Who’s the first to step foot on Malaysian soil? Who’s the last? Who are the in-betweens? Do I care?- NO ! I am not a political person and I am not a member of any political party. But I am involved in one way – I pray for Malaysia often. I love Malaysia and all her people and I don’t want to migrate elsewhere. As for who’s the first here, that I’ll leave to the archaeologists and historians. I am not qualified to enlighten anyone on this matter.
But sadly, many people have made this ‘race thing’ such an issue. Why, I just don’t understand – with all the patriotic songs after every midnight news on NTV, the message is we should put our country before self glory and power. Maybe I just don’t have that kind of mindset. I believe in the principles of the RUKUNEGARA. The very first principle is ‘Belief in God’. As a Christian, I believe in John 3:16. God loves all people – black or yellow, red or white – and so should we. Whether they are Malaysians, orang asli, migrant workers, expatriates or any other ‘tongues and tribes’, we should love all because God loves all of them. God hates sin, not people. HE does not discriminate among them and HE is not partial towards prince or pauper. If we truly believe in God, we should see others through His eyes and feel His heartbeat for them. It’s not impossible-we just need to know how much God loves us. Then we need to pray and ask Him for empathy for others.
I have been teaching for more than 20 years in the best premier urban schools, a Malay girls’ school, a school with racial gangs, a college with international students and have been serving in a Church with Indonesian, Vietnamese, Myanmarese and Nepalese migrant workers. Never once did I feel that one group of students or people was better than or superior to another. To me, education is a journey, not a destination, and the most highly educated person can still be uncivilised in behaviour. In fact, I enjoyed my years in the school where most of the Malay girls came from kampungs. Every now and then, I would find a few fruits on my table eg. a couple of rambutans, a jambu etc. Hari Raya would be the time when the girls would take me from kampung to kampung visiting their homes. Their parents were simple folks with big hearts and I treasured those teaching years. In the schools with all the gangs, the students were close to me and they confided in me. However, I never visited any students’ homes in the premier urban schools and some students there were worse off in discipline than those in the notorious schools.
In Church, from working among the migrant workers and praying with them, I learnt about great faith and humility-they both go together. Simple faith from simple hearts reaped great miracles! The Indonesians, Vietnamese, Myanmarese and Nepalese-such gentle people with hospitable hearts and warmest smiles-so easy to love, if only many of us remove our self-created ‘Berlin Wall’ that blocks them out of our lives. We depend on them in our homes, factories, construction sites, malls……yet many of us just don’t want to have anything to do with them out of fear or indifference.
God is not a racist. How can we claim to believe in Him and yet discriminate against other races? God is LOVE and we have to love-that is His greatest commandment which must be obeyed. When a Pharisee asked Jesus ” Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”, He replied ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is “Love your neighbour as yourself’ “(Matthew 22:37-39, NIV)
Let me share with you just one more incident. Back in the past when I had to undergo two really bad operations, I had to stay in the GH from Chinese New Year through Hari Raya. The GH is not a holiday resort and no one in her right mind would want to be surrounded by sick and dying patients during the festive seasons. However, I had no choice-my surgeon simple refused to sign the discharge form. Then a Chinese nurse brought me home-cooked food and another Malay nurse gave me her kuih-kuih raya. Yes, I made a lot of friends of all races in the hospital – that’s true Muhibbah!
So do I care who’s first or last in Malaysia? You know my response. The past is gone – there’s no point harping on it and digging up fossils or another Perak Man. To go back for evidence, we need a time machine. We live in the here and now. There’s no room for political pettiness. Our present will determine our future. What kind of Malaysia do we want our children to inherit? One filled with racial discrimination and tension, injustice and unrighteousness or a country where there is love and peace, justice and righteousness?
The answer is so obvious, isn’t it? Where there’s love, there’s no barrier among people.
We are first and foremost Malaysians – GOD’S PEOPLE !
“Let there be love shared among us,
Let there be love in our hearts,
May now Your Love sweep Malaysia,
Cause us, O Lord, to arise.
Give us a fresh understanding
Of brotherly love that is real,
Let there be love shared among us,
Let there be love.”
– Molly S.C. Ooi