The Baju Kurung issue

The Baju Kurung issue: A ‘Malaysian’ perspective

Some twenty years ago, I took it upon myself to wear the Malay Baju for a Hari Raya do. My family too joined me as they came all dressed up in the ‘malay’ costumes for the gathering with the then prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

…proud to be an integral part of the atmosphere of celebration…

We were proud to be an integral part of the atmosphere of celebration on that day.

But unfortunately, some quarters had taken offense to me and my family all dressed up in the ‘malay’ attire. Name calling and allegations that I am sacrificing my identity and what-nots were hurled in the media.

Ironically, it was that same quarter that several years down the road requested that our prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak should come dressed in the ‘indian’ costume to grace their Deepavali-do. Of course, the prime minister in his wisdom was only too happy to demonstrate his prime minister for all allegiance.

Today, we are embroiled in that infamous and uncalled for issue about a non-malay student wearing a ‘malay’ uniform to school.

So much of hurt feelings and insensitive remarks too are being hurled and traded on the social media landscape. It pains me immensely.

…It pains me immensely…

Where is our sense of 1Malaysia that we pledged to uphold? Where is our sense of acceptance and muhibbah that we proudly indulged in without any prompting throughout our nation’s history of solidarity and goodwill among all races?

Coming back to the school uniform issue, let us appraise our conscience. Does wearing a coat and suit and neck tie make us un-Malay? No.

Likewise does wearing a ‘malay’ costume require us to a be malay first?

Or would our prime minister wearing an indian costume make him a traitor to everything malay?

We all know the answers. Then why are we caught in this totally unwarranted, seeming ‘war’ of arguments and hurling of hurt-words these days?

The People’s Progressive Party stands up and speaks up for 1Malaysia. We are a one nation of people. We take pride in our rich heritage of traditions and customs.

The People’s Progressive Party stands up and speaks up for 1Malaysia. We are a one nation of people. We take pride in our rich heritage of traditions and customs. Partaking in the the way of life that is a hallmark of our unique multicultural and multi-ethnic Malaysia is a gift.

In being able to see pride and celebration through our multi-ethnic dress codes and partaking in the multi-cultural traditions of goodwill, we can only transform into a stronger nation. These are an impediment to our religious beliefs that will always and must remain sacrosanct to each of us according to our faiths.

Whether the issue was one of barring a non-malay student from donning a ‘malay’ uniform or as now clarified, that it is an issue of “buttoning up appropriately”, we Malaysians must know how not to make such instances to be manipulated into religious discord. We cannot too make dress codes into race-exclusive rights.

Above the tides, we adults need to recognize that schools are the fountain of hope where we inculcate the values and aspirations of a 1Malaysia. The future of our nation is cradled in the school.

Hence while it is incumbent on teachers to cross the limiting, distorted barriers of race-inhibition, society at large too and especially netizens can champion the onward evolution of 1Malaysia without resorting to hurting and retaliatory dispositions.

Enlightenment is the answer each time we cross a bridge of testing challenges.

The power of joyfully embracing each others diversity of culture and traditions will make the Malaysia of tomorrow a benchmark of inspiration for an increasingly troubled world.

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