Voice of the silent majority

A VIDEO of a young Indian woman, Vaneesha K., speaking on disparity in communities in Malaysia, became an overnight viral sensation this week. Now, there are more than 300,000 fans on her social media accounts, with a multiplier effect of an infinite number of shares via social media.

Her post captivated Malaysians, who took time to write hundreds of comments on Vaneesha’s accounts with empathy and apologising to her for not having done anything about it, though they were aware. 
What was so special about this post?

I quote here Aristotle, who, as far back as 350 BC, decided to make his ideas so powerful with content that was ethical, logical and persuasive so as to remain memorable and applicable.  
Vaneesha’s content had all these elements and left a persuaded audience. Her picturisation was done against a dark background with a beam of light coming from the top.
Most importantly, she owned the powerful message she delivered. It was transparent, crystal clear with her own identity, as a deserving Malaysian citizen.
“I never saw myself anywhere other than in Malaysia and anything other than as a Malaysian, so even though my country didn’t want me, I fought so hard  for her someday to accept me...” she said.
The added magic here was that the script was beautifully crafted personally for her friends, then her community and largely for the nation. There is nothing more liberating than striving for justice and respect for oneself, by oneself.  
Vaneesha did exactly that.
The interpretation of the story is up to us. Most of us subconsciously adhered to numbing prejudices, though it was like being ushered into a darkened cinema, with a torchlight right to the cheapest seats.
The biggest accomplices here are we, the socially privileged. We are the silent majority who walk on eggshells with political correctness while we violate our own value of free speech. We adhere to what can and what cannot be said.

For years, we have questioned egalitarianism and democracy in hushed voices. It has been internalised and ingrained into the disadvantaged peoples’ mind to accept marginalisation and ensure it remains unspoken and unacknowledged.
We did not talk about it because it was sensitive. It became sensitive because we did not talk about it.
However, with social media, these messages do get fired up, awareness is created and are reasserted with feedback. The genuine pulse of the nation is felt.
Nonetheless, the message usually recoils and recedes in silence because no one will question it or answer it.
How did we get here? Who is accountable?
Surely not the leaders representing this community? Even now, Vaneesha’s message must have reached their smartphones. And yet, they have altruistically pretended they never saw it so that they can preserve their own positions.
Our education system is one of the saddest reasons. Parents have also left the country looking for better education for their children.
In teaching the origin of our nation and its plural society, one cannot ignore the role played by non-Malays, particularly the Chinese and Indians, in the making of Malaysia. Given the reinterpretation of history to suit a particular race has resulted in entitlement and the violation of meritocracy.

The merits who were not recognised were really frustrated, packed their bags with their intelligence  and ambitions and left the country – never to return again.

We cannot afford this brain drain. The merit in human resources has to be valued and respected. Their value to the economy should be weighed. Policymakers must recognise meritocracy.
The localised syllabuses and the  slow decay of the English language will lead to a kind of national mental deficiency, which we will be unable to recover from.
In a maturing nation, we should have the grace to look inward, identify and assess its mistakes, and address troubling inequalities. Where there are injustices in a system, it will affect us as a country – intellectually, socially and economically.
If the subordinates’ problems are left at the bottom end of the ladder, unattended and not fixed, we will inherit bigger social problems, which will also become national issues.
We have passed that. Our concern now is about reaching out to those who live in hard-to-reach places; those who are difficult to track down, like the millions of foreigners who have entered the country illegally and are not recorded anywhere.

A worthy example is “the vaccination for the whole nation programme”. The Covid-19 virus is beyond racial or social prejudices. Because of this, there had to be vaccine equity. With a sense of urgency to beat the virus, every person was tracked down and is being vaccinated because those who are not will breed the coronavirus.

We can do the same thing for issues addressing the marginalised Malaysians, as well.

Ultimately, we must remember that Malaysia is not just a government or political party, or even the prime minister. It is something larger – tangible and humane. It is about all of us who passionately love our country.

One this note, we cannot fathom the quality of one in the 1Malaysia concept. Although we are intelligent enough to understand simple arithmetic that one should always equal one.
How can we be equal as one when we are divided and treated differently by policies, glass ceilings, quotas and politics?
Despite all that, we have a common humanity in us, to stand united together as one, because we love one another, regardless of the differential treatment of varied ethnicities. 
The Vibes, September 6, 2021

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