Last thursday, I was invited to speak to a group of undergraduates from various local universities at a mosque building next to the UIA matriculation centre. About 40 students of all races turned up. The topic was on the state of ethnic relations in the universities.
I told the organisers that it was an irony to invite someone who had graduated from a local university almost 10 years ago to speak on the topic. Nonetheless, I did speak on the topic from my own standpoint on how we should approach ethnic relations in the future.
I told the audience that we must first address our own lack of understanding of our society's history. The misinterpretation or the intentional reintrepretation of our social history does not help either. The common interpretation of ethnic relations in the country is taken from a dominant Malay viewpoint.
The communitarian interpretation does not allow any space for individual view or opinion. We often hear statements which seek to generalise a certain viewpoint e.g. Malays cannot accept the concept of Bangsa Malaysia, eating pork is a Chinese culture et cetera. This sweeping statements strive to generalise and to monopolise opinions.
The statements are hardly accurate. Many Malays are happy to accept the concept of Bangsa Malaysia (without its distortion) as a foundation of national unity. Many of them understand and appreciate the essense of fairness and equality. To our ignorant, many Malays are treated more unfairly than others. While not benefiting from the Malay Agenda promises, they have to suffer from the social stigma which comes with the agenda - dependent and lazy. None of the allegations are true about the Malays. Many prefer to work hard and would embrace a sytem which rewards good work and effort. Not nepotism, not Umno Putraism.
The finer point which I made at the talk was our failure to progress socially although we have had a marked progress economically. Political, we are still at an infancy of a matured society. We continue to hold on to our racially based model even after 50 years of independence. We aspire to become a developed, first world nation by 2020 and yet we know that to become one we need to scrap our racist model. Who is hoodwinking who?
I told the multiracial audience that they must choose which path to take in the future. If we choose to live together, then do not let racism corrupt our social lenses. Do not let racist politicians destroy our social fabric and that we must STOP THE RACISM!