My expectation as a Malaysia living in a multi-cultured society
Malaysia with a population of 28.3 millions (Department of Statistics Malaysia, 2010) is pluralistic and multicultural. The three main ethnic groups constituting the Malays and Bumiputera (67.4%), Chinese (24.6%), Indians (7.3%) have their own unique culture and heritage, such as language, belief system, tradition and religion. The lifestyle patterns of the different groups have direct links to the differences in their values and expectations(Syed Serajul Islam, 2008). Since achieving independence fifty-five years ago, Malaysia has undergone economic transformation in terms of diversification of its agriculturein the 1960s to manufacturing in the 1970s-1980s, and then to technology-based development since the 1990s. These achievements came as a result of the ability of Malaysians, diverse in their culture, to tolerate, and to live and work together in realising the country’s overall goals of growth and prosperity. But then as pointed out by Musa Hitam (2007), nation-building is not just about providing highways, byways and hospitals. It is also about weaving together national values for the citizenry to live by and devising greater missions to galvanize their camaraderie and spirit. Such a vision of weaving together national values is still far from the set goal.
For Malaysia up to the present day, except for the 1969 race riot between the Malays and the Chinese, and the 2001 clashes between the Malays and the Indians, race relations have been peaceful unlike what had been experienced in countries with mixed populations such as Nigeria, Rwanda, Bosnia, Thailand, Sudan, and India (Zaid, 2007).The basis for conflict between the ethnic groups stems from identity contestation in the form of language and culture (Shamsul, 2006). In the 1970s, the Malays advocated that the core of the national culture should be that of the Malay. This assimilative approach was unkindly viewed by the Chinese and the...
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