JUNE 15 — Malaysia’s rich multicultural diversity has been our pride for years where we celebrate our differences living in harmony, together building a great nation. Fundamental to any multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation’s growth, is the unity among its people.
Over the past five decades, we have toiled together and achieved unparalleled success across socio-economic and political fronts.
We have together made Malaysia exemplary and demonstrated to the world that Malaysia is Truly Asia. Sadly, as it appears, our strength is slowly diminishing as years of racial integration efforts are beginning to fail miserably.
In this instance, I write in reference to the recent controversy on an educational module which demeaned the Hindus and Sikhs. The slides on the module which somehow got leaked went viral over social media causing uproar among the Sikh and Hindu communities.
More than anger, it was disappointing that fellow Malaysians, even after 58 years of independence, know little about each other. And so, we continue to witness such ugly situations. It is worth noting that Sikhs have been here for over a century, contributing towards the socio-economic development of the country.
In fact, it doesn’t surprise me that the term “Bengali” and derogatory term “Keling,” often used on Sikhs and Tamils by Malaysians at large, further demonstrates sheer ignorance.
It certainly reveals that the understanding of our cultures and beliefs among the wider Malaysian population is at such low levels, more so when it forms a part of teaching slides used at a reputable institution of higher learning. This is certainly unacceptable.
The intriguing question is, how could this be a mistake — that too, by an institution of higher learning? Are similar mistakes being made for other modules of varying disciplines — if yes, then there is a serious problem.
Perhaps, the learning institution must undergo stringent scrutiny for providing questionable quality of education, thereby grooming future leaders with misleading information.
The error in question was indeed a material distortion of fact. The key questions being — where did the author learn that Sikhism was introduced by Kabir and Kabir never understood Islam? The world knows that Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Similarly, who or which source informed the author that Sikhism is a compilation of other religions?
The concerted thoughts of many, somewhat difficult to refute, was that the error was a deliberate attempt to ridicule Hinduism and Sikhism! It baffles many that institutions of higher learning which predominantly preaches citation of source and accuracy of information, made such a horrendous mistake. It is surely difficult to digest.
Giving it the benefit of doubt, if it was truly an honest mistake, then it stands to reflect that we still have a long way to mature as a caring and respectful society — indicating that we must act quickly to solidify diversity. However, it warrants immediate action if the act was in any way deliberate.
With the advent of the internet age where information for almost anything and everything is so readily available, factual errors on sensitive issues such as these cannot be condoned. What more, inaccuracies which can hurt religious sentiments.
We live in a multi-racial and multi-religious society where we must respect sensitivities of our neighbours. In this regards, collectively, as people of this nation, we must not allow anyone to belittle another’s religion. This is our responsibility.
Let’s respect and celebrate our diversity and not make belittling of faiths a norm in Malaysia. We have come far since independence and unity has been cornerstone of the country’s growth. We were always taught to be compassionate, regardless of our differences and let’s keep it that way.
There is much more to achieve, collectively, as Rakyat 1Malaysia.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.