We are all Malaysians–Tunku Abdul Rahman (1970)

March 23, 2016

We are all Malaysians–Tunku Abdul Rahman (1970)

by Azrul Mohd Khalib


“We are all Malaysians. This is the bond that unites us.” were Tunku Abdul Rahman’s words in his final broadcast to the nation as prime minister on August 30, 1970.

This is the promise made during the struggle for Independence and the formation of Malaysia in 1963. It is the promise that was cemented at great cost and sacrifice of blood, sweat, tears and the lives of many. It wasn’t the Communists, the threat of communal strife and of mutually assured destruction, or racial politics which brought us all together. It was this promise.

For Malaysia

What was pledged was that as a people, we would be free to be what we could be; that we would live together in harmony and in fair partnership; that together we would succeed as opposed to being separate states; that we would be unified as one people with a shared future, as Malaysians.

We have come far in these past 53 years. There is much to be proud of. But we need to reflect on how far we have progressed as a people and a country to move forward.

Imam Khalifah Agong Seni Pusaka Gayong Malaysia

Today more than ever before, we are very aware of the racial tensions and communal divisions which bedevil our nation. We have allowed ourselves to be frightened and held hostage to the shrill and ugly voices of merchants peddling hatred, racism, bigotry, fascism, and extremism. They do not speak for us yet we have allowed them to dominate the national narrative.

It’s a topsy-turvy world when those who speak of moderation, pluralism, liberalism, equity and diversity are demonised, condemned and even persecuted. Today, many of us have become bitter, cynical and pessimistic about the future of this country. Some have even thrown in the towel and cabut to another country.

The long and loud chorus of naysayers, cynics and sceptics say that the Malaysia we seek is now an impossible dream.  That it is all a fantasy. But like many of you, I refuse to give up on this country and its promise. Malaysia is our home and there is no other.

We can accept the status quo which breeds divisive policies, conflict and communal interests or leave the politics of race and religion in the dust behind us, and walk forward together as Bangsa Malaysia and realise this vision.

The zealots, racists and bigots will scream, shout and threaten. They squeal because they too sense the real possibility of change and fear it. We need to find the courage to do our part. Often the kind of change we seek will not come easy.But we need to work on this. Malaysia is not made of a single race or ethnicity. Nor should it be. Uniformity and assimilation are NOT unity. Neither is racial dominance.

Together, we can choose the aspirations of hope and change over the politics of hatred and fear. The unity of purpose over conflict and disunity. To those who seek to sow conflict and discord, know that we reject the idea that we need to dominate and discriminate in order to progress as a people and a country.

We need to determine what kind of country we want to have. Should we have change or have more of the same?That choice is yours and yours alone.There are at least two things to start off with that I believe needs to happen to prepare us for the next 50 years when it comes to this issue of race.

Firstly, we need to commit ourselves with fierce urgency to reduce and work towards the elimination of racial-based preferential policies and legislation. We must end race-based politics. The system today is broken and these privileges have been abused for far too long. Aside from South Africa which suffered from the sins of apartheid, no other country has as much affirmative action and privileges given to the population which forms the majority.

It should be a matter of maruah and pride, especially for the Malay community, to find the courage and finally say that we have outgrown the need for such ethnically divisive measures. After all, what use are decades of progress and development if Malays continue to insist on preferential treatment, special privileges and racial quotas? Such policies should always only be drastic measures and exceptions to help those in need and marginalised minorities.

Secondly, we must do our part to demand leaders who are bold, courageous and committed to make this change happen. We must not get complacent, lazy or apathetic by letting others determine the direction of this country. We need to hold our public officials to account.

In the end, we deserve the governance that we get and have only ourselves to blame if we get crappy representatives. Decisions are made by those who show up. If our Yang Berhormats are stubborn and continue to prop up this broken system, we should stand up, speak out and show them the door. They work for us, remember?

