These two words have suffered so much overuse and abuse that both have inadvertently become more toxic than the f-word, writes Mary Chin.
Ban two words – Malay and Chinese – from electoral and political campaigns. All sides may then play the same fair game and stop accusing each other of playing the race card.
Feeling lost? The difficulty is completely conceivable, given such a tradition and norm. How can our electoral campaigns ever do without these words?
Yes, they can. Here is a step-by-step guide:
- For every would-be occurrence of either the word Malay or Chinese, try replacing that word with Malaysian.
- If the message still makes sense, say it loud and clear, proclaim it to the ends of the earth. (The candidate or his or her party can then say,) we strive to achieve that with all our might.
- In case the sentence no longer makes sense upon substitution (eg “Chinese deserve more than Malays” upon substitution becomes “Malaysians deserve more than Malaysians”), that means the sentence was pitting Malaysians against Malaysians. Drop it.
- In case the message turns into something which happens to be the last thing the candidate would like to do (eg “I pledge to fight for the supremacy of Malays” upon substitution becomes “I pledge to fight for the supremacy of Malaysians”), that means it was a racially discriminatory message. Drop it.
- In case every sentence and every paragraph has to be dropped using the above criteria and we are left with nothing, great. That is what we need. Let us start afresh and chart what is best for the nation.
The m-word and c-word have suffered so much overuse and abuse that both have inadvertently become more lethal and toxic than the f-word. Sadly that is how we’ve dishonoured our joint heritage.
Individuals should reconsider their role. What do I achieve by sharing and liking each Facebook and Whatsapp post propagating such sentiments? What sort of society am I trying to shape? What ideas am I trying to drill into young minds?
The media should reconsider their role. What do they achieve by propagating each suggestion in their publication? What society are they shaping? What ideas are they drilling into young minds?
Free speech doesn’t mean I can say whatever I like. Free press doesn’t mean I have the right to know anything and everything. Democracy doesn’t mean every decision must be based on consensus.
Free speech, free press and democracy hang on our awareness and acknowledgement that we are all part of a larger whole.