A new May 13 — Amar-Singh HSS and Lim Swee Im
May 13, 2013
MAY 13 — Some of the younger people who read this would not have lived through May 13, 1969, but we did. One of us, who was in Petaling Jaya at the time, remembers his father almost not making it back home alive. The windscreen of his car was smashed in and the car was badly damaged. We lived confined to our homes in fear for a few days, wondering if we would have enough to eat (in those days few of us stocked up food, as going to the market daily was common practice).
As we process the recent elections, strangely held near May 13, it is imperative that we move forward. Especially since many leaders seem to repeatedly play the race card and stoke up racial fears and sentiments as a means to stay in power. They only change their tune (political chameleons) when the majority of the people speak up.
So we, the average persons, the majority, need to continually remind all our leaders that we no longer want to move in the childish direction that they advocate. We need to constantly remind them to grow up, even as we too must do the same.
Our leaders use May 13 as a reminder of our troubled past, to control us with racial fear.
Let us use May 13 as a symbol of hope, all Malaysians moving forward together, leaving race based politics behind.
Can we outline five ways we can move forward in hope as a nation:
We want to be very clear that we are not suggesting a revolution of instant and overnight changes to be made. We are realistic enough to know that a gradual progressive evolution of steps and changes will be more acceptable and sustainable. We are realistic enough to accept that it may require many more years for our dream of a true Malaysian nation to be established.
1. Malaysian identity in all areas
We should remove the requirement to identify race in any document, form, research, application, IC/passport, etc. It should be enough to write the word Malaysian in any race-based collection document. We should refuse to be identified by our race and remove the caricature of Malay, Chinese, Indian in our adverts and other media portrayals.
2. A Malaysian civil service
Our mono-ethnic civil service has been a result of unwritten, but clear, government policy to employ based on race and, even worse, have preferential promotion based on race. It is time to end this unjust system and move to a civil service we can be proud of, made up of all Malaysians, from all ethnic backgrounds.
3. Malaysian affirmative action
Affirmative action is the mechanism that ensures no Malaysian is left behind. No longer should funding, scholarships, contracts, university entry, etc be based on race. All race-based quotas should be abolished. Any deserving Malaysian should be able to obtain support. It is the poor Malaysian who needs support, not the rich, corrupt government families and cronies.
4. Malaysian political parties
Let us work to abolish all race-based political parties. We want leaders who represent all Malaysians, not just a particular race. A coalition of racial parties is not a sufficient compromise, as has been shown again and again. We need parties who stand for Malaysians, work against injustice, help the poor, disabled and marginalised, and lead the country forward into meaningful development. If the existing race-based parties refuse to fade away, then let us make them obsolete. Can we say here also with all sincerity that religious-based parties also have little place in the political scene of our future. Any party which excludes a segment of Malaysians is not inclusive. We have great respect for Tok Guru Nik Aziz as a humble, honest and spiritual leader. We ourselves are deeply committed spiritually, but we believe that religion has no official and formal place in government. Spiritual principles should rightly influence our policies (peace, justice, equity, etc) but not the formal practice of religion.
5. A Malaysian prime minister and Malaysian elected leaders
It is time to elect a truly Malaysian prime minister. One who represents all Malaysians. A true leader and real prime minister will choose to stand for elections in a major/large urban constituency like KL. There this person can show that the majority of the people really support him/her. All those who aspire to be ministers should also choose major urban constituencies to show that they have the support and mandate of the majority of the Malaysian people. It is embarrassing that the majority of our leaders “hide” in rural constituencies with small populations where they cannot fully test their support from the people. It does not matter what the race of the elected prime minister or Cabinet members are as long as we can trust them to represent all of us. An Orang Asli prime minister is fine and so is a woman. We are Malaysians and need to find fellow Malaysians we can trust to represent all of us. We need the best persons to lead our country, irrespective of ethnic origin. Then we can stop the poisonous, divisive messages from our current elected representatives that constantly fill our media.
As we make these comments that echo the hearts of our fellow Malaysians, can we clearly state that we are not affiliated to any political party. We are affiliated to fellow Malaysians in heart and mind. We ask that all of us work together to bring to birth a true Malaysia, a race-free Malaysia. It is not acceptable that only a few fight for our freedoms while the rest enjoy them. We need to jointly shoulder the responsibility to end race discrimination and regain the loss of our basic human rights and freedoms.
We cannot wait for our government to change, perhaps they are not able to and are deeply entrenched in their historical past and narrow mindsets.
But we can change.
We can unite our country despite our leaders.
And we will.
It is not race that defines us as Malaysians, it is our unity.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
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