Saturday, October 4, 2008


Upon viewing NST online this morning (Oct 4th 2008), I came across an article titled 'Racial harmony has to begin with the young' in the column by Johan Jaafar. The more I read, the more I believe in what he has written. It is truly the best, honest and sincere article that I have ever read on race relations, and at once, my thoughts takes me back to my wonderful childhood days.

From Johan's article, I somewhat have a similar experience as a child. If Johan had the Chinese families and their children as his friends, I had Indian families and their children as my neighbours and intimate friends throughout my schooling days.

I started school prior to independence, and I was enrolled in an english school in Kuala Lumpur. In that sense, I was more urban than Johan. The class had no more than 30 pupils, and I can recall that there were more Chinese students than Malays and Indians added together. I certainly don't remember anyone taking about race and religion in school. We played, ate and walked home after school together.

My house was about 4 kilometers from school, and walking home in the afternoon after school those days in groups, was a wonderful experience. It wasn't hot like it is today. There were lots of trees that lined the street, and that provided us the shade as we walked home.

I remembered having to punch a punjabi student after school, not because of his race or religion, but because he bullied my younger brother. Honestly, I wasn't the hero type, but somehow having to come to the defence of my younger brother, I was compelled to develop enough courage to ward off the bullying of my brother.

On another occasion, I almost fought with an Indian student because of an argument that I had with him earlier. Although I waited for him outside the school, I somehow did not have the courage to punch him because he was much larger than me. I only managed to threatened him, and fortunately he walked away. Had he accepted a fight, I know I would have been trashed to smithereens.

The Indian friends that I had as my neighbours, are still today my close friends. In fact, they all treat my aged mother as their mother as well. This is because as kids, they would frequent my house and ate together with us. Likewise, I would just go to their house and walk into their kitchen and eat whatever I could find. They all have never failed to call me and wish me during Hari Raya, despite them being all over the country. Some have even migrated overseas.

Although I have lost contact with my Chinese classmates, I have somehow been in close contact with some of my juniors who had known me, because I was a prefect in school. And each time we meet at the yearly Old Boys Association dinner, it is truly a heart warming experience. Jokes and laughter will fill the room, and nobody talks about politics, let alone touch upon the issue of race and religion.

When I joined the Armed Forces, my intake had a number of Chinese and Indian cadets. They all are in touch with me till today, and I have a complete dossier of their whereabouts, of those who are still alive. I would be their reference, should they want to know the addresses of so-and-so. And certainly we don't talk about race and religion. And I could proudly say that the Armed Forces is the most racially integrated organisation in this country; a reflection of what a truly Malaysian society should be, and seriously something that the politicians can learn from.



maurice said...

The present education system need to be reorganized in order to develop solid foundation for race relations for future generations.

To start with all the vernacular schools should be done away with.Instead have only one type of primary and secondary schools for all Malaysian children.

Under TDM we had a chance to start doing it under the Wawasan School concept but some groups sabotaged it for their own selfish political agenda.

There is no lack of efforts on the part of the government on the issue of racial integration.It is only that some groups of Malaysians do not care two hoot about racial integration.

Anonymous said...

Dato and Maurice,

When you cited this "pendek" Javanese from Muar write up on race relation ,I take it with a pinch of salt as his opinion does not excite me at all, as this particular Jawa from Sg Balang Muar is the worst "Pengerusi" if ever he chairs any public forum on TV.Penjilat UMNO of the worst kind which I have come across and conclude and remembers as the short Javanese with mental block thinking.We came from the same Shire. I once saw on TV how Dr Hassan Ali PAS checked him on Tv Live, and teaches him how to conduct public forum.To me he is an Id... This is a living example of an individual who hidup ku,matiku bersama UMNO.... and deserve to be called a st.... Muarian.Maybe he did that for survival.....

To Maurice,

I would ask this question.

Will all the Malaysian Chinese and Indian willing to sacrifice their
SRJK (C) and SRJK (T) towards a more balanced future generation?
If not then forget about the idea as it is good only on paper.

maurice said...

Dear Walimuar,

You hit the nail on the head.

MCA, Gerakan and DAP talk so much about building the ideal future Bangsa Malaysia.

But they did nothing to change the mindset of the body of people running the Chinese Vernacular Schools.It appears they are powerless/ reluctant (?) to do what is right to create the basic foundation for a future Bangsa Malaysia.

Let us push the concept of National Service from the present PLKN.The MAF could be an important vehicle for national integration for youths coming from the national and vernacular schools.I think this idea is doable.Perhaps our host Dato Arshad could start the ball rolling.

maurice said...

Talking about Race Relations, I think Hindraf has made a mistake by going to the PM's Open House in a controversial manner.

According to the dailies, they came fully attired and noisy as a group, cut the queue and ignored the thousands of people arriving at the PWTC before them.

Surely this is not the way to behave, for Hindraf organizers very well know the Aidilfitri Open House is to enhance the goodwill of our multi-racial society regardless of their political ideology.

The recent episode shows that Hindraf does not deserve the support of all peace-loving Malaysians.

ArshadRaji said...

Dear Maurice & Walimuar,

Once again, thank you for your comments which I truly appreciate.

Race relation in the Malaysian context is indeed a serious and critical issue; one that cannot be taken for granted.

Malaysian have no other choice, but to accept the fact that this religious and racial makeup of our present society, will remain in this form for many generations to come.

Our leaders of the past who had brought the country to independence, knows this, and it is for this very reason that they all (Malays, Chinese and Indians) have accepted that a compromised solution, is best for the future of the Malaysian society.

We as elders to our society, must continuously disseminate our forefathers ideals of a truly Malaysian society, to our children and their children. Issues of race and religious superiority by any one, must be check and kept in the after burner.