[Not the TTDI eaterie]

These past three weeks had been one hell of a ride for the lot of us. Recent events had led me to remain in KL (up to this very moment). I’ve done this before five years ago. Whether or not one was more difficult than the other is difficult to quantify.

Apart from the obvious lessons in life, and things that one learns about oneself (as one does during such times like these), these past three weeks also saw me playing the role of the man on the street more than usual. Sitting on the sidelines (read bus stop) and actually watch the people around me. Despite the polemics and political brouhaha you read in the news / on the net, I somewhat gave a sigh or relief that things are actually pretty (relatively) fine between all of us as Malaysians, in times when it matters most.

I remembered growing up having friends of various races, from my first ever birthday party in Ipoh attended by predominantly Chinese kids from the neighbourhood (two years post-Mei tiga belas) to schooling in Bangsar and PJ, only to be sent to a predominantly Malay boarding school just south of KL. Whilst my experience in the said school wasn’t akin to that of apartheid South Africa, I noticed how my four non-Malay friends in my batch were slowly assimilated, becoming as Malay as the best of us (interestingly, one of them is now a Muslim) by the time we left school. It may not be a bad thing (which totally depends on one’s point of view – a good example would be Kelantan Chinese) but to think at a tender age one is somewhat made to conform to a form of societal rule which does not really reflect that of the real world outside, I really wonder what went through their 13-year old minds then.

Assimilation is alive and well in this country, most commonly where there is a good mix. My dad’s Chinese colleagues (of the female variety) would wear baju kurung at work on occasions way back in the 70’s. My late mom’s non-Malay students at SMTTDI in the 90’s were fluent in Bahasa Malaysia sans accents.

It is when there is a lack of a mix, that you can see inherent racism raising its ugly head. Some people may see it as harmless, but without being overly-PC, inherent or not, racism is still racism. Period.

As a parting shot, I would like to recount what a friend meant when he said that only at a football match in Malaysia that one could best see racial harmony, of sorts. This expletive was shouted by a spectator of the same race as the player in question (think late 80’s):

“Woi, P M****m!!! Apa tu P? Pundek!”


What have I done, in the meantime, these past few weeks? Actually enjoyed a couple of reads. This (ini iklan tidak berbayar) and Ooi Kee Beng’s The Reluctant Politician. Both come highly recommended!