'We Are Family': perfect harmony in a tiny Melaka town

The minimarket's name “We Are Family” epitomizes the town's enviable intercommunity harmony. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

MELAKA Sept 12 (Sin Chew Daily) -- Batu Gajah Pasir is only a tiny settlement in Melaka. However, the century-old township is a perfect showcase of interracial harmony where local residents will visit one another during a celebration or a funeral, irrespective of race.

There is a mini market run by a local Chinese businessman, and the shop's name “We Are Family” aptly reflects the prevailing intercommunity harmony in the town.

Perfect harmony

Morning, day or night, local residents regardless of race will come to a local coffee shop run by a Malay for tea or a friendly chat or grab a meal after work.

The shop sells mouth-watering traditional Malay kuih, the Indian roti canai as well as mixed rice, among others, at affordable prices.

Among the establishments in a row of shophouses along the main road are a minimarket, a traditional sundry shop and a motor workshop, all run by the Chinese.

If a Malay resident needs to get some daily necessities or food, or get his motorcycle repaired, he will have to visit a Chinese shop.

And if a Chinese resident wants to have something to bite or have a sip of tea or coffee, he only has a Malay coffee shop to go to.

Mah, a 56-year-old local resident, told Sin Chew Daily there used to be a sundry shop called “Soon Huat” which was later closed and the premises leased out to a Chinese businessman to become minimarket “We Are Family”.

“This shophouse alone is estimated to be at least 80 years old. It had been here long before I was born.”

While many things may have changed, the wood panel houses in the town remain much the same over the decades.

“Many of the buildings were constructed during the early years of the town's establishment.

“As the buildings look largely the same today, the entire town appears to be not much changed!”

The town used to have 20% of Chinese population several decades ago, but many of them have since moved to the cities and larger towns. Today, there are only about 10% of Chinese in Batu Gajah Pasir, with Malays making up almost 90%.

Despite the stark contrast in the town's ethnic composition, residents here treat one another as brothers, and their relationship couldn't have been better.

“We'll go fishing or catching birds together every now and then. We work together and help one another without the slightest sense of insecurity,” Mah added.

Racial problem non-existent

As a matter of fact, Mah said racial problem was practically non-existent at the grassroots level, adding that skepticism and conflicts have been a consequence of political manipulation.

Tay, chairman of SJKC Pay Min school board, told Sin Chew Daily his grandfather came from China in the 1920s and settled down in Batu Gajah Pasir.

He said there was no problem for local residents to mingle at the coffee shop or rest kiosk.

“It has become a norm here for residents of all races to invite one another to their weddings, funerals or other functions.

“Having lived here for so many years, I always find this place very serene, friendly and safe.

"It is an excellent place to live!” he concluded.

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