Child-Like Malaysians

By batsman

Children tend to think in terms of black and white and dislike the effort of differentiating the shades of grey. This allows them to function at the basic level efficiently, but without fully developed conscience.

Children’s taste in food in general is quite simple – slightly salty, very sweet and rich. This allows them to grow fast and if uncontrolled – nauseatingly obese. Unfortunately for many people, these tastes are carried into adulthood which makes adult obesity, heart disease and diabetes sickeningly common. 

In terms of thinking ability, the same phenomenon can be observed. Children tend to think in terms of black and white and dislike the effort of differentiating the shades of grey. This allows them to function at the basic level efficiently, but without fully developed conscience. Unfortunately in spite of numerous complaints, our education system cannot go beyond this basic level and cannot spur our children to handle complex thought and creativity. This has the sad consequence of quite a few Malaysians being unable to handle the complications of adulthood and complex thought, not to mention nationhood. Following the arguments further, it can be seen that this is no accident and the Malaysian education system has been purposely designed to breed mediocrity. 

Curiously this may mean that the PR is facing an uphill struggle in terms of creative thinking ability since there are probably more foreign-educated leaders among the BN than the PR. The fact that people in the PR try at all means that quite a few Malaysians are able to escape the mediocrity the Malaysian education system imposes upon them. 

As an example of mediocrity, when discussing multiculturalism and assimilation, the first thing that springs to some minds with regard to assimilation or absorption is that it is mandatory for the nons to embrace Islam, speak Malay, dress as Malays, eat Malay food, wiggle and dance and what not like Malays etc. After 52 years of UMNO rule, quite a few people on both sides of the divide think like this. They no longer know how to feel pride without being pushy or offensive or feel humility without being servile. After 52 years of UMNO rule, they have been drafted as zombie soldiers of UMNO and MCA proudly shouting their baby poo in these columns and actually without knowing any better. 

Sadly most of these people have not thought through in their mind’s eye, what forms of assimilation are possible in a win-win situation. The only possibilities they can imagine are win-lose ones. Even sadder still is that few others think anything of educating these persons or even distancing themselves from such baby poo by the simple expedient of stating so in these columns. 

Of course, not all Malaysians are so simple and basic. Some pretend intelligence by putting all the blame on the politicians and the leaders –  it is the politicians who put us all in this mess; as if these politicians are not elected and crudely supported by legions of zombie soldiers of the simplest kind. At this one stroke, we can all go to sleep and only wake up during the 13th GE and vote for good leaders and politicians using all the wisdom and good judgment that our education system has so kindly imparted to us. 

Some are even more creative and show greater ability to handle complex thought. They loudly proclaim that mutual respect and not demand for respect is all that is needed, conveniently forgetting that only recently their kind have been complaining bitterly that one strand of UMNO thinking boils down to “if you respect me, look after the feelings of UMNO members and kow-tow to me, that is considered mutual respect”. After 52 years of UMNO rule, they copy exactly the same and claim that if the people of the other races respect my race, look after the feelings of my race and kow-tow to my race’s superiority in commerce, finance, mathematics and technology, everything will be OK. 

There are of course the ones who think in terms of “us and them” in its multi-variegated forms. “The Chinese do not care to integrate because the Malays will not accept them anyway, 55% of Chinese think of themselves as Malaysians first while only 24% of Malays do, how to erase my memory of 1969?, etc, etc ”. These types of thinking are actually more difficult to handle. 

As long as people are forcible isolated into or even voluntarily cling together in communal slums and neighbourhoods, some aspects of racism are difficult to address. As long as people are pressured or forced out from single race neighbourhoods because of their race, some aspects of racism are difficult to address. 

When Chinese feel uneasy if they see a Chinese mixing well with Malays or Malays feel betrayed if they see a Malay championing a cause which is linked to the Chinese in some way, some aspects of racism will be difficult to address. This is why it is a long term problem. 

However, things are beginning to change. Since the 12th GE, when a Chinese is seen mixing well with Malays, other Chinese need no longer feel uneasy because it no longer automatically means MCA member sucking up to UMNO – it could mean PAS supporter mixing well with PAS members or PKR members having a good laugh. 

When a Malay champions a cause that is linked to the Chinese in some way, it could just mean that justice is being championed, not racist causes. 

Strangely, the westerners may not think the above mentioned problems are difficult to solve at all. They will approach it in the most direct and confrontational way. Asians on the other hand like the “educational” or softly-softly approach. It is arguable which approach is best for us. 

Whatever the solution or approach, positive changes have to be taken advantage of. Sticking to the old paradigms mean supporting UMNO rule and the politics of Divide and Rule. And taking advantage of positive changes partly mean speaking out and rejecting the old paradigms when they try to force their way back into our sub-conscious. 

Too much of the “softly-softly” approach means silence, but too loud and too childishly unthinking protests also goes against the grain of Asian cultures and may risk rejection. Sigh! It looks like we have some ways to go still.