We call upon the leadership of this country to stand with fellow Malaysians in realising a better and fairer Malaysia for all. It is always going to be easier to be frustrated, sit back and hope somebody else does the work. But we must take up this call for action. We can and will do what is hard.

We must do so if we want to give our children a foundation for their dreams and opportunities worthy of their potential. If we want them to believe that in Malaysia, regardless of race or religion, anything is possible as long as you are willing to work for it.

We must work like never before, we must come together and stand together to make it happen. Imagine thousands if not millions of voices calling for change. Nothing can be more powerful.

We cannot afford to be silent. We must stand up and speak out.This is our country. Together, that is our destiny.

Condolences to the People of Belgium and Brussels

18 thoughts on “We are all Malaysians–Tunku Abdul Rahman (1970)

  1. “We are all Malaysians. This is the bond that unites us.”

    This was Tunku’s hope and wish which has now joined the ranks of similar wisdom by likes of Gandhi.
    Current culture is ME FOR ME.

  2. Frankly, “maruah” is not going to make the Malays change. Hadi’s PAS recent statements is proof enough..Like it or not, it must be real collapse of the system as predicted. So long as the bubble do not burst, the problems kicked down the road, it will not change.

  3. //there is much to be proud of.

    I wonder if that is the case. I wonder what we should be proud of. I recalled reading the following.

    Tunku made the broadcast ‘In this hour of need I pray to Allah to secure you against all dangers. At the same time you must look after yourselves. … God bless you all’ *Strait Times, May 14 1969.

    I wonder what has changed. We are still merely working on looking after ourselves, after some got to help themselves better than the all others, irregardless of race.

    Sorry, what should we be proud of again?
    We are one accidental nation created in a haste by an empire that grew tired of governing paupers and savages from impossible far away cultures that were never meant to live together.

    I am a penumpang. So are the free rider Bumiputeras. So are the elite rulers. So are the politicans who are borned as children of so and so.
    None deserves to take pride. Those who got more need to be even more shameful. Those who got less should be blessed to know your hands are at least clean though you might be living in dirt.

    After Tunku made that statement on May 14, we are all left to cari makan on our own. It is not that we are not thankful to be able to cari makan. But, there is nothing to be proud about.

    We suck up, we push down, and we work hard on exploiting all that we have been given.

    We should be ashame before men and God (for those who believe there is one) before we can take pride. I am ashame. God, forgive us. Return to dust, and cover my face with dirt is where and how I hide in God.

    This nation ought not to have been created. It does not deserve its independence. It has been built on a lie since the night Tunku made that prayer. It has been created on a “fiat” promise.
    Let it be so, and it became. Ever since so, all were merely doing their tumpang on this “let is be so” land. No one actually work on it.

    Wither the nation should be. Let it be, and let it go. Live another day, and cari makan somewhere else.

    This nation deserves to wither. It is not worthy slaving for another penumpang, be it barisan, or pakatan, Ali or Mohammed, no matter how they claim they deserve to lead. They too are mere penumpangs.

    Be silent and we live another day. Stand up and we die for no reason.

    Yet, for those who have eternity in our mind, remember nation comes and goes. But, something remains. Today is the present that we need to seize. Yesterday is history, tomorrow a wonder. Today, a gift we seize. We seize as much as those who seized from us. Fight the undeserving penumpangs, be it Barisan or Pakatan, Mohammed or Ali. None of us deserves to lead, but none of us deserves to be led into limbo also.

  4. Beyond his jovial exterior Tunku was a man who had very considerable leadership skills in galvanising ordinary people – take the history of Saberkas in Kedah, for example. He was a “grassroots leader” even before the term was coined.

    The void now is too great; there is self-centred evil on one side and sometimes equally self-centred confusion and infighting on the other. But a principled, morally upright leader to unite the people – we have no real solution. There are no Tunkus now.

    If Tunku were alive today he’d be quite taken aback by the fact that his image is on the logo of Parti Ikatan, of all things (Umno does not want to remember him, sadly.)

