Sunday, 26 January 2014

I respect you, you respect me, okay?

A house divided itself cannot stand - Abraham Lincoln

The situation out there beyond the fence of our house seems like an anarchic and insane Malaysia where everything and anything can be politicalized with no end in sight. First, the never ending issue of inflation and craziness in the spike of cost of living, then Bibles and then the exclusiveness and divide over the word “Allah”, after that comes the kangkung and mother of all kangkung, protests and more protests, May 13 threat replay and encore after encore, and now, open selling of pork in Penang. What else is about to come tomorrow? Another tit for tat which calls for ban of opens selling of beef because it is sensitive to Hindus and Buddhists?
Instead of enjoying the historically cool temperatures around Malaysia, everyone suddenly felt that the atmosphere is hotter than usual with so many happenings in sight that can spark off riot at any moment. In the morning market, at hypermarket, at any you name it market; everyone is talking about kangkung, Muslim-Christian dispute, the economy, exchange rate, inflation, May 13 and all bleak future of Malaysia that one can imagine of.
I was taken aback when I heard a group conversation at the tea house that if things are not under control, we may head towards the direction of Thailand with its never ending street protests. At another conversation, people lament that it is as if the general election is coming soon and politics related postings and comments are spiking up again in the social media. And today, swine are suddenly the “hot” topic in town, drawing me back to the late 90s when Nipah virus hit the country.
Talking about the 90s, the good 90s when I was in school before my Auckland days, everything in Malaysia seems to be heading to the right direction with Vision 2020, excellent race relations despite the economy crisis of 97 and the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim and everyone are very proud to say “I am a Malaysian”.
During the puasa month, we, the non-Muslim head to the canteen as usual while our Muslim schoolmates head to their surau. There was no such thing as “canteen in the changing room with toilet stench” or “Selamat berbuka puasa with Bak Kuh Teh” stupidity. It was a non-issue for our Muslim friends to wish us “Merry Christmas” and “Gong Xi Fa Cai”. Never for once we ever read or hear any teacher blurt out “Cina dan India pendatang”.
We were taught of all the good moral values in school, about respecting other race and religion, about tolerance, about nation building and patriotism and many more. The mass media were so much different, it was all about instilling the positive values to us. Throughout my schooling years, I read Utusan Malaysia daily and its sub publication – Massa, weekly. There was no nonsense like “Apa lagi Cina Mahu?” or the likes of Perkasa.
Did some unknown cosmic creature slowly sucking away all the rationality and civility that we learn in school and society from us without our knowledge and is causing some people to go rouge, bringing the society down with them?
Enough is enough. Can we let all these insanity and stupidity stop? Can we tell fellow Malaysians of different race and religion with sincerity that "I respect you and you respect me, okay?" and to borrow the Malay peribahasa (idiom) that is recently made famous by the brother of the Prime Minister – “sesat di hujung jalan, balik ke pangkal jalan” (When one has lost one’s way, one should return to the beginning), let us return to beginning.

Let us return to the glorious days of Malaysia, the days when we respect one another as fellow Malaysian regardless of race and religion, tolerate each other’s practices, celebrate each other’s festivities and the days when we are so proud to be Malaysian. If our leaders fail to lead us to the right path; we can lead ourselves.

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