Unity is Strength

petaling street

I am a Chinese kid born and raised in a small town in Sarawak. It is predominantly Chinese so I didn’t have a lot of interactions with other races. I was shipped off to New Zealand at the age of 15 for high school and there was a lot of racism going on over there.

I have never given race a serious thought before. Who would have known that being of a different culture would cause one to be a target of bullying? In my first day of school, a group of Kiwis in a car wound down their window shouted “Go back home, Chinaman!”.

However, I soon discovered that these people are the vocal minority. The vast majority did not really care as long as you can communicate with them. I guess it was the experience of being treated as a second class citizen which made me not do it to others.


When I finished my university and came back to KL to work, I had already been exposed to a melting pot of cultures in cosmopolitan Melbourne. Race didn’t mean anything to me anymore. I can only remember one incident over here – I asked someone on the road for directions in Shah Alam and was told in a less-than-friendly manner “Cakap Bahasa Melayu, jangan lupa ini Malaysia!”

It was not exactly the 1Malaysia that we have hoped for that but that was a totally isolated incident.

I can think of many more other positive interactions with strangers – like the one when I was lost in KL early in the morning (this was my pre-GPS days) and this kind Malay couple actually bothered to tell me to follow their car to my destination, despite it being out of their way. Now that is 1Malaysia to me.

I did a video for ASTRO’s MySTORY – the new channel for showcasing stories about 1Malaysia from people like me and you:

I shot the video in Petaling Street to illustrate my Chinese background before taking the LRT and mamak shots. The first few scenes were taken by a Dutch couple here on holiday – which I profiled as Least Likely To Run Away With Your Digital Camera (TM) ;).

dutch couple

I wanted to do one with different races locking arms and saying “We are Malaysians” but decided it would be too cheesy so I came up with the pigeon analogy instead.

…which I discovered by chance, while navigating from the car park to Petaling Street.

There was a flock of pigeons pecking away at a discarded pack of rice. The rice is Malaysia, it’s our economy, and the pigeons are Malaysians, irregardless of race. We are in this together. We literally share the same rice bowl and there’s enough for everyone.

national monument

I think we are coming closer to a united Malaysia – it’s just a matter of time. Sure, we crack some racist jokes now and then, and others do the same, all in the name of fun, but no one takes offence anymore. There is also an increasing amount of mixed race relationships (which I predict would be an archaic term in 10 years) which would produce offspring that truly represents Malaysia.

I remember Harith Iskandar’s joke about his yet-to-be-born children – he’s Malay while his wife is Chinese/Indian/Caucasian so would his future kids have to tick Malay, Chinese, Indian, and also the “dan lain lain” column?

Despite it being a joke, I am all for a 1Malaysia. I was born here, spent most of my life here and I plan to stay here. It would be nice for all third generation people to be recognized as Bumiputera but that would be an issue which would resolve itself in time.

It is possible, as the famous words “I have a dream…” uttered by Martin Luther King sparked off what is now an ideal situation for African-Americans in the United States. It is a trend that will endure, with the globalization of our world.

tugu negara

I believe in a 1Malaysia. One country, one race, one nation.

Interested in being featured on TV? Shoot your own 1Malaysia story and submit it at www.astro.com.my/mystory.

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89 thoughts on “Unity is Strength”

  1. ciki: Thanks! πŸ™‚
    Yeah, something we should hope to aim for considering the mass exodus and brain drain. πŸ™‚

  2. i love the multi races spirit in Malaysia too. like the tagline Malaysia, Truly Asia. It represents the entire continent in a country! When I went HK a week ago, they were facisnated by how all different races could live together.
    However, sad to say, 2 days after my return, I was robbed. In broad daylight I must emphasize. And yesterday, my neighbour’s house got broken into. Not forgetting I was snatched 3 years ago.
    While the people here is nice, it left me ponder whether the country is safe to live in anymore…

  3. yuetmui: Yeah, there is still much room for improvement but we’re heading in the right direction, me thinks. πŸ™‚
    Sorry to hear about you being robbed. πŸ™
    Michelle: Well, I guess they’re trying. πŸ™‚
    Hey, when are you coming back to Malaysia?

  4. tzia: Haha! I might be driving slightly faster compared to the other cars but it’s well within the speed limit. πŸ˜‰
    Can’t be filming and speeding at the same time. Heh! πŸ™‚

  5. wtf, when did you get brainwashed? mate, when push comes to shaft, cina still pulang china. i have no faith, zero, zilch, nada in the govt. and you will always be third class citizen, not second.
    datuk-datuk’s comes first, they get first pick of everything. bumi get the rest. us, less fortunate mortals get scraps.
    ha, 1malaysia, talk the talk, walk the walk lah. give gahmen contract to the best tenderers lah.
    not that i want to be negative, I just can’t see any positives

  6. When Najib first came up with the concept, I had so much hope that Malaysia is going to be different. More than a year has passed, and true enough Malaysia is no longer the same. NOT in a good way.
    1Malaysia is crap. I’m sure you would agree with me if you didn’t had to write this advertorial ;p

