Sunday, 7 December 2008

Di mana bumi ku pijak


(My apologies to Malaysiakini for "stealing" the post -

I just thought that that it was a fantastic article. It will be removed if required.


Helen Ang | Dec 4, 08 10:57am

1. Mukhriz Mahathir is not retracting his statement on vernacular schools

He should visit the national schools during recess and see how pupils sit in their own racial groups while eating in the canteen. He should drop by after school hours and see the kids play within their own racial groups when waiting for the bus or to be fetched home. He should meet with the PTAs or read in the news, or in blogs how teachers in national schools bully and victimise Indian children.

Racism and religious supremacy is becoming endemic in national schools. Therefore putting all the kids under one roof will not solve what’s in essence a problem of communal politics.

(I hope that the Malaysiakini editors will excuse me for writing in point form as I’m time-constrained by other deadlines this week.)

2. Mukhriz may be guilty of posturing but he is nonetheless echoing a genuine sentiment and outlook of the Malay grassroots.

3. Chinese on the other hand will ‘riot’ if ever mother tongue instruction was to be withdrawn. An integrated system of education could have been implemented at an earlier point in time but this is water under the bridge; the boat has left the harbour and sailed too far to turn back now.

4. Behind the talk about our segregated education streams is the issue of primacy of language. To look at it negatively, the Malays are suspicious when the minority polyglots are one-up in language command. They feel threatened when they do not understand the ‘code’, or in other words, Chinese dialects. It gives rise to a fear the Chinese will plot among ourselves, colluding to cheat and take advantage of them.

5. To look at it positively, proponents of ‘Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa’ see the national language as a unifying factor and the axis of nation-building. They want and expect every citizen of this country to be able to speak passable Malay. I think it’s a reasonable demand. English may be the international language, Chinese a useful commercial language, but for Bangsa Malaysia to happen, it has to be Malay first in the public domain, just as Thai and Bahasa Indonesia are to our neighbours.

6. How is it foreign workers, like Bangladeshis, speak Malay better than some Malaysian Chinese? They’ve learned the language from necessity and in the spirit of accommodation.

That the Chinese do not speak Malay as a lingua franca, I can only attribute to lack of acceptance and there being no pressing need; allow me specify the aspect ‘speak’ because any Chinese sitting the PMR or SPM exams submits his answer script in the national language though still unable to converse with ease in Malay.

7. If the minorities find that they can get by in their daily living without much requirement to speak Malay, it goes to show the separate lives led by our different communities.

8. And let’s be honest. If you’re Chinese and your friend’s daughter or son knows Japanese or French, you’d be impressed. If you’re Malay, and you cringe at your fellow citizens’ lack of fluency in the national language, what would you be thinking? That the minorities, though their forebears were granted the right of abode here, look up to foreign languages but look down on your language.

9. Malay is a mature and refined language. There is no reason why it cannot and should not be given its due respect as the medium of communication and learning.

10. What rubbish is the teaching Maths and Science in English? On this, I’m behind the Malay and Chinese educationists who have vehemently objected to the language switch, and I endorse the rationale they’ve put forward.

Sikit-sikit ‘sedition’

11. To me, DAP Socialist Youth (Dapsy) has gone overboard in making a police report on Mukhriz. If we do not want Umno to make police reports at the drop of a hat, why is the federal opposition following the same modus operandi? Malaysiakini said that yesterday the Dapsy delegation was refused entry to the Penang Patani Road police station – which is rather rib-tickling. Given the police attitude, I wouldn’t be surprised if the clerk folded a paper plane out of Dapsy’s complaint.

12. And what’s with the screaming of ‘sedition’? Mukhriz, like Ahmad Ismail, voiced his opinion. Others share their views. So? Deal with it. Don’t throw the book at them.

If this cannot say, that cannot say, and the Chinese political parties fuss about Mukhriz and Ahmad, the Malay political parties fuss over Karpal Singh and Teresa Kok, then the grievances instead of ironed out will be merely swept under the carpet. Our carpet has gathered so much dust that to lift a corner would surely give folks from Gong Badak to Pasir Salak a collective big sneeze. The much hoped for reform deriving from March 8 should also mean liberalising constructive dialogue. Yes?

13. In this Mukhriz episode, I can only roll my eyes at the antics of DAP, MCA and PKR. Why are they so predictable in getting all agitated? Can’t they see where their responses and rhetoric are unacceptable to Malays?

14. Perhaps those who have not ventured beyond Ipoh, Johor Baru or George Town cannot fathom why this land was called Tanah Melayu. But when I sit on a log outside a cattle pen surrounded by coconut trees under a starry sky in Terengganu, I can. The flora and fauna here have had Malay names for centuries; rivers and mountains too. Whenever I drive in the East Coast, I do feel like I’m in Tanah Melayu and it is a heart-wrenchingly beautiful land.

15. Naming is an act of claiming. We have had Malay civilisation – thus rendering the Malays indigenous although there are other influences; the place name Taiping, for instance, has a Chinese root.

16. About Malay Sovereignty: Unless there are some who mistake Malaysia for a republic, accept that we live in a constitutional monarchy. Therefore, we are subjects of the Malay Sultans, and in states without the sultanate, the Yang Di Pertuan Agong is our king (and king to every Malaysian). The (note emphasis) ‘Malay’ monarchs are the sovereigns we have pledged loyalty to by virtue of our citizenship.

17. The national language is Malay. The religion of the federation is Islam – the faith adhered to by the Malay. The national flag bears the crescent which symbolises Islam. The basis of custom in this country is Malay; for the globalised generation, maybe add budaya baru McDonalds. Yet it seems to me some of the non-Malay politicians – who had previously been concubines to Malay Supremacy and presently Umno’s querulous, unwanted mistresses – fail to acknowledge this concept of Malay Sovereignty.

18. It particularly irks me to hear MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong respond to Mukhriz, claiming “language alone cannot be deemed as a main factor for national unity”. My dear sir, since minorities are not of the religion of the Federation nor practise much of the majoritarian customs, then language is indeed the central pillar though not ‘alone’ it (as you point out). What other commonality to hold us together, pray tell? Teh tarik?

19. And if some Umno politicians appear willing to reinterpret Malay Supremacy as Malay Sovereignty, then consider that we’ve moved a step forward. Anwar Ibrahim introducing ‘Ketuanan Rakyat’ into the political lexicon is two steps forward. However, Mukhriz’s suggestion, especially coupled with retaining his father’s bad idea of Maths and Science in English, is no pragmatic solution to the polarisation of society.

20. Country first, di sini langit ku junjung.