In a recent interview, I was asked what steps we can take to promote ethnic harmony in our country. How can we cure ourselves from our racist tendencies? I suggested that if we want to ensure success we must tackle this problem at the various levels.
They are in order of importance, the individual, the family (home), pre-school, school, college & tertiary, the workplace and finally other organizations like interest groups, political parties and the government.
The first two are the most important starting points although the majority tends to focus on the final two. I say do what we can do first. In that way, slowly but surely things will get better.
So here are my suggestions for you to consider. As my idea is easily doable, please have a go at it. At the least it will make you feel good about yourself. Why? Because you know you are doing the right thing. You will be sending your children to a peaceful future as oppose to a possible bloodshed.
I call this simple method, “Ten good things you can tell your children about …” They are part of my experiences during my early socialization growing up in Penang. They are not exhaustive. Feel free to add value to the list.
Practice them over and over again. Drum them in and see the effects in a year or two.
Here we go in alphabetical order
Ten good things you can tell your children about the Chinese
1)They work hard and set high standards therefore they are rich.
2)They are good in business, therefore they are rich
3)Even when they are rich, they lead a simple life and many donate their money freely
4)They are good at saving money and know how to delay gratification.
5)They are a discipline lot. They eat dinner early; finish their schoolwork and study before watching the TV.
6)Chinese parents really care and are serious about education – they are willing to sell their property and move to a smaller home so that their children can be educated in a good college overseas
7)They share with us the joys of Gong Xi Fa Chai and gave us angpows
8)They respect their elders
9)When the rest of us were still poor it was the rich Chinese who pay taxes. With that money the government builds schools, hospitals, roads, etc benefiting everyone regardless of race.
10)And, they make the best Ais-kacang, Len Chi Kang and Penang Laksa!
Ten good things you can tell your children about the Eurasians
1)They are fun to be with, they sing, they dance and throw the best barbeques and parties
2)They make friends easily
3)They give freely, they like to share
4)They make good neighbors
5)They are always concern about others so they make real good teachers, nurses and social workers; always helping, helping, helping!
6)They speak English well, you can learn from them
7)They somehow always are able to see the positive side of life
8)Though marginalized they do not demand much like the rest of us
9)They share the joy of Christmas with you
10)They make the best nasi lemak ever!!!
Ten good things you can tell your children about the Indians
1)They make great company; never boring, always fun
2)They know how to laugh at themselves.
3)They are passionate people, especially the Punjabis.
4)They gave us the best danceable music
5)They do not complain much even when some of us are insensitive and serve beef during our functions
6)They truly respect and care for their parents and elders. There are always some old folks living with them.
7)They are hardy, strong, resilient and tough. They reach Mount Everest for us Malaysian
8)They share the joy of Deepavali with us
9)Without them we would have not being able to produce rubber and be the number one rubber producer for so many years
10)The introduce one of the most important food to us – the curry!
Ten good things you can tell your children about the Malays
1)They are gentle and peramah, the nicest people around
2)They make loyal, long time friends.
3)They will share with you everything that they have; their food, their wealth, their power and their land.
4)They are good neighbors, caring and sharing. Gotong royong is their middle name.
5)They are artistic, cultured and sensitive
6)They are willing to compromise. Their leaders lead not just their own race but also all Malaysians
7)They know how to relax
8)They are easily won over – give them half a chance to make peace, they will grab it. Always giving in.
9)They share with you the joys of Hari Raya Puasa
10)They make the best sambal belacan & sambal ikan kering & sambal petai in the world!
Ten good things you can tell your children about the Bidayuh
1)They respect the women and the elderly.
2)They like to ‘nyera’ which is a Bidayuh version of pot luck a lot with friends and family
3)Bidayuhs have really strong family ties
4)They are very caring about their neighbours; if the neighbors are drunk, they’ll let them sleep over at their houses!
5)They are willing to ‘gotong-royong’ when needed
6)They have very energetic kids and they are fun to play with
7)Their grandparents will spend time to tell epic stories on Bidayuh legends to their grandchildren
8)They are proud to dance the Bidayuh dance during Gawai Dayak
9)They play very good music
10) They make delicious 'pangkang' which is lemang in Malay.
Ten good things you can tell your children about the Kadazans
1) They have humble beginnings and strive hard to be better. Though they are rich, they still lead a simple life
2) Family and children are most important.
3) They respect the elders and will live with the old folks for as long as possible.
4) Parents are serious about their children’s education. They will go all out to ensure that their children are educated so that the children can have a better life.
5) They hold on to various ancestral traditions regardless of how modern the environment is – especially the ‘Kadazan-Dusun’ language.
6) They are good neighbours and are always concerned about the well being of others.
7) They always see the positive side of life.
8) They share with you the joys of the Harvest Festival especially the crowning of the ‘Harvest Festival Queen’.
9) They enjoy performing the ‘Sumazau’ dance during weddings and festivals.
10) They make the best tapai what we know as rice wine, bambangan or pickle, hinava or marinated raw fish and panasakan or steamed fish.
If you found many of the good things I suggested about the other ethnic groups similar to your own, don’t be alarmed. We are more similar then we think. We are One.
Anyway, I am going back to Penang this weekend to tell all these great things to my ten year old nephew, Erza.