Monday, July 6, 2009

Black or white (or yellow or brown)

"It don't matter if you're black or white..." - Michael Jackson, the late.

Someone told me the other day that Michael Jackson was a black guy who wanted to be white whilst Elvis Presley was a white man who desired to be black.

That got me thinking...
MJ's song Black Or White had a message about racism; the part about him wanting to be white was just a cruel joke even though there may have been some truth in it.
But the crux of the matter is that issues on race and racism are still in existence even today - even in US of A, that great bastion of democracy and freedom.
I remember when I visited some friends in Syracuse, New York State, the white guys kept reminding me to stay out of black areas.
They told me that in almost every city in the United States, there would be a poor part and the residents there would be black. That's where you have the drug dealers, the streetwalkers, the riffraff and, of course, a very high crime rate.
In other words, the bad part of town is always black.
I wanted to visit New York city and my friend's white neighbour, a former Long Islander, told me to keep to lower and mid-Manhattan, the safe parts where most of the tourist attractions are. If I were to head north, he told me not to step into Harlem because that's where the bad black guys hang around. I could go north up to 74th or 84th Steet - I can't remember which road - and that part of the Big Apple was still okay because it wasn't black.
The great nation called United States of America is still grappling with racism even though it now has a black president. I have not been to Washington DC but I was told that just several blocks from where the politicians release much hot air about race and other irrelevant stuff, the bad black boys hang out in the poor part of the city that no white politician would dare to venture to.
Back home in Malaysia, we are still grappling with racial issues more than five decades after Independence.
The newest Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has merely repackaged the ideals envisioned by the founding fathers of this nation into a theme labelled 1Malaysia.
Suddenly, 52 years after Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman had talked about peace and harmony amongst the Malays, Chinese and Indians and the numerous indigenous groups in Sabah and Sarawak, the great leaders of today's Malaysia have suddenly realised that they need to talk about peace and harmony among the various races. Suddenly it sounds like a broken record - we have heard it before.
Didn't Najib's dad, second Prime Minister Tun Razak talk about it circa 1974 when the newly-formed Barisan Nasional desperately needed to win back the votes of the non-Malays after the race riots of May 13 1969?
So now we have a father and son's commitment to repairing racial relations. Did the father succeed? Will the son fail? If the father succeeded, why is there the need for the son to blow the thick layer of dust from the concept and sell it to sceptical Malaysians again?
Now that the Prime Minister has placed the 1Malaysia concept at the top of his to-do list, his Ministers are suddenly parroting him. Then again that's what politicians do - follow the leader (for their own good).
They are mentioning the 1Malaysia theme in almost all their speeches as if racial harmony was not what Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun Sambanthan carved in stone 52 years ago.
We shall see if Najib will follow up his words with deeds. We shall see if the old-new 1Malaysia concept will (as usual) be a lot of hot air.


  1. well, its good to see some skepticism, some weariness, when it comes to msian pms from umno. why should you believe ole pinkie lips means well for malaysia?

    msians did not vote him in, his 279 or so umno div warlords did. who will he pay his debts to?

    same shit, from same toilet with new slogan.. gonna be a song next..n billboards..

  2. ha,a space to vend venom or wisdom all to ourselves? Jaded yes, but refuse to be hopeless.

    But the 'educated mid class' remains talking especially in blogospace but intellectual discourse register little with a rogue system.Thai style protest or a lil uprising like most other places seems easily doused. Are we tame or lame?

    Very likely, sit it out for the next GE. Countdown, Seng Fatt?