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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Remembering a different time

My friend, Art Harun wrote this piece which I think we should all read......

Once we were beautiful

I am blessed. So are many of my friends who are of or around my age. So are many who are older than me.

As a child of the 60s, I went through my formative years in an English-stream school. It was a big school in town. And there were hundreds of us Malays, Chinese and Indian boys (it wasn’t co-ed). Our first headmaster was a Chinese gentleman who was as fierce as they came those days. When he left, he was replaced by an Indian gentleman, who also was as fierce.

My first class teacher was Ms Leong, all long haired and short skirted. And yes, armed with a wooden ruler, she would knock my knuckles for failing to properly write the number 8. My first English sentence, learnt on the first day at school was to be uttered after raising my right hand, “Please teacher may I go out?” That was to be said if any of us had to go to the toilet to do the normal stuffs we all do in the toilet (and not to eat).

Then there were Mr Linggam, Cikgu Aziz and wife, Sharom, Mr Lee the karate guy, Mr Khor, Cikgu Mutalib and various others.

We were a happy bunch. We played together, ate together, learned together and of course, at times, punished together. And we were equal.

In standard 5, I began fasting. The school canteen stayed open for the whole month. No renovation. No closure. Muslim and non-Muslim kids, who did not fast, ate as usual. If they bought a proper meal, such like nasi lemak or mee goreng, they would eat at the canteen. If it was some kind of snack, they would just eat while walking around, in the class or where ever.

No fuss. No issue. No problem.

My impressionable years were spent in a boarding school. It was the same scenario. All of us, regardless of race or religion studied together, ate together, played together and at times, getting one or two rotan together.

Visiting a non-Malay house was not a problem. Eating there was not a problem too. Sharing food with non-Muslims was not an issue.

Things have however, sadly, changed. And change for the worse.

Nowadays, non-Muslims don’t send their kids to national school anymore. They prefer to send the kids to the vernacular schools. The ones who could afford would send their kids to private schools. National schools are almost invariably filled with Muslim/Malay students.
National schools would recite prayers before classes begin in the morning. Quranic verses and hadith would adorn walls in the canteen, school office and even classes. Ustaz and ustazah would even ask school kids to raise their hands if their parents do not pray 5 times a day. In secondary schools, the tudung is not compulsory for girls – according to the Ministry of Education’s circular, if I am not mistaken – but girls without tudung would be viewed askance by schoolmates and teachers alike.

Due to the small number of non-Muslim/Malay kids in national schools, the Malay kids do not have the opportunity to mix around and integrate with non-Malays in their formative and impressionable years. The small number of non-Malay kids also gives a sense of false superiority complex to the Malay kids as well as teachers.

Thus, my race and my religion are more important than you, your religion and everything else. Hence the closure of the school canteen during Ramadhan. This is prevailing in many national schools. Apparently, this is done to “respect” the Muslim students who are fasting. Forget the fact that non-Muslims do not fast and they, like any other human beings or animals, have to eat and drink. Forget the fact that there are Muslim kids who do not fast. Anybody who just about mentions the word “food” would have been taken as insulting Islam.

On Facebook last week, there were two guys admonishing a hotel which advertised its breakfast package on its page. They viewed it as disrespectful. But to be fair, the two were widely condemned by other Muslim facebookers.

The eating-in-the-changing-room debacle yesterday is just the surface of a far unhealthier trend in Malaysia. Beneath that surface is a society which is fractious, intolerant, selfish and uncompromising.

The obvious question is how did we, as a nation, become like this?

As a nation we started so well. The Federal Constitution was agreed upon by consensus between three major races anchored to a give-and-take and win-win camaraderie. There was a blemish in 1969 but that was quickly nipped in the bud and we soldiered on.

In football, we were in the Olympic final in 1972 and 1980. By the law of progression, we should be in the World Cup by now. By contrast, Japan and Korea, whom we used to beat, were already in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. We now struggle to beat the likes of Vietnam and even Singapore.

Like our football team, the state of our racial integration and inter-faith relationship has moved in reverse gear. Years of political posturing utilizing religion and race have now begun to show its ugly consequences. The so-called Islamisation that we embark upon, which is shorn of any meaningful spiritual understanding of the religion, but rather born out of political necessities, convenience and mired in political one-upmanship has now produced a nation which is unsure of itself and a people who are fractious, angry, suspicious and at odd with each other.

We need to take a real good look at ourselves and examine our ways. And we need to reboot our operating system if we want to avoid a total crash.

And we need to reboot fast.


Anonymous said...

too true... in those days, we were not even realized that we were from a different race.. it was just us.... nothing more nothing less....

Si Peh Tulan said...

