Several months ago, just over three months after my son was born, the Malay makcik living across my house walked over to our gate and asked to see our baby. She carried him in her arms and started talking about how precious children were, and how we had to seize these seasons of their lives before they grew up. Seeing a Malay makcik carrying my baby warmed my heart. It made me believe in Malaysia all over again.
Several weeks ago, my parents, my wife and I took our 5-month old son out to the warong outside our housing estate for breakfast. The group of Malay makciks suddenly lost interest in serving their customers when they noticed our son. They started grabbing him and passing him around to one another. Seeing a group of Malay ladies, with their tudung and all intact, doting on a young Chinese baby, and joking about how round he was and how fair he was as contrasted to their brownness, was heartwarming. It made me believe in Malaysia all over again.
Several days later, my mum and I took our two dogs to a nearby pet store to have them bathed. And there was a Malay makcik there, again, with tudung and all, who came close to us and our two dogs. She gazed longingly at our dogs and told us how much she loved dogs. She said if only she had the money to rear them, that she'd have loved to have a few dogs herself. Her refusal to fall for the common notion of Muslims being forbidden to be near dogs touched me so. It made me believe in Malaysia all over again.
This afternoon, I was seated in an Indian-Muslim restaurant for a drink. Seated right in front of me was an elderly Chinese man who was mentally unsound. He was talking to many imaginary friends around his table. The Indian-Muslim waiter brought him a plate of rojak and a cup of ice water despite the man not having money with him. It was an act of kindness for which the Chinese man did not have the capacity to be grateful. He merely started talking to the plate of rojak and then started eating it. But the Indian-Muslim waiter just smiled on him kindly. It made me believe in Malaysia all over again.
This evening, as I was driving along the highway on my way home from work, I saw a Chinese man pushing his motorbike which had broken down. At my speed, I couldn't stop in time to offer assistance. But 100 metres ahead, I noticed that an Indian man on a motorbike had stopped after having noticed a fellow biker pushing his bike behind him. And now, this Indian man was pushing his motorbike backwards towards the Chinese man. What kindness. It made me believe in Malaysia all over again.
I have learned something today: I believe in Malaysia, and I'm glad I decided to stay here. What I don't believe in are politicians who have done us much harm by imposing a racial consciousness that has divided us rather than an awareness of differences that helps us to celebrate our diversity and uniqueness. Through all the above situations that I'd witnessed, I had caught a glimpse of what Malaysia could be. Or perhaps this was what Malaysia once was, but had been gradually forgotten. Maybe all I saw was a debris of the past.
The truth is, I don't need any politician to preach 1Malaysia at me. There are very good people in Malaysia - non-political people - who recognise our differences in colour, culture and religion, and who celebrate these diversities. My own religion has preached 1Humanity long before the very political entities who polarised the races in Malaysia started ironically preaching 1Malaysia.
I believe in Malaysia. But leaders, I don't believe in you.