My nine-year-old daughter called ‘bukan Islam’ in school


My nine-year-old daughter called ‘bukan Islam’ in school
By Zan Azlee

A few days ago, my nine-year-old daughter Athena told my wife and I that a boy in her class called her and her friend names.

I’m not fussed about these things. It’s normal school kids antics. A bit of teasing and light bullying teaches children about life and builds character.

“So what did he call you?” I asked, expecting her to give me something lame like “Athena the antenna” or “Athena busuk” or something like that.

“He calls us orang bukan Islam lah, pops,” she replied.

Whoah! I wasn’t expecting that! Athena explained to me that he called them that because they spoke English with each other a lot.

Okay, to be honest, I may not have expected it, but I’m not shocked or surprised at all. Things like this happened to me when I was her age.

I have a mixed-race family and there are many races involved. But the two main races that were directly involved in producing me would be Malay and Chinese.

I don’t identify just as a Malay or just as a Chinese. I identify as a mixed-race child. A mulatto. An Albino. A mosquito. My libido.

As far back as I can remember, I have always been raised with the culture of both races. I celebrate Chinese New Year and Hari Raya with the same vigour and excitement, and it is fun.

I used to compare how many green packets I got with the red packets each year.

In primary school, there would be other kids who would look at me in disgust and say that Malay people who celebrate Chinese New Year would all go to hell.

In the beginning, I would be distraught, but quickly, I was okay with it because my parents always told me that I am both Malay and Chinese.

So okay lah. I won’t go to hell because I am also Chinese. Great.

I have a clause that allows me to continue celebrating Chinese New Year and I learned fast to ignore imbeciles who tried to tell me otherwise. I just lived and did whatever I wanted and what I thought was right. Sticks and stones may break my bones and all that jazz.

So when Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia vice-president Khairul Azam Abdul Aziz (below) made a complaint about a school displaying Chinese New Year decorations, which he considered as an attempt to propagate to Muslims, I take it personally.

I am not having it at all as it was an absurd allegation.

National schools have a responsibility to celebrate all festivities together with all students. This is where we need to inculcate positive values so our younger generation can live in harmony and understanding with everyone.

No race or religion is better than the other.

People like Khairul Azam needs to be put in their place and stopped from creating racial and religious discord. It is people like him that is making Malaysia polarised.

He had claimed “victory”‘ because his complaint brought seven cabinet ministers to the school to raise the decorations again.

Seven ministers came and what that showed was that we have more people who were against his evil intentions. Victorious my foot!

The police have advised the school to take down the decorations to de-escalate the situation. That is a problem as well.

The police should be the ones ensuring the school that the decorations (below) should remain up and that they will ensure the safety of the school if the situation escalates.

That is the responsibility of the police.

It’s a good thing the government came out and immediately put a stop to Khairul Azam’s antics. I think it will not hurt to have even more people condemn the man.

Let’s all get out there and reject the racist politics that he and his party are propagating.

I doubt I have to worry about my daughter. I told her the boy in her school is ignorant and doesn’t know much.

“No problem lah, Pops. I just ignore him. He’s only saying that because he can’t speak English. It’s different if he pushed me. Then, I would push him back,” she said as a matter of fact.

That’s my girl!

But that’s not the point. The point is our children should not be exposed to such bigotry and racism.

My daughter and her friends shouldn’t even have to be dealing with issues like this at their age. What they need is positive education that reinforces racial and religious harmony.

We should not tolerate the likes of Khairul Azam and his cohorts anymore. And I think there are more of us than him these days so we need to put forth a show of solidarity and put him in his place.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

Get Zan Azlee’s latest book ‘JOURNO-DAD: The chronicles of a journalist who just happens to be a dad!‘ today!

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