Friday, June 15, 2012

To the finish line

What does race matter? The color of our skin is only but the result of millennia of evolution from our origin out of Africa. Without contact with one another, this idea of racial differences is reinforced until it reached its zenith in the nineteenth century when the idea of a ‘Master Race’ was presented to the trepidation of non-whites. Why then does Malaysia continue stressing this concept that could never be scientifically proven in the first place?

We talk about globalization, about being a country that is ‘Truly Asia’, and of a 1Malaysia, yet there is a deeper division that if never solved, will forever be a hindrance to what we could only aspire to be as a nation.

Truthfully, I am annoyed by the fact that Malaysians are divided by race. We are classified and pigeonholed the second we were born into this world—in fact, it more than often happened before we were even conceived. Unfortunately, the problem arises for those who are the result of a biracial marriage. How disheartening it must be for them having to put a check next to lain-lain just because they are considered neither one nor the other.

On the other hand, a newborn of at least one Malay parent would automatically be considered a Malay for it is inane to do otherwise considering all the benefits that come with being a Malay in Malaysia. But that’s not fair. Those children are of mixed heritage, so why aren’t they officially acknowledged as so?

According to the constitution, a Malay is a person who practices Islam, practices Malay customs, and speaks Bahasa Melayu. Therefore, I guess, if a person fulfills all three criteria, and associates with being Malay, then he or she should not be denied the right to be called one.

My vexation however is with those who are obviously of mixed parentage, but are more conservative in their views regarding race relation. To put it bluntly, I have a problem with those who have at least one non-Malay parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent yet talk lowly of other races; basically, I find it ironic for them to speak about protecting Malay privileges when they themselves are not 100% Malay!

Nonetheless, I am not insinuating that a person with two Malay parents can raise a keris and call the rest as pendatangs, but it is more sickening when the former group of people I discussed fail to realize that being Malay for them is a choice, not a fact. Thus show some respect to the people of your own ancestors’.

When talking about race, Muslims love to quote this from the Quran: 

Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that ye might come to know each other. The noblest among you in God’s sight is that one of you who best performs his duty. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware (49:13).

Today, I would like to add another quote from the Quran which I find fitting and inspiring: 

O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah for Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do (5:8)

My blood truly boils every time someone uttered things to the effect of alienating another race just because they are not Malays. For example, when people say, “Don’t go to that store because it is owned by a Chinese,” I have to physically restrain myself from throwing a punch. So what if it is owned by a Chinese? If they sell basically the same things as the next store, but offer them at a better price, why deny them their rezeki? Or just because it is by a Chinese manufacturer, that doesn’t necessarily make the product haram (unless stated in the ingredient). Allah says be fair; so how is it fair that you make your choices based on the person behind the counter? How is it fair that the Malay grocer who provides horrible service keeps getting customers just by the color of his skin? That is not fair to  you who have to bear with his impudence; that is not fair to the Indian grocer next store who greets you with a smile and better options; most importantly, that is not fair to the Malay grocer for he will never learn to improve himself.

If race becomes obsolete, we would all be judged by our actions, our merits, and our virtues. How is that a bad thing?