My wish list for Chinese New Year (which I don’t see coming true)


My wish list for Chinese New Year (which I don’t see coming true)
By Zan Azlee

It’s the Chinese New Year season again and it is one of my favourite holidays because I get to spend time with my family, eat good food not forgetting the annual blackjack sessions! We bet with bottle caps and not cash, so religious authorities, please stay off my back! Really …

And since I am writing this on the eve, I am totally consumed by the holiday spirit. So there will be nothing too heavy from me today. Instead, I will be sharing with you a wish list I have that I hope will come true for this new lunar New Year of the Rat!

I wish that my nine-year-old daughter will never have to face school friends who tell her that she isn’t a Muslim just because she speaks English and celebrates Chinese New Year. She comes from a mixed family that practices multiculturalism in a country that is supposedly multicultural. It would be great if the teachers can do something about this.

I wish that there will be no more compulsory religious classes in government schools. If these classes really need to be offered in schools, then they should be optional. Also, there should be classes for all other religions as well and not only for one religion. All Malaysians, no matter their religion, are supposed to be equal, right?

Since we on education, I also wish that there would be just one school system instead of the various vernacular streams. It just creates polarisation among our people. We can always have extra optional classes and activities that educate our youth on the different cultures and languages. There shouldn’t be any forced indoctrination in schools.

I wish that the annual debate of Malay Muslims not being allowed to wish people of other faiths ‘Happy Chinese New Year’, ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘Happy Deepavali’, ‘Happy Ponggal’ or ‘Jolly Keamatan’ will stop. This is just bloody idiotic nonsense. They are just greetings for goodness’ sake!

I wish that all racial politics in Malaysia cease to exist. There shouldn’t be any race-based political parties or religion-based ones either. Coalitions are fine but they shouldn’t consist of component parties that are supposed to represent different racial or religious groups. We need to be more mature when it comes to politics and real issues need to be discussed instead of unnecessary racist ones.

Finally, I wish that Malaysians would start inter-marrying between the different racial groups. The Indians should marry the Chinese, the Chinese should marry the Malays, the Malays should marry the Orang Asal and the Orang Asal should marry the Portuguese. We need to marry outside of our racial groups to force our society to be more understanding and accepting of each other.

These are my wishes and the reasons behind them are because I want a Malaysia that is harmonious and happy. We need to be able to move forward as a nation where every individual is treated equally. We mustn’t be polarised and we need to live together with acceptance and not merely tolerance.

Sure, I am not naive, thinking that this wish list is going to come true anytime soon. But one can dream, right? Anyway, it should be worth just putting it out there. Who knows? One day, it might just come true. Maybe my children’s generation will be the one which does it. Insyallah.

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

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