“Civilizations should be measured by the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained.” ~ W. H. Auden
Journal, 18 December 2011. Pulau Penang, Malaysia.
TAPESTRY OF A NATION.
Once we’re done at the hospital, we pass by Kelley’s place to pick up Catherine and Candice and head to an Indian restaurant for breakfast. Sigh, I’m being haunted by Indian cuisine. I order a simple omelete and a juice.
I ask Kelley what are all these posters around town with a “1” containing the national flag. She explains that it’s a new government campaign to promote ethnic unity between Malaysians, Indians and Chinese in Malaysia… but she has little faith that the government will truly address the problem: in this country, unless you’re a Muslim, you’re often treated as a second class citizen.
Everyone pays the same taxes but the various ethnicities are not proportionally represented within the government, nor benefit from the same priviledges. Regarding education, for instance, if there are only ten vacancies for joining a university, five are automatically reserved for Muslims.
I understand Kelley’s concern and complaint… but I also wonder, if emmigrants see themselves as “Indian” or “Chinese” (although many probably never visited these countries), in which way are they loyal to the Malaysian culture and history? In which way do they love and defend this country?
Then again, who am I to judge? I moved to England three years ago but never even registered as a voter, although I continued to vote on the elections in Portugal. And I tend to see myself more as a European, and London as a city of the World, where I was always judged by my capabilities, not my country of origin.
Emmigrants. Citizens. Paperwork and bureaucracy… The more I travel, the more all these concepts of “us” and “them” feels like an illusion – an old fear of separation, still enslaving so many hearts and minds.
I’m clueless on an empty stomach… need to learn more about sociology and politics, getting way too many questions and not enough answers.
• Kelley’s insights and honesty.