Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently tried to clarify his “chopsticks” remark as an analogy to describe the Chinese community’s failure to assimilate itself in Malaysia.
But in reality, his remarks sum up his failed dreams.
Enough, Mahathir! You had over two decades as prime minister to toy with and re-engineer the nation’s future – only to end up creating a huge chasm between ordinary people and the privileged few.
Your attempts to uplift the bumiputras have left a deep 80:20 economic divide, where some 80% of ethnic Malays wallow in the bottom 40% and middle 40% of struggling households while a handful of millionaires and billionaires enjoy the spoils of this nation’s sweat and tears.
Your dream to create a “one common culture” is not only flawed but goes against the diversity of creation and the beauty of humanity’s journey over time.
For you to suggest that the ethnic minorities must abandon their own cultures smacks of an obsession with social engineering.
It is unpalatable for a two-time prime minister to even suggest that foreigners who wished to become citizens of a particular country need to adopt the local culture and eventually abandon their own cultures.
Malaysia was and continues to be built by people of many backgrounds and cultures. The Chinese, Indians and other ethnic groups regard Malaysia as their only land and home.
Throughout our post-independence history, right up to this day, the various ethnic groups, including the Malays, played and worked together. To this day, many live in the same neighbourhood or residential area. We never failed to embrace with pride Bahasa Malaysia.
The world is increasingly celebrating the beauty of human diversity. Many progressive countries are harnessing the varied cultural experiences in their lands to spur economic dynamism.
But here you are, still harping on your expired experiment of getting the minorities to abandon their cultures.
Culture is not for powerful leaders to engineer. Hitler tried but paid a huge price and failed miserably, despised to this day.
Cultural diversity knits an entire nation of people together and gives them a colourful, delightful experience of coexistence.
All the holy books state clearly the beauty of God’s ways and the need for humans to preserve, respect and accept differences. Unity in diversity is indeed a blessing, a right granted to all of humanity.
So, Mahathir, please stop your failed pipe dream. Your past attempts may explain much of the misery around us today as we grapple with so much political uncertainty and fatigue revolving around racial and religious discord and suspicion.
Accepting a diversity of cultures does not amount to being anti-national or anti-unity. This diversity is an asset to nationhood. No culture teaches us to hate those of other traditions and cultures. Reasonable ordinary people cherish our cultural differences.
It was the politicians in a hurry to accumulate more power and wealth who led this nation to a pit where extremism finds fertile ground.