Our beautiful relationship before was hijacked by that mamak PM(who is not originally malay but actually a pendatang also)who ruled for 22 years.
After he self proclaimed that Malaysia is an Islamic country that things started to deteriorate and aided by the extension of the NEP(which supposed to end 30 years after 1971).NIAMAH!

kokkeong said...

At the risk of oversimplifying, the politics of race (and religion)that started with Mahathir as PM has very much to do with the sorry state of the country now that Art Harun has captured so well. I too was a kid of the 60s, and what he writes here uncannily resonates with my experience even though we were in different parts of the country back then.

an old man said...

I really miss the good old days of the 70s where all students of different races mixed freely around in the classrooms and hostels. When and how can we bring those closeness which we had experienced back for our children and grand children?

Anonymous said...

It's already too late optimists

Anonymous said...

Once we were beautiful? Please, Art Harun, I blame people of your (or older) generation, especially the majority of the population (that is bumiputra) who have the privilege of studying in English stream, and supposedly more moderate minded, for refusing to speak up, for allowing the country to deteriorate to this state, for allowing the politicians to screw up our lives, the generations who never have a chance to study in English stream!

Yes, I am truly bitter. I never understand the feelings of racial harmony, I was taught to behave so in textbooks, but never personally experience it in my school life.

Anonymous said...

Nowadays, even the RapidKL public transport changed their schedule during fasting month. One BET bus which normal schedule is 5:30 pm, 6:00 pm, 6:30 pm and 7:00 pm changed their schedule to 5:00 pm, 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm during Ramadan month. They don't care that non-muslims are not entitled to leave work early and as most of our working hours end only at 6:00 pm, most non-muslims will not make it for the last bus at 6:00 pm.
Feedback has been given to RapidKL but there is no action.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Apart from Art, I can only Datuk Zaid to say THE OBVIOUS. No matter how you look at the going on in our country lately, it just paints a truly ugly picture. Art asked the most pertinent question - "what has happened to our country?" We are going BACKWARD while others are moving forward. Our "leaders" are just to happy to lead us down the slippery road of no return.

raj raman said...

Remember well and miss the golden era.

rajraman666.One INDIAN man slowly change the
the entire Malaysian views for 22 years and still poisoning the mind and souls of his adopted race Malay.MAHATHIR

Suci Dalam Debu said...

We have to thank Tun Dr Mahathir for all these. He is still doing it behind the throne!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article but I doubt Malaysia will return to the good old golden years. We are separated by race and religion, indeed very sad!!!

Nobody in particular said...


Those days are long gone - destroyed by BN's use of race and religion to divide us.

In those halcyon days, many Malaysians trusted the wisdom of our leaders and allowed them to lead us into a situation, not unlike what Jane Elliot had created in her "blue eyed/brown eyed" experiment.

Today, I see the hatred, I hear the anger, I smell the fear.

I, wholeheartedly, agree with Jeswan Kaur in her article, "Get rid of the religious bigots",

In fact, I would add that we get rid of the racists bigots as well.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Well written. Yes we need to reboot for a better and progressive Malaysia. I just hope that it is not too late. All Malaysian should read this article. I viewed that these problems are created and propagated by politicians and leaders of the communities NGOs etc. However we the RAKYAT can all do our part for a better Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Just a bunch of old farts lamenting about the days gone by. Wake up! It is now 2013!!! You folks are past your 'use-by' dates.

bumi-non-malay said...

The Answer to this WHY question is as Simple as the Answer why UMNO-BN + Sultan Agong agreement Sacked Singapore......??

Was it a Racist Bigot Race Domination Acts by UMNO+Sultan racist agenda??

Who gave them the right to sack??

Can Sabah/Sarawak Sack Malaya today to create a New place for Malaysian to Migrate??

Such is the world we have to live and Ponder!!

Anonymous said...

Patrick, On-topic THE GOOD OLD DAYS.
What were the titles of your INTRO Tunes played in ... TOP POPS OF THE WEEK WEEK and Kee Huat FANTASTIC FACTS AND FANCIES circa 1950's. Very catchy, would love to listen to them again! :-)

TheOwl said...

Do you not know that we have already crashed a long time ago and I wonder if we have the capacity to reboot. Our political masters learnt well from the British policy of divide and rule.

When I was in Form 6 at the Bukit Mertajam High School there were only 16 of us in the class. The Malays were fewer than the Chinese students (no Indians I'm afraid) as they had ITM and elsewhere to go to. We used to "admire" them because during puasa they could talk about food which made us feel bad. These days we are even afraid to eat in public during the puasa month,worried that we might be perceived as not respecting the month of ramadhan when we had never felt that way.

FLO said...

Where are we heading? How to answer our forefathers and the future children!

