Since independence, the concept of Bangsa Malaysia is still an unanswered question in Malaysian society.
In recent years, especially in social media, we have seen so much of this topic being discussed either directly or indirectly.
But what’s obvious is, different people have different perspectives and answers to this question.
Discussion of this topic also creates the foundation of the ideologically – based politics that have been growing in Malaysia.
We can observe that Malaysians are now starting to embrace the ideological-based politics that was probably imported from the western media particularly the US.
The fight between conservatives and liberals in the US have opened the minds of Malaysians to picture that fight here in Malaysia as well.
For years, UMNO has ruled Malaysia by pandering to conservatives and shaping party ideology to cater to their needs.
UMNO have for too long used Chinese Malaysians to represent the “boogymen” to Malays and in the same vein, have used DAP as an example of how “the Chinese want to take over Malaysia”.
In order to not completely alienate non-Malays in the country, they have shaped the narrative that MCA is “the good chinese”, which seems to appeal to conservative Malays.
This is what UMNO have done over the years, to manipulate the Malays and force their own vision of what Bangsa Malaysia is.
This ideology of Bangsa Malaysia is still ingrained in the minds of most Malays. No surprise here, it has been used repeatedly by UMNO to steer the tension between races in order to gain the Malay vote.
This is why the rise of “progressive” or “liberal” Malays is such a threat to UMNO. These Malays who have learned from the political environment in the US, are coming to terms with the fact that race is just a weapon used by UMNO to continue to be in power.
Lots of Malays now understand that to build a progressive and developing nation, race politics must be stopped.
To do this, we have to help people understand what Bangsa Malaysia really is and stop the narrative of the conservatives who are afraid of anyone who doesn’t look like them or share the same faith.
An example of a hot topic right now is the usage of Bahasa Melayu, which always steer the Malays into hating a certain race which does not speak the language.
They use Chinese Indonesians as their example of how a “Bangsa” should be, to assimilate into the native’s culture. This is an interesting issue as every society will have an assimilation process, the question is assimilation into what?
This is where the question of what Bangsa Malaysia really is comes into play.
Do we want a society which assimilates into just one culture?Or do we want a society which embrace differences? The latter is what a lot of progressive Malaysians are fighting for. We have to educate Malaysians to embrace this identity of Bangsa Malaysia which promotes differences and diversity. When we as a nation can put an end to race politics, only then, we can move forward as a nation.
Article submitted by: Ismad Firdaus Aminudin
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DAP.