THE idea that all us are out to “hina Melayu” is so last decade. By blaming Arts-Ed for bringing out “isu perkauman”, the Gabungan Bela Hak Insan has stooped really low in order to spread its own political ideologies.
According to the Gabungan, they were “merely pointing out errors” in the My Balik Pulau newsletter which Arts-Ed publishes. The last time I checked, pointing out errors does not involve burning 15 copies of our children’s hard work and screaming “Allahuakhbar” while doing so. Stop making everything racial and religious. We are just tired of this pattern of using race and religion to gain political support.
Let’s be clear: Arts-Ed is non-political. It is an organisation that educates youths about our community’s heritage. This is done by getting children to conduct interviews and collect oral histories from the communities they reside in. We have no intention to alter history whatsoever. Instead, our aim is to share history and stories that are unique to each person in the community. It is basically residents sharing their life stories with each other.
How then can one say my personal family and life history is erroneous? It is my ancestors, my family, my life. I am appalled at the claim by Pulau Betong assemblyperson Muhammad Farid Saad in Utusan Malaysia that Arts-Ed is a deliberate attempt to deny the rights of fellow Malays.
Art-Ed is a remarkable effort to educate youths about our history, and gives us a sense of identity. Something that formal history education and our school culture failed to do for years, Art-Ed achieves in a span of a few months. I have been working with Arts-Ed since 2003. At the age of 13, Arts-Ed gave me a reason to be proud of my culture, my state and my country. I knew nothing about history. All I learned from schools was how to memorise history, not understand my history. The government thinks that by singing a few national songs and murmuring some ikrar on a weekly basis, students will be more patriotic. Boy, do they have it wrong!
There is only so much textbooks and classrooms can teach us. Arts-Ed takes a different approach to learning history. It uses arts as a tool to educate youths about heritage. We learn so much about our people and ourselves. We learn skills schools never taught us. We learn maturity, independence, and most importantly, we learn unity. We realise how all of us are unique but fundamentally the same. We learn the community’s songs, music, and traditional trades. We try our very best to keep our heritage alive. Through Arts-Ed, we experience history rather than just read history. By burning copies of our work, I wonder what exactly Gabungan Bela Hak Insan were planning to achieve?
Instead of bashing Arts-Ed’s efforts, they should be applauding Arts-Ed for its efforts in realising 1Malaysia. Go for an Arts-Ed meeting, see how the children interact with each other. See how they do not even notice the colour of each other’s skin. See the love, support and patriotism they have for each other and for our beloved Penang. See how proud they are of their identity. Learn from them! Arts-Ed children have grasped the idea of 1Malaysia long before our government even thought of implementing it.
13 Feb 2011