Sunday, September 16, 2012

THE IGNOMINY OF BEING LABELLED 'DAN LAIN-LAIN'

Open invitation to celebrate Malaysia Day with SABM (Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia)

16 September is Malaysia Day. As in 2011, I celebrated the day with friends at SABM (Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia). Children from the rural-urban exchange program gave a 30-minute performance of three mimes, an interview on racism and a lively dance to Kate Perry's "Fireworks". Delightful.

The children from SABM's rural-urban exchange program. 

The special guest was Subang jaya assembly woman YB Hannah Yeoh. She was there with her husband Ramachandran Muniandy to speak on "Bangsa Malaysia - Illusion or Reality?" They shared the hassle they encountered at the National Registration Department when they tried to register their first-born as 'Anak Malaysia'. The only options they could tick from on the national registration form were the standard Malay, Chinese, Indian or Other (dan lain-lain). Apparently, they were told by the registration clerk that the computer data system has been programmed to accept only any of four race categories. (Read more here.)

Anyone would have thought that in this era of digital technology, it would be easy enough to set up a national registration system that allows parents to register their child of mixed parentage as 'anak Malaysia' or just 'Malaysian'. So why hasn't this been done? Is there any political agenda behind this?

The open dialogue session with Hannah after her talk. One can feel the frustration that she and her husband went through to try and register their first child as a Malaysian.

If your mother is Chinese and your father is Malayalee, what would you tick under 'bangsa'? What if you are of Portuguese, Javanese and Kadazan descent? Why does race take precedence over nationality?

Where do I tick if I am of mixed parentage but born in Malaysia to third generation Malaysians?

To be classified under 'Other' is so insulting and demeaning, said a member of the audience during the dialogue session. It's like being lumped together with other nameless people without any identity. It hurts one's pride to have one's ethnicity completely removed from mention in official records.

We are all Malaysians first. (From wilsonbeh)

1 comment:

Antares said...

The powerful and privileged may have started out being among the smartest (or a least their ancestors must have been pretty cunning and ruthless)... but it appears that over time the elite tend to degenerate rapidly and become isolated from what's really happening beyond their luxurious cocoons. Just look at a typical BN cabinet minister - arrogant, smug and dismissive of and disinterested in any project they can't personally profit from - and it becomes obvious why no positive reforms can occur while they're in power.