaran agama di sekolah?
Mereka belajar moral lah apa lagi. Tak berbeza dengan matapelajaran moral yang kita belajar. Cuma mereka nilai mereka adalah sedikit berbeza itu aje.

Memang setiap agama mempunyai hak untuk mengetahui bahasa dan agamanya. Suatu masa dahulu beberapa sekolah kebangsaan telah menganjurkan program "Kelas Bahasa tamil dan Bahasa cina" pada hari sabtu sebagai aktiviti kokurikulam. Walaubagaimanapun ibu- bapa tidak begitu puas hati dengan itu kerana mereka inginkan kelas tersebuat diadakan dalm waktu persekolahan. Inilah yang dikatakan "Baagi betis,minta paha"

Tidak mempunyai sikap bertolah ansur dan bisng nak didkan agama. Bagaimana kalau ibu-bapa sendiri tidak mempunyai akal moral, apatah lagi kanak-kanak.Tetapi dengan menghantar anak mereka ke sekoah agama tidak merupakan jalan terbaik kerana daripada pandangan saya, pelajar yang belajar di sekolah agama berpotensi tinggi untuk memandang rendah pelajar kaum lain. Janganlah kita pun ikut macam orang lain. Biar kita mempunyai pegangan hidup sendiri.

Apa yang saya ingin rumuskan ialah berhenti dari memikirkan yang kita orang asing di Malaysia. Buangkan pendangan tersebut. Jadilah ibu bapa dan insan berguna dalam memajukan negara kita.

Salam sejahtera

KahJoon said...

fuhlamak sharwin, itu satu komentar yg sungguh hebat. tapi saudara harus ingat. agama dan bahasa itu lain. saya perhati kamu telah mencampur adukkan keduanya dalam komen saudara.

Sarah said...

Apa khabar semua! Thot I'll throw in my pandangan alternatif plus post Tony Pua's dilemma with regards to choice of sch 4his daughter (Part 2 of National vs Chinese Schs)

I was a national schooler from way back then. Though it wasnt BBGS or MGS or Convent Bkt Nanas, my primary "alma mater" was not far behind, I'd say the majority were Chinese girls, abt 30% Malays and Indians, those were pre-urban migration days mind you.

My long-time partner for the once-monthly folk dances was Zainab. Both introverts we'd hardly talked 10 words in the entire year but that didnt interfere with our enjoyment of the dance seesions swirling on each other's arms.

Now one other impresseion was the positive discrimination tat happened in Primary 4. Of the two classes (A+B), class A came to consist of the academically better students AND all Malay girls. Looking back,I know that while half of my Malay classmates belonged there, the rest didnt, like Zainab. B Class had not a single Malay girl. We tiny tots were too naive to notice what's happening, I rember the h'mistress was Malay but it didnt matter as long as young girls like us had good academic and extracurricular grounding.

The same positive discrimination thg happened in Form 2 (and the headmistress then was a Chinese!). So the question, was there the much touted integration? Yes and No if u get what i mean. Btw this might just prove that there's more chance of integration among extrovert citizens of all races. Shall we then do away with intoverts among Msians? :)

In social phenomena as in learning theories (Vygotsky and others), things do not happen or evolve in a vacuum. Besides the actual hardware such as buidlings, classrooms, sports etc there is the software which is also a factor : policies, respect, psychological space etc.

So to argue that lack of integration is undesirable (yes) and so vernacular schools are the culprits is too strong, too drastic a stand coz then we shd include elitism - ban and abolish international schs too and with it English as second language!

What happened to choice and diversity?

Racism is downright ugly no denying. If u ask me, do as the ICAC does, get the big fish and half our problem is solved. Then tackle your individual brother or cousin or whatever and you yourself be the trend-setter as an integrated Msian.

As in most matters, the problem is higher up in the heirachy of things.

Fianlly I'll end with Tony Pus's own insights. Just goes to show that the considerations of parents for their kids will differ from generation to generation, year to year, parent to parent, depending on what's out there (rural-urban, academic stds, distance etc) and what each parent can live with.

From Tony's blog under "National Integration" in part:

Finally, where can I send Xin Ying to ensure that she will be culturally integrated to the racial and ethnic diversity of Malaysia?

Certainly not Chinese schools, I would say. After all, Chinese schools are only populated with 7% non-Chinese. However, at the same time, it appears that national schools are also losing their multicultural identity with non-bumiputeras accounting for only some 10% of the student population, much lower than the 42%representation of the total population.

