Thursday, October 27, 2005

On Being Multi-Cultural

I had a fairly angry blog entry before this, but something in minishorts’ blog changed my mind. So I’ve decided to make a rewrite.

Fitting into Multicultural Societies is Hard Stuff

You might not think there is a link between what MENJ says here and here with a certain MP’s so-called ‘racist’ statements in parliament. Admittedly, there are fundamental differences—the Member of Parliament in question is a cretin (not unlike many of his counterparts), while MENJ is, by all indications, of above-average intelligence and education.

But both have one thing in common. They do not fit into a multicultural society.

You Tak Suka?

I don’t say this to mean as if it is a bad thing. I don’t mean to go at the MP or MENJ and say, “You Tidak Suka, You Keluar Dari Malaysia!” —although admittedly, it would be fun and ironic to say to the MP himself, who has made himself inadvertantly famous by putting his foot in his mouth with that statement.

But the fact of the issue is, you live in a society where not everybody thinks and lives like you, and it is not likely that they will ever do so.

In An Idealized World

Not because it should be this way—let’s face it, in an idealized world, everyone would have his own space, everyone would belong, and there wouldn’t be any conflict between anyone at all. But let’s face it—there are about 23 million people crammed by history and circumstance into an area approximately 330 thousand square kilometers big. That isn’t a lot of space.

And when you’re all crammed up like that, one of the last things you want to talk about is how people should behave and where they belong and what is the true truth. You’re just struggling to not push the other feller into the sea (where they could probably sue your sorry ass for being an ass), or get pushed in either.

Priorities, Man, Priorities.

I’m not saying that what you believe and what you say is unimportant. I’m saying, look at your other priorities first. You don’t live in an all-Malay (oxymoronic—have you heard of a ‘true Malay’?) all-Muslim country. You live in a multicultural one, which means that you must accommodate. Not should, because frankly I’d go somewhere else if I could, but must.

And if you don’t, well, why should the other guy?

Anonymous Giant Sotong said...

From your comments at minishorts: "You don't need to be smart to succeed in this country."

Um... ouch?

Selamat Hari Raya to you and HRH Queen HANI 8-)

9:30 AM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

Architeuthis: Does it burn like the heat of a thousand suns, then? ;)

And happy holidays to you!

9:36 AM  
Blogger Vlad said...

If it's not for people who thinks like you, I guess Hitler's Third Reich would have really ruled a thousand years.

Most of the times, some people just don't get it that the world doesn't revolve around them alone, but for 6 billion others too.

Selamat Hari Raya to both of you. Maaf Zahir Batin.

6:07 PM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

Vlad: I'm just some guy.

I'm just some guy, and you just obeyed Godwin's Law. Truly, Naziism stretches its memetic fingers beyond the life-span of the Third Reich.

Also, Selamat Hari Raya to you, kiddo. Maaf Zahir dan Batin!

6:54 PM  
Blogger johnleemk said...

The problem is a lot of Malaysians still hold to the belief that a Malaysian belongs exclusively to one culture. Many would like to see us classified as Malay, Chinese and Indian (or in PAS' case, Muslim and non-Muslim). The fact is we are all Malaysians. One Ketuanan Melayu proponent has told me there are 12 million Malays in Malaysia. This means more than half our population (25 million) is non-Malay. Pigeonholing Malaysian culture as Malay culture (as one book I recently saw on sale in Popular Bookstore actually did) is blatantly misleading.

It is good more and more of us in the young generation are realising this, because multiculturalism is a fact of life. While the US, traditionally a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) society has actually embraced multiculturalism, and 80% Chinese Singapore has done the same - S. Rajaratnam (former Foreign Minister of Singapore) visualised "a man rooted in the cultures of four great civilizations but not belonging exclusively to any of them." Yet Malaysia, with an over 50% non-Malay population viciously denies its non-Malay roots and clings tenderly to the old communalism policies of Ketuanan Melayu, and the social contract. (The social contract, IMO, was supposed to keep the Chinese and Indians loyal to Malaysia and not their home countries. In those days, it was a real possibility. However, now the social contract is a relic, and used only to further policies that give UMNOputras discounts on limousines and mansions.)

After all, we are all Malaysians, aren't we? Even more so than Singaporeans, we are rooted in four great cultures and civilisations, aren't we? We eat satay, char kuay teow, roti canai and hamburgers. In the car, our radio vacillates from blaring out English to Malay, Mandarin or Hindi tunes. That is what it means to be Malaysian. Let's embrace our multi-culturalism instead of denying it.

9:06 PM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

johnleemk: Huh. I've seen you around. Apart from the choices of the words you're using (aren't we all a fan of semantics), you're preaching to the choir.

Nice meeting you.

9:16 PM  
Blogger johnleemk said...

Same to you, bro. It's cool meeting Malays like you in the blogosphere. Guys like MENJ alwayts manage to get me down, and give some of my racist friends ammunition to pour scorn on the Malays/Muslims as a whole. By the way, thanks for linking to the videos of the "You tak suka, you keluar dari Malaysia" comment. Really loved them.

10:53 PM  

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