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By Mediha Mahmood
For those of you who know me or follow me on Twitter, you might notice that I spare no sympathy for the 1Malaysia cause. At the slightest provocation, I am ever-willing to share my views on why I think the 1Malaysia concept is a ridiculous one.
It's about time I put my views here on my blog.
Now please, bear in mind that I'm speaking on behalf of me here. Not the me who 'works in the industry governed by Rais Yatim'. Just me. I don't expect anyone to agree with me or applaud me for my thoughts. And I'm not getting all geared up to indulge in a debate with those of you who are great fans of the 1Malaysia concept. I'm just penning down my views for my own personal records and as a form of venting.
I understand the need of each Prime Minister to leave his mark on the nation. To carve out a place in history that signifies his leadership. Something to remember him by once he's gone.
We had Tun Mahathir's 'Wawasan 2020' and Tun Abdullah Badawi's 'Islam Hadhari'. Even Obama cheerily came up with his 'Yes, we can!' phrase (Though I think Bob the Builder beat him to it).
So now we have Najib Tun Razak and his '1Malaysia' thingamajig.
1Malaysia is a concept that attempts to 'formalize' the exisiting nature of Malaysians. A society comprised of multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural people, co-existing in harmony.
In other words, it is just putting a name on something that already exists.
If that was the end of it, I'd have no problems with it. But it's not. It's just the beginning.
I'm sure I can't be the only one to notice that it is only AFTER the 1Malaysia campaign, that we see increasing incidences reflecting racial tension, cultural confusion and general dissatisfaction.
The sudden usage of animal heads being thrown at places of worship.
The sudden mantras of 'Us Againsts Them'.
The sudden awareness of the color of our skin.
This is what you get when you highlight our differences.
I'm sorry, but that is essentially what 1Malaysia does. It highlights our differences.
You create slogans, pin the number '1' on your lapel, pose for pictures waving your forefinger like a weird salute, compose songs that revere our unity in the face of diversity.
Although your intention may be noble and your execution may be harmless (though very lame), the impact is clear.
You are inadvertently highlighting our differences.
You talk about how we're all in this together. We eat the same food, sing the same songs, fight the same enemies, share the same holidays, enjoy the same rights... Oh wait. That last bit isn't actually true, is it?
Some of us have 'special rights' and 'special privileges', don't we? There isn't REALLY a level playing ground, is there? We're not REALLY in this together, are we?
Some of us are being sidelined. You can call it whatever you want, justify it any way you want but at the end of the day, the fact remains that some of us are being sidelined. We don't get the same rights or the same privileges.
And so, listening to you happily singing about how 'we're all in this together' is rather patronizing to us.
You sing about equality but the truth remains that there is no equal playing ground.
The hypocrisy of this just begs a reaction.
And to me, that is what 1Malaysia has done to our country.
It has become a joke.
'Nasi Lemak 1Malaysia?'
The latter, by the way, in my honest opinion, has lost the 'batik' identity. If you take this shirt to the Western nations, I doubt they can recognize it as 'batik'. It's just a gaudy ol' brightly colored abstract shirt.
Seriously, it's a joke.
The Government sends out directives to companies and agencies to 'support the 1Malaysia campaign'.
Thus you see a flood of Public Service Announcements and commercial advertisements showcasing at least three (3) characters; the Malay, the Chinese and the Indian.
Thus, when you call some banks or shops, when you're put on hold, you no longer hear about their promotions, but you hear repeated strains of Roy singing "Satu Malaysia, Jadi Pegangan, Rukun Negara, Teras Panduan!"; the official 1Malaysia song.
Thus, you find corporations launching products and services with the number '1' prefixed before them. And you see the same number '1' on billboards, posters, magazines, newspapers, in many many versions and many many corporate colors.
What the Gomen tells you to do, you do.
So what if everyone is laughing at you.
And then to add insult to injury, my favourite Minister comes out with a statement saying that the Ministry's KPI on 1Malaysia has been achieved because 62% of Malaysians 'understand' the 1Malaysia Concept'.
How is an understanding of a concept of any real value?
People 'understand' the concept of murder and how it's illegal but people still kill people.
I 'understand' that gossip journalists are just doing their jobs but I still hate 'em.
Understanding a concept is a measurement for a national KPI? Seriously?
I could go on and on and on about this issue. I know I might come across as unpatriotic or disloyal to my country but I swear to you, I love my country.
I am proud to be a Malaysian. I was born, raised and 100% educated here.
My friends come from all races and I've never felt there was anything odd about our 'multi-racial' friendship. I never even noticed it. The actual concept of 1Malaysia has always been ingrained in all of us.
We don't need to have a competition to win a car for 'Nasi Lemak 1Malaysia' to bring us together. We don't need to wear the number '1' on our shirts to prove our love for our country. We don't need to greet each other with 'Salam 1Malaysia' to solidify our unity.
Enough already. Stop making us the brunt of jokes. And stop giving us fodder to create these jokes.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I've personally had enough.
"I know that my unity with all people cannot be destroyed by national boundaries and government orders" ~ Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy [1828-1910]