Monday, May 25, 2009

Being Malaysian

I am a Malaysian by nationality, a Chinese by ethnicity. I belong to the 4th generation of Malaysian Chinese. I speak Hakka at home; I speak Cantonese and English to my mates; I speak Malay in court; I speak English at work.

At home, I have been raised with Chinese traditions. I celebrate Chinese New Year, Tomb Sweeping Festival, Mid Autumn Festival and even the “Dong Zhi (冬至)”, the day that signifies the arrival of winter, although Malaysia is a tropical country.

In faith, I am a Christian. I read the bible in English. I go for Sunday services, and I appreciate God’s messages that help to resolve various moral or existential issues in life.

At work, I am a corporate lawyer trained in the United Kingdom. I used to handle litigation matters in court in Malay language. After quitting litigation, I focused on corporate practice which required me to draft almost everything in English. Occasionally I had to assist my clients in drafting official letters in Malay.

Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Malaysian food is unique its own way, a harmonious fusion of multi-racial influences. I have “nasi lemak” (coconut rice) and “Nescafe tarik” (Malaysian-style coffee) in the morning; “char kway teow” (fried noodles) and Chinese tea for lunch; and roti canai (Indian-style pita bread) and teh tarik (Indian-style milk tea) for dinner.

When it comes to friendships, I am colour blind. I acknowledge our differences that make us special. Sometimes we laugh about the Malay’s laziness, the Chinese’s money face, and the Indian’s mouth. We also appreciate the Malay for being kind and thoughtful, the Chinese for working hard and the Indian for upholding justice. I have close friends from all races and religions. They all have helped me through all ups and downs of my life.

Malaysians, whatever ethnic groups we come from, are potentially the most adaptable people to take the title of “global citizens”. Way before the concept of globalization came into play. We speak multiple languages. We are exposed to a good diversity of cultures and background. We have learned to respect our racial differences and live in harmony, while ethnic cleansing takes place in other parts of the world. We are supposed to be special.

Our founding fathers were far-sighted to foresee this identity that makes us unique and united as a nation. Once upon a time, we even had a well-drafted constitution that upheld that vision - one nation, one Malaysian.

Unfortunately, it is all destroyed by one agenda within one decade.

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