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‘Disharmony not a problem yet, but could become one’

 | September 13, 2017

Prominent social critic Eddin Khoo says decades of social conditioning have compromised interracial and inter-religious harmony.

Eddin-Khoo-Disharmony-not-a-problem-yet-1SHAH ALAM: A Selangor government-linked think tank has warned that decades of social conditioning in modern systems is slowly compromising the existing harmony between the different races and religions in the country.

Eddin Khoo, a member of Institut Darul Ehsan’s (IDE) newly launched Community Unity Research Centre, said Malaysians had to accept that Malays held a special position in the country.

“You acknowledge that, the next step is to acknowledge what is historically unique about that group: their openness,” he said.

“For hundreds of years, we could live together because of this openness. That is changing, and that is what’s worrying.”

Khoo was speaking at a seminar entitled “Unity in the framework of diversity” organised by IDE.

He said while several surveys may indicate that the country is facing an issue in terms of multiracial and multi-religious harmony, this may not be the case as of yet, especially in more remote areas.

Khoo, who is also the director of arts group Pusaka, said his work had brought him to many remote parts of the country where he noticed there was no racism or prejudice.

“There are no racial problems deep in the forests and in the deepest Felda settlements.”

He also cited a Berita Harian report which had highlighted a touching story about multiracial and multi-religious harmony in Malaysia.

“An Indian Hindu woman in Besut, Terengganu, got married to a Chinese Buddhist man and had three children. She also had a close friend who was a Malay Muslim and a single mother.

“When the Indian woman died, the single mother took care of the three children and brought them up as Muslims.

“These are common stories but they’re not portrayed in surveys and statistics.

“We want so much to solve the issue of ‘getting to know one another’ at an official level that we overlook how the people are solving these issues on their own.”

Another of the centre’s members, Denison Jayasooria, agreed with Khoo, citing a separate case in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan.

“A lorry driver got married to a female petrol pump attendant originally from Surabaya, Indonesia.

“The husband bought a house in a neighbourhood that is 80% made up of the Indian community, and so the woman learned to speak Tamil.

“She then had children who went to Chinese schools, and they all learned to speak Mandarin and at home, all of them speak Malay.

“When I met this woman, I thought she was a linguist.”

He said it was unfortunate that such stories were not highlighted by the media.

“Instead, we read stories about how a school segregates cups for Muslim and non-Muslim students.”

Khoo said the important thing was for people to focus on good governance.

“I do not like to praise politicians, but back when the use of the word ‘Allah’ in the Bible was becoming an issue, the new Selangor government handled the matter very efficiently.

“The issue was dragged on for close to one year by the previous government and most of what was being discussed was cultural nonsense.

“When the new government stepped in, the matter was settled within a month after the government simply said that as the government, it should not take away people’s things. No more cultural nonsense after that.

“The Bible issue was going on about the same time as the cross issue in Taman Medan, and that matter was also quickly resolved when the Selangor government said that it’s wrong to take down the religious symbols of other religions.

“Most Malaysians are sane people and we all know that people like Jamal Yunos are insane,” he added, referring to the Umno Sungai Besar division leader who is also head of the Red Shirts movement.


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