THE blend and mix we have in our people in Malaysia is so perfectly unique that it serves our purpose in a great many ways. From food to clothing to places of worship and the rich culture we have sustained makes us truly different, unfathomable and unimaginable by outsiders who have not experienced or seen such an assortment.
During Ramadan, it is a month-long festivity seen in pockets where stalls colourfully and bountifully line the streets peddling edibles with queues at some stalls stretching patience but never wearing it thin. It is not surprising anymore that it is not just the Muslims who make a beeline for the stalls. Let’s face it, Malaysians have this fad for food and Ramadan is a reason where we all rush and grab our favourite and some of them make only seasonal appearance complete with the festive embellishments.
Not wanting to miss out, I was one of those who did what everyone else did and came home some evenings with a collection to whet the glorious appetite.
Right from a week before Raya, the numbers in the office started dwindling and again, thankfully, with the racial balance of staff we have we were able to keep the work going.
Just like Raya, for every festive season there is a reason for us to be grateful that we will have food and the service industry open through the holidays. We were visiting Ipoh on the first and second days of Raya and the Indian and Chinese restaurants were open, saving us from starvation.
If we remember, some two years ago, during his maiden visit to Malaysia, Britain’s Prince Charles expressed his fascination with the country’s cultural heritage and racial diversity. Commenting specifically on the rich cultural, religious and racial diversity, he said it is something to be both cherished and celebrated and indeed it is.
While most of us understand that we are lucky to be living in harmony, many more are using it as a weapon to create racial disintegration and I am unapologetic when I say politicians often play the racial card for their benefit. This, I suppose, is common just about anywhere around the world and we have seen nations going to war for the silliest and strangest of excuses.
Back to the festive scene, as we were travelling on the highway, I realised how we have grown accustomed to playing the game of “supply and demand” to ensure the highways are optimised at various times. When the Muslims were celebrating on the first day of Raya, we saw many non-Muslims hitting the highways on sojourns, short enough and without interfering with the Raya movement of traffic on the third and fourth days.
Having said that despite the safety advisories and strict road rules imposed, road accidents seem to be an unwanted feature of the festive season.
Since the launch of Ops Selamat 15 in conjunction with the balik kampung exodus, 176 people had died (as of Saturday) in road accidents nationwide.
The traffic safety police operation recorded 23,263 vehicles involved in crashes since its launch on May 29.
Most of the accidents occurred in Selangor, Johor and Kuala Lumpur, with these areas chalking up the highest number of traffic summonses. Falling asleep on the wheel and speeding are reported to be the two main causes of festive road accidents.
Annually we see this shocking trend and yet with the latest of technology and dedicated and focused enforcement we are unable to bring the numbers down. Something for the government to think about seriously.
With this, let us stay united as Malaysians, rising above mediocrity, incinerating racial negativities and not getting tangled in political crossfires.