(Un)Popular Opinion | Malaysia has long been viewed as a model country when it comes to multiple cultures, traditions, and peoples merging to form a rich societal tapestry. This is something Malaysians are extremely proud of, and rightly so.
Unfortunately, despite the seemingly harmonious façade, there are some who are gluttons for racism.
In a viral Facebook post (which has since been removed), a politician was caught using a derogatory remark against national shuttler S. Kisona, who was instrumental in bringing Malaysian into the semi-finals of the Sudirman Cup.
Unsurprisingly, it was widely condemned by everyone, ultimately compelling the offender to issue a public apology and resign from his position.
However, this then begs the question: why are Malaysians still drawn to racism after enjoying 64 years of peace and harmony?
There’s only one reason I can reasonably attribute it to: we were taught to fear and despise those who look different from us.
When I was a kid, I often wondered why I should be afraid of the darker-skinned and was frightened with the prospect of getting kidnapped by one of them if I misbehaved. I was also told on several occasions that individuals from a certain group are “lazy” and “untrustworthy”, always looking an easy way out in building a successful life.
Over the years, I began to believe portions of such toxic rhetoric and it became apparent in my body language. Whenever someone of that particular group stepped into the same public space as me, my heart would start racing and I’d clutch on to my belongings as if my life depended on it.
It wasn’t until I entered the workforce when I started to interact with those outside of my race and soon learnt the error of my ways.
I also realized that what I was told as a child was only a small fraction of a much larger picture – that not everyone is as terrifying or menacing as they’re thought out to be.
All of this goes to prove that racism isn’t something that’s ingrained into our DNA upon birth. Racism can only come alive if it’s taught and institutionalized.
We Malaysians have suffered the scourge of racism for far too long. And it’s time for us to put a stop to it by starting from ourselves.
If you’re still the younger and ignorant version of me, I highly recommend stepping out of your bubble and seeing others in a new light.
Talk to them. Even if you disagree, do so in a professional and calm manner. Yes, you’ll still encounter the occasional ‘bad apples’, but always remember that they don’t represent the entire group.
There are people out there who are genuinely working towards healing the fractures that have long ravaged the nation.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and does not purport to reflect the opinions or views of WeirdKaya.
Author: Sarah Yeoh