COMMENTARY, Aug 13 — I am sure the people behind the vernacular education lobby group Dong Zong do not see themselves as racists.

If anything, they probably think they are defending the rights of the Chinese community to have Chinese medium schools that are accorded the same recognition as other government schools... where lessons are taught in Bahasa Malaysia.

And there, as they say, is the problem. Much has been written — ad nauseum, if I might add — about why the non-Muslims in this country feel like they are increasingly being marginalised.

Some of us tiptoe still around the problem while others shout about it every chance they get. Interestingly, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang, who used to belong to the latter group, now finds himself uncomfortably on the other side.

How the world has changed. At least the world we were so used to. The world where everything Barisan Nasional did was wrong and racist.

Today, we have a new freedom. To call a spade a spade. And it can feel very disconcerting.

I agree with our prime minister who called out Dong Zong for being racist... for not being willing to accept the explanation of the government that the introduction of khat is not an attempt at Islamisation. For them, the only acceptable solution is to drop khat altogether.

As for the introduction of khat, it showed a serious flaw on the part of the government to not recognise that it could be a potential problem. Even worse, they appear clueless about the feelings of the non-Muslims in this country.

We, as communities, fight for our “rights” and are not willing to give a centimetre because we think in previous times we have already given away too much.

Yes, we all think that.

What we need to do instead of wasting all this energy and emotions is to fight together for Malaysia.

We did it once a long time ago to gain independence from the British, and we did it together last May 9 to change the government.

And yes, we will very likely continue to squabble and be petty and get our feelings hurt... but let’s make Malaysia that safe space where we can do all that and be okay.