COMMENT | We are all Malaysians. Whether you are Indian, Chinese, or Malay, we are all part of the Malaysian community. With multiple traditions from the west to the east, we should all appreciate what we have.
We are one of the few countries with the privilege of being so racially diverse. And yet, sometimes we take this all for granted. Racial diversity just means that racial harmony is something that we must all move towards. And yet, even as we continue to progress and move forward in many areas, we still do not work hard enough towards racial harmony.
In political parties, it is said that the Malays run everything. And among the citizens, stereotypes have never ceased to exist. Whether it is assuming an Indian is a bad person or thinking that Chinese people are richer than Malays and Indians, none of this helps build towards racial harmony.
None of these stereotypes benefits us, even as our society grows. We must not forget that there was a time in 1969 when Malaysia was shaken by civil unrest between the Chinese and Malays. We must not forget that, even now, some of our own political parties do not agree with having parties run by different races. We are all Malaysians and yet, these barriers between the Chinese, Malays, and Indians continue to trouble us.
Even as these problems continue, there is always a side of Malaysia that loves everybody. It is the little things that show us how racial harmony should look like. For example, whenever we go out to order food, we can order in English, Chinese, Malay, Cantonese, and such. These are small details but are snippets of how smooth everything could be.
Malaysia also allows people of all races to vote for who to govern them. This is part of what Malaysia should look like. People of all races and religions uniting as one to grow and prosper.
As for myself, I have yet to experience any major racist incident. Even so, I have a great appreciation for racial harmony. I find that sports as a whole can allow us to connect better.
I love playing football. I train at a club called Kickin Fun. In this club, racial harmony is present. Nigerian coaches coach us. We play with each other like a well-oiled machine regardless of our race. I have teammates who are Malays, Chinese, Indians, and even Germans and British. This is how I feel Malaysia should be.
In football, we have to work together, communicate and believe in each other. We do not have the choice to only pass the ball to the Chinese or Malay players. We have to work together. We cannot choose only to move forward to support the Indian players with the ball. We cannot choose who we want on our team.
Even if I did not like someone on my team, that does not mean that I can choose not to pass the ball to them and not communicate with them. Sometimes to move forward, we have to accept those around us without excuse. Sometimes we just have to put people in front of us. A better example would be my goalkeeper.
A goalkeeper is the one in the game who can actually single-handedly carry the team to victory. I cannot choose my goalkeeper, and yet I have to fully believe that he can complete his duties and help the team at the same time. This is what we need in Malaysia. Utter trust in the other party.
To be honest, we as citizens of Malaysia can only say and do so much. Everything still lies with our leaders at the top. Even if we want to work together, but our political leaders cannot see eye to eye, it will all be in vain. In a football team, the captain’s role is to provide comfort and an example for the team even in times of trouble. This is true even with the leading figures of Malaysia. If the people at the top were to start accepting one another, then surely, we will all start to move together as one.
In conclusion, I would like to clarify that I do not mean that Malaysia suffers from severe racism or such. On the contrary, Malaysia does have some sort of racial harmony in society, but there is definitely room for improvement.
As Malaysians, I feel that we should continue to strive for more peace and harmony among the races. It is essential for us if we want to grow. It will be a great driving force for us to work harder when we know that when we look to our left and right, we see people of Malaysia standing alongside each other, ready to fight for our nation without having to worry about conflicts from within us.
It is as Abraham Lincoln said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
I believe that together we can achieve perfect racial harmony. Malaysia Boleh!
The writer is an international school student.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.