(This post is in response to the article in Malaysiakini : Tengku Faris: Non-Malays should not seek equality)
Even though my childhood memories are very blurred now, I can still remember that from the time I was conscious of my surroundings, I had been taught one simple fact of life – that all men are equal in this world. My parents, being both intellectuals in the teaching profession, had always stressed to me that every son and daughter of theirs were equal in their eyes.
When I was older, women teachers were fighting for equal treatment as their male counterparts; equality of the sexes were again ingrained in my mind. I remember I was very glad when one day my mother came back from school and told us that she would be getting same pay as her male counterpart. It was really not the pay, because as small kids the value of money was not so important to us, but rather we were happy because the equal status made our mother very proud and happy.
In schools, we were taught the same thing— that all men are equal. We learned from history how India had started to do away with the caste system, how in Euporean countries. all citizens were treated equal. I learned about Martin Luther King and his “I have a dream” speech. I read about how in USA, civil rights movement had succeeded in getting equal rights for all races.
I read the book “All men are brothers” from Dr Albert Schweitzer when I was older , and the notion of equality of all people are again ingrained on me. By the way, the book influenced me into taking up medicine.
All great religions teach about equality of mankind. Even UN passed the Universal declaration of Human rights, in which all humankind are supposed to have same rights and deserve the same treatment. As the world progresses to be one single big family, inequality has become less and less, and I believe that there would come one day, call me an idealist, that all men will be truely equal.
Now, suddenly, someone important is telling me that all my notion of equality is not vaild in this country. My dream of equality can only be dreamt. How do I feel? How do you feel?
One royalty is telling us that a certain portion of Malaysians, which include me and my family, cannot be equal and should not seek equal treatment; That there are in fact different classes of races in the country; that even those born in this country long after Independence will still have to carry the burden left behind by our forefathers. How do you feel? I feel disgusted and cheated.
Are we really still so medieval that we still need to have different classes of citizens? Can’t all citizens be treated equal – the tenet of the most basic of human rights?
I don’t know how to answer that.
All my life , I have taught my children about fairness and equality. Now what am I going to tell my grandchildren?