  7. rocket: Well, the thing is, I consider Sibu and Malaysia my home – the place I want to be when I retire coz all my family and friends are here. That’s the point I was trying to make. πŸ™‚
    Yup, it’s still VERY imperfect this 1Malaysia, but one can hope. πŸ™‚
    chefmel: Well, not really, all things considered. To be honest:
    1. I will send my children overseas to study (coz the education quality is better).
    2. However, I won’t MOVE permanantly overseas.
    I won’t mind working overseas but when I retire or have children, Malaysia is the place I want to be. πŸ™‚

  8. kimberlycun: Yup, I totally agree, interracial relationships and all that specifically, we ARE already 1Malaysia, and isn’t relationships the best gauge of consumer sentiment? πŸ™‚
    tzia: Haha! I might be driving slightly faster compared to the other cars but it’s well within the speed limit. πŸ˜‰
    Can’t be filming and speeding at the same time. Heh! πŸ™‚

  9. Nice article, good job. Its a pity about your bulling experience in NZ propagated by racists, but by choosing a Dutch couple to take your photo (because you trust them better with your camera), isn’t that “reverse racism”? Why do you put white people on a pedestal and trust them more than, say, one of the three mild looking Ah-Bengs to their right, or even the shop keeper on the left? With a brick and mortar liability, he’s hardly gonna run off with your cam.
    People tend to view racism only in a negative aspect: when someone willfully puts down another based on race. But when its done in the reverse (preferring and admiring one race over another), that is racism too, and that sort of behavior promotes the belief that one race is “superior” to another.

  10. ShaolinTiger: Heh! I have to agree with you on that. I get a lot of crap from people of a certain race over there – used to have a client in my previous company based there so I go there often. πŸ™
    chunsiang: Yup, that’s the point – the recognition of us 3rd generation Chinese as bumiputeras. We’ve lived long enough in Malaysia to call it home so why not? πŸ™‚
    musing: Well, I’ll tell you the story in another channel but that was the one and only time I was bullied in NZ. Joined an Asian gang after that.
    Anyway, about trust – it’s simple…locals MIGHT run off with your gear, but tourists – very unlikely. It’s not racism but rather profiling to a certain extent. I would do the same for Arabs, Middle Eastern folks and everyone who comes to Malaysia for leisure, they’re not going to rob you. πŸ™‚
    Anyone EXCEPT locals…especially in Petaling Street. Easiest way to lose you cam.

  11. nice. am 50 this year in the US.ex military. officer, in fact. and proud. there in lies the complication. pride. dont know about you, but I am mixed breed. irish and german. ok laugh. but its a big deal. the east is very far away, to most of us here. hate to be rude, but I caint tell the difference between a chinese and a cambodian on sight. nor a pako and an indian. a cannuck and a nigger and a spic or beanner… well thats pretty obvious. just like rooting for teams. my parents had me during ww2, skiped a genration. I am christian, and methodist, ( pretty boring but not really). I’ll shut up now now, excepet for a brief story. its true. when I was a kid, we had gone to england. we had tea at some old peoples house. all laid out. a little guy, my age, said I wouldnt eat that, if I were you, the cats have been on the table. we became fast friends. I have respect for all religions and have studied them, some what. but i cannont hurt people no more. that I got from jesus christ. but god forgive me, I’ll not see anyone harmed… ugh excuse me, thats his job, not yours… ( told to me by a friend). when i was young, i wanted to be a pope or president. every body does. now I am older. but I like the MLK. I have a dream… now whats for supper?

  12. why so sad. I asked this of an indian who owned the store in went too ( not native american like chereokee).He would not say anything. his store is well. it is july 4th. reckon they are not celebrating in buckingham palace, like cinco de mayo i did not celebrate. halloween, boxer day, thanksgivving, d wallli, etc… try to keep focased… like i try and fail. the prime objective is to help others, ( then rell them in) no, just to help others. if they ask.. well lemme me tell you… happy fourth, HB. a brother I will never meet till later…

  13. You said you have respect for all religion, and yet in the same paragraph you use the terms paki, nigger spic etc…man, you are a joke.
    Ex US military huh? You sound like a washed up sad excuse of a man. Did Walter Reed fuck you up? Don’t go hatin’ on people of different races. You sound like a sad old man, probably trolling around Thailand like a DOM.
    Go back into your trailer and don’t go spreading your bitter, angry, hate, dude.

