NOMENCLATURE: We are bound not by race or ethnicity
I REFER to the letter "What's the correct form of address?" from Wan Abu Bakar Wan Teh (NST, April 17).
I feel that the earlier New Straits Times report should have been written as "Malaysian in Aussie political scene", (NST, March 3) instead of "Perakian in Aussie political scene".
The 11,000-year-old human skeleton found in Lenggong, Perak in 1991 was that of "Perak Man".
Now, 54 years after Merdeka, we are still confused over how to address the people of Malaysia. The Malaysian definition of multiculturalism has shifted towards race.
We are more comfortable being defined as Malay, Indian, Chinese and Kadazan, while our neighbours in Thailand , Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines chose the path of nationalism, emphasising unity and civic nation-building. Whatever ethnic groups they belong to, they speak and write the language of their country and they are known as Thai, Indonesian, Singaporean and Filipino.
Lately, it appears that we are identifying ourselves according to ethnicity as Jawa, Bugis, Orang Asli, Kadazan, Murut, Bajau, Dusun, Penan, Minangkabau, Tamil, Telegu, Singhalese, Jaffnanese, Malayali, Punjabi, Gujerati, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hainanese, Khek, Teowchew, Hakka and such.
To avoid extinction of not only our ethnicity, but also race, culture, language and religion, we all want these to be included in our school curriculum.
Today, we are proud of what Malaysia is, and are determined to retain our differences. We have decided that unity in diversity suits us best although some of the younger generation think otherwise.
They feel uncomfortable being defined by race or ethnicity, especially when they are overseas. They would prefer to be known as Malaysian.
I see that the 1Malaysia concept promoted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is slowly bringing us up to the level of equality, meaning all of us would choose equality above all, in respect of basic liberties, and social standing educational and economic.