I REALLY do not want 1Malaysia. The idea scares me. And I certainly do not want unity as suggested by the powers-that-be.
In fact, “unity” is really an extremely dated, superficial and abstract concept — a “nice” word that means nothing in real terms. “Unity in Diversity“, “mutual trust and respect” — these are all terms that are being tossed around by a government that has thrived on sloganistic garbage for too long.
As a people, we are getting pretty smart. And we are surely smart enough to know that the slogans have never been translated into concrete action. And therefore one really wonders at why such words and terms are tossed around at all.
A few years ago there was a “Courtesy Campaign” — all over there were slogans, banners, ads. And since then we have, in fact, become a rude, surly people. We are not nice, we do not smile, we do not say thank you. Every time I let a car cut in in front of me in a traffic jam or something, I wait and look for some acknowledgement, but it very rarely comes.
No. I am not interested in 1Malaysia. I am tired of slogans. I just want simple truths. I want real hard work. I want some rigorous thinking. I want honesty and integrity. I want excellence in place of the mediocrity we thrive on.
I want to know why Teoh Beng Hock was called in for questioning at 5pm and questioned through the night for more than 10 hours. When did we become this insane? Why is this happening here in Malaysia? Is this part of a new strategy for “mutual trust and respect” to “renew Malaysia” for this great journey ahead? “People First. Performance Now“? Really? And I really want to know why Teoh Beng Hock was found dead. I also want to know what really happened to A Kugan?
Sudden Death, an improvisational performance held at the Annexe, Central Market, on 6 Aug
in memory of Teoh Beng Hock (Pic by Grey Yeoh)
And in this new 1Malaysia of mutual trust and respect, I want to know why we still have detention without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA). I want to know why my friend who was arrested in the ISA rally on 1 Aug 2009 was kept in the lockup two days after his arrest. The law says that once arrested, you must be either released or charged within 24 hours. But there was no charge, no release, no hearing during his first 24 hours of detention. This is against the law.
And I want to be able to explain to my very angry students why, even with their finest results, they could not get a place in local universities.
Why just 1?
I am not interested in 1Malaysia. I am instead interested in Many Malaysias. I am interested in the idea that it is our diversity that is our strength. Not even unity in diversity. Just diversity and inclusiveness. The idea that we are many stories, many ideas, many possibilities, many bodies, many interpretations, multiplicity — all converging and diverging as well. I am interested in the alternative possibilities, the alternative stories, the alternative histories.
But right now, even this is meaningless. Even this is mere rhetoric. Right now, I really just want to know what really happened to Teoh Beng Hock. The truth.
Marion D’Cruz is an arts worker who believes that change will happen if we all keep chipping away at the block.
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