Our identity should correspond with historical, constitutional reality

An argument has emerged again on the aspect of loyalty required of a Malaysian leader.

Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang wants to know if Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is prepared to declare he is “Malaysian first”, a decade after the latter declared himself “Malay first”.

This was after Muhyiddin launched the national unity policy and “National Unity Blueprint 2021-2030”.

The DAP veteran seems to have a dualistic understanding on questions that he has posted which seems to be either this or that, with a lack of understanding that holding on to an ethnic identity in itself doesn’t make one a racist.

The evolving nature of human consciousness cannot be reduced to whether one is a Malay or Malaysian.

For example, those who are involved in Black Lives Matter in United States cannot be simplistically judged from an ethno-centric viewpoint since the community struggle has a historical dimension of being oppressed within the broad American justice system.

This was the reason there were a substantial number of whites, Hispanic and Asian Americans supporting the struggle.

One would not ask whether they were black first or American first in those circumstances. They are black, yes, but their struggle has national ramifications of how minorities are treated in the country.

Questions about whether or not one is a Malaysian are good to exert an ideological belief or gain political points, but they do not help solve the underlying bondage to ethno-centric politics in Malaysia.

Having an ethnic and religious consciousness in itself is not fatal or an impediment to a national identity. It becomes a problem when it remains there or becomes a trap by confusing ethnic identity with the perspective that sees others from different ethnic backgrounds as a threat.

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Further, being Malaysian as the DAP proclaims, does not place one automatically on a moral high ground, when there is a lack of acknowledgement when something good is done by a political foe or a failure to work on a bipartisan platform to come up with solutions to pressing issues facing the nation.

When a political party sees the other as a total political enemy, one cannot proclaim to be Malaysian in an authentic sense.

The DAP leadership has come far in its willingness to work in a bipartisan manner lately, but the bulk of its traditional supporters seem to reject it, seeing it in terms of black-and-white moralistic politics. Being Malaysian has no value if there is no empathy to the historical and constitutional reality of the country.

So, instead of playing the dualistic card of whether one is a Malay or Malaysian or Chinese or Malaysian, it would be far more beneficial to understand the evolving nature of identity, which is part of human consciousness.

One doesn’t need to choose one against the other; we need to progress towards a Malaysian and global identity without the need to downplay anyone’s ethnic identity. – New Straits Times

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