THOUGHTS & REFLECTIONS
Professor Datuk Dr Ahmad Murad Merican believes that it would not be right for us Malaysians to do away with the label of ‘race’.
For this professor at Center for Policy Research and International Studies (Cenpris), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), race, ethnicity and identity are important because ‘it makes up the ingredients of being a Malaysian’.
With the concept of race, it brings out the differences that makes individuals distinct from one another. And with differences, diversity exists which becomes the motivation to stir the quality of tolerance and rationality.
Murad who regards himself as an informed prejudiced pundit, insists that it is with having the ‘race’ label that we are able to learn and accept each other and co-exist on the same plane despite our obvious differences.
This is where “assimilation” comes in.
“In the context of Malaysia, we need race, contrary to what others have been saying.
“I think race, or rather ethnicity and identity, make up the ingredients of being Malaysian. Without race, we sanitize our identity, we don’t have differences, and we cannot celebrate diversity.
"I'm not talking about diversity in a false sense of the word, I'm talking about diversity in the sense that we accept each other co-existing in one territorial state and we cannot do away with the fact that these nation-states have evolved over the centuries".
"There is a collective memory, there is a collective identity. But at the same time, I think we need to recognize that there are dominant groups and there are minorities in the sense that people who have been around for some time and people who have come in".
He calls out to history when migrants first came to the Malay Peninsula.
"They came to contact with the people who were here first, they did not come to contact with ‘others’. ‘Others’ here would mean those who came in later or those who have been around but who have not established certain solvency or kingdoms".
"So in Malaysia, the Malay polities were bound, not only in the peninsula but in other parts of the Malay Archipelago. So I would say that, in a sense, we cannot do away with that. We have to accept that. In fact, if we do away with ethnicity and nation, we suppress identity. We deny human rights. We deny the right of being identified. So, I would say that, in a sense, we cannot do away with that".
"We have to accept that. In fact, if we do away with ethnicity and nation, we suppress identity. We deny human rights. We deny the right of being identified".