I do not think there’s a clear cut answer as to which is the better school for the purposes of national integration. There is not much point sending her to a national type school and she ends up being discriminated against, due to the lack of interaction with the other races. However, I do know that the end result from sending her to a Chinese school isn't going to be favourable as well.

CHEERS for now!

KahJoon said...

if this cannot and that cannot..then what?

so how now? don't send the child to school ar?


125z Rider said...

Yeah sarah! i point for me. Apa dont send children to school kj? U kan kata nak ganti Hissamuddin? hahaha.

KahJoon said...

eh brader, u faham apa i komen ke tak ni? kalo tak faham, tanya dulu. its a rhetoric to tony's indecision lah. duhhh !!

the first part of ur comment. "i point for me." what's that? tak faham lar

125z Rider said...

My language cna only be understood by the heavenly souls. Hahahah! Tarak apa-apa kj, its like an experssion oni.

KahJoon said...

next time write ler properly. this is the exact reason why ur academic writing marks suffer. u don't get ur point across loud and clear. try not to use language that only u can understand.

blogging is a good practice to improve your writing.

jeannie said...

I'm from a national primary school and there's no racist at tat time in school. Every students can cope with each other very well regardless of the different ethnics among us. The school is still ok..not too islamic as described. The only problem is the lack of Chinese and Tamil lessons for those who might want to take the subjects.

But one thing I realised later as I took a part time job as a tuition teacher. The students I taught in the tuition centre are all Chinese and they are EXTREMELY racist. They would always talk about other ethnics as though they are from some lower rank societies and are all disgusting. I can't think how they would become when they grow up.

One thing from the article is true.. More and more people are taking Chinese...even Malays and Indians.

Carmen N said...

Woi KJ! Ape lah ni.... nak ad hominem attack Sharwin tentang AW skills dia.... teruk lah ko... jangan lah buat begitu dalam blog! Semua orang boleh nampak lah... tak ada netiquette ke???

On another note, I have to say, Sharwin, you write BM like a bona fide Utusan Malaysia journalist in the making! ahahhahahaha.... ok ok.... I meant... Msiakini BM version!! :-)

All excellent points you guys have raised! I have told the original writer, my pal, to come to our blog to check you guys out!! Very excellent and this further tells me that we need to have CT Discussion Group on this topic next semester!!

In fact, we can have 2 discussions:

1. Should we do away with vernacular schools? What are the alternatives?

2. Should Islamic Studies be part of the national school curriculum and should doa be a common practice during school assemblies?

BEST lah!!! I cannot wait... not going to comment much more here... have so much marking to do but just want to say that in my primary and secondary school, it was completely multiracial and very "muhibbah" --but got fight also lah but we don't think racially, is what I mean. I had best friends of all races.... heheheh. Like now also...

Things have indeed changed... for the worse. Look at our esteemed institution of higher learning! Classic example of de facto racial self-segregation.

KahJoon said...

Adoi !! Sakitnye komen dr carmen.

yay! can't wait to discuss both topics.

i think all of us should take islamic studies. Islam is one religion that is being misunderstood very badly nowadays. I can't stand it when ppl put down Islam. Show some respect la. By studying about Islam, one can understand it better and be more tolerant towards it.

another thing i cant stand is the chinese superiority complex. those chauvanistic values they hold. cannot tahan la with this kind of attitude. alwiz complain being treated as 2nd class but nvr look in the mirror first. wat about alwiz down grading malays and indians? isn't that treating ppl as 2nd class? cakap tak serupa bikin !

Sarah said...

First thing, to apologise for the many typo errors in last posting- exam week never a good time to post lengthy pieces i guess. But as u know, opposition party is always needed in any discussion, esp on vernacular edu so i cudnt resist : )

But my misused word needs to be highlighted : to "twirl" (my intended word) is to rotate in circles as in folk-dancing, not "swirl"!

With that, i wud just add that the count todate is there are 70,000 non-Chinese in the SRJK(C) thru out Msia. Not a small figure.

It is also interesting that the last 4 out of 7 children of Dr Md Isa Sabu, Perlis' new MB, (an ex-teacher) speak and read Mandarin coz they're from Chinese schs.

Perhaps he and Tony Pua should compare notes - but the difference in perspectives probably lies in Tony viewing his options for his first and only child (currently) while Dr Isa has had more scope and could spread the risks of a "good" or "bad" choice among half a dozen more "little Msians" (now teenagers) bearing his name.

