Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
“You are a Indian who converted to Islam. You seem to champion the Malays. You should be bridging the Malays and the other races to work together like the good old days, instead you are stirring the Malays against the other races. What you are doing is behaving like a racist by politicising the Malay agenda instead of the Malaysian agenda. You only sow discord among all Malaysian and spew hatred and that can lead to racial problems. If you want to support your political party do it in a fair and friendly manner where nobody is hurt. You can set a good example by being a good role model for your children and the younger generation of Malaysian.”
“I will defend the Malays to Kingdom Come” – RJ Rithaudeen
That was the message posted by a Michael Fernando in the comment section of an article titiled “Titik Permulaan Persengketaan Melayu-Cina (Bahagian Satu).” The article was posted in this blog, The Third Force, and was authored by me, Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen. Notice how Fernando, who I presume is a Christian, began by pointing out explicitly how I had “converted to Islam.”
Now, read the entire comment, and tell me, was there any sense in him pointing out that I am a revert? Even if the intent was to highlight the fact that I have been on both sides of the religious divide and have a clear grasp of problems plaguing the country, would that not amount to an admission on his part that a religious divide does exist, and that the divide is between the Muslims and non-Muslims? So why would this fellow accuse me of “stirring the Malays against the other races” when he seems to be doing a good job suggesting that a Muslim-non Muslim problem exists?
Was he drunk?
Let’s proceed to the part about me being Indian. When Waytha Moorthy badmouthed the Government of Malaysia (GoM) by alleging that “Indians in Malaysia” were forcibly being converted to Islam, he did not refer to “non-Muslim Malaysians” or “Malaysian Indians of the Hindu faith,” but Indians. We also have Indian based parties here in Malaysia that do not brand themselves as “Malaysian Indian,” like the IPF, which stands for “Indian Progressive Front,” not the “Malaysian Indian Progressive Front.” In that sense, the Indians are referring to race as an attribute or quality that is exclusive of reference to one’s country of origin.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
You see, contrary to what many believe, a race, which is “a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society,” need not necessarily be hinged upon country of origin. If you feel you relate better with qualities shared by the vast majority of Malaysians, you may regard yourself to be member of a Malaysian race. But if you feel that you’re more Indian than you are Malaysian, you can continue to call yourself Indian. Who the hell is Fernando to decide what I do or do not feel?
And what makes him think I’m Indian anyway? In India, the majority still refers to itself either as Tamilian, Telugu, Malayalam and so on. In that sense and that sense alone, I’m not Indian, but Punjabi. Clearly, the majority of Indians in India themselves do not believe that the country of origin should take precedence when defining one’s physical and (or) social attributes. So why the hell would I relate myself with Indians in India when I’ve never even stepped foot in that country? Does Fernando not realise that I am Malaysian first, Malay later?
Yes, Malay, just like the Malaysian Jawanese and Buginese who also refers to himself (or herself) as Malay because he (or she) fits into the social and constitutional description of what it takes to be a Malay. The late Tunku Abdul Rahman was correct to constitutionally define the term Malay. Race, as I have mentioned, need not necessarily be hinged upon one’s country of origin. As a matter of fact, to hinge race solely upon one’s country of origin runs contrary to the core essence and definition of the term itself. It’s very obvious that Fernando has issues with people who convert to Islam. If he feels jealous that I regard myself to be a Malay, why not meet me so that I can teach him the path towards Allah and the Malay-Muslim way of life?
What say you, Fernando?