As a child, I have heard many stories from my grandparents and parents about their life before and right after Malaysia (known as Malaya then) gained independence from the British. My grandparents had to deal with World War II and its aftermath, and my parents belonged to the first generation who built this nation.
Life was not easy and the times were very different from what my generation is experiencing now. People were different too. Despite the May 13, 1969 racial riot, racism was not an issue for many during those times. I often hear stories of how the different races – Malay, Chinese, Indian – mingled easily. There were also many stories of extraordinary friendships between different races.
While such friendships still prevail these days, it is sad to see that some politicians have chosen to use racial issues to divide people to gain victory. This is very clear in the 2013 election in which many allegations, accusation and attacks with racial sentiments were made. Issues of religion (the Allah case) were also used to create more fractions among the people.
Why must this be the case? There is no fire without a spark. If these racial issues were not politicised, no one in their right mind would find a reason to hate another human being just because of their skin color or religion.
As an average Malaysian, I love my country and I am sure many would agree when I say we are peace-loving people. It is the seeds of hatred planted in our minds that lead us to act irrationally. So, those who want to spread such spores of destruction should be the ones that must suffer the consequences, and not the people who build this nation, and their children.
To further illustrate my point, young children who have no concept of race, get along just fine with each other. They do not care about the skin color, status or beliefs of the other child. All they see is a human being just like them. So, why can’t we view each other as we are, humans, and stop listening to those who want to pit different races against each other to achieve their own personal agendas?
In writing this, I’m not pointing fingers at any one person in particular. All I’m saying is that we can achieve so much more as a nation united, rather than divided. Remember, we are building this nation for our children and not ourselves, so don’t let our skin color get in the way.
Some may say that I’m naïve to think that equality will prevail since we are all equal as humans. However, there’s no denying that at the end of the day, we are all the same, flesh and bone, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.