Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ethnic Puddle

DISCLAIMER: This is another rant. So, you may not like to read it. You have been warned.

Another interesting statistic that I got from the article that I read about Malaysian Chinese is that we're divided into two major demographics, which the article called G1 and G2. G1 is 85% and is made up of Chinese educated people. They're characterised by the importance that they place in Chinese schools, trade guilds and newspapers. G2 is 15% and is made up of 'banana' people who're mainly concerned with national issues such as our Constitution.

When I first saw this, I thought that the statistic must be wrong. But then, I recognised that the person saying it was someone big in SinChew. So, they must have some basis for their statistics. So, I thought about it a bit more and I realised that it's quite true. Of the sample of my Malaysian Chinese friends here, I'd say that a large proportion of them are Chinese ed. So, after establishing that the statistics are believable, we can now look at the problem.

If we look at the problems of Malaysia, we can basically identify one of the key issues as communalism and this is readily acknowledge. Then, we look at the Malaysian Chinese community and we can see this problem being propagated by the G1 people. G1 people have fairly strong feelings towards the things that are of perceived importance to the Chinese community. G2 people don't, simply because we don't identify with the community as readily. G2 people identify more with being Malaysian (as opposed to being Chinese) and are concerned with different issues.

To me, the G1 people are living in their own little ethnic puddle, like a mini-China trapped in the late 19th century. They may not even realise that the mainlanders today are nothing like them and that the Chinese don't consider any of us (neither G1 nor G2) Chinese at all. The schools create ethnic bubbles, the guilds facilitate the flow while the newspapers provide a protective wrapper around them. All this is only doable because the size of the puddle is about 6.5 million people (larger than many countries in this world).

Personally, since our social contract is clearly broken, and that our historical formula is no longer working, maybe we should consider doing something different. I find it interesting that we're pretty much the only country where people are identified by Nationality-Ethnicity (e.g. Malaysian-Chinese). I can't see how polarisation is a good thing for Malaysia. If everyone continues to live in our respective puddles, we're destined to end up with the fate of any puddle (i.e. to be stepped on). We should learn to live together so that our puddles become lakes and seas. But I don't see how any of this is going to happen when every community is happy to live and play in their own little puddles.

PS: I readily admit that I am biased. Who isn't. The whole idea of blogging is writing opinions viewed from my perspective. But my personal bias does not preclude the fact that this is a very real problem.

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