Sunday, April 19

People who promote racial unity are mostly racists themselves (posted on Feb 7th, 2009)

Gotcha at the title, didn't I? Well it's true. Take a typical 'look we have three major Malaysian races in unity' TV advertisement as an example (BTW, the local word for multi-racial, living in harmony is 'muhibah'). The main protagonist, or actor, is a Malay, named Ali or Mohammad or whatever a typical Malay name is. In comes an Indian man, conveniently named Rajoo (I don't know what the obsession with that name is about). He would come by, and greet Ali with "Dei Ali, apa khabar? Aku sihat jugaaa," with his tongue rolling at every syllable, and his head moving left and right like he has a tic. Then both of them meet Ah Chong, also conveniently named. He would raise his hand, and greet them oh-so-loudly. "Eh, apa lu dua buat? Lu tatak kelija ka?". They then proceed with meaningless exchanges to get the advertisement message across. I don't care if some of you didn't get what they were conversing about. Point is, 'racial unity' advertisements feel contrived, fake to the very core. I bet the people who come up with these don't really mix with other races, so they use a stereotyped arch model for each race. Typical. Even fiction writers use this, when they want to show that they make a gesture at including someone of another race. It's always the same typical sing-song, Tamil-movie Indian with a thick mustache, the loud Chinaman (my friends and I refer to Chinese as Chinaman, though I don't know why), who'd be typically the business type, always doing something productive. And the Malays, demure, shy, and full of taboos, while behind you conspiring to bring you down. Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to incite a racial debate here. I'm just trying to tell you that sometimes, people try so hard to show that they are racial-tolerant that it's sad. Why must there be a racial issue, other than genetic and disease predisposition, in the first place? Even then, a Chinese or Malay (they generally term us as Asians. I hate that.) living in America tends to be predisposed to the diseases there, as compared those living in China or even Malaysia. Why must people look at skin color and paint it with prejudice before knowing that person in the first place? Among my best friends is Kean Khang (Formally known as Fong Kean Khang, or KK Fong). He's a computer program genius. And back in campus, we would collaborate on projects, where I would think about the creative side, and he covered the technical side. He plays the guitar at Church. That bugger is even more pious than I am. We converse in English, but when he uses Malay, it has a typical Penang inflection. And he's popular among the Malay community, coz he's a funny and down to earth guy (not because he's an atypical Chinaman, though that helped breaking the ice). And his wife Grace (back then his girlfriend), talks both in English and Malay with thick Sabahan slang (I've always wondered if her Mandarin is Sabah-tinged as well). And Siva is, well, Siva. KL guy, good at anything sport-related, and a goofball in general. With him, all of us use the words 'Thani' and 'Sappedeq' a lot. Kota Bharu didn't have any respectable bars or clubs (eh? what club?). We did hang out at this Chinese restaurant, where Kean Khang and I would drink Pepsi (he's allergic to alcohol, how funny is that?), while Siva and Billy and the rest of the crew would get raving drunk it's amusing to see them (but not smell them). So what am I raving about with this long note? Nothing, really. And everything. Malaysia is, to be honest, blessed with its multiple races. We live in harmony, on the surface. But there's so much undercurrent it makes a person reel with dizziness and confusion. And no one dares say it out loud for fear of retribution. During our Biro Tata Negara held on our first year in Uni, I stood up and gave a question during a Q&A session. The essence of the question was, why are so many Malays and other indigenous races, who get all these benefits, squander them and corrupt the advantages provided (mainly Malays though). Why not make them aware that it's a privilege, and not a blind right? You see, most people fall back on this issue. Malays blaming Chinese for squishing Malays and make so much money at the same time. Chinese cursing Malays for opportunities wasted just because the projects are given priority to Malays. And Indians blaming everyone for everything, even other Indians. (Uh-oh. I am so going to get a call from ISA for this). Back to my story. My question had been pure and simple. What I didn't expect was a standing ovation from the non-Malays, and subsequent late night individual brain-washing sessions from the facilitators for not being a grateful Malay. I was generally frowned upon by the Malay community thereafter, and regarded as a necessary evil (I was one of the only ones well versed with multimedia and graphic stuff in Medical school, my batch at least). But those who accepted me as a friend remain close friends in my book. So do you see how ugly this racial thing is? Why don't people look at others as 'Tall, short, bald, smelly, tailored, loudmouth, sweet, cute'? (the exception being HOT! - this one transcends race). Why must must people look at others by their race, and the stereotyped perception that comes with it?