Real harmony goes much deeper

I WAS talking to one of my Bumiputra friends the other day.

When we brought up the topic about the general impression one race had of another race, he said: “I used to be like my friends and families. We always thought government officials would only bully Malays and dare not enforce the law on the Chinese.

“For example, in areas, populated by the Chinese, cars are parked everywhere but when a Malay parks illegally, he or she will definitely be expecting a saman.”

As this statement totally contradicts the general mindset and thoughts of most Malaysian Chinese, I quickly replied: “Why would you think that? Generally, the Chinese people think the government only takes good care of the Malays. If street hawkers with illegal stalls and no licence were Malays, they would probably be safe but if they were Chinese, then they would be in trouble!”

Having said our piece, the two of us couldn’t help but to let out a hearty laugh, albeit filled with a little surprise as well as doubt.

This year, our country celebrated its 60th  Anniversary of Independence with the theme – My country – one heart, one soul (Negeraku Sehati Sejiwa).

In reality, the inter-racial and inter-ethnic relations within our pluralistic society still has room for improvement – a contrast to the lively Merdeka celebration.

Although we strongly advertise our multiple ethnicities, religions, language and cultures as the characteristics of Malaysia, we have, however, over the years, come to tacitly acquiesce in the superficiality of travel posters that overplayed the geniality of inter-communal relationships.

Race politics was purposed to consolidate the political needs of those who practised it and over the decades, it has shaped up a strong ethnic barrier and even suspicion.

Think about it. We claim to be a pluralistic society, yet we share few common life experiences.This is not just due to the little opportunities we have to get together but ultimately also to none of us wanting to take the initiative.

Our differences have been infinitely enlarged and distorted to the extent that we have stopped stepping out of our comfort zone. There is a need for more equitable distribution of resources and the fostering of better understanding among the various communities to further strengthen the socio-politico and economic fabrics of our society moving forward.

The priority of a multi-ethnic society is to live in harmony, co-exist and share prosperity and fair treatment. Only when we are not marginalised but treated equally can we eradicate the stumbling blocks in the way fostering greater understanding and harmony among the people. The real harmony of a multi-ethnic society is not measured by just the apparels we wear to identify with our communities nor determined by the number of Malaysian flags we fly. It goes much deeper.

Indeed, as I have mentioned before, patriotic behaviour does not require a political stance. As long as the heart is sincere, it is enough. (translated from Oriental Daily)

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