Wud be interesting to get Dr Isa, a parent, to join our blog don't u think so?

Now to prepare for my last+final paper for this sem...

ViViEnNe said...

"to the chinese ppl especially. u think u proud to call urself chinese ar? try go china and tell them u're chinese lah. they'll laugh at you. face the fact. you're no longer chinese. you're malaysian. pls la.."
from KJ.

yup,that part i agree with you. bcoz my friends who's studying in china and even taiwan can prove that.

er...that's all, don't wanna comment more..

jeannie said...

Dear Vivien and KJ,
I can only say I am a Malaysian Chinese. I don't think you can say that if you are a Malaysian then you are not a Chinese because it is a fact you are still a Chinese no matter how bad your Chinese may be. Or even how those Chinese in China and Taiwan might laugh at you. I am STILL a Chinese...a MALAYSIAN CHINESE. I am a MALAYSIAN and also a CHINESE. It's a fact I couldn't change.

KahJoon said...

let me ask a question ya. why you want to be known as chinese? is being chinese different genetically from all other humans? why want to divide according to race? the concept of race in the beginning is a false concept created by the western colonialist.

my argument is the same here. why want to be chinese when you can be a malaysian? why still wan to classify ourselves differently? malays, indian or any other "races" are not of a different species. they are the same.

most of the time, ppl like to divide among themselves bcoz they see themselves as superior compared to others. this superiority complex has to go.

i do not see any benefits of dividing humans according to race.

jeannie said...

Let me answer your questions. I hope I did not miss out anything.

KJ:why want to be chinese when you can be a malaysian? why still wan to classify ourselves differently? malays, indian or any other "races" are not of a different species. they are the same.

Answer: Why want to be Chinese when I can be Malaysian? I did not say I'm not a Malaysian when I'm a Chinese. I am both. As I've stated above, I'm a Malaysian Chinese. I'm of no difference with the others in terms of nationality but perhaps in terms of physical, language, heritage, history, etc. I'm a little bit different from them. I do not seek to be different from them but you cannot deny there IS a difference. But I like the fact we are ALL still under the same category, that is to be MALAYSIAN.

I don't think being united means you have to deny your races but united means we have to understand and respect each other. To me, the purpose of races classification is not to compare who is more superior but just because the difference I have mentioned above. Do you think every classification must lead to superiority and dominance? I don't think so.

If to you, classification is to compare superiority, then I might as well say- Forget about any classification on humans. Don't classify us as Malaysians, Singaporeans, Europeans and so on because what's the use of classification in this case? To prove who's more superior? Just say we are not Malaysians because we are ALL HUMANS!! So forget about being classified under Malaysians. DON'T classified AT ALL.

I would rather think that classification is not about superiority.Be proud of who you are. Unity will not be disrupted by the simple difference on races. If we are understanding and respectful of each other, so what if we are under different races??

125z Rider said...

Jeannie what you are saying is correct but i do have to say that your points will only be encountable in a world where there are a majority of ppl who are good thinkers or proud to say lke us. But the fact is that we are in Malaysia and I believe that what are we non- Malays have to do to fit in is to Be only Malaysians. The moment you put a word dehind it, that clearly shows that we are apart. Now why do I say this? Because multicultural country works only for the theory. can you tell me which country has different race and are balanced in ecnomic and politics?
Thats why I say we be just Malaysian , rather than having extra names behind us to show the diffence. I mean this could be the starting lah. We cant change it all together, it takes time. For a start we should try our best to fit in the system. Yet again jeannie I really like your comment to its just too extreme but in a good way.

jeannie said...

Sharwin, just by saying that we are all Malaysians could not change the balanced of the races. I bet everyone you ask will tell you they are Malaysians but you can still see the differences in terms of economics and politics between races. The root problem here is not the concept of races as stated by KJ (that races is to show superiority) because the concept of races is something neutral. It is our ACTION and PERCEPTION giving ranks to the different races that should be changed. That is what I mean. That is also what we should change- giving ranks to races.

It is NOT about denying our races. I actually see it as a unique for Malaysia. A country with different cultures and races.
Differences doesn't mean it MUST be something bad either. I'm rather proud of knowing the differences between the races- the different customs, traditions,etc.

Of course, AT THE SAME TIME as being a Chinese, I am also a Malaysian. So as Malaysians, we need to accommodate every races. Notice that I do not exclude the fact that we are still of different races but instead of denying the existence of the races, I said, we have to ACCEPT each other and treat each races fairly.