    “But this serbaned PAS devil is all about racial politics! Hmmmm. Not my cup of tea. Take my picture off, please. I don’t know what you stand for, and I don’t approve of your friends.”

  5. Under Tunku’s leadership, we have some leadership and trust.

    Decades of narrow, divisive and destructive Malay/Muslim politics of race and religion had destroyed the country.

    Leaders unite. Politicians divide.

    With bad leadership, gross mismanagement and political power to abuse, some divisive Malay/Muslim politicians would not hesitate to destroy trust and social cohesion to achieve their hidden and narrow political agenda.

    A Malay/Muslim can be radicalised within a week.

    When the politicians destroyed the ordinary people’s trust, they destroyed the economy and the country.

  6. “… , some divisive Malay/Muslim politicians would not hesitate to destroy trust and social cohesion ..”
    @sotong You seriously think only Malay/Muslim politicians? Please keep up the standard of debate here – racism must be frowned upon.

  7. There is a need to re-define “Malaysians”. Do we have the courage to do this?

    There is a general perception and expectation that to be considered “Malaysian”, you must abandon your ethnicity, embrace the Malay language and Malay way of life. And Malays having identified themselves as synonimous to “Islam”, expects others to put Islam ahead of their religion. If others managed to inadvertently overshadow the Malays and Islam, in any facet of daily lives, they will be threatened by Malay and pseudo-Malay bigots and be asked to be stripped of their citizenship and to balik India or Cina.

    Such conduct makes the Indians and Chinese ever defensive and retaliate (non-violently, of course) and lead to a vicious cycle.

    There is no room for Malaysians of all ethnicities to embrace common values and respect each others differences ….

    So, are we really all Malaysians? Or are we just Melayu and pendatangs … 60 years after Merdeka?

  8. We had this discussion many moons ago with semper fi, Mr Bean, Tok Cik et al, over here – about what Being Malaysian means. How inclusivity should look like.

    Over the moons nothing has changed, despite the 1M thingy, so i’m inclined to think that the ‘Other’ means well.., the Other – whether in ethnicity, religion, culture, socio-economic, educational status, or whatever. Multiculturalism as defined elsewhere is dead. We need a new paradigm, uniquely ‘Malaysian’. Like Nasi Lemak or Char Kuay Teow.

    Don’t kid yourselves. We are born racist, live racist, breed racist and die racist.
    That’s the whole goddamned Truth. Deal with it! Even bacteria have quorum sensing before they become virulent.

    It’s how we acknowledge it, then come to terms with it and ultimately to embrace the difference, that counts. Not plain denial and platitudes about “No Racism”. It will always be ‘Work in Progress’.

    So unless we honestly look within ourselves and try hard to transcend the cultural imprinting, economic disparity and social bias – there is no hope that we can embrace the ‘Other’..

    Even Religion and God can’t help us. Just ask any the persecuted and marginalized.. Human relationships and interaction cannot be dictated, only encouraged the ‘right’ way and personalized. It starts with basic education and anti-apartheid policies.

    Any questions, kindly refer to Godot.

  9. “We are all Malaysians. This is the bond that unites us.” were Tunku Abdul Rahman’s words in his final broadcast to the nation as prime minister on August 30, 1970.

    Effectively, in Tunku’s words, ” We all must be Malaysians First , Regardless.”

    The leaders of the political divide, the institutional leaders and the people, across nation, East and West Malaysia need to courageously commited and turn those wise inclusiveness words into actions, we are optimistic Najib’s ”1 Malaysia”, with all intent and puropse will be truly ” 1 Malaysia” in attaining a better and brighter future for our country and children in posterity.

    Malaysia is truly Blessed.

    Why then, do we need anyone (busy body) to save Malaysia ?

  10. It’s quite easy, really.

    All we need to do is to select a Party with a manifesto of the above policies and vote for its candidate at the next election.

