Toxic to stereotype people based on race and religion

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Cartoon: Zunar

Ch’ng Chin Yeow believes we need to inculcate a sense of justice among Malaysians – as everyone has a stake in the fight for justice.

The raging, ongoing discussions and arguments about the origins of Covid-19 are irrelevant.

The virus is already with us. It affects everyone irrespective of race or religion. The blame game is not the real issue, and it does not solve the real problem.

What we need is containment, testing and ultimately, the solutions to return the world to some kind of normalcy. The perpetrating of misinformation ultimately plays into the hands of supremacists on both sides of the Pacific, in US and China.

The discussions expose interesting human behaviour. We tend to agree with the narrative that somehow we want to believe in. Is our belief triggered by:

  • our sense of belonging?
  • our sense of justice?
  • our rejoicing in the misfortune of others?
  • our thinking that my enemy’s enemy is my friend?
  • our sense of compassion for those who were victimised?
  • our sense of impartiality?
  • our bad experience?

China is now a great nation on the world stage. There is prestige in being a Chinese around the world, even if one is not a Chinese national.

High-end designer shops are now patronised by many Chinese. Now when I stand outside an expensive jewellery shop in Sydney or London, someone will come out to invite me to enter the showroom. I apparently look like a wealthy Chinese person now!

This was not always the case, and I have noticed this change personally. I remember in the 1980s in Australia, the Chinese from China were less confident in revealing themselves as Chinese from China (even though one could tell by their sense of dressing). They were at the bottom of the social ladder among the Asian community. They were poor, and they had newly arrived. There were 20,000 Chinese nationals granted permanent residence status by then-PM Bob Hawke in 1989, after the Tiananmen Massacre.

READ MORE:  Wishing all readers a Happy 2020!

I found many Asians (I am generalising) in Australia to be racist because of their own insecurities. When the Vietnamese first arrived in Australia in the 1970s and 80s, I heard Chinese Malaysians using derogatory descriptions on these new Australians and looking down on them.

That was triggered by these Malaysians wanting to feel they were superior to at least someone – to overcompensate for their own insecurities. Maybe they had been looked down upon, once upon a time, by other Australians?

I have heard from Asian Australians saying that they would vote for whichever party that called for the abolition of Australia’s migration policies, never mind they were once a migrant themselves.

Have I experienced racism in Australia? You bet – on two occasions I can remember.

Once, I heard a person saying to me at a bus stop, “Oh no, you are adding to the number of Asians now.”

On another occasion, a man accidentally bumped his lit cigarette on my hand, and he immediately apologised. When he noticed that I was an Asian person, he started shouting repeatedly, “You are tough, aren’t you!”

Quite amazing, really. One minute he was a polite, nice person, and the next minute, he was hurling abuse at me!

But overall, I find Australian society to be generally more trusting, charitable and friendly than the average Asian society. If you were to seek help or ask for directions, the suspicion is not there, in the West. People are willing to help, irrespective of who you are.

Then again, overgeneralisation of human beings based on race and religion is not only dangerous but extremely distorted. I do not take the unpleasant experience I had as a generalisation of the Australians or the West.

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Those who are unpleasant are insecure in themselves. They have to put people down to make themselves feeling better. Just imagine how little they really feel about themselves inside!

When someone acts as a bully, it triggers our natural emotions in wanting to exercise our sense of justice.

Once, I witnessed two female members of staff at an outlet at the Penang International Airport having a fight. (I believe it was triggered by one of them using some derogatory comments on the other, lesbian-looking one). I froze.

A Westerner immediately stood in between these two persons to break up the fight.

Who had the real strong sense of justice and acted it out? Definitely not me. I only talk. I always fail to act. Maybe I carry the Chinese saying to the extreme: “Hero dies first!” I don’t know.

In the West, I believe the sense of justice for the little guys or the oppressed is much stronger. When Pauline Hanson (the right-wing politician in Australia who appears to be now targeting Muslims instead of Asians) opens her mouth, rest assured that many white Australians will stand up to support the victims.

In the West, there is really a strong sense of justice. We need to inculcate such a sense of justice for all in Malaysian society.

Ch’ng Chin Yeow has an interest in many issues and subjects, including history, mineralogy and human behaviour. Based in Penang, he truly likes to be a busybody

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