You cannot say that by being a Malaysian, your degree of being an Indian decreases or that being an Indian decreases your degree of being a Malaysian,can you? Races and Nationality are two different things and certainly cannot be measured like this.

I think there is no country that has different races and are balanced in economics and politics. Why is that? Root= our own action of giving ranks.

I do not seek differences between races. It is just a fact that cannot be denied. Since it cannot be denied, then don't deny the concept of races (you can't deny our physical differences).

Anyway,I believe that the concept of Malaysian isn't about denying the existence of races. I believe it is about the ACCEPTANCE of races and that the different races work together to reduce the gaps in terms of economics and politics.

So I will still say, yes, I AM a Malaysian but I'm a Malaysian Chinese that wants to work and live with other races; to reduce the gaps between us. Whether we can draw the gaps together depends on our willingness to accept our differences.

Is it only be encountable in a world where they are a majority of ppl who like us? Then you'll have to ask Malaysians whether they are willing to accept each other and give fair treatment... or not. ;)

KahJoon said...

great thought u have there. i went thru it briefly. in cc now, no time to think of a reply. have to wait till sem start la.. :(

125z Rider said...

Jeannie I would go with what said by Farish Noor. "There is only and its the human race". I would stick to it so that I will be neutral.

Sarah said...

I cudnt hv said it better Jeannie abt ACTION & PERCEPTION versus mere ethnic distinctions. Abt ppl not able to deny the Malaysianness PLUS Chineseness or Ibanness, Tamilness or Malayness that go with our inherent "self".

Nothing exists in a vacuum. To me nationality and ethnicity are the two legs that carry our entire life from day one to the day we expire. Ask any adopted person how he feels about his blood ties versus his new family ties and you get the near equivalent of your Malaysian with Ethnic Origins.

"We cannot escape our origins, however hard we try" (James Baldwin). And i say we shd make the best of it, for good.

The "self" is forever on a Discovery channel or path, as the saying goes "re-inventing oneself". Thus having resources from our ethnic origins-in the literature, the culture, the history-to enrich that exploration is next to a good university education. How many writers, thinkers and scientists have produced work that have merged the best of both or many worlds (worldviews)? Read their biographies.

I suspect if a Malaysian-Iban or any one minority ethnicity had posted instead, the "superiority" element mentioned would not be an issue! sigh...why does Chineseness always have to mean superiority? It doesnt and it shouldnt. Chineseness or Ibanness or whatever -ness is not a value, good or bad, but an ethnicity. Anything else we add to that we do so with prejudice.

It is hard to find neutrality in language nowadays, as we are well aware. Critical thinkers have to be careful with our use of terms and the values we attach to them consciously or unconsciously.

The reason I hv begun to love K S Maniam's works since two sems ago is the fact that he, a Malaysian of South Indian origins, has sought to make sense of three worlds, as represented by his love of the English language, the Tamil culture and the Malayan landscape. His stories are honest self-reflections. Similarly, Wong Pui Nam, who married a Malay woman, tries to do the same 3-world merger in his poetry. More than anyone, these are our true Malaysians and becoz of them i am proud to be one.

Jeannie said it well- ACCEPTANCE. And of course to elaborate on the kind of platforms for such ACCEPTANCE to take place, over time. Now that is the gist of the matter.

Over to you guys.

(P/S. Fact check abt Dr Md Isa Sabu's Chinese-speaking children :youngest child is six yrs old, the other three already in their 20s, NOT "teenagers" as mentioned in my post - looks like i wont make it in journalism!)

Carmen N said...

WOW! You all make me proud to have taught you! :-) Such great comments and very very passionate too! Kudos to everyone who responded and thought about the issue of race.

I have only one thing to add. I am like Sharwin and KJ in that I prefer to not think in terms of race or categorize myself as anything BUT a Malaysian for the simple fact that I am of mixed parentage and it is impossible for me to pigeonhole myself into ONE racial category as DEMANDED by the govt: MyKad, Passport, CENSUS, Educational forms, Application Forms, etc.

There are a lot of people, in fact, who, if they dig deep into their family roots, will find that they are not 100% Chinese (whatever that really means) but in fact are a combination of many different ethnicities.

And if we were to read widely into the topic of race, we will also find (probably to our horror) that race is a fiction--it was a term created by the colonizers to justify their colonization of the world by ranking people into superior and inferior. So that the superior ones could then rule over the inferior ones.

In my view, race is problematic for those reasons.