52 years it has been since the time when four parts of this region joined together to form the Federation of Malaysia (although two years later Singapore was expelled). We have seen the nation go through some ups and downs, but we always pull through together. Lately, we only see the constant superfluous jeremiad coming from all sorts of people and I wonder if we have all become a bunch of whiners who prefer to do nothing but expect everything in return?
Up until the early 1980s there were still areas especially in the Peninsular that either did not have running water and electricity, or had electricity for only 12 hours in a day. Those days no one complained about having to fetch a pail or two of water to be used for cooking or to wash clothes. Then came the supply of treated water and life became much easier. Then when there is a disruption on supply, they blame the government for not providing them with water.
We whine about everything – especially about other races. The Malays would blame the Chinese for their woes; the Chinese blame the Malays for the privileges that the latter get; the Indians would blame everyone else for their misfortunes. I don’t remember us being this divided even five years after the 13th May tragedy.
I went to a Christian missionary primary school, now a National school (Sekolah Kebangsaan). In my class then we had almost the same number of Malay and Chinese students, and several from the Indian diaspora. We learned together, ate together, played together, got punished together. What is more important is that we grew up together.
Now, we have National schools that are predominantly Malay, while the Chinese and Indians prefer to send their kids to vernacular schools. When kids don’t grow up together, they don’t learn about each other. When they don’t learn about each other, that is when they grow up not understanding each other. Then we will always have the Yellow shirts and the Red shirts doing rallies, opposing each other.
This is why I am for the abolishing of vernacular schools. Some were quick to jump on me saying that I am against diversity.
Far from it!
I said, schools. And it is not about diversity, but division!
All schools should be National-type schools. Where children regardless of race and religion grow up together and learn things together. These schools should start at 8am daily and finish at 6pm. They study together from 8am until lunch at 1pm. Then they attend vernacular classes or religious classes in the afternoon until 6pm. They should not grow up separately.
That is all I wish for, unity in diversity, as far as education is concerned. The beneficiaries of such a change would be my grandchildren and yours. Only then could we truly be Malaysian.
As long as we are not willing to let our children grow up together, we will continue to remain divided.