Citizen Nades - All it took was 24 hours

FRIDAY was not exactly a bad day in the office. Having completed some outstanding work, I cleared and replied my email; surfed a few news portals and read the newspapers. Then, I decided to "tell it as it is" in my posting on social media.

"I HAVE just completed reading four English newspapers. All of them had 'feel good' stories on unity, perpaduan, sacrifices, etc. Every description was used to describe the country, its people and the government. There were messages from 'leaders' advocating openness, unity and working together as Malaysians. Wonderful. Happy Malaysia Day ... but wait.

"Next week or even tomorrow, all these niceties will come to an end. Words and phrase like 'pendatang', 'kafir', 'anak keling' or 'apa lagi Cina mahu?' will occupy the vacuum left by the Malaysia Day messages.

"So, what is the significance of Malaysia Day when Sarawak and Sabah continually ban fellow Malaysians to their states?"

Had I spoken too soon? Then I read a Bernama report that five multiracial Malaysian youths who call themselves "Colour of Voices" (COV) are using music as a platform for uniting multiracial and multi-religious communities in Malaysia.

One of them, Asnal Nashriq Khirrudin, from Gombak, said COV often injected the 1Malaysia spirit into their music with the hope of fostering unity among Malaysians.

Then, there was a poignant letter from Dharm Navaratnam who talked about children who choose not to see their differences, but rather to celebrate them. They embrace their differences and they learn from their differences and in turn become better people in doing so.

Yet, he lamented that the government insists on making us fill out forms that requires us to tick our ethnic background, based on Malay, Chinese, Indian and Others.

"At the same time, we hear speeches espousing and extolling the virtues of 1Malaysia and how Malaysians need to come together as one to create a more prosperous nation.

"How are we supposed to be 1Malaysia when the major political parties are built along racial lines and each one claims to defend the rights of each particular race but seems to forget the bigger picture of Malaysia? The much, much larger picture of serving Malaysians!"

Then came the bombshell from Gerakan Youth's deputy chief, Andy Yong, who on Saturday told Malaysiakini that the proposed changes in the electoral boundaries reflect that the Election Commission has torn apart any remaining fiction about inter-ethnic harmony in Malaysia.

"The re-delineation is supposed to look at the composition of ethnic Malay, Indian, and Chinese, in short representing all Malaysians, instead of the domination of a single race," Yong said.

Former MCA president Tan Koon Swan reasoned that some Chinese may have migrated abroad due to unhappiness with the situation in Malaysia, but Tan thinks the community still has a bright future in the country.

He said while some Chinese believe they are mistreated by the government, or that there is no future for them in Malaysia, the reality is the opposite, he told Sin Chew.

In an interview with the Sin Chew Daily, the politician turned entrepreneur said although a number of large companies appeared to be controlled by other races, deeper analysis reveals that the Chinese still contribute 70% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). Yes, everything is seen through the blinkers of race – success, failure and even materialistic gain.

Doesn't anyone want to see success and failure through individual efforts, talent and entrepreneurship? What is wrong with us? Is this a true result of human infallibility?

Then there are satay sellers and ikan bakar stall operators who think it is their God-given right to represent and defend their race on the basis that "our superiority is being challenged". They threaten the peace and defy logic. They want to destroy whatever is left of sanctity in our beloved country.

On Saturday, I received this message from Dr S. Partheban, the president of Yayasan Kemajuan Rakyat Minoriti Malaysia, for some coverage as a memorandum is being handed over to the prime minister.

This is the difference 24 hours can make. One day, we are all talking about unity and good inter-ethnic relations and the next day, we are tearing each other with the same old rhetoric.

Is Malaysia Day for real? Are we embracing the principles of the founding fathers? Are we treating it as just another day added to the long list of public holidays that we have?

Why are our "leaders" so predictable? Is it because of the race-based party politics where one wants to outdo the other? Why is there this "threat" that one race or religion is "under siege" by the other? Who started this need to defend his race and religion by spewing hatred and contempt?

I don't have the answers but historians of the next generation will record how this country took a long and winding road to independence. Then they will tell us how it went on a free fall from the peak.

R. Nadeswaran makes no apologies for feeling gutted with the way the country is spiralling downwards – from being refined and cosmopolitan to rustic and bigoted. Comments: citizen-nades@thesundaily.com