    The Party who wins a majority of seats will form the next Government. They will then be able to pass laws that are equitable and fair to all races.

    Q. Which Party’s constitutional objectives currently come close to the points made above?

  11. CLF, yes we have discussed this many a times but the group you mentioned are Malays that form the Malaysian diaspora and have by choice made themselves minority in a foreign land. Thus they see the issues from a different perspective i.e. a minority having to stand on their own merit against the majority.
    In Malaysia , the Malays have been instilled with the notion of Ketuanan Melayu and have to defend the Bangsa, Agama dan Negara but woefully the enemy has never been identified. Some years it was the Tuans Mat Sallehs, then came the Communists, then came Ganyang Malaysia and now the Pendatangs. What irks me is that the country is slowly being sold to the Chinese from Communist China and not a pip squeak from the leadership, instead the country is offered on a silver platter.
    Another surprise is that Malaysia sends thousands of Malay students to study in the western countries in the hope they will become matured, responsible and berdikari, accepting the good their host country have provided and leaving the bad behind. Yet upon their return to Malaysia these Malay students revert back to their earlier mode of thinking i.e. under the coconut shell. What a waste of valuable resources least of all the brain power. Alas Malays like the perkampungan or ghetto. Even abroad they seek other Malays and live withing proximity of other Malays kononnya unto keselamatan dan kebahagiaan (safety and well being)
    Until and unless the Malays begin to reshape their outlook in life, the question of Malay versus Malaysian will never be resolved. Perhaps this will occur when there no more Malaysia or Tanah Melayu to call home.

  12. /// katasayang March 23, 2016 at 12:03 pm
    Sorry, what should we be proud of again?
    We are one accidental nation created in a haste by an empire that grew tired of governing paupers and savages from impossible far away cultures that were never meant to live together. ///

    katasayang, what you said applies with equal, if not bigger force to Singapore. It is not only an accidental nation, but a rejected and ejected nation with the same volatile mix of races and populated by coolies and menial workers.

    A tale of two nations – one with a lot to be proud of, and one with not much to be proud of.

  13. For the Great Tunku to achieve his wish, and for Malaysia to be integrated, there exists only the following paths: 1either a calamity has to occur, or 2. a future GE removes BN as the ruling party, or 3. a revolution occurs with Dr M, or 4. the Prince of Johor steps up to take over Putrajaya, or 5. China takes over, or 6 ISIS starts ground campaign in Malaysia. Given the propensity of the citizens to chicken out due to the fascist police state, and the improbabilities of the Prince and foreign interest to takeover, I think that that dream will only be realized through the effects of a calamity so great that everyone will have to suffer. That such a beautiful and resource blessed country must wait for a calamity, is a sad reflection of the citizens of the country. The calamity has started, and starvation stares at where DSAI saw the suffering at Baling as did one Malaysian (Spencer Chapman’s most trusted agent) no longer with us and his remains not allowed in this country.

  14. “A tale of two nations – one with a lot to be proud of, and one with not much to be proud of.” – The

    Malaysia and Singapore can also be described as a tale of two siblings.

    As such, I believe that if Singapore can be clean and transparent, so can Malaysia.

    Why not? We come from the same roots.

  15. We had a number of colorful Malaysians personalities before people like Sardon Jubir, Ghaffar Baba, Khir Johari, the Seenivasagam brothers, Sulaiman Palestin, Sulaiman Ninam Shah, and Syed Nasir to name a few but none can compare to the present UMNOb clowns like Ahmad Maslan, Rahman Dahalan, Butch Azalina and Nazri Aziz. These colorful characters can manage to put their foot in their mouth every time they open their mouth. Oh let’s not forget the DPM who once cried in front of Mahathir after being removed as Chairman of a bank. Pathetic.

  16. I have said it before. The only real definition on what it means to be Malaysian, is how the State defines you .

    Anything else is well…meaningless.

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