‘Rat route’ to being Malaysian


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In the spirit of Eid Mubarak and muhibah, many Malay-Muslim families recently conducted open houses for relatives, as well as neighbours, colleagues and friends of diverse backgrounds.

It was the season to be merry and inclusive, which had also often become the subject matter of corporate advertisements in celebrating the blessed festivity. A few video clips tried to pull the heartstrings of viewers.

But what happened in Ladang Bikam, Perak recently is presumably a rarity that also deserves public attention and appreciation, especially in the current political environment where there are more efforts aimed at burning – rather than building – bridges across ethnic and religious divides.

The incident involved a group of 15 ethnic Chinese men in the vicinity who helped clear an alternative road or a “rat route” (jalan tikus), as it is called by those who are familiar with such a phenomenon, to bypass a stretch of the Plus highway in Perak that was clogged with vehicles heading southwards to Kuala Lumpur.

With an excavator and eager helping hands, the men managed to level the dirt road within 15 minutes to enable celebrating ethnic Malays, who went back to kampong for Hari Raya, to pass through in the darkness of a particular Saturday night.

Such a kind gesture would have been passed off as sheer humanitarian spirit under normal circumstances, without much hype on social media. But we live in times when such acts are largely uncommon and deserve applause.

To be sure, such positive vibes between the Malay travellers and the Chinese villagers are what true Malaysians ought to be. This should not be construed as making a mountain out of a molehill.

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The spirit of helping anyone in dire straits without being bothered about their ethnic and religious backgrounds is crucial in reinforcing ethnic bonds and discarding racial bigotry and suspicion.

This may sound bizarre, if not pathetic, but it is hoped that such a heartwarming act could open the eyes of certain bigots in our midst that not all Chinese are bad just as not all Malays are corrupt.

It is all the more reason that such an effort should be welcomed as it was spontaneous and, more importantly, without the intervention of politicians.

If politics of the past is anything to go by, things can go awry when it involves politicians, particularly those who desperately seek political mileage by any means.

We have witnessed, for instance, the 2021 floods in Shah Alam, Selangor, when groups of people from diverse backgrounds came to the rescue of the flood victims. Only compassion and concern prodded them to do what was needed, the humane thing.

There are obviously important takeaways from these incidents.

People, irrespective of their origins, at some point in their lives, face hardships, misfortunes and challenges, many of which require concern and help from those around them as well as certain state institutions.

To be clear, people of diverse backgrounds can unite around vital values of compassion, empathy, justice, freedom and shared humanity. The emphasis should be on our commonalities, not differences.

Concerned folk should tread this path for the sake of building a harmonious, just and progressive nation.

The 15 ordinary men on the rat route and others of similar ilk have shown us the way. – The Malaysian Insight

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.
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Mustafa K Anuar
Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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Khong Kah Yeong
Khong Kah Yeong
9 Jun 2024 4.50pm

This story you must come across
About a man who died on a cross
Who made the ultimate sacrifice
So that free from sins we may thrive
While he is best known among the Christian friends
Unknown are the many lesser mortals meeting an equally sacrificial end
These met their often untimely sacrifice
So that our country may remain free and alive
Let us pause a moment to pray for these brave souls in sunshine or in rain
That they had not died in vain
Let us continue to guard and treasure their legacy
And not squander their blood and tears through religious or racial lunacy