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Who wants 1Malaysia?

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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23 Responses to “Who wants 1Malaysia?”

  1. Monica says:

    Great one! I can’t agree more with you. To me, 1Malaysia is just a slogan used by a tired marketer whose trust has vanished among people. We are not interested in talking. We want to see concrete action to uphold justice and provide equal opportunity to people. Sad but true, examples given by you are testimonials that go against what they preach. Who wants to be fooled again?

  2. PSD says:

    1Malaysia or 1Malays yeah!!

  3. anon says:

    Now, this seems like it makes some sense. 1Malaysia is creating a lot of confusion. Some do not even know what it means. Others go overboard with it. And there are some using it to suit their own purpose – they are not really interested in unity, they just want the present regime out so they can take over and gradually represent their race and it will be back to the square 1, except with another race ruling the country.

    A lot of biased (a mild term) people are hoping that the introduction of this 1Malaysia is the beginning of asserting their own race in this country – if that is ever possible or at least garner more privileges for them now.

    Let’s face it, there is no one single party that is interested or will “unite” all the major races in this country. A lot of talk about it by DAP, PAS and PKR (the so-called Pakatan parties) but they have insiduous intentions.

    Malaysia stands but there has to be accountabilty and transparency – that is what I want. No special privileges, minimal corruption, no master race (and I am not talking about the present Ketuanan Melayu, because there are other races, too who think they are one above the rest), no quota system – separation of powers, and freedom for all. No country has total freedom but we could have the freedom that a democratic country should have.

  4. lkl says:

    I have hated “1Malaysia” from the day I first heard it.

    Nowadays, they are everywhere; ubiquitous like Ah Long’s adverts on lamp posts.
    But just like we can choose not to borrow from an Ah Long, we can choose not to buy this “1Malaysia” crap.

    If they can waste money on promoting hollow slogans, they can pay the Penan translator.

    Just what is this “1Malaysia” idea, anyway? It seems to be a rojak of even more hollow ideas.

    Perhaps Najib can tell us how toppling duly elected state governments sync with his 1Malaysia?

  5. mrsfish says:

    Here, here!!

  6. Kat Chua says:

    Thanks, Marion. 1Malaysia was such a feeble attempt at sloganism at best (I mean, our flag wrapped around a numerical one?) What on earth is the meaning of people first, performance now? Lord SOS!

  7. Netizen says:

    Nice article. I like the picture, too. It’s nice to see young people taking an interest in making their voices heard.

  8. oster says:

    1Malaysia is the manifestation of the natural tendency for autocrats to exert control.

    It is similar to China’s “One” based slogan, where Tibetan protesters were denounced and breaching their One World One Dream ideal.

    Their One World really means the world as the Chinese government saw it and their One Dream really meant the dream as the Chinese government saw it.

    Hence, it is okay that the Communist Party reaped the political benefits of holding the games, but not okay for any other group to do so, for there can only be One interpretation of One World One Dream.

    Consequently, 1Malaysia is the 1 interpretation of what Malaysia is and what it should be, which is the interpretation of its promulgators – the current Federal Executive.

    You just need to look at the numerous exhortations to ‘menghayati’ the ‘true meaning’ of Merdeka, as if there is only one possible meaning to it and not multiple subjective interpretations.

    Until we relieve ourselves of our own autocratic instincts, we will not rid ourselves of this plague.

    Cheers.

  9. lockjoseph says:

    Is there hope for all Malaysians to live in unity. After the incident with the cow’s head, Teoh Beng Hock’s death while under detention at MACC, arresting a journalist under ISA to protect her? False accusations, different laws for different people, we have yet to see and hear of MACC investigations on Khir Toyo’s mansion and many other corruption allegations. It is amazing to see that all complaints of Khir Toyo get immediate attention from MACC and PDRM. What else can we hope for Malaysia where legitimate application for business licenses are drawn on racial compositions, and even when complied [with] are obstructed by opaque rules and regulations without [being] given reasons for rejection?

  10. kahchuak says:

    I wake up to a cow’s head … where is 1Malaysia?

    There’s talk of bloodshed because we cant function properly … where is 1Malaysia?

