Think Malaysian, urges Chin Tong
The DAP strategist notes that for far too long, issues have been discussed along racial lines, with Malaysians harping on their strong racial identity.
KANGAR: The time has come for Malaysians to think from a Malaysian perspective instead of a racial one, DAP strategist Liew Chin Tong said.
Liew said in the country’s political context, more often than not, issues and policies were discussed along racial lines.
He said while Malaysians were different in terms of religion and culture, in terms of living, all had the same basic needs.
「You need a job, I also need a job. We have to be in this together. All of us need education, a good transport system, a clean water supply.
「As Malaysians, we need the same thing. Our foods may differ, but even then, I love Malay food.
「We may speak different languages. I can speak the Malay language but that does not erode my ability to speak Mandarin.
「What is important is that, for the future, we need to inculcate a political culture that centres on issues and policies, not along racial lines but from the Malaysian perspective,」 he said during a forum titled 「Puasa: Agama vs Budaya」 (Fasting: Religion vs Culture) held at the Tuanku Syed Putra Jamallulail Mosque here yesterday evening.
Liew also debunked the myth that all Chinese were rich and all Malays were poor. He drew on his own personal experience while growing up, when he sold lottery tickets by the roadside when he was 12 or 13 years old, worked in restaurants, and also sold insurance for a living.
He also stated that his father was once a taxi driver and a mini bus driver in Kuala Lumpur.
「The point I wish to make here is that many Chinese used to be poor at some point in their lives. There are many Chinese who dropped out of school, many who are poor, and many who became hawkers and sold noodles and rice.
「Whether it is Malays, Chinese or Indians, there are those who are rich, and there are those who are poor. We need to look at individuals and society as a whole. We cannot just say that one community is rich or poor.
「Our experiences are almost the same. Poverty is colour blind. You will hear stories of fathers who are almost bankrupt and they have no money to buy food for their families,」 he said.
The DAP political education director further pointed out there was no such thing as a Malay economy, a Chinese economy, or an Indian economy, but a Malaysian economy.
In the last 40 years, Liew lamented that racial politics was a lot thicker, and the feelings a lot stronger. Of late, he said the feeling of isolation was a lot more serious.
「I hope we can go back to the 1990s when we talked about Bangsa Malaysia and Vision 2020. It would be nice if we could go back to that time, when the feeling of being Malaysian first was stronger, especially during Thomas Cup (in 1992).
「Back then, we also felt the economy was good for all of us. Let us take a leaf out of the early 1990s, when we felt so comfortable around each other. Even in kampungs in Johor, the Malays and Chinese did not feel like strangers to each other.
「I believe the time is now ripe for a new Malaysia. We should create an atmosphere where we do not feel isolated or are like strangers to each other,」 he said.
Meanwhile, Perlis mufti Asri Zainul Abidin weighed in on the issue, and told the audience that Perlis was one state with a religious edict which allowed non-Muslims to receive zakat payments.
「You should not be shocked if you see in our functions, aside from Muslims getting zakat payments, the non-Muslims will get it too.
「It is not because they have converted to Islam, but rather we are of the view that they are qualified to receive such aid,」 he said.