I am 67 years old now and I have seen enough of the political development of the country prior to and after independence. As a school boy of 14 year old, I did listen to the ceremony of the lowering of the Union Jack and the rising of the new Malayan flag at the then Selangor Club Padang, of course not on TV but on the transistor radio. We had no TV then, and the transistor radio was all that my parents could afford.
Although, I could barely understand what independence meant, it nevertheless brought joy to the many school friends that I had; Chinese, Indian, Punjabi, Bengali and Eurasian friends. Sabah and Sarawak was then unknown to us. These are still the very good friends that I frequently meet during our alumni function. That was the spirit of yesteryears that carried on to this day where race and religion wasn’t an issue; rather we acknowledged our racial and religious difference, but there was deep respect for one another.
When I joined the army cadet in 1965, we had an almost equal number of Malays and non Malays in my intake, and our racial and religious difference wasn’t in any way a hindrance throughout our training. We worked, played, eat and slept together and again our racial and religious difference had no part in determining our final commissioning as officers of the Armed Forces. The top cadet of my intake was a Eurasian from Singapore who also became the parade commander during the commissioning parade.
I was commissioned into the Royal Malay Regiment, and although the battalion was exclusively a Malay battalion, we somehow had a Chinese officer as the battalion paymaster. Being from Ipoh, he could only marshal a few words of Malay, but that did not hinder his work. After several months in the battalion, he began to master the Malay language devoid of the Ipoh Chinese accent. To all officers and men of the battalion, he was no different from us, and we even called him by a Malay name. He even had a Malay baju and a songkok that he wore at dinner.
Besides a Chinese paymaster, we also had an Indian Medical Officer who was on a compulsory one year stint with the Armed Forces. Upon completion of the compulsory service, we had a Punjabi Medical Officer and like the Chinese paymaster before him, he got along very well with the Malay officers and soldiers. There were no race and religious distinction and inhibitions.
And throughout my years in the Army, I have been working alongside my non Malay compatriots, and again our racial and religious difference, and my Malay status does not make me any different from them. I had even served under a non Malay superior officer, and my loyalty towards him as my superior is no less than any other Malay superior officer that I had served with. I only know that he is to be respected and obeyed, and regardless of my Malay status, my loyalty towards my non Malay superior is not to be questioned.
Now in my age of retirement, I begin to hear issues of race and religion taking center stage in almost every aspect of our daily lives. A new form of race identification and slogans keeps appearing almost on a daily basis in the mainstream media i.e.…………1 Bumi, 1 Malay, 1 Malaysia, Ketuanan Melayu, and God knows what. And having gone through years of friendship with people of the other race and religion, I begin to wonder what all this slogans really mean.
Let me be honest and straight in my personal views about all this sloganeering and race identification. I do not believe in the superiority of one race over another. I believe my religion Islam is for the whole of mankind, and it is not the privilege of any one particular human race. The difference in race, creed, colour, status, religion and belief is Allah’s will and creation. But despite these differences, Allah wills that the human race is to live in peace with one another.
But differences in political ideals have divided the human race, and this is clearly seen happening in our own country today. Power has corrupted the minds of people, and the fear of losing power as well as their personal wealth, has made people to ignore Allah’s will that the human race is to live in peace with one another……………hence we have all the sloganeering brought about by people who fears the loss of power. They are quick to lay blame upon others for their failures, but seek to absolve themselves of the blame.
As a result of differing political ideals, unity within a particular race takes a serious toll. The Malays are more divided now than ever before. Similarly, it is with the Chinese and the Indians. But of the three major races in this country, I think the Malays have been so fractionized that it is seen beyond redemption. PAS does not see UMNO as being the defender of the Malay race, let alone to be recognized as a good practitioner of the Islamic faith. Likewise, UMNO accuses PAS of being too rigid in the practice and furtherance of the Islamic faith that it has caused serious concerns among the other races.
Now, there is an attempt by concerned parties to unite the fractionized Malays. PM Najib has been quite open to the idea, but I think the reason he gave to invite PAS into ‘UMNO’s fold’ lacks sincerity. He sees DAP as the ‘devil’, but devils are in every facet of the human life, and UMNO Malays are no exception.
Having had the best of my formative years, and the many close non Malay friends that I had nurtured, I wonder if ever there will be unity among the various Malaysian races, and more so among the Malays today. A disunited Malay can be a reason and a cause of a disunited Malaysian society.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION