What our 16-17 year olds want – SSS Unity series No.3

12 05 2010

Here are the hopes and aspirations of some of our young Malaysians in respect of national unity, living in peace and harmony in this blessed country.

Let’s ponder and give some thoughts to what they are thinking and hoping. Let’s do whatever we can to bring about national unity that practically all of us cherish. Let’s talk it here if there’s anything that’s bothering us.



Fostering national unity


By Kugan Kanapathy, 17, Kuala Kangsar

IN my opinion, anyone who resides in Malaysia, be it in the peninsula, Sabah or Sarawak, is certainly blessed. Honestly speaking,there is no country that can attract me to be its citizen — not the power of the United States, not the ancient history of Italy, not the fascinating scenery of Switzerland, not the resources of Saudi Arabia and not the technological advances of Japan. I am indeed grateful to be born Malaysian.

I admire the diversity of culture, tradition, food, ethnicity, religions, races. Malaysians seem to live peacefully and harmoniously, and with a sense of pride. Racial integration needs citizens to foster and enhance the relationship between individuals regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, culture and beliefs. There is no better example than the struggle for independence. If Datuk Onn Jaafar, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock or Tun Sambanthan had chosen to be narrow-minded and fanatic, the world map today would not feature a nation named Malaysia. In the same spirit, our current Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak, has initiated a momentous programme called 1Malaysia. These days though, while we magnify all we have achieved in our 50 years of independence, the spirit of racial integration seems to be waning. I blame rapid globalisation and technological wonders. Leaders in our country have also realised that loyalty and love for the nation are also lacking among teenagers.

How do we improve the situation? Education is often described as the most valuable resource that any nation can rely upon. While the educational system has introduced subjects such as Moral Education, Civics and Islamic studies, students only focus on passing examinations rather than apply the noble values taught. Integrity-based programmes are necessary to promote loyalty and racial unity among teenagers. In this context, the National Service is an excellent effort initiated by the Government. Although only selected teenagers are given the opportunity to participate in this programme, the end results are very encouraging. Nevertheless, the National Service cannot be the only solution. From pre-school to tertiary level, different activities that instil and emphasise patriotism should be organised. The crucial task of educating the young may seem difficult to surmount.

Failure and dejection may settle heavily on patriotic hearts. But we should never quit.

As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day. So, as long as there is hope, we will achieve our aims, provided we are equipped with courage, aspiration, inspiration, perseverance and cooperation.



By Juliati Hanis Azwa Jaafar, 16, Bandar Baru Bangi

THE late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj once said: “Nationalism, the patriotic love of Malaysia, by all the Malaysians, is the sine quo non for the viability and durability of the Malaysian nation.” According to the quote by our Father of Independence, it is a must for all Malaysian to cherish the spirit of unity and continue to sustain peace, stability, and tranquillity for the betterment of the nation. And the seed of national unity must be sown among the young. From a teenager’s point of view, national unity can be achieved by taking the initiative to mix with those from other races. We can help 1Malaysia succeed. This can be done by, say, participating in group work when there are projects to complete.

Include those from other races and religions. Teenagers can also foster national unity by celebrating the National Day. These days, teenagers lack the patriotic spirit. We teenagers should organise campaigns or even events to celebrate National Day that will draw all races together. National unity can also be fostered through the learning of other languages.

It’s really fun once you have tried them. For instance, even if our mother tongue is Bahasa Melayu, learning Mandarin or Hindi could benefit us in a number of ways. We will understand and learn to respect another culture, its traditions and people. All your questions get answered too — such as how other races address themselves, how they celebrate their festive occasions and how they dress during these occasions. When applying for a scholarship, knowing more than one language will also be an advantage. Cliched as it sounds, learning something new and different can be so exciting. National unity can also be fostered through entertainment. For instance, if a girl is planning to hold her 16th birthday party, she should invite friends from different races.

The party could well turn out to be super cool. Watching reruns is another thing to consider. It may sound boring to some people but watching reruns portraying historical themes in Malaysia can be beneficial. In my point of view, it’s a great way to help foster national unity because it makes people realise how great things are right now and how bad things were back in those days. Fostering national unity is not as simple as ABC.

It takes courage and self-initiative.

Let us all be grateful for what we have and tighten our bonds of unity.

Let us all achieve the aspirations of 1Malaysia. All for one and one for all!



Racial harmony among students


By Prasad Nallusamy & Le Roy Gan, both 16, Malacca

THE racial riots of May 13, 1969, rocked the nation. Four decades on, one question persists – is racial unity the scenario in schools now as it was in years past?

‘Work together to make 1Malaysia a success’
We interviewed veteran teacher and senior assistant of Students’ Affairs in St David’s High School, Malacca.