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see that it's going to be bad and no reverse gear, obviously those things happened for a reason. Disintegrated and stupid rakyat are easier to be controlled. Politics are more important then education, finance, economics, racial harmony and country security. Look and think carefully, all these issues happened with a reason. I hope some future leader is daring enough to change the current political scenario.

Ellese A said...

The danger now is the DAP confrontational in your face style thst seems to have no bounds in creating racial mischief. Everything must be seen from a racial angle if none were there in the first place. Shadows were created to fortify this racial stereotyping. Thus many came under a siege mentality thinking they are deprived while none. They are disconnected thinking their loud incessant propaganda will get Malays on their side. The more they shout the more people see their hupocritical stand on Malaysian first. The more Malays are turned off. They must stop practicing selective racism and propaganda to appease the Chinese and a small extent Indians.

PAS could have won more had DAP not been arrogantly brazen. The mood now is for PAS to react to their disastrous poll result which keep many thinking that dap and Chinese benefit from this cloak racism. All DAP had to do was just be sensitive and empathize. But no. They must prevail at all costs.

So in the pr manifesto we have a reaffirmed commitment of vernacular schools and even the missionary school. Not a mention is made on sekolah agama. This arrogance stinks to the high moon.

Alas we have now a deepening polarization worse than the Mahathir period. Everyone I talk to feel the same. DAP brand of no hostage politics must stop. Don't pretend to fight for Malaysians when you fight for selective ethnic groups. There are many Chinese bigots as written in my blogs. But do hear LGE says Chinese are racist. Do we ever hear DJZ are racist? No. Apparently only Malay can be racist. But not Chinese. As kee says: no more bullshit.

Anonymous said...

WHY non-Muslims refuse or don't send their kids to national school?
Because the national school head keep on asking the non-Muslims student return to China or India.

DongZong supporter said...

BN under Mahathir has shattered my dream.

Anonymous said...

I am really upset to see Malaysia is going backward instead of going forward. What is our future? Do we have a clear direction to move forward? Why our government always spend their effort on these non-sense issues? You are not even scared away the investors, but your own Malaysian citizen. We used to be on the top and compete with Korea, Taiwan, but now...I don't think whom should we compete with..Sad but if we keep not performing, we really really will fall behind...I am not sure when is the day will come where politicians will work together for a better Malaysia..Don't let this potential country turns to a hopeless country.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the authorities are abusing their power by discriminating muslims as well. For example, muslim women are not allowed to participate in beauty contests, muslim schoolgirls are pressured to wear tudung, etc. These are personal choices and human rights and who are these authorities to control what people can or cannot do? It wasn't like that at all in the past, i.e. 60s & 70s. Everyone has much more freedom then.

flyer168 said...

Dear Pat & Art,

Yes, indeed...Those were the days...!

It will be along time coming...!

Just to share this...


flyer168 said...

Dear Pat & Art,

Yes, indeed...Those were the good old days...!

It will be along time coming...!

Just to share this...


Anonymous said...

Muhyuddin says 'insulting Islam will create tension in the country'. Insulting Hinduism or Christianity? Well, who cares.

Stephen said...

The moment a video clip of an unknown person bringing a few pet dogs into the mosque, Muhyiddin Yassin had immediately jumped the gun by hitting out at non-Muslims.

I quote: “This shows that there is no deep understanding within society. Muslims do not insult the religion of non-Muslims such as Christianity and Hinduism. But non-Muslims are insulting our religion.”

In a way, this is also seditious, as it creates further tension between the Muslims and the non-Muslims. Thankfully, in Malaysia, the Muslims are generally more tolerant, compared to the examples set by people the likes of Ibrahim Ali, Zulkifli Noordin and even Muhyiddin himself. Fair enough that he should ask for stern action to be taken against the culprits for tarnishing the image and sanctity of Islam.

However, Muhyiddin should realise that he is a Deputy Prime Minister of the country. He is not speaking as the deputy president of Umno Baru. He is correct to point out that there is basically shallowness in the way how people practice their religion.

Phantom MCA member said...

Tun M has alleged that Chinese control the Malaysian economy. We all know that it is the GLCs and Malays that control the commanding heights of the economy. There is no longer any Chinese control for the simple reason that much of Chinese capital and enterprise have been driven out of the country by the NEP.

The most lucrative sector – oil and gas – is under Petronas which is controlled by the Malays.

Similarly too, the banking, automobile, defence, agricultural and hi-tech sectors are all controlled by Malays and GLCs, leaving other Malaysians with scraps.

Add to this the new Malay billionaires such as Daim Zainuddin, Syed Mokhtar Al Bhukery, Eleena Azlan Shah, Azman Hashim, his own son, Mokhzani Mahathir, and many others such as the Sarawak Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud, whose wealth abroad is not so easily quantifiable by Forbes, and it becomes clear that the spectre of Chinese economic dominance simply falls apart.