    We take photos of holy bread which we spit out … where is 1Malaysia?

    There’s H1N1 but the politicians seem to be the doctors … where is 1Malaysia?

    There’s science and maths but there seem to be no teachers … where is 1Malaysia?

    1Malaysia is a club. An exclusive club for all the like-minded [...] which our political masters wish to control us by. Grow up, there will be a Malaysia again when the politicians all hang out to dry. Meanwhile, folks, I suggest we just ignore the whole shebang and get on with our lives. The lesser of the two evils will be the opposition of today, just give them full power for five years … haha we’ll see more toyols creeping up then.

  11. mike says:

    Well written, Marion, well written. I am scared too. Too frightening.

  12. momojo says:

    1 Malaysia … is far from the defintion.

    Is it:

    Corruption first, BN now? or

    Racism first, semi-democratic now? or

    ISA first, iron-fist ruler now? [...]

  13. uncle husim says:

    Wawasan 2020 > Islam Hadhari > 1Malaysia … slogan tak habeh-habeh …

  14. azmi says:

    That truth is so elusive but we must prod, poke, urge and demand that the truth be told

  15. anne Louis says:

    Marion – Aware, (angry!) and articulate. So insulting that sloganeers can act so mindlessly and be so coldly manipulating. Instead of reaching for the moon in their pockets again, the lot of them should be shocked with more grassroot truths.

    “…Not even unity in diversity. Just diversity and inclusiveness.” Brilliant.

  16. alicefernandez says:

    Excellent article, as though another rubbishy slogan is going to right all the wrongs that are going on, do they think we are as stupid as them?

  17. “People First. Performance Now,” sounds like a good name for a street theatre group.

  18. anne Louis says:

    @ Tshiung Han See posted: 1 Sep 09 :

    ” ‘People First. Performance Now” sounds like a good name for a street theatre group.”

    You people are the chosen few in that group. Let the beguine honestly begin. The implacability already has. Help us reveal our individual truths.

    There is an achievable better, and it’s definitely achievable with the help of you guys.

  19. Philip the Bird says:

    Good one, Marion.

    Actually, 1Malaysia in practice is 2Malaysia. 2 sets of standards for everything, depending how pro-BN/Umno you are.

    Let’s just shoot for plain ol’ Malaysia. The Malaysia where every citizen has a place in the sun. We start by sweeping those 1Malaysia/2Malaysia Einsteins out of Putrajaya.

  20. Marge Martinez says:

    I post the words of Dawna Markova as a salute to you Marion because you live them:

    “I will not die an unlived life
    I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire,
    I choose to inhabit my days
    to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.”

    Thank you for loosening your heart in this brave article. Keep chippin’ dear friend.

  21. Adrian says:

    Thank you, Marion for reminding me that I, too, only want one thing – the truth.

  22. Psyzha says:

    anon Posted: 28 Aug 09 : 12.51PM :

    “…….is the beginning of asserting their own race in this country…., ….because there are other races, too who think they are one above the rest….”

    How true. So who to believe?

    No one, actually………not until they can really grasp the meaning of Marion’s “…Just diversity and inclusiveness……..many interpretations, multiplicity — all converging and diverging as well.”

    The gall of the one who coined the term “ketuanan” in the first place!

  23. yong says:

    Marion D’cruz, why are you so upset? Does not the slogan tell you the actual motive?

    1Malaysia – all must follow the Buaya Negara. No other way! If not how to makan duit rakyat? Give you new petrol today at RM1.75 [per litre], 24 hours later, naik RM0.05. Privatise everything – roads, water, electricity, even using your own toilet at home and now the SECURITY forces [include] Rela!

    [...] PKFZ – everyone in power had a share, any more cleaning, all the previous tranport ministers will not be needing any kind of transport any more but then can just transport ministers alone achieve so much without their colleagues’ knowledge and agreement – so I know I also want – 1Malaysia [not] everyone get but ONLY TOP PEOPLE. Everyone is corrupt and must be investigated but Buaya no need.

    Unity – 1Malaysia – how to achieve when BN shouting Berjuang untuk Bangsa dan Agama all the time. The conditions of this country will not change until and unless the leaders are unblemished.


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