Celebrating Malaysia Day 16th September

DATE:            16TH SEPTEMBER 2011, FRIDAY
TIME:             PROPOSED 5PM-12PM


Malaysia Day 2010 was my response to the 1Malaysia Project. Although I feel that we need to urgently address racial and religious issues in Malaysia, I think the idea of “unity in diversity” is sloganeering that chooses to focus on our racial differences.

We need to understand that Malaysia is far more complex than that. We, as human beings, are far more complex than that.

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen argues in his book, Identity and Violence, The Illusion of Destiny: that “…the world is increasingly taken to be divided between religions (ed: and in Malaysia, race), ignoring the relevance of other ways in which people see themselves, through class, gender, profession, language, literature, science, music, morals or politics, and denying the real possibilities of reasoned choices. When good relations among different people are identified in this way, human beings are deeply miniaturized and deposited into small boxes.”

We are more than just Malay, Chinese, Indian or lain-lain; more than just Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Buddhist – we are also individuals who may be roti canai and teh tarik aficionados, supporters of the arts, lovers of nature, or Liverpool fans who “will never walk alone”. When we begin to see ourselves, beyond race and religion, as individuals with multiple diverse identities, interests and affiliations; then perhaps we can begin to allow for the possibility of “reasoned choices” to be made.

And so, I do not agree with lawyers forming Muslim lawyer organizations or Christian lawyer organizations, separate schooling systems, etc.

We need to create more religious and racial free spaces for people to meet, play and work together. This is the only way in which we can learn to understand and accept each other and our differences.  We need to find more ways to connect. We need more compassion in our lives.

The concept of “Malaysiaku” is that the “Ku” (me) is part of Malaysia. We are all a part of Malaysia. We all have our place under the Malaysian sun. Whoever we may be.

To celebrate Malaysia Day 2010, we invited as many different non racial and religious groups as possible, each doing what they do best, to celebrate the birth of our country together. And so we had 16 NGOs represented, Malaysian singer song writers, flash mobs, tiger face painting, food stalls, dragon dance, kompang performance, wayang kulit performance, Indian dance, Sabahan dance, Sarawakian dance, exhibitions on Harmonious Spiritual Practices, talks and discussions on politics, the Constitution, our Founding Fathers, films, books, economics, etc.  And there was ample space for everyone.

This is the diverse, wonderful, slightly chaotic Malaysia I want to live in. Not one that seeks to constantly remind me that I am Chinese.

By: Edward Soo, Maxim Image Sdn Bhd


I think it is important that we stop to reflect, and imagine what Malaysia can be, and should be. Often we are so caught up with what is “politically possible”, that we forget to dream. Lets start by imagining what is possible, and then take steps to make it happen.


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