  14. worry: Well, to be honest bro, are you going to live here or are you going to emigrate? πŸ™‚
    Myself, I’m going to live here so I have to believe. πŸ™‚
    tom: Yeah, buddy it’s all good. Happy 4th of July bro, appreciate all your comments here. Very insightful. πŸ™‚
    musing: Chill bro, tom is a friend of mine. I guess if you’ve been in the military you’ll be a bit messed up too but that’s us humans ain’t it? We’re not angels, we’re just fucked up people trying to get through life, myself included. πŸ™‚

  15. well, im an old man, no doubt. 50. but not angry or bitter. far from it. i used those terms or names, if you will to provoke. and I left out any mention of the Islamic clerics. cause did not wish to irritate any one. the way I thought best. got plenty more. fag, macrel snapper, kike. zhid, howlie.. sand nigger, towel head, shall i go on? heard it all before, my point was we all bleed red. and try to avoid hurting others, I am sorry if I offended any one. in any way. really. ( and by the way I have lived in trailers ( mobile homes) alot of my life. and dont be calling me white cracker trash.. mumm see how easy it is to piss people off. still.. I did not mean to offend , at all.

  16. Someone urgently needs to get off his moral high horse before he falls off and break his fcuking neck. I think it was in poor taste to visit other people’s blogs and spew inflammatory remarks especially about other visitors,and it’s extremely vile to insinuate that the old chap is a pedophile and living in a trailer park when you don’t even know him. Man,do you check your posts before clicking ‘submit’? If you read your comments again,you’re the one who’s sounding bitter,angry,hateful,and oh,did I forget to mention self righteous prick?

  17. Tom: I do not call anyone that serves our glorious US of A white trash or any other name. But you have to turn down the hate man; sand nigger, towel head, beaner, kike…holy hell, you have one for each race. Why so much hate? Is that the military mentality speaking? I bet you that when you get angry at someone for the slightest thing, all these derogatory words pop up immediately in your mind, if you have not already spat it out at the offending person. One day, you might just get punched in the face.
    HB: sorry for going off on an old friend of yours. Good friends tend to banter on a different level, but usually not on a public blog for others to misinterpret.

  18. sorry, hb, for misuing your site. I appreciate the chance to learn and enjoy reading the comments. I will shut up now. thanks. i will just listen (or read). tom

  19. 1Malaysia exist among most of the Malaysians long before it was introduced by our PM.
    I don’t favor the oppositions, nor am i a staunch supporter of the central government.
    But I believe that mudslinging-petty-minded politicians are leading us towards regression.
    Many (inclu. myself at times) fail to look in the mirror before pointing fingers. sigh…
    well, if we can’t change others…we can always change ourselves )

  20. tom: Yeah mate, totally understand buddy, you don’t have to explain to me. πŸ™‚
    atrocity.incorporated: It’s all good, no worries. πŸ™‚
    musing: Yup, understand where you’re coming from but we’re all cool here. πŸ™‚
    tom: Hey, no such thing as misusing sixthseal.com – it is meant to be misused, my friend. πŸ˜‰
    atrocity.incorporated: Good quote. πŸ™‚
    victer: Yeah, I agree to a certain extent – it has existed in many forms for a long time – just under a different name. πŸ™‚

  21. Excuse me. As malay, i’m native here on my motherland. Don’t you guys learn something from ‘Avatar’ (movie).
    To be recognize as bumiputera, what you have to do is becoming like us.
    Sleep, where we sleep.
    Talk, like we speak.
    And most important, pray to “EYWA”
    Then only can we speak about the unity. Then only we can speak about moving forward. But bro, i agree with u that we’re heading to the right destination. But, are you really ready for this? Have u certain about the path that you’re going to face
    For us, we dont have to imitate nobody. Because motherland is residing within our self. But you, have to learn… becoming like us
    1Malaysia will not succeed without YOU!

  22. Nagobonar: That is a very…interesting way to look at things. πŸ™‚
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on 1Malaysia!

  23. About the Malaysians helping you drive your towards your destination, they probably did that for the sake of Islam for Allah, I’ve lived in Britain my whole life its very multi-cultural country – stuff like helping in that manner would most likely not happen but when I go back to my home country Algeria the same thing happened to me ( a Muslim bro helping us drive towards our destination ) but people don’t do it for any reason except for the sake of Allah.( what other benefit would there be if your helping a complete stranger )
    there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and what influences how we behave (majority of us) is Islam.
    Racism is not of Islam so if you see such a thing happening then that person is ignorant about their own religion, there is always going to be knowledgeable people and ignorant people may Allah guide them.
    Islam is very important to Malays and in Islam no human being is better than other, whatever culture they are from or skin colour except in Piety – Religious devotion and reverence to God being observant to Islam an so forth.
    There is a beautiful brotherhood & sisterhood in Islam and it transcends things like culture & race.
    Islam is something could make you have a family of 1.6 billion and further more you have many right over them an vis versa for example one would be, if you were to arrive as guest at one of your Muslims brothers then in Islam if you wished you could stay at their home an they would have to be hospitable & taking of your needs for 3 days strait no questions ( lool one could do that for the rest of their life an not have to rent/purchase a home πŸ˜› )
    I believe that Islam is something that would bring all non-native people in the country closer to Malays no doubt.
    None has the right to be worshipped but Allah & Muhammad is the final prophet & messenger of Allah & Jesus is the the prophet & messenger of Allah, peace be upon them both.

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