Malaysiakini Letter

'... I am proud of my ethnicity ...'

K Temoc
Published:  |  Modified:

I refer to the article titled Behind Perkasa's pig obsession by your columnist Helen Ang. While I find it interesting I must take issue with her on two points, both related to DAP. Firstly (excuse the pun) it’s about her criticism of Lim Kit Siang’s 'Malaysian First'.

She made a motherhood statement that the Malaysian First-ers hate to be called 'pendatang' and don’t like to be told 'balik Cina', but one that lacks relevance because really, which Chinese does?

Then she argued that though Dr Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah has Chinese skin tone and Chinese facial features, no one has told him to 'balik Cina'. And the reason is of course that Ridhuan is a Malay-speaking Muslim, ipso facto the 'balik Cina' jeer does not apply to him as he belongs here.

Then her logic plummeted when she averred that for Malaysian First-ers to avoid the 'balik Cina' gibe, they should emulate Ridhuan who is the model Malaysian First-er. She also quoted a blogger (I believe to be Shuzheng) who also argued that Malaysian First requires doing a Ridhuan Tee. Shuzheng argued that if a Chinese, like Ridhuan, no longer possesses Chinese characteristics, then nobody can ask him/her to 'balik Cina'.

Ang and blogger Shuzheng both failed to understand two things: (a) Dr Ridhuan tee is not a Chinese by choice and a Malay through his constitutional rights, so how and who he looks like is totally irrelevant, and (b) Lim Kit Siang’s 'Malaysian First' is not about acceptance per se. On July 5, Lim Kit Siang made a media statement (available on his blog) in response to a second challenge by DPM Muhyiddin to state whether he is a Chinese or Malaysian first.

Lim said: ‘I had already stated in Parliament that I am a Malaysian first and Chinese second. I am proud of my ethnicity but I have always believed that all Malaysians must rise above their ethnic, cultural, religious and geographic differences to seek a common bond with the Malaysian identity transcending all ethnic, cultural, religious and geographic identities.’

That’s a political vision statement of the highest merit, akin to one made on Aug 28, 1963 in a distant land by another visionary who said the following immortal words during an era of seemingly impossible struggle for racial equality, and for an end to ethnic discrimination.

Those words were: ‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’ [...]

‘This is our hope. This is the faith ..... With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.’ […}

‘Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.’

That visionary, Martin Luther King Jr, didn’t have to abandon his identity, heritage or convert himself into a white man as Michael Jackson did. And he wasn’t alone nor the first in the struggle – there was Rosa Parks nearly a decade before him – to chip gradually but perseveringly away at what was then seen as the insurmountable odds of invincible racism.

Thanks to their efforts, endurance and faith in themselves, today an African American sits in the White House as the 44th President of the United States of America. At home Lim Kit Siang espouses the Malaysian First doctrine to seek the same outcome. His objectives are clear and straightforward, and he knows he would still need many like-minded successors to chip away at the vested interests of Malaysian racism before his dream can come true that all Malaysians ‘will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character’.

Lim Kit Siang and many like me do not want to see a Chinese as a future prime minister of Malaysia but rather a Malaysian.

Secondly, I regret very much Ang made a double incorrect statements that the wearing of selendang (presumably by Teo Nie Ching) to a surau and Lim Guan Eng ‘Photoshop-ed’ slaughtering cow in Islamic ritual were examples of DAP preaching Malaysian First in the hope of gaining privileges as first-class citizens.

I believe by now we should be able to easily disregard her bizarre accusation of Malaysian First as a concept to gaining privileges as first class citizens, but I lament her refusal to acknowledge that Teo Nie Ching had to wear a selendang after a faux pas already chided by the Selangor Sultan; and if Teo visited her Malay constituency, what better place than a surau , the traditional gathering place for kampung Muslim Malays.

I would like to ask Ang what’s wrong with the DAP current program of seeking Malay acceptance through more direct socio-political intercourse. After all, the Malays represent more than 60% of Malaysians. Why disparage a political party for striving to demonstrate their Malaysian character as well as enlarge its voters base?

The only area I agree with Ang would be in her concerns with the DAP’s unnecessary flirtation with Islam. I believe the DAP can seek rapprochement with the Malay community without over- the-top fawning over a historical Muslim leader and his exemplary governance, and

perhaps in that process, misleading some Pakatan Rakyat Muslims into believing Lim Guan Eng is so enamoured of Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz that he will soon be embracing Islam.

But unfortunately the worst of her attacks against DAP was when she made no mention of the fact that the photo showing Lim Guan Eng slaughtering a cow in Islamic ritual was a forgery. I hope it’s a genuine slipup and not a Shuzheng type of insecure creativity, where that blogger (in a letter ) had accused Lim Kit Siang, in promoting the Malaysian First concept, of denying his (Lim’s) ancestral roots.

Let me conclude by reproducing for both Helen Ang and blogger Shuzheng a crucial sentence of what Lim Kit Siang had stated in his media statement of July 5, 2010.

‘… I am proud of my ethnicity …’.

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