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We are all Malaysians

Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily

PETALING JAYA, Feb 23 (Sin Chew Daily) - I believe that many people have experienced answering their racial identities when filling up forms under the column of "race".

Many forms are given the options of Malay, Chinese, Indian or others. Have you ever thought what "others" means? Have you ever wondered why the race column must be filled even though we are all Malaysians? Or do you think that it is normal to fill up the race column?

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup suggested when launching the National Unity Consultative Council’s (NUCC) first dialogue that the “race” column should be removed from all official forms as a start to strengthen national unity.

Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong president Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah said that the suggestion is welcomed while praising Kurup as an enlightened leader.

"We are all Malaysians and the government should treat all people impartially instead of distinguishing them by racial background as it is very unfair. I believe that the Chinese community will strongly support the suggestion," he said.

He opined that if the government wishes to remove the race column from all official forms, it should be implemented fully, including the important documents to apply for MyKad.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said that to achieve the ideology of national unity, the government may publish the race column only when necessary like on wanted criminal lists.

He told Sin Chew Daily that if the government wishes to achieve national unity, the primary task is to remove the race column from forms.

"Although there are many races in Indonesia, Indonesians are required only to fill up their nationality in forms, instead of their racial identities," he said.

Selangor state assembly Speaker Hannah Yeoh said that Kurup is the first incumbent BN minister to put forward the suggestion and she hopes that the suggestion can also be brought into the Cabinet for discussion and implemented.

"Kurup is a Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and he should fight for the implementation of the measures, particularly for the people in Sabah and Sarawak. We are all Malaysians but the people in Sabah and Sarawak are always categorised into the 'others' option under the race column, which is a very offensive word," she said.

Yeoh said that under the "Keturunan" column of the birth certificate of her first daughter, she wrote "Malaysian" but was rejected by the National registration Department and she had to change it to "Chinese".

"I wrote to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the then Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the National Registration Department head but have received no reply so far and my daughter is already three years old," she claimed.

When her second daughter was born, there was no race column on the form but the child's race was automatically registered as "Indian", following her father's race.

"My two daughters are of different races. The race column is a very funny thing and thus, I strongly support the suggestion of removing it from forms and I hope the Prime Minister and Cabinet will seriously address the issue," she added.


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