Malaysiakini Letter

You want unity? You can’t handle unity

Hafidz Baharom  |  Published:

LETTER | In the past week, there have been thoughts published in the media on how Malaysia has become a hot mess that has triggered weeping, moaning, and even some saying the country is dying. As melodramatic as it is to the point of being worthy of a Cerekarama script, Malaysia does have a problem.

However, do people really want it solved? Because if they do, we need to end the silos and start finding common ground once again. First and foremost, unity in diversity can work, but it has to include having common ground among everyone. For those of us growing up in the 1960s all the way up to the early 1990s, that common ground was schools.

You have the Edwardians, the SDARians, those from Clifford High, the Old Boys from MCKK, the Old Putras from MTD, and many, many more alumni groups which have diverse memberships to show how easy it was to mingle among everyone and call each other Malaysians.

This interconnectivity among Malaysians is gone from the younger generation. While the older Malaysians reminisce about the good old days where everyone could joke and intermingle among Malaysians, we now have arguments over why kids should all get a free breakfast costing RM3 per pax, questioning hygiene and even bringing up food waste as if our schools couldn’t then think about composting and opening a vegetable garden to make it more sustainable.

Similarly, where once everyone could speak with one another in two common languages – Bahasa Malaysia and English – we now have students who can only speak either one or the other or even neither. While government tries to bring back the study of Jawi and calligraphy, it seems that Malaysians are now willing to stop sending their kids to school over the matter.

The ironic thing is, the arguments and protests over all these items are being posed by the same people who are wondering where the unity from their former days of growing up went and somehow believe the government should rectify the situation at the adult age rather than target future generations.

Subsequently, the government is also trying to inculcate the people to be reminded of the principles of Rukun Negara. Personally, and I have said this quite openly and multiple times – that does not work.

A belief in God, loyalty to king and country, holding fast to the Federal Constitution and the rule of law, even politeness have all gone out the window. The reason for this is simple – the concepts are outdated.

Not everyone believes in God, some view the articles of the Federal Constitution as unfair, the rule of law would place the sexual minorities in jail and politeness is really the last thing going through people’s heads when pulling out a steering lock or baseball bat in incidents of road rage.

Of course, I did not touch one thing mentioned above due to it still being covered by a Sedition Act which is supposed to be revamped – but not everyone holds those two institutions dear as well due to the belief that all should be equal and a world of open borders.

Thus, with kids now being educated and segregated among themselves, with no one following the Rukun Negara to the letter except for times of convenience, with everyone believing in continuing the lifestyle of silos, bubbles and vehemently defending their rights and privileges to maintain such, we no longer have any place for common ground among ourselves.

Even the concept of unity through patriotism in this supposed Merdeka month has been marred because some people forgot how to hang up the Jalur Gemilang.

So, the first question to Malaysians is - what would you do so that the next generation goes back to the unity of yesteryears?

If there is no willingness to have our kids learn how to write in old school Jawi script for Bahasa Malaysia, or even enjoy a common meal together in primary school, then we can really stop moaning about the nonexistent unity of our kids when they grow up and stop being nostalgic about how we were once so happily united.

We were united because our parents, our grandparents and ancestors decided to keep everyone going to the same schools, live in the same neighbourhoods and let their kids mingle in playgrounds or even play badminton across the semi-detached house fences with their neighbours without giving a care about who they were.

They were living the Kennedy quote of asking not what the country can do for them, but what they could do for the country. Those days are long gone, and unity now is fragmented like a Jenga tower to the point that any move shakes the entire entity to the image of it collapsing because we no longer believe in those ideals.

In short – you want unity? You can’t handle unity.


The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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