We were slightly nervous as this was our first “formal” interview.

But Mr S. Gunasegaran was happy to spend 45 minutes with us.

His answers, which we share with you, shows us how important it is for us students and the next generation of leaders to really value our racial unity and harmony.

Q: How did the May 13 riots affect students in your time?

I was in Form 2 when it happened.

We could only get to know about this through the radio and this conflict happened after an election.

After the curfew, the government introduced a lot of programmes in schools to foster racial unity.

As a prefect, I did not find any problem mixing around and at that time we would go to school even on Saturdays to help teachers.

Q: How do the students now differ from students at that time in terms of cultivating unity? At that time we were not exposed to modern gadgets and our sole entertainment was playing sports together.

Now, things have changed.

The exposure to modern tools may be a factor influencing the unity bond.

Nowadays, students tend to spend time on Facebook than outdoor games.

Q: How do co-curricular activities help strengthen racial unity? The National Service is a good programme organised by the government.

Besides that, the formation of Kelab Rukun Negara and uniformed bodies like the Scouts and St John’s should not only be controlled by students of one race.

Schools should play their role in promoting racial unity through co curricular activities.

Q: As students, what can we do to promote racial integration? Students should be more tolerant of each other and a student from a vernacular school background should not hesitate to mingle with other students as it will definitely affect the efforts to promote racial integration.

Q: What is your advice for teens like us regarding this issue? First of all, learn to respect each other.

When a rule is implemented, we must always obey it no matter what race you are from.

Whatever the situation, we must always give our national pride priority.

Unity is the base of a well-developed country and 1Malaysia is all about understanding the different cultures and religions.

Don’t be big-headed, and learn to say sorry.

His last words for all teenagers:

1. Emulate the good examples from past generations.

2. Take part in co-curricular activities because you get to meet and mix with students of all races, and learn to work with them.

3. Learn to say sorry and forgive.

4. Work together to make 1Malaysia a success Racial unity is easy to achieve if we try to remember that under our races, our creeds, our skin tones, we are all Malaysians, and we are all one human race.

How the future will turn out, and whether we can forever prevent another May 13 will depend on us, today’s teenagers.

The choice to strengthen racial unity lies in our hands.

1Malaysia Boleh!



Happy together


By Himmat Singh, 17, Selayang

EVER come across situations in your schooling life where all the Malay students would be huddled in one corner, the Chinese mixing among themselves and the Indians chilling out with those of their own race? My bet is that’s a yes.

Such situations are prevalent to varying degrees, in most schools, with a student from a particular race feeling “secure” when with those from his or her own race, and therefore a minimal amount of communication is made with others. However, is this the way to go? Is this how we Malaysians, who hail from a racially diverse country, should behave? Where on Earth has racial integration gone to? Before I go on, let me clarify though that not all students, or even adults for that matter, fall into this bracket.

But a good percentage do tend to stick to their “own” kind.

This, sad to say, paints a bad image of what a Malaysian stands for. Speaking from my personal point of view, I have come across the situations I mentioned earlier.

But I don’t even get the chance to hang out with those who share the same race as me in school because I am a Sikh, and how often do you come across a Sikh, if at all, in your school? So I have to mingle with others.

You can say I have had no choice, but even if there are many Sikhs in my school, I wouldn’t be clinging to them. From what I have observed, generally, the Chinese students who come from Chinese medium primary schools are less likely to mingle with Malays or Indians as compared with Chinese students from national-type schools.

In my class, there are 20 Chinese students, 10 Malays and the rest Indians.

Every day, I make it a point to have a chat with as many of them, and the racial factor doesn’t come in.

Interestingly, something that I have observed in any given class since day one is that an Indian would tend to sit next to an Indian, a Malay next to a Malay and so on.

One common excuse I hear for the lack of racial interaction from some students is the language barrier.

Some Chinese students cannot speak fluent English or Malay, while some Malays cannot speak good English.

But hey, this is a lame reason because the language barrier shouldn’t be there.

It is a self-created mess. The benefit of racial interaction is that we get to know other cultures, their beliefs and their way of life.

It would be shameful for a Malaysian not to know the festivals celebrated by, say, an Indian Hindu.

Not only that, but we would learn to adapt to different environments too, and this would especially come in handy during our working life. My parents have always placed emphasis on racial integration.

Two years back, I was studying in a private school which did not have a good racial representation and part of the reason for my switching to a national-type school was to get greater exposure to students of different races. Hopefully, after reading this piece, you will communicate with those from the other races, if you haven’t been doing that already.

I sound optimistic here, okay.

And make sure you make that a promise!