Malaysians increasingly view themselves as “us” versus “them.” The “us” could be Malays and the “them,” non-Malays. For Malays, the “us” could be those who subscribe to the “pure” form of Islam, and the “them,” the misled. For the Chinese, the “us” could be those who have adapted to the Malaysian reality and proudly display their Tan Sris and Datuks, while the “them” are those who feel that the very survival of the great Chinese culture and language rests on their shoulders. For the Indians, the “us” could be those who have forsaken their “anak lelaki” or “anak perempuan” of their birth certificates for a “bin” or “binte” respectively, acquire an affected Kedah accent, and voila, suddenly become ardent defenders of Malay special privileges!
What is surprising is the “elegant silence” of others. As I look at the roster of distinguished Malaysians now retired from academia, the professions, and public service, I am humbled by their integrity, intelligence, and contributions. I wonder how they feel seeing their fine legacies now being dismantled and in many cases defiled.