Mahathir may have to rely on the Chinese tradesman to fix his computer, car or air-conditioning but this is different from Chinese control of the economy!

Anonymous said...

Well said...sad, but true. Being a foreigner who visits Malaysia often and is married to an ex-Malaysian Citizen, it is obvious who is to blame, however the people who simply follow and never ask questions or head in an opposite direction seal their own destiny. It is amazing how a few can know so little about so much and mislead so many and be sucessful! It will change soon :-)

Anonymous said...

This is what he attempted just recently to create more problems but was promptly stopped:

Facebook removes Dr M's 'Chinese Dilemma'

Turning the tables on Mahathir Mohamad

Anonymous said...

Muhyiddin said " No Muslim has made fun of other faiths." There are countless of Umno leaders and their "subcontractors" like Perkasa's Ibrahim Ali, Zulkifli Nordin, Ridhuan Tee, Mahathir etc etc. There are countless of them publicly ranting racism and religious insults against other religions in the Umno control newspapers like Utusan Malaysia and TV3 etc.

Anonymous said...

The New Paper of Singapore correctly pointed out the truth in Malaysia in its article dated 31 July titled "Welcome to Malaysia Where.... Death is Cheap and Staying Alive Costly”.

The article also stated it took only $2,000 (RM5,000) to hire a hitman.

Why should we be upset by the truth?

PDRM should wake up instead!

Anonymous said...

The moment these people started to go to pakistan to study islam in their university and what they brought back is not about religion anymore but imposing something that only fit the people of pakistan not malaysia, Thats why. Likewise the cult christian are getting stronger too. I missed those good old days too.

Eric Mudasi said...

Wikileaks: Langley targeting Al Qaeda cells in Malaysia

For your Eyes Only:

02:30:12 July 31st. 2013

National Command Authority
Director CIA

copied to:
CinC Pac

Stipulation Met for National Defence Authorization Act:

(7) (A) information from the intelligence or law enforcement community regarding possible threats from terrorists or terrorist groups, criminal organizations, or other state and non-state foreign entities actively working to undermine the security interests of the United States; and

(7) (B) information regarding personnel who have engaged in potentially suspicious activities or may otherwise pose a threat.

Combat Information Centre
Global Strike Command

Requisition #: FX3-HAPUS-67945

Operation 'Masak-Masak Otak Udang'
Objective: Paint & Neutralize Al Qaeda Installations

Objective 1: UMNO HQ (Al-Qaeda Training Centre)
Latitude: 3.1689 Longitude: 101.691
Menara Dato Onn, Putra World Trade Centre, 45, Jalan Tun Ismail, 50480 Kuala Lumpur

Objective 2: JAKIM (Al-Qaeda Cell)
Latitude: 2.958384 Longitude: 101.704369
Block D7, Govt. Administrative Center, Putrajaya, Malaysia,

Objective 3: BTN (Al-Qaeda Propaganda Arm)
Latitude: 2.936762 Longitude: 101.696641
Aras 1 Blok B3 62502 Putrajaya

Objective 4: UTUSAN MELAYU (M) BERHAD (Al-Qaeda Propaganda Arm)
Latitude: 3.119985 Longitude: 101.710604
46M, Jalan Lima Off Jalan Chan Sow Lin,
55200 Kuala Lumpur.

Delivery System: RQ-1A Predator / MQ-9 Reaper
Payload: AGM-114 Hellfire
Staging: CVN-68 Nimitz, South Indian Ocean / CVN-73 George Washington, South China Sea



Anonymous said...

We have already lost the great James Wan, director of 'The Conjuring' and upcoming 'Fast & Furious 7'. Can we afford to lose another legendary filmmaker here who said something of national importance?

Strip Namewee of his citizenship, demands Perkasa

Let's hope he will make a film about corrupt lazy racist moronic politicians wrecking the nation at all costs by blinding its own working-class people with lies, deceit and extremism. Suggested title: 'Talking Cock Non-Stop'

Anonymous said...

Sounds ominous in what he said here but do you think the freaking politicians know or care anything about national unity?

Malaysia sacrifices talent to keep one race on top, says Lee Kuan Yew

At least one brave man had stood up against the racist old bakery owner:

If I listened to Mahathir, Malaysia would be bankrupt, says Abdullah

Sometimes you just want to cry for the country looking at so many numbskull political loonies hogging the headlines and wasting everyone's precious time and money for nothing but hot air..

Meanwhile here are some 'educational' videos:

Namewee FxxK UTUSAN!!!

[Namewee Tokok] 017 Double Standard

BFM bfmvdo