Excuse Me, So You're Malay?

Was on the plane today for our yearly trip home to visit the in-laws. Yes, Penang-Kuching.
Sat next to Leslie, a German girl who was travelling solo in Malaysia.
Started talking midway during our 1 hour 45 minute flight when she saw me snapping photos of the clouds. Now you know why I love window seats. (We didn’t really get witness a proper sunset today. Sigh!)
When we got talking, she told me and Nic that she marvelled at the way Malaysians live together, all different people, all different cultures.
It was that one thing that captivated her.
Our ability to live harmoniously. Our ability to accept and celebrate each other’s cultures.
She said she missed Thaipusam but she noticed Chinese women wearing sarees and joining the festival.
She loved our true incredible fusion of cultures – like the Baba Nyonya of Melaka.
She was terribly amused how she saw strawberries in the supermarket (she was looking for local fruits) and how locals went agog over them when she took a trip up to Cameron Highlands. “Come visit our strawberry farms!” She was told over and over.
She thought everything was cheap except the beers. ๐Ÿ˜‰
But more than that, her words gave a deeper meaning to what we’ve taken as fluff. As pure marketing by Tourism Malaysia.
Malaysia really is such a unique country, where we are Asians with different cultures yet we can come together to share our festivals. No other place can we find such diversity, such colours of life. And yet we spend time bickering. I still can’t get over the fact that our politicians are STILL talking about us being ‘pendatang’.
Like I was telling Nic, without our hardworking Chinese forefathers, what Malaysia can we speak of? If not for Yap Ah Loy, do we even have a Muddy Estuary to brag about? If not for the Indians brought in to work the estates and build roads, do we even have our roads and highways?
So think about this. Malaysia is built by everyone, who rightly contributed their share.
If not for divisive politics bent on creating artificial boundaries and hates, we’d really be like the Sarawakians here in Sarawak. I used to think they were ignorant of real politics but they’re really the best personification of what Malaysia used to be.
In Kuching, you can see how being Malay-Muslim or Chinese-Taoist or Native-Christian does not matter. They all share the same kopi-tiam table, each respecting one another yet being able to eat at the same table is something you’d never see in Penang. That’s true muhibbah for you. That’s more bloody 1Malaysia than any stupid sloganeering.
Leslie funnily noted, if she’s born in America, she’s American. If she’s born in Germany, she’s German.
“And if you’re born in Malaysia, you’re Malay, right?”
Nic and I looked at each other.
We were too stumped to answer!

6 thoughts on “Excuse Me, So You're Malay?”

    • U-Jean: Ya, funny in an odd eye-rolling way. I had that same feeling with Leslie proclaimed us as Malays. On one end, yes, it should logically sound all right but then it doesn’t!

    • UnkaLeong – me too. I am still proud to be Malaysian. I cannot identify with being China Chinese and I really don’t want to. I don’t want to emigrate and take the easy way out. I know plenty of people who hate being in Malaysia and cannot wait to get their PR and cabut lari. But I think that is such a cop-out. If you wanna win, you have to stay and win the battle. It may take sometime, it may take a lot of pulling, pushing, tugging but I’m ever hopeful that one day, we will never need to fill in the RACE column in official forms. Gong Hei Fatt Choy to you…. and cool bachelor pad too! Come up to Penang and we can do laksa.


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