Since the notion of a true Malaysian as M Bakri Musa demonstrates may be more ethereal than physical, I'd like to think that a true Malaysian is one who is true to Malaysia, and who ultimately works in the interests of all its people for the national good.
I suppose this narrow ideal would differentiate between a Malaysian and a true Malaysian. It is easy to become a Malaysian, as anecdotal evidence of illegal Indonesians with acquired Malaysian Mykads and passports attest.
But being a true Malaysian - that's a different story. I for one would consider Dr Edmund Terence Gomez a true Malaysian, especially after reading Jeffrey Henderson's letter . Here is a man, courted by the world, but who returned to serve his country only to eventually get a raw deal, so the media reports tell us.
His critics may disown him as a true Malaysian, but I think Bakri Musa himself will always be one despite being an absentee 'son of the soil'. But is physical presence so important in this age of technological wonders where the Internet can diminish the physical tyranny of long distances?
Someone like Musa will always be a true Malaysian because he has the country's best interest at heart. He cares enough for his country to contribute his ideas. Others like him all contribute to the country's national conscience.
If physical presence is a prerequisite for being considered a true Malaysian, as Musa's critics understand the term, then many Malaysians should be excluded. They include ambassadors, overseas students, business people, scientists, sportspersons, public servants on study tours and many, many more who need to be absent from the country for valid reasons.
Malaysia does not recognise dual citizenship but many countries do. Does this make these dual citizens any less patriotic as far as their countries of birth are concerned? Many wealthy, influential, and privileged Malaysians have houses overseas and spend considerable time away from Malaysia - are they any less Malaysian? I don't think so.
All enrich the fabric of a multi-cultural Malaysia and no one can take away their true identity, which over the years may have become more complex, but essentially remain Malaysian.
Today, overseas Malaysians are being wooed to return to the Malaysian homeland, to help accelerate the country's progress. But this great land of contrasts, and I should add, glaring contradictions, can at times be baffling. On one hand they woo, on the other they shoo as demonstrated by the Gomez debacle.
A true Malaysian is one who is unmistakably patriotic, incorruptible in high or low office, and who puts the interests of his community and country first before self, regardless of his race or religion or social rank.
He or she knows that Merdeka means striving hard to make the country successful so that every Malaysian will enjoy the fruits of freedom and prosperity.
A true Malaysian is not born but made, shaped by convictions borne out of a constant struggle against the odds and a genuine concern for his or her homeland and its diverse peoples. His or her religious beliefs unite, not divide the nation, for true religion always inspires one to serve others even if at times it means putting their interests above one's own.
No true Malaysian rise on the backs of the weak, abuse their position for power and engage in corrupt and questionable practices. True Malaysians would not ravish the environment for short-term monetary gains.
'Walking the talk' and the old-fashioned 'practising what you preach' are all nice and good. But cliches are only words and it is vital for Pak Lah and his government to match these words with strong and decisive actions while they still have the rakyat's support.
True Malaysians everywhere will surely join him in this battle.