[Aliran published an edited version.]
Ban two words: ‘Malay’ and ‘Chinese’, from electoral and political campaigns. All sides may then play the same fair game and stop accusing each other of playing race cards.
Feeling lost? The difficulty is completely conceivable, given such a tradition and norm. How can our electoral campaigns ever do without these words?
Yes, we can. Here is a cookbook step-by-step guide:
– For every would-be occurrence of either the ‘Malay’ or ‘Chinese’ word, try replacing that word with ‘Malaysian’.
– If the message makes sense still, say it loud and clear, proclaim it to the ends of the earth. We strive to achieve that with all our might.
– In case the sentence no longer makes sense upon substitution (e.g. ‘Chinese deserve more than Malays’ upon substitution becomes ‘Malaysians deserve more than Malaysians’), that means the sentence was pitting Malaysians against Malaysians. Drop it.
– In case the message turns into something which happens to be the last thing you’d like to do (e.g. ‘I pledge to fight for the supremacy of Malays’ upon substitution becomes ‘I pledge to fight for the supremacy of Malaysians’), that means the message was racially discriminating. Drop that.
– In case every sentence and every paragraph had to be dropped by the above criteria and we are left with nothing, great. That’s what we need. Let us start afresh and chart what’s best for the nation.
The M-word and C-word suffered so much overuse and abuse that both have inadvertently become more lethal and toxic than the F-word. Sadly that is how we dishonoured our joint heritage.
Individuals should reconsider their role. What do I achieve by sharing and liking each Facebook and Whatsapp post propagating such sentiments? What sort of society am I trying to shape? What ideas am I trying to drill into young minds?
The media should reconsider their role. What do they achieve by propagating each suggestion in their publication? What society are they shaping? What ideas are they drilling into young minds?
Free speech doesn’t mean I can say whatever I like. Free press doesn’t mean I have the right to know anything and everything. Democracy doesn’t mean every decision must be based on consensus.
Free speech, free press and democracy hang on our awareness and acknowledgement that we are all part of a larger whole.