Monday, 11 January 2010


These past few days, I can say without reservation that I am embarrassed, and more than that, ashamed of being a citizen of this country. That country whose name is printed on my passport, Identity Card and other documents I uphold without pride.

The spate of attacks on churches and schools around our country have made me truly sad to be Malaysian, not only because they are inherently objectionable in their use of violence but because of what they say about us and our society.

It says that we do not respect the rule of law, or respect it only when it meets our needs. This is a mindset that is prevalent among many Malaysians on every level of soceity: the courts, the legal system, the law and enacted regulations, democracy and its institutions are only to be followed or respected when their outcomes and effects fit our personal ends. Otherwise, we take things into our own hands.

It says we cannot talk, but must fight. We cannot use civil, rational, reasonable discourse and debate to voice our grievances and settle conflicts. We must use Molotov cocktails, bombs, clubs, terror, intimidation and crime to "solve" problems. How does this solve problems? When one party succumbs to fear and prosecution and simply gives in.

It says we are base, we are cowardly, we are impulsive, given to anger and hate. It says we cannot think for ourselves. It says peace is only to be maintained when things go our way.

It says our talk and empty boasting of national and inter-racial/religious harmony, tolerance, understanding, equality and peace is at best shallow and at worse utter lies and deceit, even self-deceit.

And yes, I generalise with 'us' and 'we'. You may say, "I do not agree to what they do". You may say, "I am a Christian, this is in fact an attack against my faith". You may say, "I am a Buddhist. I never use violence." You may say, "I am not religious, this does not concern me." But you should feel ashamed all the same. Indeed, these actions have been perpetrated by a small minority, but remember that they are our fellow Malaysians, however despicable their actions and however much we disagree with their methods. Do not say they are not one of us. The mere fact that they can do this means as a collective, we have failed in educating and socialising them with our supposed shared values of peace and respect.

Yes, as a Christian, I am upset. But I would be equally upset even if I were a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Taoist, a Baha'i practitioner, an agnostic or atheist, because I don't need to be of any particular faith to know that violence and terror is not the answer to disagreements, and that respect and observance for the rule of law should cut across all countrymen, irrespective of creed or wealth or ethnicity. When such acts are done by our fellow Malaysians, you don't have to be religious to know it can only bring shame and disrepute to us as members of the same community.

Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, CNN, BBC: practically every major news network and syndicate has picked up on this. We ought to feel utterly embarrassed that our country makes headlines this way. If such a trend continues, it will turn away foreign investors. Yes, you may say that the large majority of this country lives in peace, but if you are not a long-time resident, would you know any better? Malaysia my second home? I don't think so.

Please, do not blame the government. Do not blame the politicians. Remember that the government is there because Malaysians voted them in. Even if we do not support them personally, their mandate is given within the system of governance which we uphold and live with. The responsibility to maintain peace in this country is not theirs alone. Do not blame the police. Do not blame "the Muslims" or "the Malays" or "the Catholics" or "the Christians" or "the far right" or "the extremists". Lets us start blaming ourselves.

Blame ourselves for letting things to even come to this. Blame ourselves for even allowing some of our children, friends, family members to think that doing such acts is an acceptable way of protest. Blame ourselves for not understanding each others' religions better. Blame ourselves for not opening up our own religions to others. Blame ourselves for not respecting people of other cultures and beliefs.

Every insult, insinuation, swear and scornful act you throw at someone for being black-skinned, for wearing the headscarf, for eating pork, for not eating meat or for going to his place of worship adds to a pervasive culture of mutual disrespect and distrust, which allows for people to start thinking that attempting such attacks is acceptable. Every stereotype you uphold and spread exacerbates this culture. Blame ourselves for being too proud to the point we become delusional.

Please, let us stop blaming others, and let us start changing our own thoughts and actions. Maybe it's time we stop telling the world (and ourselves) how wonderful our country is, and actually start to work on making it better.


Hamster said...

Of great concern to many foreigners is the deep seated hatred towards non Muslims in Malaysia.
The recent Christian church firebombings by Muslim extremist should be a warning sign to any foreigner that it's welcome is tentative.
If you are Muslim, the "My second home" program is something to consider.
If not...go at your own risk
In addition the growing unrest of ethnic Chinese and Indians, who constitute 40 percent of the population but are treated
differently by law from ethnic Malays is a reason for concern.
As long as the government carves out special privileges for Muslim Ethnic Malays I don't see a very bright future for foreigners in Malaysia
Think of a home as a 30 year investment Then ask yourself...when Malaysia gets to the point where it doens't need to rely on investment from "My Second Home" foreigners and a Malay wants the property your house sits on.....what then?? Could the government apply a new law that gives ethnic Malays first rights to property ownership over foreigners??
In 1970 about 150 american retirees bought beachfront property in Baja Mexico and built their dreamhomes. Later the legalclaim to the land they thought they had purchased legally was challenged and they ended up being evicted....they lost expensive lesson.
Compare that to the property laws in the United States where even illegal aliens can own and hold title to property just like US citizens. They may face deportation for their illegal alien status ...but nothing can jeopardize their rights as owners of property in the States. They can hold title, sell or will their property just like anyone else. Title insurance protects them against defective title and US law protects their rights to private property.
Making an investment in a home is a long term move and it would be wise for anyone considering moving to another country just for a lower cost of living to carefully evaluate the stability of the country, the level of corruption, religious and ethnic tolerance, and equal protection under the law.
Any one of those factors could end up costing you your investment

Joshy said...

Thank you for your comment. The sentence "Malaysia my second home? I don't think so" was just an petty sentence I used for dramatic effect, and I did not expect anyone to really comment on it. I thank you for doing so anyway.
Land law has never been my favourite subject at uni, and I'm afraid I cannot comment much on what you have just said viz. the situation in the US.

Nonetheless, I have to clarify that the point of my post was to ask all Malaysians to reflect on their OWN part is contributing to the violence we saw over the last week, rather than putting the blame on someone else.

Understand that just because you are Muslim, does not mean you will not be discriminated against in this country. Indian Muslims, Muslims from African countries and even Muslims from the Middle East are discriminated against both by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, due to skin colour, customs, and other reasons.

Also note that it is not just non-Muslims who are discriminated against. There is deep seated racism amongst all races against other races, which is something I feel we Malaysians need to own up to and deal with.

Thanks for your comments again.

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