In 1997, just weeks after Diana’s death Michael Douglas asked on TV if we were to feel the same level of emotions if someone more meaningful like Mother Theresa were to die. And she did a week later.
Douglas’ prophetic words come to me as I think of the greatest man of my generation kicks into what is probably the last leg of his life.
Mandela is the epitome of grace.
For a man who spent 27 years in prison he always stood above the storm of racism.
The African National Congress (ANC) after the launching of Bantu Act (1953) and official apartheid in the era decided to pursue limited violence to achieve their rights. Mandela and the rest were involved in commercial sabotage. Blowing up train lines and other constructs contributing to the white regime.
It is understandable when the 10 percent whites ruled over the native blacks, making them largely a worker class for a white dominated economy. There were 9 black men to one white, yet they had to scurry from the cities before night down because their movement permit does not cover after evenings.
The resentment level is as high as it gets. When you thousands of politics related killing. Of the Soweto uprising, of the murder of Steve Biko and the violence that made his ex-wife Winnie Mandela become an oppressor of her own people.
A vicious cycle that gives enough reason to everyone to remain spiteful of the white man.
Far more arresting than the stories of inter-race exploitation in Malaysia – whether they are true or not.
Here everyone talks about how the Chinese were trying to control the country through the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). Umno won’t talk about the fact they had Malay divisions in the MCP, or that they were about the only ones fighting the Japanese army with guns, or that they gave Malaya back to the British after WWII, or promises made in the Baling Talks were reneged by Tunku and gang.
And then you have the stories of Malay ownership of modern Malaysian corporations and how they are always making more. The distinction is blurred between the Umnoputras and the average Malay who is a general worker with Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur.
The truth is, Malaysia is about a class struggle, not a race struggle. More pertinent to this analysis, the truth of the stories are not as important as the repeating of the stories without counterweights through the decades.
Malaysians believe in racists stories because in this polite society when people recount racism and its validity, they are rarely opposed.
By the basis of being un-rebutted, race think is now common think.
The Mandela lesson
The flames of race hate grew with every proceeding year and you would expect at the end of 27 years in prison, Mandela would come out with the fire of black zeal, and end white stay in South Africa.
He could have been a Mugabe or Idi Amin.
He chose to be the father of modern South Africa, of white and black. It became the rainbow country.
Amazingly he chose to forgive his captors and said that the country was for all those who love South Africa, white and black. And it was an unqualified pledge.
He was not saying I love all South Africans but I love blacks more and first before I love the rest of the country. He is a statesmen.
It would have been far easier for him to leverage off the support of the black population and take everything in the country. The diamond mines, the companies and even the South African Brewery (now SABMiller). And the international community would not have held him as a villain. His people have been wronged.
But he says many time that in this (South Africa) beautiful country, everyone has a place and to use hate or race is never his dream.
I would pay with blood to have an Umno leader say it. But they are never going to say it, are they. It strikes very odd that a self-acclaimed racist like Mahathir could be seen as a true national hero. Every Umno leader would say, ” Yes yes, Malaysia is great and all Malaysians matter and they are what makes this country beautiful and diverse, but still – I cannot compromise what my race wants.”
And Khir Toyo’s effort to draw PAS out for more Malay unity underlines the Umno think that the nation must be run as separate and unequal, because that is the nature of the country. What a load of baloney.
What is the flag?
The billboard outside UiTM reads, that that university would be the last stand if the Malay race was being attacked. And that is a quote from our present Agung.
That is just baffling.
Does his royal highness understand how that makes the rest of his people feel? The ones that are not the race he mentioned?
I do think wanting to help your race is logical, just like you would expect women to be more affectionate with women in male dominated events.
We all are inclined to our demographics – race, gender, religion, geography and etc. However when we make an obsessive commitment to one part, with the emphasis of threat, then you are suggesting it is those externals that are threats to you.
That cannot be right.
Mandela would ask us to be Malaysians first and to stop thinking of how one deserves more based on birthright.
That when we see the Malaysian flag, it is our flag. That it is not a fall-back flag after the Umno flag or the PAS flag. The flag binds us, and everything comes after it.
Believing in our flag, our country, does not mean we deny or object to all the other things we are members of.
We just can’t forget that after these miserly 23 million people who own this flag, no one else will defend its place in human history. It is time for my countryman to celebrate their citizenship without restrain.