Updated on 15 Sept 2009 at 10am
PETALING JAYA, 15 Sept 2009: A beloved chef, a renowned compere and a respected entrepreneur are but only a few of the notable Malay Malaysians reclaiming the meaning of multicultural Malaysia come Malaysia Day tomorrow.
“Malaysia has become a very scary country. Why can’t we just love people for what they are, regardless of the colour of their skin? Have we not learnt from the experiences of Rwanda, Bosnia and the Holocaust?” Chef Wan told The Nut Graph in telephone interview.
Chef Wan (Pic by Roland Tanglao @ Flickr)
“Malaysians have to learn to respect each other. Those [Malay Malaysians] who want to hurt Indian and Chinese [Malaysians], they should ask themselves this. If we cubit ourselves, do we not hurt? Then why do we want to pinch them? This logic should also apply vice-versa,” he said.
In the light of the protests threatening violence over the relocation of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam, and in order to take part in an inclusive gesture to uphold what Malaysia means, Chef Wan will be participating in the Fast for the Nation, Peace for Malaysia event on 16 Sept.
Other Malaysian personalities who are also participating include activist, blogger and The Nut Graph columnist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, compere Datuk Mahadzir Lokman, entrepreneur Anas Zubedy, and popular artistes Reshmonu, Rafidah Abdullah of Gol & Gincu and 3R fame, and DJ Roshan from Mix FM.
Responding to communalism
The inclusive fast was triggered by the recent protest in Shah Alam, in which a group of Malay-Muslim Malaysians opposed the relocation of a Hindu temple and dragged around a severed cow’s head.
According to Anas: “When a certain group of people offends another group of people, I always feel it is important for other members of the ‘offensive group’ to come forward and say that it is unacceptable. In this case, the offending group consisted of Malay Muslims.”
He said that this is why he, as a Malay-Muslim Malaysian, has spoken up about the cow-head protests, and why he is involved in the inclusive fast.
In a telephone interview with The Nut Graph, Anas also explained that his company, zubedy (m) sdn bhd, already has a tradition of holding at least one multifaith “puasa day” every year.
“On this day, everyone at zubedy will fast and berbuka together. We can fast in any way — the Buddhist way, the Muslim way, or some people forego food but not water. The point is we do it in solidarity with each other,” he said.
Anas is also known for taking out a full one-page ad on behalf of his company on 16 Sept every year to commemorate Malaysia Day.
“This year, seeing that Malaysia Day falls during Ramadan, we decided to do a joint Malaysia Day and ‘puasa day’ celebration, and this was even before I learnt about Fast for the Nation, Peace for Malaysia,” he explained.
Walking the talk
However, Anas said those participating in the inclusive fast were not in positions of authority and power, and as such, parties such as the cow-head protesters were unlikely to take them seriously.
“This is why I believe that our royalty and all our mufti must also speak up and say that what the protesters did was wrong. (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak), (PAS spiritual leader Datuk) Nik Abdul Aziz (Nik Mat) and (Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim should all also come up with a joint statement saying the protesters’ actions were unacceptable,” he said.
The participants (Pic courtesy of Sivin Kit)
According to Anas, only in this way would all Malaysians understand that the protest and the ensuing fracas were not part of Islam or the Malay culture.
Mahadzir, a multilingual compere with decades of experience, also said it is important to not just talk about an inclusive Malaysia, but to practise it.
“I grew up having Chinese and Indian [Malaysian] neighbours babysitting me when my parents went out. Everyone was an uncle or auntie even if we weren’t literally related, regardless of race,” he told The Nut Graph in a phone interview.
He admitted to being confounded by the rise in communalism in Malaysia.
“I once heard even my own younger relatives talking in a not-so-harmonious way about other races. I had to sit them down, not to scold them, but to explain my own multiracial upbringing,” he said.
Mahadzir will be among the many personalities aiming to share their pre-dawn meal together at 5am at Lotus Restaurant in PJ State cinema tomorrow. The organisers encourage members of the public to hold their own inclusive fasts and to break fast together, preferably with vegetarian food, wherever they are.
Details of the event can be found at http://peace4msia.blogspot.com.
The Nut Graph needs your support
If only more Malaysians had better eyesight!
Angelia Ong says
I’m fasting as our country needs more positive news, more acceptance, not “tolerance”. And to mark Malaysia Day.
tsunami unleashed says
Bravo to you Mr Chef Wan. That is what and how we Malaysians are supposed to think. But […] Umno is preaching race-based politics. What will Malaysians get from this? A failed state. Shame on you, Malaysian politicians/ministers. You [have no courage]…..
Balen Thuraisingham says
I am a Malaysian Tamil, born in Kuala Lumpur. I was sent to school in England, at the age of 14 in May 1957, a scant four months before independence. Thus I travelled on a British Passport. At age 15, in 1958, I voluntarily surrendered my British Passport and acquired a Malayan Passport (both of which I still have), against “advice” from uncles, friend etc, but with the support of my late father.
At age 15, I understood my roots. I was and always will be a Malayan/Malaysian, and will not allow any miscreant to deny my right as a loyal citizen to King and Country. I was born in Malaya and am not a “pendatang”.
It hurts me to witness the rising menace of communalism that threatens the unity of our citizens. It pains me to see the successors of Dato Onn, Tuan Haji Noor (the maternal grandfather of both our PM and our Home Minister) and other great and compassionate Malaysians cynically manipulate diversity to promote nefarious schemes to cling to political power. Instead of promoting policies to weld our strenghts and create a great nation, these opportunistic politicos are seeking the polarising of races as a means to an end.
I welcome the initiative of people like Chef Wan. Perhaps ordinary Malaysians can be mobilised by such true Malaysians to shame the racists and reclaim our oneness.
This message should be delivered [Hishammuddin]. […]
Chow Kim Yim says
We all need to be tolerant of each other – those who have erred must be guided to see the truth of their actions and rightly said, the country’s leaders are the ones most effective to do this. A tit-for-tat will only cause more harm and disunity – so let’s be tolerant and support those who are for the realisation of IMalaysia.
Bravo, Chef Wan and the rest. Let’s do it for our country!
Fiona K says
The so-called leaders are unfortunately not going to demonstrate the leadership required … It will be up to us, the people, to do so. Do not wait for them!
We need not just celebrities to endorse [such] events, but every average Ahmad, Ah kau and Arumugam to participate in a day like this! I’m fasting all the way from Australia, and am glad to be part of a bigger picture!
I’m fasting to remember this day and to reclaim this country. My Malaysia is not a violent person; in fact, she’s very gentle, forgiving and tolerant. This is a rejection of the hate some people are attempting to spread.