By Johami Abdullah
In order to build a more democratic, just, equitable and united Malaysia it is high time for us to first think of ourselves as Malaysians again. Racism and religious extremism has no place in our nation. Like it or not, foreigners can see our Malaysian-ness. Malaysian Indians and Malaysian Chinese are radically different from their counterparts in India or China. So are Malaysian Malays when pitted against Indonesians or Pattani Malays.
Yes we are all as Malaysian as Cendol, Nasi Kandar, Char Kuay Teow, Mee Mamak or Mee Bandung. These foods are not available in India or China or Indonesia as they are uniquely Malaysian and developed over time by Malaysians together through unforced acculturation. Whether we agree or not, there is something distinctive about us Malaysians – our attitudes, spoken English (Manglish) as in Ai-te-yu ah meaning “I tell you ah” or the mild challenge Huset? (“ Who said so?”), culinary tastes in foods ( teh tarik, roti canai, thosai, pau, mee Hailam, cendol, Mamak mee), the cincai boh cai (“ take-it-easy”) attitude, body language, penchant for cheap things and a generally lackadaisical way of life. We still have the most number of religious public holidays anywhere in the world and as if that is not enough, we break into extended weekends at the slightest opportunity or festival.
We were already united Malaysians since the 1960’s days of Confrontation. Later on for example, when our multi-racial Malaysian team played against India at the World Hockey Cup in 1975, every Malaysian present including Malaysian Indians cheered heartily for our team. With such partisan backing, Malaysia managed to draw 2-2 with the hot favorites India who went on to be then champions at that tournament held for the first time in Malaysia. Such was our national spirit then. It was the same story when our Malaysian shuttlers faced China. I strongly believe that our patriotism it is still there and just needs to be revived and nurtured.