Malaysian First: Boleh Ke?

I think it’s fair to say that the final answer is a positive “Yes!” Despite some not-so-encouraging sentiments expressed during the webinar last night, it ended on quite a positive note. Indeed, although Uncle Kit was quite sombre throughout the event, he appeared quite animated in the final moments and sprinkled some of his can-do fairy dust on us. I think Qyira’s insights into the attitudes of young Malaysians helped too.

The author talks about the book

At the outset, when asked what he felt Mr Lim was most misunderstood for, Chye said that his fight for his Malaysian Dream is wrongly spun into a threat against Malay dominance. In my opinion, that has turned out to be effective propaganda churned out by Uncle Kit’s political enemies to make him appear a Chinese chauvinist.

Back in 1969, after the terrible May 13 incident, Uncle Kit had this to say (to the then DAP Chairman, Chen Man Hin):

We are not yet a nation of Malaysians … A model Malaysian is not a Malay, Chinese or Indian, but any Malaysian-minded and centred citizen whose primary affiliation is to nation and not to race.

Does that sound like what a Chinese chauvinist would say? The answer is clear to me, but the fact is that Lim Kit Siang has been made a bogeyman in Malay fairy tales simply because a group of Malays deliberately portray him as a Chinese chauvinist hell-bent on pillaging the rights of the Bumiputera. (We didn’t touch on this concept, but I’ll come back to it a bit later.)

I don’t wish to repeat what people already know in this round-up of yesterday’s book launch and webinar (see video below) held in conjunction with the publication of Lim Kit Siang: Malaysian First, Volume 1: None But The Bold by Kee Thuan Chye. But I would like to reiterate a couple of pertinent points if we are to move purposefully in the direction of the Malaysian Dream.

Chye briefly pointed out that we need leadership. I think Malaysians are currently desperate for it. And I believe, like teachers, leaders will appear when the followers are ready. We just need to be patient and keep the light on, so to speak.

Qyira sharing her thoughts

On that note, I think Malaysians are holding on to hope. Qyira, in sharing her views about Malaysian youth today, gave us some.

Those of us who are jaded and cynical probably need to give more credit to young Malaysians before saying there’s no hope for real change.

Now let’s get down to some heavy duty stuff. Chandran and Mariam both made points that stirred the viewers and definitely gave us food for thought. Mariam talked about Malays forgetting their identity and not knowing their own religion. Chandran made the important point that Malaysians are generally not racist. However, he quickly added, racism in Malaysia is institutionalised. And that was a bigger problem.

Chandran Nair making a point

Interestingly, Chandran asserted that Malays had experienced trauma. I agree with him, and I believe this idea warrants deeper discussion. In hindsight, I wish I had delved more into it during the webinar.

Although I’d rather not focus too much on the Malays lest I get labelled a Chinese chauvinist myself, I think the problem with us is that we dare not call a spade a spade in Malaysia. Fear has made us complicit in the evil perpetrated by the selfish Malay elite who not only play the race card but use the great religion of Islam for their own benefit. Tell me, which Quranic verse or hadith approves of racism or Ketuanan Melayu ?

The woke Malays need to speak up. They will not be traitors if they did. Indeed, they will be doing what every Muslim should do. Indeed, isn’t the concept ‘Bumiputera’ foreign to Islam? If these so-called Malay Muslims truly regard themselves as Muslims first, then they should be Malaysian second, and Malay third. Sadly, as pointed out by Wilfred later, there are different classes of Bumiputera – he himself being a third-class Bumiputera from Sabah. (I learned this from a conversation with him after the webinar, but wish I had had the time to discuss it during the webinar.)

Chandran’s call for a revolution of the mind resonated with me. We (not only the woke Malays) need to overcome our fear and speak up, otherwise we are all complicit. As they say, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (By the way, this quote is often wrongly attributed to Edmund Burke.)

After all, I believe there are many good Malaysians but many of us are running scared. Not only that. We are also spiritually scarred – so much so that we start to mistreat our fellow Malaysians. Another misattributed quote comes to mind: “The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest member.” (Mistakenly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.)

Although Malaysia has a lot of potential to be a great nation (after all, we have a mix of four great civilisations in Malaysia, as pointed out by Uncle Kit), we have fallen far short of the mark. Just look at how we treat our Orang Asli and OKU and you’ll know what I am getting at.

But all is not lost. There is hope yet. We just need to learn to trust one another (but be wary of politicians who have a vested interest in the status quo) and work together to fight the “final battle”. After all, the past is not an indicator of what we’re capable of achieving in the future.

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