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Bridging the gap

  • Irresponsible politicians have destroyed this country, and the media have this duty of bridging the gap and removing the distrust between the communities.

By Kuik Cheng Kang
Sin Chew Daily

August 31, 2019:
Malay passenger moved by Chinese Grab driver's patience and understanding

September 1, 2019:
Chinese primary school student thanks Malay janitor for keeping the toilet clean

Those are among the heart-warming stories carried in our daily “Warm Power” section.

“Warm Power” was the first fixed section I set up soon after taking over as Sin Chew Daily's editor-in-chief in May 2016, taking up the all-important page two of the paper which was previously filled with depressing news such as suicides, murders, rapes, accidents and the like.

I was thinking that with its strong influences in the local Chinese community, Sin Chew Daily could have been able to do a lot more for the society.

I told my colleagues and Malay media friends, “To build a bridge across different ethnic communities and help shatter prejudices that stand our way, we need to help construct a society teeming with positive energy.”

This belief still lives inside my heart today.

There are many little heart-warming incidents taking place in our society that serve to tell us that many people actually possess a kind and accommodating heart, irrespective of race. All the chaos we see today is the work of a bunch of lie-mongering politicians who manipulate sensitive racial and religious issues on a daily basis in an attempt to fish votes at the expense of national unity and harmony, and later blame the media for creating the havoc.

Talking about the education minister's response to PPBM supreme council member Tariq Ismail's proposal on single-stream schools, as a minister of “New Malaysia”, Maszlee Malik should have said explicitly, “Chinese primary schools are an advantage to this nation, and their existence is protected by the country's Constitution. I will not consider Tariq's suggestion at all.”

Unfortunately, this was how the minister actually responded: "I haven’t looked into the suggestion yet. I need to look into the suggestion. I will look into the suggestion first.”

Such a response will only spawn more skepticism. It will do nothing to allay the fears of the Chinese community but will instead embolden the racial extremists.

Although the same problem was there during BN's time, the Chinese community has had very different expectations from the new PH administration. Disappointingly, Umno or PPBM, our administrators have displayed a severe lack of tolerance and accommodation when it comes to Chinese education, otherwise UEC would have been recognized by the government long ago.

In view of this, no one can blame the local Chinese community for its sense of insecurity over the survival and future of Chinese primary schools in the country.

They keep demanding that Chinese Malaysians take care of their feelings, but who will bother about how we feel? For more than 60 years, we are only trying to safeguard our fundamental rights. Threatening the status of bumiputras, Bahasa Malaysia and Islam has never crossed our minds even though we have been constantly accused of challenging the “masters of this land”.

Now that we are all brothers and sisters living together on this land, there should be no distinction of one community as being superior to the other.

Does anyone understand our helplessness and how we feel all these years?

Despite the fact we are also carrying the views of other communities in this country, we have been accused of being excessively racist, reporting only issues that will raise uneasiness among our Chinese readers.

As a newspaper which is deeply rooted in Malaysia, Sin Chew Daily has never forgotten our obligation for this nation. It is not in our agenda to undermine solidarity among Malaysians.

Indeed, there are reasons why the newspaper has survived and prospered in multicultural Malaysia for 90 years.

Other than passing down the Chinese culture and carrying reports on education, economy, racial equality and other issues that command the attention of the local Chinese community, Sin Chew Daily is also shouldering the insurmountable responsibility of reflecting the community's views and conveying the messages of the government.

Even though we are published in Chinese, that does not mean we only carry news happening within the Malaysian Chinese community. In addition to domestic news on politics, business, education, culture and local Chinese associations, we also cover a wide range of international issues, including daily doses of more serious global news as well as photo stories.

We are well aware of the importance of “harmony” in a diverse society like ours, and we know that as a responsible media organization, we must play the role of promoting interracial understanding.

Besides the aforementioned “Warm Power”, we also launched “We” on January 1 last year, carrying one story each week to highlight the harmonious coexistence of Malaysians from different cultural backgrounds.

“We” covers a very wide range of topics from more serious religious and racial issues to intercommunity friendships at schools, workplace and the overall society, intermarriages, how different ethnic communities look at a specific issue, to brief introductions of different religious faiths, cultures and relevant taboos, among others.

Our objective of carrying such content is to protrude the positive aspects of our society, allowing our readers to have a better understanding of other ethnic communities in this country and tear down the walls and unnecessary misunderstandings that stand in our way.

In view of the hypersensitivity of racial issues and considering the fact that certain issues are practically out of bounds to Chinese newspapers, we have recently embarked on a joint project with Sinar Harian that includes among others content exchange, joint reporting on specific issues as well as organizing forums and talks in hope of bringing together our very different reader groups through such an initiative.

Sinar Harian is a Malay daily that adopts a more moderate approach in its news reporting. The theme of our first ever collaboration is “Bersama, Berbeza” that serves to highlight the importance for different ethnic communities in our pluralistic society to seek and embrace our similarities.

But more importantly, we are all Malaysians (#kitalahmalaysia)!

The first stage of our collaboration runs from August 31 to September 16. During this period of time, the two publications will be exchanging content on National Day and national harmony over both the print and online media, in hope of broadening the scope of vision of our readers with heart-warming stories taking place in both the Chinese and Malay societies.

Content exchange aside, the two media organizations will also host joint forums that will see experts from various communities talking about national unity and other issues.

We will also invite heavyweight speakers to deliver important speeches on the current situation of the country.

Karangkraf Media group managing director Datuk Hussamuddin Yaacub told me, “We want to do more for this country!”

This is exactly what we feel, too. Irresponsible politicians have destroyed this country, and the media have this duty of bridging the gap and removing the distrust between the communities.

(Kuik Cheng Kang is Sin Chew Daily Editor-in-chief.)

 

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