Saturday, August 29, 2009

When Merdeka Lost Its Meaning

Short note: I don't expect everyone to share the same thoughts with me on this but please, even if you disagree and wanna voice your opinions, be mindful and comment rationally, alright? Thank you.
It was such an irony.
I was gonna make an entry for Merdeka this year, only to come across a news yesterday which made me feel really sad. Sad because we are only a couple of days away from celebrating our country's 52nd Independence Day, yet a group of irrational people, I would say, protested after a state government decided to relocate an Indian temple to an area which has no more than forty Indian devotees, as the majority of the people from that area are Muslims. Protesting alone is still acceptable, but it is not a tolerable act anymore when you challenge and ridicule other religion and disregarding their sensitivity.
How would you feel when something which is regarded as a holy symbol of your religion is stepped on, spitted and kicked around like some empty cans by the street. It's even disturbing when I saw a few kids were there, together with the adults yelling and shouting as well. These kids will grow up one day, and if these values is what they are taught by their parents since young, I have doubts for our nation's future.
We are only one week into the holy month of Ramadhan. These group of protesters had just finished with their Friday prayers and this is what they did after the prayers. I will be the last person to be referred to on this matter, but I'm quite sure that fasting doesn't mean you only refrain from eating and drinking, but you have to be mindful about your speech and actions at the same time. Correct me if I'm wrong.
So, I wonder if this act is considered the right way to express your objections?
I have been living in a Chinese-majority housing area all these years, but of course there are several Malay and Indian families in this area. There isn't any mosque or Chinese temple here. However, there is an Indian temple right in front of my house. That is like less than 150 meters away. Every year without fail, there would be a period for about one week, when they would celebrate a festival.
During that period, the atmosphere of the place would turn it like it's having a festival. The devotees would chant through speakers all-night-long, ring the bells, parked their vehicles at every empty spaces found around the area, set up stalls along the road and hundreds of devotees will throng the temple. Yes, my Mom sometimes complain that these sound are noisy and she couldn't have a peaceful sleep.
Do we group together and raise our dissatisfaction on this? Do we take a cow's head and place it in front of the temple?
No, we don't.
Besides, what's the big deal with that? They are only performing their religious practices and can't we tolerate with that for once? The Chinese community has their own opera performances at temple occasionally, (illegal) firecrackers and lion dance performances during Chinese New Year, while you would hear the azan from the mosque by the Muslims every day.
However, aren't we taught to be tolerate and be sensitive to each other's needs in this colourful nation of ours?
Just a few days ago, I was chatting with my Muslim junior and somehow, the topic was about ghost, of so many topics. I'm not sure how we could end up chatting about that but now, I understand better that just like Chinese, Muslims believe that during the month of Ramadhan, the spirits will be released from the grave from torture. It is similar to the Chinese belief that during the seventh month of the lunar calender, the gate of the hell is opened and spirits are allowed to go around freely during this period.
It is through this kind of simple sharing sessions that we learn about other people's belief and at the same time, understand them better. To me, there is nothing wrong about learning about others' beliefs. Indirectly, we would make sure that we respect and do not look lightly on their religious importance. Talking about this, I think the short films by 15Malaysia is doing a great job in instilling a better understanding among Malaysians about some subjects that we rarely discuss openly. To be honest, I wasn't sure myself what is considered halal meat, until I watched the film 'Halal'.
Although I come from a Chinese background, I dare to say that during my schooling days, I mixed with my Malay and Indian friends as much as I do with Chinese friends. When I was in Form Five, my seat was surrounded by several Indians, a couple of Malays and a Sikh. Who doesn't know the likes of Pragash, Kalai, Ibrahim, Prem, Maniraj, Asyraf who sat around my table and we were considered one of the noisiest group in the class. The nearest Chinese dude that I can remember sat at least three tables away. Yet, we still crap like crazy, even making jokes about our races because we never took it seriously.
I guess it was even more beautiful forty or fifty years ago, during our grandparents' time. I think that's because these people in the olden days didn't think too much and bad thoughts about other races never crossed their minds. They just led a happy-go-lucky daily lives with their friends.
I would love to quote one of Pinksterz lines from her Merdeka entry; "The different is, my friend and I both actually gave each other a chance to actually get to know each other. If others just do the same, I am sure there will be no more "baik tolong bangsa sendiri" or "better help our own people" talk." One best example (take note that this is just an example) would be when there's an road accident. Lets say it was a few Indians who were involved in that accident. Some Malays will just say, "Aiyah, biar dia mampos-lah". As for the Chinese, they would be more interested to stop by not to help the poor victims, but to look at the plate number of the vehicles. Yes, apparently, four-digits numbers are more important to them.
This is not a seditious statement, but this is the everyday reality you know it yourself, don't you. And it is really saddening because these things are something almost unimaginable some fifty years ago.
However, I'm not saying that it refers to every individual in that particular races. Just because of a few rotten apples, we should never stereotype any races, because not every Aborigines are illiterate, not every Indian drink, not every Chinese gamble and not every Malay is lazy. Problems often crops up because we emphasis too much on our differences. It is still not to late for us to put our differences away, and see each other as once race.
Selamat Hari Merdeka!


Unknown said...

Nice article Calvin, thumbs up! Ah, I missed those crazy times we all had during secondary schools years..

ns29 said...

nice one.
looking at tv showing how US had a lot of fights among their different skin colors residents, just be glad that we only had one big fight many year ago.
just nvr want to see that happen anymore.

Anonymous said...

good one, i didn't know the temple one was actually so serious

Më| §zë said...

and deep...
i like what you have written..

came over from kae vin's blog, don't think he knows me though, as he's a friend of a friend..

Anonymous said...

its sad to see children involved in that incident..

Sheryl0202 said...

well written post!

calvin said...

@ alvin chen:
thanks for your comment. yeah, those were the times =D

calvin said...

@ ns29:
that kind of friction that leads to a fight can happen anytime; it can be today or tomorrow. i guess it is our responsibility to ensure that it will never happen again.

calvin said...

@ jg:
i first got to know it when my dad mentioned to us, and i read the news with sadness; how some quarters could get so low with their actions =\

calvin said...

@ Më| §zë:
hi, nice to see you dropping by =)
i think my writing isn't as deep as what you read from the mainstream though ;)

calvin said...

@ chubbypenguin:
yup, i've seen that video before and i believe parents play a really important role on how their kids would behave once they grow up.

calvin said...

@ sheryl0202:
thanks =)

Ken Wooi said...

nice one.. i agree with you.. somehow merdeka is not meaningful anymore.. with projects like 1malaysia and so on.. i also dont get their prupose.. hmm.. =)

calvin said...

@ kenwooi:
well, i guess it's up to the rakyat, not the people up there who decide whether or not merdeka still has its significance; and we hope that it would get better from now =)

mafiqam said...

Kesimpulannya, toleransi itu penting, kan? :-D

calvin said...

@ mafiqam:
betul, dan sensitif terhadap keperluan orang lain pada setiap masa =)